In a decisive moment for Liberia's fledgling democracy, President George Weah has conceded defeat to opposition candidate Joseph Boakai after preliminary results from the run-off election saw the latter in the lead.
Results released by Liberia's electoral commission on Friday indicated Boakai had secured 50.9% of the vote compared to Weah's 49.1% in a neck-and-neck race.
"A few moments ago, I spoke with president elect Joseph Boakai to congratulate him on his victory. I urge you to follow my example and accept the results of the elections," Weah said in a speech on national radio.
His concession marks a peaceful transfer of power, restoring faith in the democratic process as Liberia emerges from decades of turmoil.
Boakai supporters celebrated the preliminary outcome, with one saying "I am very hopeful because I know Boakai is... a man of principles and I know when he gets in here, he is going to bring changes,” as quoted in a Reuters report.
The 78-year-old former vice president fell short against Weah in 2017 but emerged as the frontrunner from the initial voting round this time.
Many felt Weah had failed to deliver on promises and address high poverty and unemployment during his term.
"I supported Boakai because...I was not able to get a job" under Weah, one voter commented as quoted by Reuters.
If confirmed, Boakai's victory ensures Liberia's second post-war democratic transition, cementing gains as the country works to strengthen governance and tackle socioeconomic hardships.