Boakai’s inauguration as Liberia’s president halted after he suffered ‘heat stroke’

Adebari Oguntoye
Adebari Oguntoye
Joseph Boakai during inauguration

The inauguration of Joseph Boakai as the Liberian president on Monday ended abruptly when he suddenly suffered a “heat stroke” while reading his acceptance speech.

The 79-year-old had taken the oath of office, but mid-way into his acceptance speech, he stuttered to a halt, and was helped out of the podium by his security details.

Whether or not the ceremony would continue is yet to be known as cheering Liberians were shocked and confused with the happenings.

In what has been described as a generational shift, the 79-year-old took the reins of power from the nation’s youngest-ever elected leader, George Weah. The former international football star rose to the presidency at the age of 51 after defeating Boakai in elections six years ago.

The one-time vice president beat former Ballon d’Or winner Weah in November’s run-off poll with a scraping win of about 20,000 votes.

The international star conceded defeat in November 2023 after the election and was celebrated for his sportsmanship. He was also praised for keeping to his commitment to overseeing free, fair, and peaceful elections.

November’s poll in the West African country was peaceful in a region that has seen a succession of military coups in recent years in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Niger.

During his campaign, Boakai emphasised his commitment to addressing key challenges faced by the country, including corruption, poverty, and infrastructural decay.

The inauguration ceremony, held on Capitol Hill in Monrovia, the country’s capital city, was attended by various foreign leaders, including Vice President Kashim Shettima, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank (AfDB).

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