Liberia – President Boakai Fails to Finish His Inaugural Speech Due to Heat Stroke

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Liberia’s elected President Joseph Boakai failed to finish his inaugural speech and was helped away from the podium during his swearing-in ceremony on Monday, January 22, 2024.

The 79-year-old Boakai had been speaking for about 30 minutes at the ceremony when he suddenly could not continue to deliver his message to the congregation due to heat stroke. He failed to carry on speaking, and the ceremony was adjourned.

By the time of adjournment, Boakai had already been sworn in as Liberia’s president at the ceremony held in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

Before his speech was cut short, President Boakai said that the elections were over and that partisanship should be done away with in order to move Liberia forward, calling upon dignity in public service and respecting and restoring the rule of law.

Video footage circulating on social media showed a man fanning papers near his face before he was taken away. Some reports suggested that he suffered from heat exhaustion as the temperature reached more than 30 °C.

After he was taken away, the new Vice President, Jeremiah Koung, spoke to the guests and later escorted them to the presidential dinner.

Boakai was the Vice President in Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s government until 2018, when he contested for the presidency under the banner of the United Party (UP).

Boakai ran for the presidency in 2017 but lost to former football star George Weah, who became Liberia’s youngest ever elected president. Boakai narrowly defeated the outgoing president Weah in a run-off election by over 20.000 votes in November 2023.

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