Liberia: Rep. Yonquoi Wants U.S. Govt. Prevent Sen. Johnson from Contesting 2023 Elections

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MONROVIA – Nimba County Representative Larry Younquoi is calling on the United States government to institute additional measures to prevent his kinsman, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, from contesting the pending 2023 general and presidential elections in Liberia.

Senator Johnson is the former leader of the notorious rebel group -Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL)-that captured, tortured, mutilated and executed former Liberian President Samuel Kanyon Doe on September 9, 1990.

He is currently serving his second term in the 54th National Legislature as Senator of Nimba.

On December 9, 2021, Senator Johnson was among 14 others sanctioned by the US treasury. He was accused of corruption and being “involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment”.

“As a Senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants. The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars” the US Treasury statement maintained.

It added: “Additionally, Johnson receives an undeserved salary from the GOL as a salaried intelligence “source” yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting to the GOL; Johnson is reportedly being paid in order to maintain domestic stability. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money”.

In reaction, Senator Johnson requested the US government to provide evidence because; the allegations levied against him were “vague”.

But speaking in an interview with FrontPage Africa via telephone on Tuesday, January 18, Representative Younquoi observed that Senator Johnson has been “politically dead” since the US government’s statement was released against him.

Representative Larry Yonquoi

He emphasized that despite the decision taken by the US, his kinsman has not been remorseful and therefore, the US government should go the extra mile by ensuring that he (Johnson) does not contest future elections in Liberia.

According to him, Senator Johnson will appear like a “laughing stock” of Nimba County if he is allowed or permitted to contest in future elections.

“Prince Johnson (Senator) has lost political relevance since the US government’s sanctions against him. Why should one elect a Senator who cannot travel; even if he can travel, he cannot have any face within the international community. He is almost like a laughing stock of our county and he’s politically dead now. I want to call on the American government to go another step by telling him (Prince Johnson) not to run because what is the essence of him running?”

Take cue from previous actions

Representative Younquoi stated that the US government should take cue from its previous condemnation of Senator Johnson’s election as Chairman of the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, Intelligence, and Veteran Affairs.

In May 2021, Senator Johnson was elected by his colleagues to serve the position.

But a strong-worded condemnation barely a day after the election, the US government pointed out that Senator Johnson’s gross human rights violations during Liberia’s civil wars, are well-documented; his continued efforts to protect himself from accountability, enrich his own coffers and sow division are also well known. 

“That the Liberian Senate would see fit to elevate him to a leadership role – particularly in the area in which he has done this country the most harm — creates doubts as to the seriousness of the Senate as a steward of Liberia’s defense and security.  The U.S. government is proud of our longstanding partnership with the Ministry of National Defense and Armed Forces of Liberia which will continue — but we can have no relationship with Senator Johnson”.

Two weeks later, Senator Johnson reluctantly tendered in his resignation as Chair of the committee.

Representative Younquoi emphasized that similar method and pressure that compelled his kinsman to resign from the Senate Committee on National Security, Defense, Intelligence, and Veteran Affairs should also be implored by the US government to prevent Senator Johnson from engaging into another “pay-to-play” come 2023.

He said the US government is one of the key sponsors of the electioneering processes in Liberia, and as such, they should take actions to prevent Senator Johnson, who he claimed has a “tainted character”.

“If the US government first reason of rejecting him (Senator Johnson) to be on the committee of national defense is so that their money cannot be used because Senator Johnson is a wanted person or he has tainted record; then it will be hypocritical to allow him to run in an election that is sponsored by America [and other donor countries/agencies]. They can use this to get him out”.

Representative Younquoi urged Senator Johnson to muster the courage to downplay his quest to contest the pending 2023 elections because citizens and residents of Nimba are cognizant of his alleged “poor performance” at the Capitol Building.

Quoting the latest report released by IREDD, Representative Younquoi pointed out that the former INPFL rebel leader scored poor marks in attendance and participation.

PYJ University

He further doubted the full operations of the university which was constructed in the county by Senator Johnson, adding that, it will not reach the optimal”.

“Senator Johnson so called university he has built in Nimba; it is not going anywhere because you cannot do anything without America’s support. One person cannot own university; he was asked for the university name and people said with that name, nothing good can come out of it”.

Plea to citizens

He used this medium to call on citizens of Nimba to continue to make independent political judgment, instead of following Senator Johnson.

Representative Younquoi stated that citizens should have in mind that though they have given Senator Johnson the highest votes from the county twice, they have not been able to benefit from those votes.

According to him, Senator Johnson has been the only one benefitting from his “pay-to-play” scheme, adding that, “it’s now time for the citizens to look elsewhere”.

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