On Friday, April 28th, 2023, Joseph N. Boakai, the standard-bearer of the Unity Party, announced Jeremiah K. Koung as his vice-presidential candidate. Koung is a confidant of Prince Y. Johnson and the standard-bearer of his party, the Movement for Democracy and Reconciliation (MDR).
By Boima A. Gailor, [email protected]
Prior to the announcement of Koung, PYJ was on every media outlet saying that the JNB vp pick would come from Nimba, and it certainly came to fruition. Looking at PYJ’s influence everywhere on the ticket coupled with Jeremiah Koung’s alleged harvesting and sale of Liberians’ body parts, it makes me look deeper into this ticket and JNB’s decision-making process.
JNB has always considered himself as this “parked race car” which when taken out of the parking garage would make good driving decisions. To the contrary, the car has made two dangerous accidents since it was taken out of the garage.
The very first time JNB had an opportunity to make a vital decision after 12 years as a vice president under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and show wisdom without hindrance was during the crisis of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP), for which he failed badly.
During that crisis, there were hopes that this “parked race car,” who is assumed to be a wisdom-packed man because of his age, would have faced the race and made the right decision, but instead, the car opted to take the opposite lane, which led to a crash. He withdrew his party from the CPP, he bore false witness as a deacon against a long-time friend in a bogus case that had no merit and was later thrown out of the courts. There are political pundits who believed that JNB was the mastermind behind the dismantling of the CPP and the splitting of the Liberty party into factions.
JNB has yet to call for reconciliation on both sides as the splits benefit him. The international implication of his VP pick JNB decision has sent a clear message to Liberia’s ally, the United States, about the direction of the country under Boakai’s leadership. It suggests that Boakai is willing to align himself with individuals who have been implicated in serious human rights abuses and who are viewed with suspicion by the international community.
The US has been a strong supporter of Liberia’s democratic transition, and it is likely that this move will cause concerns in Washington. The US has placed sanctions on Johnson for his role in the country’s democratic process and for his alleged involvement in several pay-to-play schemes that undermine the country’s democracy. By associating himself with figures like Koung, Boakai is risking his relationship with the US and potentially undermining Liberia’s progress in establishing a stable and democratic government.
It is worth noting that Boakai has the right to choose his own vice-presidential candidate, and Koung’s alleged involvement with the harvesting and selling of human parts is something that is worth looking into. However, Senator Koung’s inability to respond to the allegations raised by one of JNB’s strongest allies, Henry Costa, is concerning. Jeremiah K. Koung’s close ties to Johnson and the fact that he works for Johnson’s party raise more questions about his suitability for the vice presidency.
Overall, the decision to appoint Koung sends a troubling message about Liberia’s commitment to human rights and democratic values. It may also strain the country’s relationship with the US at a time when strong international partnerships are crucial for Liberia’s development and stability. It remains to be seen how the US will respond to this development, but it will be closely watched by both domestic and international observers.