Former soccer great George Weah was sworn in Monday as the new president of Liberia, succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who stepped down after two terms as Africa’s first female president.
Weah, 51, was elected last month, handily defeating Vice President Joseph Boakai in a runoff.
The West African nation had its first democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years.
In his swearing-in ceremony at a stadium in the capital of Monrovia, Weah promised to fight the corruption that has besieged the country.
“It is my belief that the most effective way to directly impact the poor, and to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, is to make sure that public resources do not end up in the pockets of government officials,” he said, according to Reuters.
The start of his reign was recognized across the Atlantic, as Rep. Karen Bass congratulated Weah upon taking the oath of office.
“Congratulations to George Weah and the Liberian people as they complete the first democratic transition of power in their country since 1944,” Bass said in a statement. “I look forward to working with President Weah and the Liberian people to continue the peaceful, prosperous and unified legacy left by outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose service to Liberia, to the continent of Africa, and to the entire world, will forever be remembered.”