Liberia: President Weah Predicts Landslide Victory in 2023, Says Opposition Will Cry Foul

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MONROVIA – President George Weah has predicted a landslide victory for himself in the 2023 presidential elections which, he said, would cause the opposition political parties to think that the election was rigged.

He made the statement during an interview with journalists at his residence during his birthday celebration last Friday.

He said, “In 2017, they pronounced that I’ll never become President in this country, now I’m the President. They’ve come again, they say I’ll be a one-term President, my work will speak for me. The Liberian people will go to the polls and I’ll defeat any individual that will come in that race.”

President Weah added, “Next election those people will be crying ‘They cheat me, they cheat me, because I’ll beat them unmercifully.”

The President said he would win all 15 counties in 2023 unlike 2017 where he won 14 of the 15 counties.

Lofa – The Hard Nut

Despite Pres. Weah’s massive victory in the 2017 elections, Lofa County – the home of his arch rival in that election was a no-go zone for Pres. Weah. Being the third most populated county in the country, Lofa threw its entire weight behind former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the Unity Party.

Pres. Weah obtained a dismal 7.04 percent of the total votes in Lofa while the former Vice President had a sweeping 78.48 percent of the total votes.

Despite the contrast in the results, President Weah appears very optimistic that there is going to be a massive turn around in the county during the next election.

FrontPageAfrica has, however, observed some massive underground works being carried out by some emissaries of President Weah including the Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee and Representative Thomas P. Fallah Lofa – both from the county – and have made numerous visits to the county in an attempt to establish and cement bonds with the people of Lofa. The pair have been rumored to be eyeing elected seats in the county.

The Samukai Factor – A Sticky Issue

For the CDC, having a considerable number of votes in Lofa County in the 2023 elections is vital to obtaining the constitutionally required 50 percent plus one vote.

Records from the December 2020 Special Senatorial Elections show that Montserrado County which has always been known to be the stronghold of Mr. Weah showed a major change in the county’s perception about Pres. Weah’s ability to lead the country and thereby giving all of its support to the opposition bloc.

In the 2017 election, the race was competitive in Montserrado County with Weah obtaining 38.37 percent followed by Boakai who had 28.76 percent amid 20 candidates in that election.

In the 2020 Special Senatorial Election, the opposition bloc for the first time since 2005 won Montserrado County with 61.3 percent while the CDC trailed with a 35.7 percent in their own stronghold.

If the opposition bloc continues to solidify its grip of Monterrado County up to the 2023 elections, then Nimba and Lofa Counties have to be heavily contested.

Nimba County, since 2005 elections has been a major determining factor in winning the Liberian presidency. It is the second most populous county and a major decision maker. However, its voting decision is often controlled by whoever Senator Prince Y. Johnson chooses to support.

For now, the CDC enjoys the grace of Senator Johnson. However, the ruling establishment is quite aware that he is a man who easily flips the coin – there is never a 100 percent guarantee of his support until election day.

Lofa County is a place to fight for. The county’s inhabitants are very traditional people. And they appear to be agitated with the Weah-led administration at the moment. Not only that there has not been any improvement on their road condition, but they also feel fought against due to Senator-elect Brownie Samukai’s economic sabotage and theft of property case that has barred him from taking his seat since he got elected.

Many in the county who supported the former Defense Minister to his victory believe the case against him is an intentional push by the government to prevent him from being Senator of Lofa.

Some residents and citizens hailing from the county have threatened to demand the sovereignty of the county should Samukai be denied his elected post.

According to them, they will embark on the process of making Lofa independent no matter how long it takes.

“Even if we don’t complete the process our kids will continue the process. Consultations with our brothers and sisters and other Lofa citizens in the diaspora are ongoing and our elders and chiefs including traditional leaders are consenting already,” Jackson Fallah a youth leader of the county said.

He said the statement to declare Lofa County as country meets the consent of the entire county. “We are in pain, we can’t continue like this, we need to be represented at the decision-making table,” he said.

He made the statements to journalists who gathered in Lofa County to observe the 57th anniversary of the Press Union of Liberia.

The citizens told a team of journalists in Lofa County that the Browne Samukai trial has taken ever so long that even young people of the county have sensed the political game being played on their Senator-elect by this government.

“The Weah led government knows fully well what they are doing and we the people of Lofa are watching. Our unspecified action we will take in the soonest possible time will be harsh, including the declaration of our county as an independent state,” Thomas Momo said.

