Liberia: PYJ’s Party to Put Forth a Presidential Candidate in October Election


MONROVIA – Popular Nimba County Senator, Prince Y. Johnson has announced his party, the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) was cutting off support from President Weah and his ruling Coalition for Democracy Change (CDC) leading to the crucial 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]

Senator Johnson’s support was pivotal to the election of President Weah in 2017 when his party backed the President during the crucial run-off election, delivering vote-rich Nimba.

However, in the build-up to the 2023 presidential election, Senator Johnson said his party will field a presidential candidate and will not support the President because he has failed to live up to the agreement reached in 2017 and the promises made to the people of Nimba.    

“When I was with Mr. [Charles] Taylor, I loved him but I love Liberia the most. So because of political differences I broke away from him.  In this case [with President Weah], the agreement we signed in November 2017 has expired, and there is no agreement between us,” he said during a live phone-in interview on Truth FM, a local radio station in Paynesville.

“That’s how we went to a convention and put up our standard bearer to contest in 2023… And the fact that investors are not coming and nothing is being done politically to encourage them to come for nearly six years now, and lot of mischievous things happening under our President’s watch, we are not happy,” he added.

Reneging on the 2017 Agreement

Senator Johnson’s latest pronouncement comes after he stepped aside as the standard bearer of his party in favor of  his political protege, Senator Jeremiah Koung.

During the interview, Senator Johnson repeated his claim he made in November 2022 that his party’s cardinal reasons for dissociating with the President and his rolling party was President Weah’s blatant refusal to adhere to the 2017 memorandum of understanding signed by both of them where certain number of ministerial, managing directors and some ambassadorial positions would be given to Nimbaians through his recommendations.

He said since the inception of the government, only the Ministry of Post  and Telecommunications has been awarded to a son of Nimba, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, while almost the President’s entire cabinet is comprised of his kinsmen from southeastern Liberia.

“The Nimba people are not happy that the legislative cause does not have access to the President. We met him two to three days ago and told him what was on our mind. We appealed to him to change the system of government. His government is focused on the southeast, his government is promoting sectionalism, and the Constitution supports nationalism. All in all we are not happy. We, as a county and as a people, this is where we are.”

While the Liberian Constitution does not compel the President to do balanced appointment based on counties, President Weah has been criticized for appointing his kinsmen top cabinet and judicial positions in his government.

No investment and no Job

Senator Johnson added that another major reason for discontinuing his support to the President is his government’s failure to attract investment and create jobs. He said the only post-war company still operating in the Nimba is Arcelor Mittal. While the company has its employment policy, he noted that it has failed to prioritize natives of the county to key positions. And worst of all, the Government has failed to remit the county’s social development fund in the tune of over US$5 million that has already been paid by the company.

He said: The only post conflict company that came to Liberia and is still working is Mittal Steel. Nimba has nobody there. The company is in our county but cannot employ our people, and US$1.5 million suppose to come to us annually. Government owes us US$5.5 million within the last five years. The money is paid in Government’s account. We cannot access it. So, the Nimba people are very unhappy.”

He accused the government of not undertaking major development projects in Nimba; noting that President Weah has refused to relocate the G.W. Harley Hospital in Sanniquellie from near the train track. The hospital suffers from the noise and vibration cause by the trains, endangering patients’ lives. He added that unlike the southeast where city mayors and chiefs and elders are on government’s payroll, the local officials in Nimba have been denied employment opportunities.

‘So Many mischievous happenings’

Further giving reasons for his party’s decision, the Nimba County Senator said under President Weah’s watch, several Liberians died under mysterious circumstances and the government has failed to conduct full-scale investigations.

He reference the deaths of the LRA employees whose bodies were discovered in a parked car on Broad Street, downtown Monrovia. 

He said investors are not coming to Liberia due to the series of mysterious deaths under the current administration and the government’s failure to launch full scale investigations to establish the truth.

“Investigation must be conducted and let us know the truth. Because what we heard was they were having sex in the car and I don’t want to believe it. The deceaseds were both married and if they wanted o have sex, they would have gone to a suitable place, a hotel … but not to lock themselves up in a car to die from carbon monoxide.”

‘Visit to Nimba not A Good Idea’

Despite his participation in the Liberian civil war that claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 people, Senator Johnson continues to enjoy huge support from his native vote rich county of Nimba.

He is one of Liberia’s longest serving post war lawmakers and will be opting for another nine-year mandate comes October 2023.

His pronouncement comes as the President is expected to travel to Nimba to  be endorsed by a section of the citizens of the county to re-contest.

Johnson warned that the President’s visit will not be a good idea until the people’s problems  are addressed.

“He cannot go to Nimba for petitioning program when these issues in Nimba have not been resolved. The land dispute, Cllr. Gbeisay’s commissioning after he has been confirmed and the President has refused to commission him. The president will not go to Nimba until certain issues are solved.”