Election officials on Wednesday confirmed Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as the winner in Liberia's first postwar elections, making her Africa's first elected female president. Supporters cheered Johnson-Sirleaf as her motorcade toured the battle-shattered capital, Monrovia, a once-tidy city whose government-supplied electricity, water and sewage systems failed during years of strife that killed tens of thousands. "I'm excited but I am also humbled by the awesome challenges that we will be facing," Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, told U.N. radio. "I am thankful to the Liberian people."
The final, certified results showed Johnson-Sirleaf besting her rival, soccer superstar George Weah, 59.4 percent to 40.6 percent in the Nov. 8 run off election, National Elections Commission Chairwoman Frances Johnson-Morris said.
But officials representing Weah said he still refused to concede defeat, maintaining allegations of ballot-box stuffing and vowing to keep fighting the results in court. International observers said the vote was largely clean.
"We are questioning the entire process," said Eugene Magbe, the chairman of Weah's Congress for Democratic Change party. "The elections were fraudulent."
When she takes up her duties after her January inauguration, Johnson-Sirleaf will lead Africa's oldest republic as the continent's first elected female president.
But the one-time finance minister and veteran of Citibank and the United Nations faces stiff challenges.
Unemployment runs at 80 percent. Much of Liberia's 3 million people are illiterate, hundreds of thousands still live in relief camps and many in the educated class are living overseas. Infrastructure across the country founded in 1847 by freed American slaves largely crumbled during a 1989-2003 civil war that killed 200,000 people.
The elections were the first since the end of the war, and international observers have said they were largely free and fair, with only a few small irregularities, reports the AP. I.L.