“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation. I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today.
“Change is on’’, Weah wrote shortly after the results were released by the National Elections Commission (NEC), putting him in a comfortable lead to be the next president of Africa’s oldest republic.
The former World Footballer of the Year who ran on the platform of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is way ahead with 720,023 votes or 61.5 per cent.
His rival and incumbent Vice President, Joseph Boakai, of the ruling Unity Party (UP) is far behind with 451,088 votes representing 38.5 per cent.
The Chairman of NEC, Mr. Jerome Korkoya, who released the results at a news conference in Monrovia on Thursday, said 98.1 per cent of the total votes cast in the polls had been counted.
With pending results from just 104 or 1.9 per cent of polling places, Weah has sealed a massive victory as the successor to outgoing President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The announcement was greeted with massive celebrations by Weah’s supporters in the capital, Monrovia, and across the country.
Political observers have attributed Weah’s “victory’’ to a number of factors including alleged divisions in the ruling Unity Party and secret backing from Johnson-Sirleaf for the soccer icon.
“Johnson-Sirleaf has not campaigned for her vice president,’’ said Mr Patrick Korna, a political analyst.
“Since the start of political campaigning in July, she has not been visibly involved; she has not shown up in any of the rallies held by her vice president.
“The Unity Party says it remains one body, but it has two factions – President Sirleaf’s faction and Joseph Boakai’s faction,’’ Korna said.
Besides, the outgoing administration is dogged by widespread allegations of corruption, nepotism, waste, fuelling the people’s hunger for change.
Meanwhile, the European Union Election Observation Mission has described the successful runoff polls as a “milestone achievement’’ for the country’s democracy.
“An undeniable aspect of this significant election is the collective effort that underpinned its realisation,’’ the mission said in its preliminary report issued on Thursday.
“Voters, civil society, Liberian institutions, in particularly NEC, the judiciary and the Liberian National Police, the domestic observers and ECOWAS all contributed to make this important for Liberia’s democracy possible,’’ it said.