Liberia: Unity Party Standard Bearer Long Wait To Announce Running Mate Disintegrating Opposition Bloc
Monrovia – Joseph Boakai’s search for a running mate has intensified the jockeying and lobbying between some of those who want to become his number two man, and even some allies of the Unity Party standard bearer are worried that the process has become “messier than it should be,” pitting potential candidates against one another.
By Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The dynamics threaten to undermine Boakai’s effort to use the running mate search to spotlight his preferred choice. And it’s already providing the opening for the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Mannah Weah to dig up dirt and launch attacks on the Unity Party.
“It’s been relentless. It’s been unfortunate. But I must say it’s been predictable,” said Amos J. Kollie, a member of Unity Party Youth League, Bong County Chapter. “It’s extremely disappointing because many of these attacks are being said by people from within.”
“I would’ve hoped that this running mate selection process, we were going to be mindful of statements, but it has gone out of hand,” he said.
The increasing internal fight is fueled by a sense, even among Boakai’s closest advisers, that the Unity Party standard bearer is entering the final phase of the search without a clear favorite.
The delay has intensified currents that have been swirling for days. The resulting backbiting risks inflaming divisions within the Unity Party that complicated the 2017 presidential campaign – when Boakai announced former House Speaker and now Senator of Margibi County, Emmanuel Nuquay, three months before the election.
In recent days the attention has focused on popular Talk-Show host, Henry Costa, who took aim at Nimba County senator and one of the favorites for the running mate slot to Boakai, Jeremiah Koung, claiming that the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) lawmaker is involved in shipping human parts out of Liberia to amass wealth.
Costa’s rants at Koung have been condemned, with former deputy information minister Eugine Fahngon saying that Costa “had no remorse” for his attacks on Koung while claiming to be pushing for a Boakai presidency.
“It is messier than it should be because somebody is trying to create a story against potential running mate to Boakai,” Fahngon said, adding, “Costa is working for the government to disintegrate the opposition.”
The CDC has immediately seized on the internal fight within in the Unity Party. Bomi County Senator, Edwin Melvin Snowe, took to Facebook to remind his followers about the collapse of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP). “The autopsy report for the death of the CPP is out. We will understand better by better.”
The competition to become Boakai’s running mate is always going to be fierce. “It’s natural that it’s competitive,” said Bill McGil Jones, a stalwart of the Unity Party. “It’s historic regardless of who he chooses, so that probably adds to the intensity of it.”
“Boakai is and has been working with different opposition political parties in his bid to have a strong collaboration to defeat President Weah. To achieve the desired result he’s working on more consultations, dialogues and facts to support his decision,” he added.
“Given everything we have heard about and seen, I believe the consultations are now at the concluding stage and a decision will be up soon. Political decisions making are not event rather, they instill a process of engagement and dialogue.”
FrontPageAfrica has gathered allies of Grand Bassa County senator Youngblee Karngar Lawrence have been lobbying the Boakai team in public and in private.
FrontPageAfrica gathered Boakai’s advisers and allies have become torn over whether it is more important to choose a female a running mate or not.
While the subject isn’t necessarily mutually exclusive, there is an ongoing debate about whether Boakai “should take the risk and select Sen. Lawrence of the Liberty Party amid her current legal impasse at the Supreme Court or “select Koung whose political godfather Sen. Prince Johnson has a history of participating in the civil war in Liberia,” a strategist familiar with discussions said.
The strategist was one of multiple Unity Party partisans who described a debate in and around the periphery of Boakai’s running mate about the significance of selecting a running mate sooner to avoid a repeat of 2017. They are also debating how wary Boakai should be of selecting someone who has not been tested by the rigors of a presidential campaign.