Former international footballer George Weah will be sworn in as Liberia’s new president today, a landmark moment that marks the troubled country’s first peaceful democratic transition since 1944.
Weah will become the 25th president of the West African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years, with expectations running sky-high among Liberians that he will deliver on his promises of jobs and better schools.
The inauguration will take place at the capital, Monrovia, with heads of state from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo expected to attend along with friends and former colleagues from his football years.
Sirleaf will be remembered for maintaining peace after the harrowing 1989-2003 civil war left an estimated 250,000 dead. But extreme poverty remains pervasive and Liberia ranks near bottom in international rankings for health, education and development.
At a church service attended by Sirleaf and Weah on Sunday, the pair presented a united front following a bruising election campaign in which Sirleaf’s longtime vice-president Joseph Boakai failed to convince as her successor while alleging fraud had marred the ballot.