Aging, Fatigued Presidency

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The presidential ambition of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai suffered a major setback when a strong opposition to his bid emerged from within the governing Unity Party (UP).
Vice President Boakai recently accepted a petition in his native Lofa County to contest in the 2017 race to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whose second term will have expired.
Though Madam Sirleaf is yet to declare whether or not she supports Boakai’s candidacy, Ambassador Boakai’s presidential quest since accepting the petition from Lofa has received mixed reactions from within his party, the latest being from UP Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah.
The Nimba County Lawmaker, a stalwart of the ruling UP, believes that the VP Boakai does not have the “energy” to lead Liberia and to achieve the kinds of transformation needed for development.
He told newsmen yesterday that the UP vice standard bearer’s presidential ambition seriously undermines the policy of “generational change” initiated by the Sirleaf Administration.
“It is time for the young generation of Liberian politicians to assume leadership in the country,” Dunah argued.
He contends that the UP is rich in two categories of young politicians in Liberia – those hired by the appointing power and others who have made themselves by standing in legislative elections.
I think it is time for Madam President and her Vice to pass the baton over to the next generation. It has stayed too long with them, said Dunah.
We’re talking about a group of politicians who came into national leadership in the early 70s and this is 2015, so the “generational change” that is taking place in other parts of the world must take place here also, insisted Dunah.
Take for instance the United States where President Barack Obama was elected at age 44 and Italy whose Prime Minister is in his 30s, and we can go on to name many young leaders across the world, said Dunah.
“The job needs energy. It needs someone who is in his or her prime and Boakai does not fit that category,” declared Dunah.
“I think Madam Sirleaf, Amb. Boakai and other prominent (aging) statespersons in the party must think about serving on the advisory board and promote young people to build on the good work that the President has initiated in order to move the country forward.
“The Vice President has served the country well in many capacities and as deputy to Madam Sirleaf for about nine years now. He has been contributing to the society and I think he should be honorably retired in 2017.”
“If elected, Vice President Boakai will come to the presidency at age 74. Where will he get the energy to supervise an underdeveloped country like Liberia? Dunah wondered.
The UP Lawmaker encouraged his vice standard bearer to support the policy of enabling young people which is a system effectively promoted by the Vice President, he said.
Dunah’s comments imply that his UP vote will not be for Boakai, but at the same time, he maintained that if presidential contender Boakai wins his party’s primary, “I will be obliged to vote for him because of institutional loyalty.”

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