Liberia: Boakai’s Urey Association Raising Eyebrows
It’s no secret Former VP Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the Unity Party is facing a tough race against Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) to be crowned standard-bearer of the Coalition of Political Parties (CPP).
By David Moses, Contributing Writer
Boakai, who spent twelve years as Vice President under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is working against views held by many that he did not accomplish much as Vice President and was rarely seen in a leadership role.
Worse yet for Boakai, during his unsuccessful 2017 bid for the presidency that he lost to George Weah, he was named “Sleepy Joe” due to his tendency to fall asleep during meetings and other official functions. Even international media reporting on the elections referred to him by this embarrassing moniker.
Boakai’s crushing failure in 2017 was already cause for doubt among the constituent parties of the CPP. While an uncomfortable subject to discuss, the candidate’s age has raised questions about his health and his ability to take on the rigors of the presidency. Liberia cannot afford someone who is asleep at the wheel.
Just last month, Boakai found himself fending off accusations that he underwent heart surgery. He responded to the allegations with the less-than-reassuring claim that he in fact underwent treatment to have a pacemaker implanted, adding that he “went to the hospital because of the stress from campaigning” before adding that people with a pacemaker “can live up to 90 years.”
If campaigning is already resulting in health scares, what about governing? Is this the reason why he has already promised he would be a single-term president?
Boakai’s recent behavior shows all the signs of a candidate who is not hungry for victory. On June 3, FPA headlined that Boakai urged residents of Lofa County – his stronghold and the only county that voted in his favor in 2017 – to “Give Pres. Weah a Rousing Welcome.” This is not the sign of a candidate ready to carry the mantle of the CPP in what promises to be a very difficult race.
And of course, the real danger of weakness in a candidate for president is in the people who may surround him, hoping to take advantage. It’s telling that Boakai’s most consistent supporter is Benoni Urey of the All Liberia Party (ALP).
Not only is Benoni Urey unable to succeed in politics without riding someone’s coattails (including his daughter’s) – he is perhaps most famous for turning on his benefactors as soon as he stands to profit. Urey had publicly declared his support and thrown his money behind Boakai, but he has been awfully quiet in recent weeks. His full-throated support for Boakai looks to have turned into a wait-and-see approach as he plays the field to identify the winning candidate.
Given that Boakai’s greatest appeal to voters is his status as a wise, experienced politician who is incorruptible, one must wonder what Boakai is thinking, associating himself and his campaign with an ex-associate of Charles Taylor. Not only is Charles Taylor a convicted war criminal; he has railed from prison against the betrayal of his former supporters.
Boakai denies being corrupt, but can he detect corruption in others? The CPP must hope that he awakens soon – or put their faith in someone else.