Newly-elected Liberian president has medical episode during inauguration speech

 January 25, 2024

Liberia isn't a country mentioned much in the daily news cycle, but that changed this week after its new president experienced a scary emergency.

According to the BBC, Liberia's new President, Joseph Boakai, alarmed his followers after he could not finish his inauguration speech and was helped away from the podium.

A spokesperson for the newly-elected president said he suffered from a bout of heat stroke.

Notably, his health was questioned during his campaign, and was often used against him, making his very public incident less than ideal.

What happened?

Bokai reportedly spoke for about 30 minutes during his inauguration speech before he reportedly began to not feel well, which eventually led to aides rushing in to help him.

The 78-year-olds health and age-related concerns almost cost him the election, as he narrowly beat 57-year-old former football star George Weah, the outgoing president. Bokai's win came via a run-off election in November.

Video of the frightening moment was uploaded to social media. Bokai can be seen trembling as he experienced his medical episode before his aides finally realized something was wrong.

The BBC noted:

He had already been sworn in as Liberia's oldest-ever president at the outside ceremony held at the Capitol Building, the seat of parliament in the capital, Monrovia.
The temperature had reached more than 30C in swelteringly humid conditions.

In the 30 minutes or so that he was able to speak to the crowd of Liberian supporters, he pledged "to rescue all Liberians from the tough economic times, address corruption and improve basic services."

Doing fine

According to his spokespeople, Bokai was reportedly not taken to the hospital following the medical episode. Some social media users reported the incident as an actual "stroke," though it doesn't seem to be the case given he was not taken to a hospital for urgent medical care.

"His doctors have declared him perfectly fine," spokesperson Charles Snetter told reporters.

Another spokesperson said, "The president is normal, and he's doing well."

The BBC added:

Mr Boakai was vice-president in Nobel Peace Prize-winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government until 2018, and contested the presidency under the banner of the United Party (UP).

He defeated Mr Weah by just over 20,000 votes in the run-off vote.

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