Liberia: National Patriotic Party Chairman Laments Poor Security Provided Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor
Gbarnga, Bong County – The chairman of the National Patriotic Party (NPP), John Gray, says Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor is not protected under the government of President George Weah.
Report by Selma Lomax, [email protected]
The NPP is part of a coalition with Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change and Alex Tyler’s Liberia’s People Democratic Party under the banner of the Coalition for Democratic Change. It emerged winner of the 2017 presidential election, defeating former Vice President, Joseph Boakai’s Unity Party.
Gray said the vice president’s security personnel have been restricted by the CDC government and she doesn’t have the proper cars in her convoy to represent her status.
He, however, didn’t state what level of restriction security personnel around the vice president are being given.
Gray spoke Thursday, September 12 in Gbarnga at the funeral service of two of persons killed last week in the vice President’s motorcade accident.
Gray attributed the accident to what he described as “faulty vehicles” given to the vice president by the government.
“You can’t have a vice president and give her old cars, you limit her security personnel. What’s the intent?”
“The car the vice president rides is her personal car. You don’t treat someone who was very instrumental in making the coalition wins the presidency. Politically, the NPP is as significant as any party within the coalition.”
Gray said before the coalition was formed, the CDC, as a party, never won Bong County since 2005. He claimed it was because of the presence of Jewel that the party won Bong County and both the first and second rounds of the election.
“Jewel deserves respect. You can’t be treating her like she’s politically irrelevant. In 2005, the CDC finished third in Bong County, behind the Unity Party and the National Democratic Party of Liberia. In 2011, the CDC lost Bong with a wide margin. It was because of the NPP factor that the CDC won Bong County in 2017,” he said.
Beginning of Weah-Jewel feud
In February this year, the Ministry of Internal Affairs dismissed two traditional leaders of Bong County, two weeks after they bestowed the highest traditional honor on the vice president.
Chief Moses Suakollie, former head of chiefs in the county, and Arthur Kulah (head of chiefs in Bong County) lost their jobs following a high-level traditional meeting headed by Assistant Minister of Culture at the Ministry of Internal affairs and Chief Zanzar Karwar, chair of the chiefs and elders of the National Traditional Council of Liberia.
Weeks later, Bong County superintendent Esther Walker, a long-time aide of the vice president, in a leaked audio, suggested that President Weah was unhappy with the honor that was bestowed on the vice president.
Madam Walker explained to her aides that she had attended a party organized by First Lady Clar Weah after President Weah delivered his second Annual Message.
According to her, it was at the President’s Jamaica Resort along the Roberts International Airport highway, where at least three of the President’s trusted lieutenants – Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah and Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill were present.
Feud not Healthy Ahead of 2020
With the 2020 midterm senatorial election lurking, political observers say the current row between the VP and the President if not settled, it would cause the coalition to lose the seat.
According to Togar Weyea, chairman of the Independent Bong Intellectual Class, a civil society group, Bong County is a strategic county for the coalition to lose.
“The CDC could have a serious challenge in Monsterrado County in 2020 from the look of things following the by-election victory of Abe Darius Dillion. The coalition will have to reconcile its differences to ensure that the party wins Bong,” Weyea said.
Weyea said if the ruling party in 2020 loses Bong County, with a voting population of over 200,000, according to the National Elections Commission’s data, it could a bad signal for the party heading into 2023 presidential election.
Already, the CDC appears to be struggling for a candidate in the 2020 senatorial election and also appears divided.
Last month, the VP Taylor insisted that the seat belongs to lower Bong as a means of balancing power in the county.
“You can’t have the two senators coming from the same region of the county. I will support a lower Bong County candidate in 2020,” Vice President Taylor said.
The incumbent senator Henry Yallah, who’s likely to contest on the CDC’s ticket in 2020, is a native of Kokoyah District in lower Bong County. Already partisans of the CDC and Senator Yallah have been organizing meetings with the party structure across the county.
With the CDC and NPP poised to support different candidates from the look of things, political observers believed the collaboration is on the brink of collapse in Bong County