Former international football star George Weah has been sworn into office as Liberia’s new president.
He took over the leadership of the post-war, impoverished West African nation from Africa’s first female president.
The 51-year-old, who was FIFA’s 1995 player of the year, won the run-off vote on 26 December against the outgoing vice president.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served for 12 years, lifting Liberia from the destruction of back-to-back civil wars. The wars ended before her tenure however she faced the challenge of the Ebola crisis that killed thousands there.
Mr Weah, dressed in all white, stood at the podium amid tens of thousands of cheering Liberians, taking the oath of office.
Mr Weah has run for the presidency before, but is relatively new to national politics. He inherits a weak economy along with poor health and educational sectors.
Liberians held prayer services for 48 hours leading up to the inauguration of Mr Weah. The former Chelsea star served three years in the senate. This was more than a decade after retiring from a glittering international football career. He played in France, Italy, the UK and elsewhere.
Many of Mr Weah’s critics are still sceptical. Primarily, they doubt his ability to deliver in a country that is faced with youth unemployment and other challenges.
Mr Weah tweeted, “It is an honor to welcome in our country African and international leaders and partners, for my Inauguration Day. I have many plans for Liberia. Be ready for visible and major positive changes.”
“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.”
His running mate, vice president-elect Jewel Howard-Taylor, has political experience that surpasses his.
She was married to the nation’s former leader Charles Taylor during his time in power. After they divorced, she was elected senator in 2005, building a political career in her own right.