George Weah sworn in as Liberian president
MONROVIA: George Weah, the former international soccer star who won the presidency of Liberia last month, promised a crackdown on endemic corruption as he was sworn in on Monday in the country’s first peaceful change of power in seven decades.
Thousands of exuberant supporters and regional presidents and dignitaries crammed into a stadium in the capital, Monrovia, to watch as Weah, who rose from the city’s slums to become one of Africa’s greatest footballers, took the oath of office.
As a former AC Milan and Paris St Germain striker and 1995 world player of the year, “King George,” as his fans call him, was no stranger to having crowds cheer him on in packed stadiums.
But he noted the huge hurdles ahead as he succeeded Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“It will be my task to lead this nation from division to unity. I will not let you down,” Weah told the crowd.
Weah, 51, rode to a landslide run-off victory last month on the back of heavy support from young people and the poor.
Making his speech in flowing white African robes, he promised to deliver on his key campaign promises, especially tackling the malfeasance that his predecessor is widely seen as having failed to address during her 12 years in office.
“It is my belief that the most effective way to directly impact the poor, and to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor is to make sure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials,” he said.
Founded by freed American slaves, Liberia is Africa’s oldest modern republic. But it has been plagued by years of unrest and bloodshed, including two civil wars that were notorious for their brutality and use of child soldiers.