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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Liberia: Boakai’s Many Enemies That May Cost Him the Presidency

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By Festus Poquie

Influential politicians who were once allies of former Vice President Joseph Boakai and now enemies may play a decisive role in denying him the presidency for the second time in six years.

Boakai,78, is hoping to recover from the 2017 devastating defeat to the President George Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change but his chances appear even slimmer due to increase in the number of broken relationships and political foes.

The Unity Party leader entered the presidential race in 2017 without the backing of the party’s most populous figure in former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Impact: Boakai lost, obtaining 38.4% of the valid votes.

Six years after that disappointing show Boakai is in the race again and the situation of 2017 remains the same with relations with ex-boss Sirleaf severely damaged seemingly beyond repair.

He fault the former president for his loss and still sees Johnson Sirleaf as a decisive factor in the October 10 vote. He reactivated the bile on Monday in an interview with radio Truth FM.

“I was in an election that was not backed by a principal who had praised me all through… but we saw that she was distancing herself from me and we know when the incumbent is not in your favor.”

“I felt cheated. I felt there were many violations at that time.”

Beyond Johnson Sirleaf, Boakai has made new enemies in Alexander Cummings, Benoni Urey, Musa Hassan Bility, Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe and influential broadcast
personality Henry Costa. Senator Emmanuel Nuquah, his 2017 running mate parted company since 2018. Nuquah is currently supporting incumbent Weah. Senator Edwin Snowe,
a key member of the Unity Party’s 2017 campaign has left and is backing the ruling CDC.

The Bomi lawmaker’s relationship with the veteran politician hit rock bottom when he leaked WhatsApp conversation between the pair.

In the conversation Boakai accused Snowe of fooling him into agreeing to accept President George Weah’s financial aid for medical. Snowe will regret his action, Boaki concluded in the leaked message.

In the aftermath of the 2017 defeat, the former vice president and heads of leading opposition political parties worked on a political alliance to challenged Weah in the 2023 elections. The alliance collapsed one year before the elections with Boakai pulling out of the deal. Now all the parties have gone solo in an acrimonious way.
On January 5th Alexander Cummings, the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), a member of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP, an alliance of four opposition parties), appeared in court accused of fraudulently altering the framework document that binds the CPP together. In that case Boakai testified against Cummings.

On January 3rd Benoni Urey, the leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), another member of the CPP, filed a suit against Cummings alleging that he fraudulently altered coalition agreement documents without consulting the other parties in the coalition. According to the ALP, the decision to file the suit and thus remove the ANC from the coalition resulted from the ANC’s failure to respond to an internal investigation into the alleged altering of the CPP’s framework document, thus forcing the other parties to take legal action.

This comes after months of squabbling between the members of the CPP, which comprises the Unity Party (UP), the ALP, the Liberty Party (LP) and the ANC.
“The fracturing of the main opposition coalition, and the removal of its, will greatly reduce the ability of the opposition to attract mass support in the 2023 elections and increase the chances of victory for the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC), led by the current president, George Weah,” the Economist Intelligence said in a 2022 forecast.

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