The Press Union of Liberia and its entire membership suffered the pinch of wrath of the people of Foyah in Lofa County during the Edward Wilmot Bylden Forum there.

Citizens of the county, including chiefs and elders who were invited for the forum walked out of the hall in protest when an official of the government took the stage to give remarks for government.

The PUL program was disrupted for about an hour as journalists attending the program went after the citizens to inquire as to what was unfolding for which they had to leave the hall.

The citizens explained that they were unhappy for an official of government to take the podium and refuse to talk about the burning issues affecting the people of the county but rather choses to talk about President Weah’s birthday.

According to them, the Deputy Information Minister, Jarlawa Tonpo ignored the plights of the people by not mentioning anything about their Senator-elect Browne Samukai, and other burning issues including the deplorable roads conditions, amongst others prompted their walked out.

According to the invited Lofa residents, they all went to attend the PUL program to petition the Press Union of Liberia so that journalists can take their message to the entire government that they are not happy with the way their Senator-elect is being treated.

Some have threatened not to take part in any further elections in the county.

“We will not go for any election for that seat because it’s like this government is trying to test our patience. They are pushing us to the wall and if we cannot stand the smoke any longer in the kitchen, we will get out, and one way we’re going to get out is by not voting and declaring Lofa as an independent state,” they said.

Opposition Disarray

Though chances of President Weah may have been dampened in Montserrado and Lofa Counties while chances are not certain in Nimba County, the bickering in the opposition community could give Pres. Weah an upper hand.

Despite agreeing to form alliance for the sole purpose  of defeating the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), the leadership of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) continues to fight among themselves as to who would lead the collaboration to the polls.

In early September, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), a constituent member of the CPP, walked out of a CPP leadership meeting, citing various violations of the CPP Framework Document.

Cummings further boycotted the presentation of Mr. Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) as standard bearer of the UP to supporters of the CPP.

In a statement, the ANC stated that they had sought to call attention of the CPP to the transgressions of the Framework Agreement, and to urge the political leaders to self-correct and abide by the constitution of the CPP.

“The Political Leader of the of the ANC, having failed to advise his colleagues to abandon their continued violations, was compelled to walk out of a meeting to continue the transgressions. This is without prejudice to the continued membership,” the ANC stated.

Cummings also came under heavy criticism from Mr. Boakai that he has often tried to impose his will on the leadership of the CPP.

The leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Mr. Benoni Urey, has often stated that Mr. Cummings isn’t fit to be President, rather, he should give Mr. Boakai the chance.

Urey recently alleged that the Framework Document of the CPP was tampered with by high-ranking members of the CPP.

Mr. Urey failed to mention the names of those he believes altered the Agreement, neither did he mention parts of the documents that were altered.

Mr. Urey stated in his complaint to the chairman of the CPP, “Madam Chair, this letter essentially seeks to inform you that the All Liberian party (ALP) has reliably learned that certain portions and clauses within the organic Framework document of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) have been dubiously, viciously and purposefully altered allegedly by some nefarious individuals within the hierarchy of the CPP – and replaced by ‘Alien Clauses’ to engender ulterior motives”.

In a letter dated August 20, 2021, and addressed to CPP current Chairperson, Liberty Party Political Leader, Mr. Cummings stated that the assertions being made by Mr. Urey were grave and needed an immediate investigation.

“I believe this is a grave claim. To have such accusations in the public, more than one (1) year after our coming together, without the benefit of any internal consideration of its accuracy and validity, is strange and disturbing.” Said Cummings.

He furthered that even more disturbing is Benoni’s use of such “incendiary and provocative language meant to evoke acrimony and cast aspersions on the integrity of the CPP generally and those within its hierarchy, specifically.”

“I find it unacceptable that such strongly worded letter, laced with threats to the survival of this collaboration is void of any specific details – he points to no specific provision in the document that he claims is altered, does not say when he believes it was altered, does not say who are the “nefarious” individuals amongst us in the hierarchy that altered it but yet invites the CPP through your Office and the Liberian people, to embark on a wild-goose chase. This is a most inappropriate use of our time and the time and resources of the people we promised to serve diligently and more thoughtfully. We cannot and must not run the CPP on mere gossips and rumors,” he continued.

Cummings advised that the CPP Chairperson directs Mr. Urey to provide the necessary specifics of his claims because, in the absence of any such specifics, it raises questions of his true intent, something he claimed could evoke acrimony within the CPP and should not be allowed to happen.

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