MONROVIA – Joseph Boakai’s age as well as concerns about his health, are not only being wielded as a campaign weapon against him by the ruling party but are also being viewed as an advantage by supporters of his youthful running mate, Jeremiah Koung, who see it as a potential pathway for Koung to ascend to the Liberian presidency.
By Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Senator Jeremiah Koung, who is believed to be in his 50s, was surprisingly chosen by 78-year-old Boakai, following Boakai’s successful garnering of support from Senator Prince Johnson, an influential figure in vote-rich Nimba County.
Before Sen. Koung’s appointment as the Vice Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Sen. Johnson voluntarily stepped down from his role as the political leader of the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR) in favor of Sen. Koung. While some political observers speculate that his decision might have been influenced by the U.S. sanctions imposed on him, others posit that it was a strategic move aimed at facilitating Sen. Koung’s candidacy as the running mate to the former Vice President.
Nimba is the second-largest vote-rich county in Liberia. The county has 307,254 registered voters. The county is known for voting on tribal lines.
Senator Prince Johnson, a staunch supporter of the CDC during the 2017 elections, played a pivotal role in securing an overwhelming majority of votes for the CDC in Nimba. He is now optimistic that with Senator Koung now being the Vice Standard Bearer of Boakai, Nimba County could be poised to make a significant stride toward obtaining the Liberian presidency.
In a recent recording of a telephone conversation obtained by FrontPageAfrica, Senator Koung is heard pleading with the Mayor of Karnplay in Gberlergeh District, Philip Flomo, to stop antagonizing the Unity Party’s ticket and rather join his team.
He says: “We’re fighting for Nimba County to take the lead and Nimba will win in the name of Jesus. Bassa is with us, Gbarpolu with us, Bomi with us, Lofa with us, Bong County with us; what is your problem and you’re on the radio on me? My brother, what have I done, you got to change.” Senator Johnson added, “We’re fighting for you. When y’all turn to this man [Weah] against our prayer for Nimba to produce Vice President – this old man is old, he took Koung to be his Vice President when he wins, isn’t it Koung that would be doing the job for him? Can he go everywhere? No!”
This is not the first time Sen. Johnson has referred to his political godson, Sen. Koung, as the potential de facto President should the Unity Party wins the October 10 elections.
During an elaborate political gathering in Nimba in July where Koung was officially unveiled to the people of Nimba as the running mate to Boakai, Sen. Johnson pronounced the Nimba County would produce the next President of Liberia through Jeremiah Koung.
“This is the pathway to the presidency,” the former war-lord-turned-politician, said, alluding to Koung’s selection as Boakai’s running mate.
During an OK FM interview in 2021, Sen. Koung asserted that he supported Joseph Boakai in the 2017 elections with the backdrop that he, Boakai, would be tired by 2023 and his brain may not function well.
Koung’s Selection Came with A Cost
Prior to Sen. Koung’s selection as running mate, there was a widely held expectation among members of the Unity Party that Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence would have been selected. Some also thought that Henry Costa was a fine option.
Boakai’s choice for running mate did not go down well with some of his long-standing political allies, such as Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, and Henry Costa, who was recently positioning himself as a potential running mate to the 78-year-old standard bearer.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence has, however, decided to work with the Boakai’s campaign team, while the furry between Boakai, Costa, and Urey continues to widen.
After revealing his decision to the rest of his supporters in April this year, Boakai received an invitation to Urey’s residence. There, he gathered with Costa and other members from both the UP and ALP teams to revisit the announcement of Sen. Koung as the vice standard bearer. Despite the discussions and Urey’s evident disappointment, Boakai remained resolute in his choice, viewing it as his best path to victory in the election.
Sources familiar with the conversation shared with FrontPageAfrica that Urey, expressing his disappointment, posed a question to Boakai. He inquired whether Boakai was willing to engage with Senators Prince Johnson and Edwin Snowe, even if it meant “dancing with the devil.” It was suggested by some that these two senators would come as an additional burden with the selection of Koung, as they could exert their influence on him.
Much to their surprise, according to the insider, Boakai responded by saying, “If dancing with the devil is what it takes to win the elections, I am ready to do so.” Mr. Boakai was quoted as acknowledging, “Even the devil has a role to play. I may not favor Prince Johnson, but I must collaborate with him to secure victory.”