An online news outlet from Yaoundé, Cameroon ‘Crux’ has been quoting Father Dennis Cephas Nimene as saying Weah’s surprise win is due to his “perseverance,” according to the secretary general of the country’s bishops’ conference.
“His victory can also be seen as a reaction to the status quo,” Father Dennis Cephas Nimene told Crux.
“After 14 years of civil unrest [the Liberian civil war took place from 1989-2003] and the elections of Madam Sirleaf, Liberians wanted ‘so much’ from the government. Not meeting their perceived aspirations ultimately led to the change of government,” the priest said.
The 51-year-old former striker – who earned the title African Footballer of the Century after playing for teams in the 1990s such as Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan – defeated incumbent vice president Joseph Boakai, a former World Bank official on December 26, 2017.
Liberia – located on the west coast of Africa – was settled by freed American slaves in 1822. Declaring independence in 1847, it is the continent’s oldest republic.
In 1980, a military coup began the country’s decline into ungovernability, which culminated in civil war and the violent rule of warlord Charles Taylor.
After Taylor was driven from office in 2003, the United Nations helped oversee a transition which led to the 2005 elections won by Sirleaf.
Weah contested those elections – just two years after retiring from soccer – and lost.
In 2009, he won a senatorial seat, before a failed campaign for vice president in 2011.
After his December win, Weah called on Liberians living abroad to return to the country, announced corruption will no longer have a place in Liberia, and told foreign investors that “Liberia is open and ready for business.”
Nimene told Crux Weah’s victory is a sign the country is yearning for change after years of conflict, and an Ebola outbreak that killed thousands of people and worsened economic conditions.