Former vice President Joseph Boakai Sunday appealed to the country’s youths to back his presidential bid, promising a better future than what main rival incumbent President George Weah is offering.
Boakai, 78, drew an impressive crowd of tens of thousands of people at Monrovia’s Antoinette Tubman Stadium in a rather last-ditch attempt to secure the coveted office of president lost to Weah in 2017.
His less than two minutes speech at the opposition Unity Party’s rally targeted young people. “I will protect you from kush,” he told supporters who were dancing and chanting change slogan under a heavy downpour of rain.
Kush here is a locally cheap made substance, which many young people in the Mano River Countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia are becoming addicted to with fatal consequences.
Boakai alleges Weah and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change are responsible for the spread of narcotic in the country. The President has dismissed the accusation as campaign propaganda.
No policy Issues
The Unity Party’s first main political rally since the start of campaign fall short of policy prescription and issues including how they intend to govern the country and handle the national economy, which performance they have often criticized.
Boakai who served as Johnson Sirleaf’s deputy between 2006 and 2018 is however banking on souring food and fuel oil prices and corruption scandal to retake power lost to the ex in the 2017 presidential contest.
Tackling corruption will be one of the primary objectives of his administration, the former Vice President said in a July 12 statement.
“The cancer is eating up the country and it must be faced with utmost brutality.
“I will fully empower renowned anti-corruption czars, entrusting them with the critical responsibility of recovering stolen funds and ill-gotten properties from officials of the Weah Government.”
Why the focus on Youth?
Sixty-six percent of the 5.5 million Liberian population are youth. Those between the ages of 18 and 32 constituted 53% of the voters in the December 2017 runoff elections, according to the Institute of Security Studies. The trend continue this year.
The ruling CDC is mainly youth driven and a vast number of young people across the country see party leader Weah as a source of inspiration.
About 2.5 million people will participate in this year’s vote at the heels of a stuttering economy impacted by Russia war in Ukraine and the aftereffects of COVID-19.
Global uncertainty on the domestic economy have seen inflation climbed to 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2023 from the 7.3% average rate recorded for the previous quarter according to the Central Bank of Liberia. The economy will grow 4.6 percent this year, it said.