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January 22, 2024

Liberia’s President Boakai suffers ‘heat stroke’ during inauguration

Man collapses, dies of heat exhaustion at Liberian president’s inauguration ceremony

Liberia’s president-elect Joseph Boakai, who defeated President George Weah in a runoff election gives a speech after he was sworn in as president during the inauguration ceremony in Monrovia, Liberia January 22, 2024. REUTERS/Carielle Doe

The newly inaugurated Liberian President, Joseph Boakai, suffered heat stroke while making his inauguration speech on Monday.

Reuters quoted local media that the inauguration ended abruptly as Boakai was led off the podium.

The 79-year-old, who defeated George Weah in a runoff election in November, was sworn in during an outdoor ceremony in sweltering heat in the West African nation’s capital, Monrovia.

Meanwhile, his spokesman, Mohammed Ali said he has been stabilised saying the heat was high when he gave the speech. 

Reports said Boakai paused during his speech and aides rushed to fan him. He continued a few minutes later but stopped again and aides helped him walk away from the podium, curtailing the ceremony.

“It is the heat. The heat was high. They should have had some fan or something around there,” Ali.

“At his age, the exhaustion happened. But it is okay now,” he said at the event.

Some of Boakai’s opponents had raised concerns about his age and energy during election campaigning but his team dismissed the criticism.

Although the inauguration ceremony ended abruptly, Boakai had already taken the oath of office when he was helped away. Officials still proceeded to a planned lunch but Boakai’s whereabouts were not immediately clear.