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BREAKING: Liberia’s presidential inauguration suspended after Boakai suddenly falls ill



Swearing in of Joseph Boakai of Liberia

The swearing in ceremony of Liberia’s new President Joseph Boakai came to an abrupt end after he appeared uncoordinated and was helped out of the podium by security details.

The 79-year-old had taken the oath of office but mid-way into his acceptance speech he stuttered to a halt.

It was hot and humid with some guests fanning themselves during the ceremony, broadcast live on State Television.

An aide removed Boakai’s traditional cap, while others fanned him before he was escorted out of the venue, thus ending the event unceremoniously.

Dignitaries at the event included President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana with his wife, Liberia’s outgoing President George Weah and his wife, Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.

It was not immediately clear whether he would attend the inaugural ball later in the day.

Boakai, a former Vice President with decades in politics defeated Weah in the July 2023 run-off by 50.89% of the votes.

He inherits a difficult socio-economic environment, characterised by high youth unemployment, spiralling inflation and high crime rate, especially drug abuse among unemployed and uneducated young people.

Taking over from Weah 57, it would have been a generational transfer of power, but Boakai has a relatively younger Vice president Jerrnai Koung, who is 45.

About Liberia

Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. The capital and largest city is Monrovia.

It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Ivory Coast to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south and southwest.

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It has a population of around 5 million and covers an area of 43,000 square miles (111,369 km2).

The country’s official language is English; however, over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, reflecting the country’s ethnic and cultural diversity.

According to Wikipedia, Liberia began in the early 19th century as a project of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which believed black people would face better chances for freedom and prosperity in Africa than in the United States.

Between 1822 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861, more than 15,000 freed and free-born African Americans, along with 3,198 Afro-Caribbeans, relocated to Liberia.

Gradually developing an Americo-Liberian identity, the settlers carried their culture and tradition with them.

Liberia declared independence on July 26, 1847, which the U.S. did not recognize until February 5, 1862.

Liberia was the first African republic to proclaim its independence and is Africa’s first and oldest modern republic.

Along with Ethiopia, it was one of the two African countries to maintain its sovereignty and independence during the European colonial “Scramble for Africa”.

By Paul Ejime

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