Liberian President Suffers Heat Exhaustion At Inauguration

Joseph Boakai was sworn in but had to be helped away from the podium after struggling to finish his speech in the sweltering heat.

Liberia’s new president, Joseph Boakai, has bounced back from an episode of heat exhaustion that forced him to cut short his inauguration speech on Monday, his office said.

The 79-year-old paused twice in sweltering heat during his speech at an outdoor ceremony in the West African nation’s capital, Monrovia.

His aides helped him to leave the podium, ending the ceremony early.

The president’s office released a statement later on Monday saying Boakai had suffered heat exhaustion.

Doctors since declared Boakai to be “perfectly fine,” and he has “resumed his normal activities,” his office said.

Age and energy questioned during election

Boakai narrowly defeated the outgoing president, former football star George Weah, in a runoff election in November.

During the election campaign, some of his opponents had criticized his age and energy, but his team had dismissed these concerns.

Boakai is a veteran politician who served as vice president between 2006 and 2018 and previously also as the minister of agriculture.

He campaigned on a pledge to “rescue” Liberia from several issues, particularly corruption and a lack of basic services.

“We see hard times, we see dysfunctioning… we see corruption in high and low places. And (it’s) in these and similar conditions that we have come to the rescue,” Boakai declared before he was forced to cut short his speech Monday.

lo/jcg (AFP, Reuters)

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