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Liberian leader George Weah hailed for his sportsmanship after accepting defeat

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Culled from the BBC – Liberian President George Weah has been hailed for his sportsmanship for conceding to his rival in the presidential race – from across the political divide and the region.

“This is a time for graciousness in defeat, a time to place our country above party, and patriotism above personal interest,” the former football star, who has served as Liberia’s president since 2018, said.

The 57-year-old’s phone call to congratulate Joseph Boakai on Friday night has saved the country, which has a history of brutal civil conflict, from a weekend of tension.

“These are great times in Liberia and in Africa because such action on the part of a sitting president is very, very, very rare,” Liberian human rights advocate Hassan Bility told the BBC.

He is the director of the Global Justice and Research Project (GJRP), which has been documenting evidence of war crimes committed during two civil wars, in which an estimated 250,000 died.

For him, Mr Weah’s concession in the second round – three days before the official results are due to be announced – was not only the action of a great sportsman but “a high mark of statesmanship and peace”.

The former Fifa World Player of the Year has 49.11% of the vote so far from the results of 99.58% of polling stations.

Mr Weah’s special aide, Sekou Kalasco Jomanday, said his move did not come as a surprise.

“That is the kind of person he is, he’s a man of peace – he’s a man who believes the will of the people should always be respected and he will continue to do that,” he told the BBC.

“The president doesn’t believe that one person should lose their life because of any political struggle or one man’s quest to be president by all costs.”

Liberian political analyst Abdullah Kiatamba said Mr Weah had looked at the figures and realised his pathway to victory was “almost impossible”.

“I think this is a victory for Liberian democracy… for an incumbent to concede is a testament to the maturity of our democracy,” he told the BBC.

The elections are the first since the exit of UN peacekeepers who were deployed after the official end of the civil wars in 2003.

Samora Wolokollie, the country’s deputy finance minister, told the BBC the president had been determined to ensure the polls were conducted with the “utmost integrity”.

“He will forever be remembered for this patriotic move,” he said.

The regional bloc Ecowas has also come out with a gushing statement of thanks to Mr Weah.

“Your gracious acceptance of the results of the elections is indicative of your statesmanship and commitment to the consolidation of peace and security in Liberia,” said Omar Alieu Touray, president of the Ecowas Commission, who also commended the free, fair and autonomously organised poll.

Ecowas has been at the forefront of efforts to bring stability to Liberia – at one stage sending up to 12,000 soldiers to the country in the 1990s, with Nigeria troops forming the backbone of a peacekeeping force known as Ecomog.

George Weah’s name has been trending on social media across much of Africa, including in Nigeria where people have been saying that, while his concession is a positive move, it is not unique.

“People are saying that the ‘Jonathan effect’ is catching on – former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, wanted to get another term in 2015, was defeated and he called up then-opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari to congratulate him,” Mannir Dan Ali, former editor-in-chief of Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper, told the BBC.

“It was unprecedented because usually presidents sitting tight will never concede – that is why George Weah has also shown a lot of grace by accepting the will of Liberians and congratulating his opponent.”

Dan Ali says he has noted a certain amount of pride in Nigeria that Liberia is following its example.

“Nigerians are like big brothers to Liberia – remember Nigerians shed their own blood to keep Liberia together, to help them get them out of the civil war. More than $4bn [£3.2bn] of Nigeria’s money was spent on Ecomog. Nigerians, who always like to claim to be the giants of Africa, will be happy to say that in this particular case they showed the way.”

Most analysts agree Mr Weah has shown a red card to those flouting democracy in West Africa, where there has been a recent upsurge in military coups and disputed elections.

“George Weah has set the stage for other countries to follow,” Loretta Pope Kai, chair of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, told the BBC, adding that it showed “the power of the people mattered”.

Mr Bility agreed: “Liberia represents, in my opinion, a beacon of hope for Africa.”

Looking back at Mr Weah’s presidency, he said that the footballer-turned-politician should also be remembered for tolerance and some infrastructural development – his supporters nicknamed him “Bad Road Medicine” after he once said he was the medicine needed to treat bad roads.

“It’s amazing to see that there aren’t any political prisoners in jail, there aren’t journalists in jail, free speech was at its highest,” Mr Bility said.

Supporters of opposition Unity party (UP), of president-elect, Joseph Boakai, celebrate victory in Monrovia, Liberia - 18 November 2023

Officials results will be announced on Monday afternoon but, after President Weah’s concession, Joseph Boakai’s supporters are celebrating

Both Mr Weah and Mr Boakai attended crowded church services in the capital, Monrovia, on Sunday, where they addressed their supporters.

“We would not have been in church today if I had done what others wanted me to do,” said the president, who will step down in January.

“We cannot also blame ourselves for not getting victory, it is a learning curve.”

During his concession speech, he warned his successor that “the closeness of the results reveals a deep division within our country”.

“As we transition to a new administration, we must be vigilant to the dangers of division, and must work together to find common ground.”

Social media has been full of comments reflecting this split, with Liberians documenting his successes (like increasing doctors’ salaries and improving education) and his failures (corruption scandals and poor funding for football).

Indeed the fact that the national team has failed to reach any continental finals over the last five years prompted Cyrus Yeanay, an executive committee member of the Liberia Football Association, to post on Facebook: “George Weah, you were voted [out] for failing football too.”

Meanwhile, at a packed Baptist service, the 78-year-old president-elect told the congregation he was taking his endorsement seriously: “I know what the Liberian people need and deserve.”

His focus on the campaign trial has been on fighting corruption and boosting agricultural production.

