Football legend, George Weah, has been sworn in as the 24th President of the Republic of Liberia. Weah took his oath of office at exactly noon inside the 35,000 capacity Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia.
Tens of thousands of people attended the inauguration with many queuing for hours to enter. At least eight African Heads of States, including President Muhammadu Buhari represented by Vice Present Yemi Osinbajo, and international soccer stars witnesceremony.
“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.”
Mr George Weah thanked his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for bringing peace to the country after years of civil war.
It is Liberia’s first transition between democratically-elected leaders since 1944. The last time Liberia saw a peaceful transition of power was in 1944. William Tubman replaced then-president Edwin Barclay at the time.
Youth unemployment a huge problem
Facebook user from Liberia who called on Weah to appoint people based on merit, said he is nevertheless optimistic: “I have confidence in Weah. If Weah doesn’t make Liberia the first or second most developed country in Africa then forget leadership in Africa. Because he has all it takes to make Liberia great.”
Expectations are thus high for the 25th president of Liberia. Voters will hold him to his promise of jobs and better schools. Especially the former, as another Facebook user pointed out. “An 85 percent unemployment rate is a shame!” another user wrote, adding that it doesn’t make sense to go to college, if you can’t get a job afterwards
Liberia is one of the poorest country’s in the world. Its economy is very dependent on rubber and iron ore. The slump in commodity prices in 2016 badly affected an economy already shaken by the Ebola crisis that started in 2013 and lasted three years. The economy has since recovered, but not enough to offset the effects of an inflation of 11 percent on the price of staple foods.
Experts do not seem optimistic about Weah’s capacity to tackle corruption and bring technocratic expertise into the cabinet. Malte Liewerscheidt, Senior Africa Analyst at global risk consultancy Verisk Maplecroft, said Weah is already feeling the heat: “He is under pressure from various constituencies and unlikely to nominate a cabinet of experts as he claimed he would do shortly after his electoral success.”
Weah was name the Fifa World Player of the Year in 1995 while playing for AC Milan. He had short spells playing for Chelsea and Manchester City in the twilight of his career.