Gbarnga, Bong County – During the campaign period for the October 10 presidential and legislative elections, Vice President Joseph Boakai got the highest endorsements from citizens, incumbent lawmakers and others in Bong County, with bookmakers predicting that the Unity Party standard bearer was likely to pull votes in the county.
On top of that, the running mate to Boakai, J. Emmanuel Nuquay, made Bong County his second home, regularly touring the county and vigorously campaigning.
Dubbed as one of the key decision making counties due to the high number of voters – 208,123 – until Tuesday, October 10, political analysts predicted a Unity Party and Boakai success in the county, but the reality is now setting in and proving the contrary.
With provisional results in from 82 polling centers from the over 250 polling centers across Bong County, the CDC is ahead of the ruling Unity Party in Bong. From that amount the CDC has 6,509 while the Unity Party 4,025.
The strong showing from the CDC in the county is coming as a surprise to many owing to the wave of endorsements from “political leaders” of the county for the candidacy of the vice president.
Jewel Howard-Taylor, who is the running mate to CDC’s George Weah, had a political battle to fight, in securing much of the registered voters from the county.
Howard-Taylor’s selection as running mate to Weah came three years after securing re-election despite the conglomeration of the same group of “political elites” not supporting her.
With the provisional results coming from Bong putting the CDC ahead of the UP and with runoff likely, it clearly shows that Howard-Taylor’s selection as running mate to Weah is paying off.
Jewel proves supremacy yet again
The good showing of the results clearly means that Senator Taylor is distinguishing herself as the “political face” of Bong County.
In previous elections, the same group of lawmakers fought Senator Taylor from retaining her seat, but she triumphed over former Cuttington University president, Dr. Henrique Tokpa.
Though the so-called political elites of the county declared for Unity Party, the outcome from these areas shows that their support for Boakai was a mere bluff and didn’t gather the results many expected their endorsements would have had.
In Totota, where former Bong County superintendent Selena Polson-Mappy and 11 legislative candidates for the race of electoral district six endorsed Boakai, but their endorsements could not help Boakai as the vote difference between the CDC and UP is 1,000 from the 82 polling center in favor of the CDC.
Though the party’s candidate there, Adam Bill Corneh, fared poorly, the CDC won at all the polling centers in Totota, Salala and Sanoyea districts.
Gbarnga, where many had expected the endorsements of Vice President Boakai by the so-called “political elites” would have had impact; it turned out to be the worse as the CDC won with 231 vote difference.
From the provisional results, it has been gathered that the first time voters who are in good number are rallying behind the CDC while the older voters are sticking with Boakai.
For many first time voters, they knew little or nothing about the traditional politics or the old history of Bong County politics.
Taylor Factor Paying Off?
While the continuous reports of the involvement of former Liberian President Charles Taylor seems to be painting a bleak picture of the CDC on the international stage, it seems it is aiding the CDC in Bong County.
When the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that Taylor is interfering with the CDC campaign, it appeared as a big negative image for the party due to the history of Mr. Taylor, who is now in a UK prison.
On October 10, voters in Bong who apparently don’t care about what is reported by the BBC or is being said internationally showed support for the CDC at the polls.
Judging from the way the votes are being counted, the CDC performance in Bong indicates that the Taylor’s factor is key to CDC performance in the county.
During the campaign, the “Charles Taylor factor” was a major talking point with many saying that they would vote the party because of the love they have for Taylor.
Mr. Taylor is still popular in Bong County, the place he used as the headquarters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) that later transitioned into a political party, the National Patriotic Party (NPP).
When CDC standard bearer Weah admitted that he had spoken with Mr. Taylor from prison, observers said it was a big political blunder but many saw Weah’s revelation as an encouraging factor in Bong to vote for a party supported by Mr. Taylor whom they still miss dearly.
Taylor’s NPP and another political party, the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), formed a coalition with the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) which is now the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on which ticket Weah is contesting with Howard Taylor.
In the event of a runoff it will be interesting to see how if Bong will vote for CDC amid the wake of the CDC already showing big strength in all South eaters Counties and also counties such as Grand Cape Mount and others.
The provisional results are indicating that the CDC is proving strong in almost 10 counties all not vote rich leaving the Unity Party to hang unto vote rich Lofa, Nimba, Bong and Margibi but should Bong go the way of the CDC, it could be big trouble for the UP in the event of a runoff.
Even in Margibi where Vice Standard of the UP, Nuquay hails, the CDC is showing good strength and where there to be a runoff, if the UP does not put its house in order, the CDC could be nearing state power for the first time in its political story after two successive failed attempts.
It is now clear that first time voters who case less about that is being said have the final decision to make in the current political process.