A former footballer who won FIFA's Player of the Year award, George Weah scored another major victory when he was elected president of the West African nation Liberia. He soundly defeated Vice president Joseph Boakai who graciously conceded and congratulated the victor. Weah got 61.5 percent of the votes cast in what was the country's first independently run elections since its civil wars ended.

In the footsteps of Africa's first female president

Weah's victory was made possible due to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's resignation following a two-term reign as president.

She was the first woman president in Africa, a well known human rights advocate and a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Sirleaf played a major role in helping Liberia through recovery following civil wars and the deadly Ebola outbreak. George Weah, her successor and the newly elected president of Liberia will face tough challenges.

Post civil war elections

Liberia saw its first independently run elections since the end of back-to-back civil wars that devastated the country. The Liberian civil wars were responsible for the deaths of 250,000 and the displacement of many more. A peace deal signed in 2003 and subsequent elections were monitored by the United Nations. The 2005 elections saw the first female president elected.

Voter turnout for the 2017 run-off election was low and of the 4.6 million population, just 2.2 million registered voters had their say at the ballot box. Victory for George Weah was made possible in part by the support he got from younger voters who were in the majority.

From the slums of Liberia to the highest office

Soccer is the saving grace for many young kids in poor African nations and it was for George Weah who grew up in the slums of the nation's capital Monrovia.

His soccer skills as a youth would afford him many opportunities to play in local clubs and eventually an international career, first in Cameroon then moving on to Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan, Manchester City, Chelsea and AS Monaco. In 1995 he was awarded the distinction of Player of the Year. In 2014 he won a Senate seat in Liberia.

An inspiration for supporters

While George Weah was considered relatively inexperienced in politics and not well educated he didn't let that stop him. When a run for president in 2005 ended in defeat, he went back to school to get his high school diploma and earned a degree overseas. He was a vice presidential candidate in 2011 and in 2014 he became a senator in Liberia. In this election, he headed a ticket that included his running mate, vice presidential candidate Jewel Howard-Taylor. Weah's rags-to-riches life has been an inspiration for his supporters who refer to him fondly as 'King George'