Former international soccer star George Weah was sworn into office Monday as Liberia’s new president, taking over from Africa’s first female leader of the post-war, impoverished West African nation.
The 51-year-old, who was FIFA’s 1995 player of the year, took the oath dressed in all white at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex to cheers from tens of thousands Liberians.
“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 and run for the presidency before but is relatively new to national politics, inherits a 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.
Weah then switched seats with his predecessor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was president for 12 years, lifting Liberia from the destruction of back-to-back civil wars and facing the challenge of the Ebola crisis that killed thousands here.
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.
This is Liberia’s first peaceful transfer of power from one government to another in more…