George Weah sworn in as president of Liberia

The former footballer was swarn in as Liberia’s new president on Monday, taking over the West African nation from Africa’s first female leader

Former international footballer George Weah was swarn in as Liberia’s new president on Monday, taking over the West African nation from Africa’s first female leader.

The 51-year-old, who was FIFA’s 1995 player of the year, took the oath of office dressed in all white at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex to cheers from tens of thousands Liberians.

He vowed to use his his "overwhelming mandate" to stop corruption and create jobs.

“I fully believe that the overwhelming mandate that I received from the Liberian people is a mandate to end corruption in public service; I promise to deliver on this mandate,” he said. “As officials of government it is time to put the interest of our people above our own selfish interests. It is time to be honest with our people.”

Weah, who has been a senator, inherits the weak economy along with poor health and educational sectors.

“I do not promise you quick fixes or miracles. Instead my pledge to you today is that my administration, with your help, will make steady and deliver progress toward achieving the hopes and aspirations that you cherish in your heart for Mama Liberia,” he said.

This is the first time the country had a transition of power by democratically-elected leaders since 1944.

Weah won the presidential run-off last month after beating former vice-preisdent Joseph Boakai with more than 60% of the vote.

Former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with Weah at the ceremony (Photo: Sky news)
Former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with Weah at the ceremony (Photo: Sky news)

Weah then switched seats with his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was president for 12 years. In her final week in office, she signed an executive order on domestic violence protecting people against "physical, sexual, economical, emotional and psychological abuses".

 Among those who watched Mr Weah taking the oath of office were the presidents of Ghana, Gabon, Senegal and Sierra Leone, along with friends and fellow African football stars including Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o.

After Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., swore in Weah, Liberia’s flag was lowered and folded to signify the end of the presidency for Sirleaf, who stood with Weah on a raised platform. A new flag was unfolded and hoisted to signify the start of Weah’s new administration.

Weah’s new government should launch a “self-sufficiency in food program” to boost agriculture and tackle the problem of unemployment, said James Mulbah, an agricultural extension expert.

“Any country that does not feed itself, you are at the mercy of those that will feed you, that has been the problem in this country and it has continued to exist,” he said.

Young supporters of Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change party carried out a national cleanup ahead of the ceremony.

“We are all overwhelmed with joy,” said Janjay Jacobs, a former midfielder and now coach. He said Weah can bring growth and development to Liberia.

“He has been a very inspirational person, very much motivating, never gives up in any situation,” Jacobs said. “If all odds are against him, he still stands up for what he believes in.”

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