But with such high expectations in a divided nation, Mr Bility has two pieces of advice for him: “One, maintain the peace; two, pursue justice.

“Because no matter what, no specific president is going to be able to satisfy the desires and needs of a 176-year-old under-developed country.”

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Mexican Authorities say they saw a huge increase in migrants from Africa and Venezuela in 2023

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Mexican authorities say they saw a huge increase in the number of migrants from Africa and Venezuela entering the country in 2023.

Those migrants generally enter Mexico from Central America, and cross the country in a bid to reach the U.S. border.

Mexico’s Interior Department said year-end figures showed that nine times more migrants from Africa entered Mexico in 2023, with numbers rising from 6,672 in 2022, to 59,834 in 2023.

The report also showed the number of migrants from Venezuela more than doubled last year, rising from 96,197 in 2022 to 222,994 in 2023.

In part, that may reflect more rapid and more numerous movements of migrants through the jungle-clad Darien Gap that connects South America to Panama.

Smugglers are moving migrants more quickly through the dangerous route, which last year was traversed by over half a million migrants. Once in Panama, migrants make their way through Central America to Mexico.

Overall, the number of all irregular migrants found in Mexico in 2023 rose by 77%, going from 441,409 in 2022 to 782,176 last year.

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Africa

Nigeria vs South Africa: AFCON prediction, kick-off time, TV, and live stream

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A meeting of two imperious defences will decide the first entrant to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final when South Africa and Nigeria meet on Wednesday.

The Super Eagles have conceded just one goal at this AFCON and dispatched Angola in a tight game to qualify for the semi-finals.

But Bafana Bafana matched their run of four consecutive clean sheets as goalkeeper Ronwen Williams delivered the heroics in their penalty shootout win over Cape Verde.

Only once since their last Cup of Nations title, which came just over a decade ago, have Nigeria reached the last four – and they have lost five of their last six AFCON semi-finals.

South Africa’s wait stretches back even further, with no title since 1996 and this their first run to the last four since 2000.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Nigeria vs South Africa is scheduled for a 5pm GMT kick-off on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

The match will take place at Stade de la Paix in Bouake.

Where to watch Nigeria vs South Africa

TV channel: In the UK, the game will be televised live on BBC Two, with coverage starting at 4.30pm GMT, as well as Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League.

Live stream: Sky subscribers can also catch the contest live online via the Sky Go app while the game will also be shown for free via the BBC Sport and iPlayer portals.

Live blog: You can follow all the action on matchday via Standard Sport’s live blog.

What we know

♦ Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen was taken off late on against Angola with an abdominal injury and he did not join the rest of the squad in flying out to Bouake on Monday evening.

A team statement assured that he could yet be released to travel on Tuesday if he passes medical checks.

Hugo Broos has a settled line-up for South Africa, with the defence entirely made up of Mamelodi Sundowns players.

However, after failing to score against Cape Verde he could tinker with the attack.

♦ Both teams have been outstanding defensively throughout the tournament and it feels as though a single goal will prove the difference in this game.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

Super Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong scored an 89th-minute winner when Nigeria knocked Bafana Bafana out of the 2019 Cup of Nations quarter-finals, which was these two sides’ last meeting.

Nigeria wins: 7

South Africa wins: 2

Draws: 5

Nigeria vs South Africa match odds

Nigeria to qualify: 1/2

South Africa to qualify: 7/1

Texas Guardian News
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Africa

Nigeria vs South Africa: AFCON prediction, kick-off time, TV, live stream

Published

on

A meeting of two imperious defences will decide the first entrant to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations final when South Africa and Nigeria meet on Wednesday.

The Super Eagles have conceded just one goal at this AFCON and dispatched Angola in a tight game to qualify for the semi-finals.

But Bafana Bafana matched their run of four consecutive clean sheets as goalkeeper Ronwen Williams delivered the heroics in their penalty shootout win over Cape Verde.

Only once since their last Cup of Nations title, which came just over a decade ago, have Nigeria reached the last four – and they have lost five of their last six AFCON semi-finals.

South Africa’s wait stretches back even further, with no title since 1996 and this their first run to the last four since 2000.

Date, kick-off time and venue

Nigeria vs South Africa is scheduled for a 5pm GMT kick-off on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.

The match will take place at Stade de la Paix in Bouake.

Where to watch Nigeria vs South Africa

TV channel: In the UK, the game will be televised live on BBC Two, with coverage starting at 4.30pm GMT, as well as Sky Sports Main Event and Premier League.

Live stream: Sky subscribers can also catch the contest live online via the Sky Go app while the game will also be shown for free via the BBC Sport and iPlayer portals.

Live blog: You can follow all the action on matchday via Standard Sport’s live blog.

What we know

♦ Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen was taken off late on against Angola with an abdominal injury and he did not join the rest of the squad in flying out to Bouake on Monday evening.

A team statement assured that he could yet be released to travel on Tuesday if he passes medical checks.

Hugo Broos has a settled line-up for South Africa, with the defence entirely made up of Mamelodi Sundowns players.

However, after failing to score against Cape Verde he could tinker with the attack.

♦ Both teams have been outstanding defensively throughout the tournament and it feels as though a single goal will prove the difference in this game.

Head to head (h2h) history and results

Super Eagles captain William Troost-Ekong scored an 89th-minute winner when Nigeria knocked Bafana Bafana out of the 2019 Cup of Nations quarter-finals, which was these two sides’ last meeting.

Nigeria wins: 7

South Africa wins: 2

Draws: 5

Nigeria vs South Africa match odds

Nigeria to qualify: 1/2

South Africa to qualify: 7/1

Texas Guardian News
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