World Bulletin / News Desk
George Weah emerged from Liberia's slums to become a superstar footballer in the 1990s, and has spent the last 13 years building political credibility to match his status as a sporting icon.
"I am a human being, I strive to be excellent, and I can be successful," Weah told journalists ahead of his inauguration, countering critics who say he is ill-prepared for office after serving in the Senate for just over three years.
The first African player to win both FIFA's World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d'Or, Weah was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and later Chelsea.
Weah becomes the 25th president of the west African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years and completing its first democratic transition since 1944.
"We love him, we just love him," said mature student Moses Adams, as he watched Weah and his veterans' team play a friendly game against the army ahead of his inauguration.
"I expect big change. I expect our lives to be better. I expect prices of things to go down, and I expect schools to be given priority," Adams said.
Weah faces the challenges of a depressed export economy highly reliant on rubber and iron ore, and has pledged to make the country more self-sufficient by transforming the agriculture sector and providing vocational training.
Sirleaf maintained a peace desperately needed after a war that killed a quarter of a million people, but extreme poverty remains the norm for most Liberians.
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