Liberia: Vote-rich Nimba County Senators Contemplate Withdrawing Support from CDC ahead of 2023 Elections

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MONROVIA – Nimba County Senator Jeremiah Kpan-Koung says he and his political leader, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, are unsure about their support for President George Weah’s second term bid in the 2023 presidential and general elections.

Senator Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) was pivotal in securing Pres. Weah’s victory in the 2017 runoff election.

Speaking on Voice of Gompa over the weekend, Senator Koung said he and Sen. Johnson are not happy about the treatment Nimbaians are getting from the CDC-led government.

Sen. Koung: “I am not happy with the CDC Government.

 “Up to now, I am supporting President Weah but, this could change depending on the result of the negotiation on behalf of our people. Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, my political leader, is not also happy with the government, we are reviewing the MDR marriage with the Coalition, in terms of what have we benefited as a party.”

According to the Nimba Senator, he spoke the minds of most Nimbaians who feel betrayed by the CDC government, especially in the allotment of positions in the government.  He said Nimbaians are disappointed that most of the appointments in government have gone to the South easterners where the President hails from.

The Nimba County Senators believe that over the five years of Weah’s administration, his Nimbaians have been denied opportunities including appointed positions in the CDC-led Government.

Koung’s statement comes in the wake of rumors that Mr. Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) was considering picking Koung as a running mate in the pending 2023 presidential and general elections.

Senator Johnson, sanctioned by the United States Treasury Department, is known for his influence as the ‘godfather’ of the vote-rich Nimba county as leverage to impose on President George Weah appointments into government as he desires.

The Nimba County Senator has been behind a number of bad appointments and recommendations for key jobs in the Weah-led government.

This is reportedly raising concerns within leadership’s inner circle as the former warlord-turned Senator is said to be using vote-rich Nimba’s influence on 2023 elections in a bid to force allies into government despite being nailed on US Treasury Department’s Sanctions List.

It is also believed that Sen. Johnson is one of the key obstructions to the establishment of war crimes court in Liberia. He is known to be the killer of former President Samuel Doe. General Johnson at the time is seen in a video sipping on a jar of beer while the former President was being stripped naked by his men and his ears chopped of.

Feeling Entitled

Nimba County, according to the 2008 National Housing and Population Census, had a population of about 462,026. From the National Elections Commission (NEC) 2017 statistics, Nimba had a voting population of 279,601, of this number, 200,791 votes were cast in the county. 

Despite the presence of 20 Presidential candidates in that 2017 presidential race, the Unity Party was led by Vice President Joseph Boakai and Senator Weah, who headed the CDC, were inarguably the heavyweights in that election, but still Senator Johnson was overwhelmingly voted for by kinsmen and women in Nimba. 

He attained 107,430 votes of the 200,791 votes that were cast. That constituted 53.5% of the overall votes in the county. The margin between Senator Johnson and Vice President Boakai, who came out second in Nimba was a 67,466 difference. VP Boakai obtained 39,964 votes. 

Senator Johnson’s support to Pres. Weah in the second round of the election saw Pres. Weah attain an overwhelming victory in the election.

Senator Johnson is on record for expressing his regrets for rallying the vote-rich Nimba in support of President Weah. However, pundits say this has been his strategy to get the President in line with his demands.

It can be recalled that in August 2020, while expressing his regrets, Sen. Johnson walked out of the Senate’s confirmation proceedings for a new Superintendent of Nimba County. President George Weah had appointed Mr. Nelson N. Korquoi to replace outgoing Dorr Cooper. Cooper is said to be a supporter of Sen. Johnson.  

“I don’t want confusion; you all know the level of work I did in Nimba to get President Weah elected. In 2005 and 2011, the people of Nimba didn’t vote for CDC. In 2017, everything almost went to the other candidate; my support for the CDC brought the victory,” Sen. Johnson said.

Sanctioned for Corruption

In December 2021, Sen. Johnson was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department for corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act, which authorizes the U.S. government to sanction those it sees as human rights offenders, freeze their assets, and ban them from entering the U.S.

Johnson was responsible for the slaying in 1990 of President Samuel Doe, who had been captured by his forces at the Freeport of Monrovia in 1990. Johnson sipped beer as he watched his men torture and mutilate Doe who begged in vain for mercy in a widely circulated video.

Now a trusted political ally of President George Weah, Johnson is accused in a U.S. embassy statement of large-scale corruption.

“As a senator, Johnson has been involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment,” a statement issued by the U.S. embassy said. “As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the government of Liberia, the involved government ministries and organizations launder a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.”

The scheme involves millions of dollars, according to the embassy statement.

Johnson also receives an undeserved salary from the Liberian government as a salaried intelligence source yet he does not provide any form of intelligence reporting, alleged the U.S. statement. He is being paid in order to maintain domestic stability, according to the statement.

“Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money,” it said.

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