Liberia: Amara Konneh, Toga McIntosh Endorse Boakai

…. As support for ‘Rescue Mission’ soars

As the runoff presidential election in Liberia draws near, opposition leader Joseph Boakai’s campaign has received a significant boost with the endorsement of two former ministers and a prominent presidential candidate. This surge in support has ignited renewed momentum in Boakai's bid to unseat President George Weah.

Amara Konneh and Dr. Toga Gayewea McIntosh, renowned and influential former Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs, threw their weight behind Joseph Boakai's presidential bid, adding significant credibility to his campaign.

Also pledging her support was Independent Presidential candidate Madam Bendu A. Kromah.

These endorsements highlight Boakai's ability to garner the trust and admiration of influential figures within the economic sphere.

At a brief ceremony held at the Unity Party campaign headquarters in Sinkor, Konneh said patriotism and a desire to rescue Liberia from the failure of the Weah administration motivated his pledge of support. He criticized the Coalition for Democratic Change-led government for a lack of positive change and worsening conditions in the country. Konneh specifically highlighted concerns regarding poverty, delayed salaries, and a decline in the educational and healthcare systems.

“We have not seen the change and hope that this president promised, and our country continues to go downward,” Konneh said. “The CDC will lead us into a deeper crisis, and it will be difficult to recover if the CDC is re-elected.”

He added, “Liberia has developed a drug epidemic that is destroying the future of this country. The government has failed to protect our children and has sold them to cocaine. The change has caused poverty among civil servants.

Konneh said the so-called harmonization policy of this government was a gimmick to create financial space for partisans who are unqualified for public service. “In the end, government workers have gone four months without pay. During our time, we paid salaries on time. But now, because of low and untimely salaries, people cannot pay their children's tuition. Everyone has become a beggar. No excuse for failing to invest in their current and future,” Konneh said. 

Former Foreign Minister McIntosh emphasized that his endorsement of Boakai is driven by a concern for Liberia's socioeconomic challenges and the need for positive action. He noted issues such as high unemployment rates, poverty, inadequate healthcare services, and a lack of opportunities for the youth. McIntosh suggested that under the current leadership, the potential for economic growth and social development has been neglected.

“After 38 years of advocacy and dedicated work to uplift my country, how can I now, in good conscience, ignore the socio-economic devastation of our beloved country and its people? Today, our country is on its knees,” he said. 

He said that over the past five years, many Liberians have suffered the pain of poverty and continued to find it difficult to survive. 

Dr. McIntosh indicated that “Liberian young and future leaders, most of whom are unemployed and roaming the streets aimlessly, while others turn to drugs only to forget their impoverished living conditions in a country of plenty,

“Let us make the hard decision to do the right things and stop the excuses for making the wrong decisions for our lives,” he added.

“Let’s correct the wrong. Let’s build this glorious land of liberty. Let us together do those things that make our nation great amongst nations,” the former Chief Liberian diplomat added.

Madam Kromah said that she endorsed Boakai based on her belief in his ability to provide effective leadership for the country.

However, the growing support for Boakai has catapulted his campaign forward just a week ahead of the runoff election. The endorsements from seasoned finance ministers and a prominent former presidential candidate showcase the widening reach and acceptance of Boakai's platform ahead of the runoff.

The runoff election became necessary as none of the 20 presidential candidates, including the top two contenders, could secure an absolute majority as required by Article 83(b) of the Liberian Constitution. President George M. Weah received 43.83% of the votes in the initial election, while Boakai garnered 43.44%.

Konneh and McIntosh, who have extensive experience navigating the intricacies of Liberia's financial and diplomatic landscapes, publicly vouched for Boakai's leadership capabilities, adding that he is the right man to lead Liberia for the next six years. Their endorsements on Monday, November 6, underscore the belief that Boakai possesses the aptitude to address the nation’s economic challenges effectively.

Konneh last worked as a globally-minded regional integration and partnership advisor for the World Bank Group and has over 20 years of experience providing oversight and support to advance developmental and humanitarian initiatives in African countries, including Liberia.

At the World Bank Group, he provided expert advice and managed relationships with Regional Economic Commissions, supporting programs that leverage intra-African trade to develop the private sector, build resilience, and help alleviate poverty.

Prior to this engagement, He served as Liberia’s Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), working collaboratively with the cabinet, the private sector, civil society, and international partners to strengthen governance through national institutions in the post-war country.

The programs, strategies, and initiatives that he spearheaded served to build resilience by enhancing security, restoring the economy and creditworthiness, restoring basic services, and strengthening governance in the country.

Dr. McIntosh, a former Planning and Economic Affairs Minister, and former Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission, has also served as Senior Economic Affairs Officer, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia, and Senior National Policy Advisor to the Interim Government of Dr. Amos C. Sawyer.

McIntosh, who was an executive member of the ruling CDC, broke ties with the coalition early this year after the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), which he represented on the CDC Governing Council, felt dissatisfied with the manner in which President Weah was handling the coalition and the country.

He had earlier turned down the prestigious Governance Commission (GC) Chairperson position after his surprise appointment to the post by President Weah.

While endorsing the presidential bid of CPP political leader, Alexander Cummings, in August, McIntosh noted that he was disturbed and deeply concerned about the misdirected path Liberia had taken under Weah.

“It seems to me that the leadership of the coalition, including members of the Governing Council, did not, or cannot adequately manage the misdirection in which our dear Mama Liberia is going,” he lamented.

Dr. McIntosh said Liberians overwhelmingly voted in 2017 for the CDC as a testimony of their burning desire for change, but have been let down by both the government and the leadership of the ruling CDC.

Accepting the endorsements on Monday, Boakai called on Liberians to vote and rescue the country from what he referred to as the “Jamaica Resort”. He emphasized the need for a change in leadership and expressed gratitude to those who have chosen to support his candidacy. 

“We are going to rescue Liberia because of the quality of people we have in our team to make Liberia better. I want to thank them for making the choice to help rescue this country. We are in a state to change this country from a rogue state. We want to remove the shame from this country. We live in a country where when you criticize the government, then you are ostracized. The choice is simple.” 

Independent Candidate Kroma endorsement follows the standard bearers of the Liberia People’s Party (LPP), and the All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP), Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe and Luseni Kamara, respectively, who had earlier endorsed Boakai, marking a significant turning point in the race, as it consolidates opposition forces and creates a unified front against the incumbent presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, as voters weigh their choices in the crucial runoff, the public reception of these endorsements may further enhance Boakai's credibility and influence their decision-making. The endorsements serve as a testament to Boakai's track record and ability to form alliances that can spearhead meaningful change.

The soaring support for opposition leader Joseph Boakai, with endorsements from two former ministers and a prominent former presidential candidate, has injected new energy into his bid to unseat President George Weah. These high-profile endorsements not only increase Boakai's credibility and reach but also consolidate opposition forces, promoting a sense of unity among those seeking change. With the runoff election just a week away, these endorsements may have a significant impact on voter preferences and ultimately redefine the political landscape of Liberia.