Abuja, Nigeria (GP)–Liberians celebrate the country’s first peaceful, democratic transition of power in 47 years. Former Ballon d’Or George Oppong Weah was sworn in today January 22, 2018 as Liberia’s 25th president. Since the 1960s when most African nations gained their independence transition of power usually came with mass violence in the form of coups or civil wars. Today is not only monumental for Liberia , but for the reputation of African diplomacy. Many Liberians were singing and shouting for their new leader in hopes that he will bring the country change.
Expectations are sky-high for Weah, who grew up kicking a ball about his poor suburb of Monrovia, but became an international star and Liberian hero through a distinguished football career at A.C. Milan, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain, winning the Ballon d’Or ( Fifa’s world player of the year) in 1995. To date, George is the first and only African player to win this award. “I have spent many years of my life in stadiums, but today is a feeling like no other,” Weah, dressed in white and mopping his forehead with a handkerchief, told an ecstatic crowd at Samuel Doe football stadium in Monrovia. “I have taken an oath before you and before almighty God. Rest assured I will not let you down.”
This surely has been a moment Weah anticipated for more than a decade. He first ran for president in 2005, but lost to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a former World Bank executive who became Africa’s first female head of state. In 2011, he ran as Winston Tubman’s vice-presidential candidate, but they again lost out to Sirleaf. Africa having the youngest population globally is set to see a series of newly elected leaders by a young demographic. Weah stated, ” This victory would not have been possible without the youth of this country, the women of this country who made their living selling in the market,” said Weah. “This is your government.” During his campaign Weah has promised like most African leader to end corruption. Which is an issue that most African leaders promise and still remains a huge issue. Weah also promised help to the private sector, better education for the youth, political transparency, respects for rights and democracy.