....“I cannot tell if a specific person is being considered but the list has been very significantly narrowed to not more than three persons,” said the Unity Party Executive members who asked for anonymity.
The leader of the opposition Unity Party is now receiving extensive vetting briefings about the potential of the three people, from whom he is expected to choose his running mate.
The vetting, according to a ranking executive of the Unity Party, would be completed in the soonest possible time, as “detailed analyses” on the three contenders are being done to see who can best help the former Vice President win the October 10 elections.
“I cannot tell if a specific person is being considered but the list has been very significantly narrowed to not more than three persons,” said the Unity Party Executive members who asked for anonymity. “The former Vice President is receiving vetting briefings about the potential of the three persons and it is an extensive process.”
“We are pushing that Boakai makes the announcement as soon as possible once he concludes the decision of his running mate. Boakai is deeply concerned about the people of Liberia, so he wants a running mate that shares his version.”
However, Boakai’s choice of a running mate could either boost or hinder his presidential campaign, as many in the Unity Party want to name a person that has a strong brand and a significant following to amalgamate with his.
Still, countless factors will go into Boakai’s pick as he may be looking for someone who shares his passion for the country, believes in honest service, and is a simpatico.
Boakai has on countless occasions said, considering that a vice president is the heartbeat of the presidency, he would not just choose anyone but “someone who shares my vision about Liberia. It is a decision people make personally because he or she assists the president.”
Two senators, Jeremiah Koung and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, are among the top contenders being considered as running mates for former Vice President Boakai in the upcoming Liberian presidential elections. Both senators have significant support in their respective counties and extensive experience in governance as members of the legislature.
Lawrence hails from Grand Bassa County, the fifth most populous county in Liberia, and has been elected twice as a senator. She is a prominent figure in the opposition community and is the most prominent female politician in Liberia. Her party, the Liberty Party, secured the third position in the 2017 elections and has a strong presence in Grand Bassa.
Koung has practically become a career legislator, and he hails from Nimba County. He served two terms as a representative before being elected as a senator. Nimba County is the second-largest county in Liberia.
Koung’s party, the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), enjoys significant support in Nimba County and played a crucial role in President George Weah’s election. The party’s endorsement helped Weah win the vote-rich Nimba after he had performed poorly in the first round of the 2017 elections.
Another name that has emerged in the race is controversial talk show host Henry P. Costa. However, his political strength for such a high-level position is yet to be determined. Costa ran for legislative elections in 2017 in Montserrado County but failed to secure a top-three position.
Since then, he has gained notoriety for being a vocal critic of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and organizing some of the most significant protests against the government.
For the Unity Party, which once ruled the country for 12 years, the selection of a running mate to the party standard bearer is a crucial task that is being handled with due diligence.
This decision is especially important given that, if Boakai wins the October 10th election, he would become one of the oldest African presidents at the age of 78. And with pressure mounting, some party members are urging a swift announcement in order to allow the public enough time to fully digest the chosen running mate.
Boakai’s search for a suitable running mate has also presented a challenge, as any potential candidate must first be approved by the party. This means finding someone with name recognition to match his name recognition and the ability to help fund the party’s campaign.
“The Unity Party awaits Joseph Boakai's decision because the UP constitution requires that when a running mate is selected, the name is submitted to the National Executive Committee of the party for review and onward approval, and then an announcement is made,” the party Executive Member quoted earlier said.
“That is a laid-down procedure and the standard bearer knows that. While the decision is a choice, he will have to consider some factors from the party. So, while we need to make an announcement as soon as possible, we have different steps that will have to be followed and exhausted first.”
Meanwhile, the former ruling party's executive has dismissed concerns raised by Costa, who has claimed that he is aware of an internal plot within the Unity Party to sabotage his potential selection. The party maintains that it remains focused on its own internal processes and is not distracted by Costa's claims.
Also, the possibility of Costa being chosen as Boakai's running mate has created a division of opinions among Unity Party supporters. Some factions describe it as a ploy of the ruling party, while others believe it could form a ticket capable of defeating incumbent President George Weah.
“I know very well some folks within the Unity Party are against this. Some are even against me because of my proximity to Joseph Boakai. I have lost a lot because of my proximity to Amb. Boakai. I have made sacrifices to keep this relationship with Boakai,” Costa said.
But the Unity Party Executive said that: “The UP has no time to respond to distractions at this point because we are focused on working with Joseph Boakai to select the running mate who shares his vision for the transformation of this country.”
“As to who has been helping and all of those, if anybody is serious, let them do all the talking. Let them tell the people of this country what specific help has come and where it has come from, for the Unity Party.”