Liberia: 76-Year-Old Boakai Not Giving Up His “Desire” to Be President; Says He’s Fit and Most Qualified to Defeat Weah
MONROVIA — With barely two years to the conduct of the 2023 general and presidential elections in Liberia, the Political Leader of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) Josephn Nyuma Boakai says he remains fully capable and fit to replace incumbent President George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) — a man he believes came to power as a result of mistake made by vast majority of Liberians in 2017.
Mr. Boakai, who served as Vice President for 12 years during the administration of ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is currently the Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which comprises of the UP, All Liberian Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), and the Liberty Party (LP).
He disclosed that despite losing to President Weah during the 2017 general and presidential elections run-off votes, he stills hold the desire to serve Liberians at the level of the presidency.
He made these comments in an interview with the BBC from the United States on Thursday, November 11.
Mr. Boakai claimed that Liberians, especially young people have realized that they made a mistake in the past to elect President Weah, and now see him as one who will “set the agenda for them for a prosperous Liberia”.
Already, Mr. Boakai has been endorsed by the UP, contest the ensuing primary for the Standard Bearer position of the CPP.
Despite being flogged in the just ended presidential election, Mr. Boakai believes that he was not rejected by the electorates who participated in the democratic process that brought President Weah to power
To address deficiencies
When quizzed whether he stills want to be President of Liberia, former VP Boakai stated: “very much sure-not an ambition but it is a desire to serve my people in an area I see lot of deficiency. We accept the will of the democratic society, but I know that I was not rejected”.
Mr. Boakai emphasized that with all of the current happenings in the country under the CDC led-government of President George Manneh Weah, Liberians have “re-made up their minds” to vote him (Boakai) into power.
“Liberian electorates have found out that they made a mistake and that mistake needs to be corrected”.
Mr. Boakai will be 78 years old in 2023. If things work his way or in his favor following the finding of a resolution to the rigmarolewithin the CPP, he will be contesting against President Weah, who will be in his 50s.
He noted that despite his age, he remains fully fit and capable to compete with the incumbent come 2023 general and presidential elections.
“In terms of fitness, I am very fit; in terms of being able to compete, I am very, very capable. We are not talking about age. I am in very good health. Weah may be in his 50s, but he’s not doing what the people want”.
Mr. Boakai maintained that Liberia and its citizens currently need a leader that is capable, fit, and able to lead by examples.
“I don’t have health problems. I am a normal human being; went through normal things. My activities have shown that I am capable and able to move around wherever I need to go”.
Mr. Boakai and Mr. Alexander Cummings, Political Leader of the ANC-who has already been endorsed by his party-are the two forerunners for the CPP Standard Bearer position.
Benoni Urey and Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Political Leaders of the ALP, and LP have not made known their intention to contest for the presidency on the ticket of the CPP.
Mr. Boakai observed that despite his capability and desire to serve the Liberian people at the level of the presidency, one of his colleagues, Mr. Alexander Cummings is also ambitious of the post.
“When we came together, we came together with an understanding that everyone of us will be qualified to run as President. So, Mr. Alexander Cummings is ambitious to be President, that’s his decision and we respect that too”.
No free ride
Mr. Boakai and Mr. Cummings have not been able to muster the courage to step aside for either of them to be the consensus candidate for the CPP in 2023.
He vowed not to ensure a “free ride” for Mr. Cummings to ascend to the Standard Bearer position of the CPP.
“It’s not going to be a free ride; it’s a decision that Liberians could embrace. So it’s not stepping aside; it’s deciding who is best suited.Party unity does not require someone just waive his rights. We have a process and we will follow that process”.
“I am going through the process; we have the rules set in that document. So, it’s not something that you are going to say step aside because, we have processes that we have to follow and Liberians are looking forward to who is best suited. The only person who can defeat George Weah is Joe Boakai”.
Resolving CPP Wahala
For sometimes now, there has been intense internal wrangling within the CPP.
Claims and counter claims continue to intensify on a regular basis since reports of the alleged altering of the CPP framework document broke out.
In recent times, the situation has worsened with executives and stalwarts of the political parties that make up the CPP being embroiled into throwing jibes and using derogatory comments against one another, including their political leaders as a result of the holding of a ceremony to turn over the chairmanship of the CPP at the headquarters of the Unity Party (UP), instead of the Liberty Party (LP), which has been the custom, and a welcoming ceremony held for the Political Leader of the ANC, Mr. Alexander Cummings at the LP headquarters, instead of hisown party headquarters.
Executive committees of the UP, ANC, ALP and LP have been split over the selection of a standard bearer of the CPP.
But Mr. Boakai justified that the current happenings within the collaboration are not unique to the CPP.
“We had some problems with the framework document and those issues that have been discovered. I just took over as the Chairperson (of the CPP) and I came here. As people know me-I am good at resolving issues and when I go back, we definitely will resolve those issues”.
“We will resolve the issues that we have and I know that when we resolved those issues, we will move forward”.
According to him, the magnitude of the problems within the CPP is not “insurmountable”.
Mr. Boakai maintained that with vigor of recommitment among leaders of the collaboration, a way forward for the betterment of the CPP will be actualized.
He said Mr. Cummings’ conspicuous absencefrom the turning over ceremony does not in any way imply that he’s not willing to cooperate or work with his colleagues within the CPP.
He clarified that via telephone conversation, the ANC Political Leader informed him that he couldn’t attend the event because he had to attend to some “urgent matters”.
Reaching out to Ellen
Former President Sirleaf did not openly support Mr. Boakai during the 2017 general and presidential elections.
Madam Sirleaf told the international media that it was time for the young generation to take over the leadership of Liberia during the campaign period of the elections.
Her comments led her into trouble with the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the UP. She was expelled from the party on her birthday in 2017 for openly showing support for the candidacy of President Weah over Mr. Boakai.
Months ago, an olive branch was extended to her and other members of the party following the surreptitious removal of Wilmot Paye as Chairman of the UP.
But Mr. Boakai stills see Madam Sirleaf as a friend and holds nothing against her, though her support to his political ambition remains uncertain.
“I just attended her birthday program and I went to visit her. As far as I am concern, I have no problem with her”, he stated.
When asked whether he has received the blessing of his former best friend and boss for the 2023 general and presidential elections, Mr. Boakai stated: “it’s a choice she has to make”.