Liberia: ‘They Are Threatening Us’

Sen. Prince Johnson


— PYJ accuses CDC officials of threatening the lives of him and other MDR officials

Senator Prince Johnson has said that the decision to split from President George Weah's ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has put him in danger, saying “they are threatening our lives.”

Johnson, who was instrumental in Weah's victory in 2017, alleged that since his party, the Movement for Development and Reconstruction (MDR), withdrew its political support from Weah's re-election quest, a barrage of threats has been directed at him and party leaders.

The ‘disheartening part,’  according to the Nimba County Senator, is that while he is being threatened, the governing party is pleading with him behind closed doors to reconsider his choice, requesting common ground.

“Now that we have withdrawn our political support and have decided to take one of our sons to contest for the presidency, they are threatening our lives, they are calling us all kinds of names, and putting innocent children against us all because of petty cash that cannot feed them,” Johnson claimed. 

“But we are not afraid and will never be carried away. The Government is going about begging us in a corner for our support, but at the same time they have plugged people against us in public places, insulting us, and threatening our lives and they still want us to find common ground.  

We are no longer stupid to accept such a game from them again,” the Senator said in a Facebook post yesterday. 

PYJ's comments come after he asserted that Weah's inability to keep his end of the deal that brought them together during the 2017 run-off election is the cause of their break-up.

The Senator's biggest complaint has been Weah's failure to appoint more people from vote-rich Nimba County to high government positions, even though the numbers are not specific. 

However, Weah's party has denied this, saying the Senator, who was important to Weah winning the election five years ago, is doing so for his own selfishness again.  

Weah has appointed few officials from Johnson's party to Ministerial and Deputy Ministerial posts, with the most notable appoint being Cllr. Cooper Kruah, who is now the Minister of Post and Telecommunication and  Wilfred Bangura a Deputy Minister Position at the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 

In an interview with Daybreak Africa on VOA last weekend, Johnson said his decision to withdraw his support from Weah is because the people of his county have not benefited from the Weah-led government.

The Nimba legislator remains the political 'godfather' of his county, with a large political following, and has played critical roles in two consecutive elections in Liberia. His support for former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the 2011 election run-off and for Weah in 2017 were critical to both presidents gaining power.

Meanwhile, Johnson noted that his party remains independent as a political institution and will contest for the presidency, saying “we are very committed to our decision.

Johnson added, “We never registered as a political party to be a bag boy to another political party, we registered as a political party to produce a president that will see the needs of every Liberian.”

He added  that the Weah-led government owes his county over US$7.5 million in County Development Funds and has reneged on paying said money, which would have gone a long way in developing the county.

In 2021, Sen. Johnson was sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury for acts of corruption in Liberia. He was sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act.

According to the Treasury Department, Sen. Johnson was involved in pay-for-play funding with government ministries and organizations for personal enrichment. As part of the scheme, upon receiving funding from the Government of Liberia (GOL), the involved government ministries and organizations laundered a portion of the funding for return to the involved participants.

The pay-for-play funding scheme involves millions of U.S. dollars, according to the Treasury Department.

Sen. Johnson has also offered the sale of votes in multiple Liberian elections in exchange for money, the Treasury Department said. Johnson is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official, or a person acting for or on behalf of such an official, who is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery. He, however, denies the claims made against him.