Monrovians flooded the streets to celebrate the victory of former soccer star George Weah on Thursday.
With more than 98% of the votes counted Weah led with 61% against Vice President Joseph Boakai’s 38.5%.
The last democratic transfer of power was in 1944. Liberia saw a military coup in 1980 and thousands died in a 14-year civil war that ended in 2003.
Weah grew up in Clara Town slum in Monrovia and went on to become the only African to win FIFA World Player of the Year, starring for AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Chelsea.
His popularity at home fuelled a previous run for president in 2005. He won the first round but lost the second round to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom he will now succeed.
His rags-to-riches story helped him tap into dissatisfaction with Johnson Sirleaf’s 12-year tenure.
She drew a line under years of civil war but drew criticism for failing to root out corruption and persistent poverty.