Football legend George Weah was sworn in as president of Liberia on Monday, in the country’s first transition between democratically-elected leaders since 1944.
In his inauguration speech at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia, the former AC Milan striker thanked his predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, for helping bring peace to Liberia.
(Ex)-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with George Weah before he was sworn in as Liberia's new leader today. Remember, this scene here is still rarer than a unicorn in many African countries that were peaceful when Liberia was being torn up by war 20 years ago. pic.twitter.com/KXgMRRgVh9— Charles Onyango-Obbo (@cobbo3) 22 January 2018
Weah made pledges to fight corruption and to revive the economy of the West African nation.
“We owe our citizens moral clarity on fundamental issues including civil liberties and accountability of national resources. My popular mandate is a mandate to end corruption,” Weah told a packed stadium.
The 51-year-old former footballer won the presidential election in December, after securing victory in 12 of the 15 counties of the West African nation.
A life in stadiums
Dressed in a traditional white gown, Weah took the oath of the office in front of an estimated 35,000 people. Liberians of all ages formed lines outside the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex to watch the inauguration.
"I have spent my life in stadiums but I've never felt like this," Weah said.
“In the future months, together, we will need to work harder than ever for Liberia to grow stronger. This is our opportunity to reveal to the world the true potential of our country.
“I promise to do everything in my power to be the agent of positive change. But I cannot do it alone. I call on the legislature to work with me to pass laws that will complete the foundation of our nation.”
The ceremony was witnessed by heads of state from Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. Celebrated African footballers Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o also attended the inauguration.