— Says former VP responsible for his own defeat in 2017
Former Minister of Finance and Development Planning, Amara M. Konneh, has blamed former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai’s (JNB) stubbornness and inability to reconcile with then President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as the main cause for his defeat during 2017 elections.
In a Facebook post, Konneh, a staunch stalwart of the erstwhile ruling Unity Party, disclosed that the former VP had a list of 17 grievances against his former boss – Madam Sirleaf – which hardened his heart to forgive her.
“Most of us who attempted to reconcile the two of them were shocked by the list of 17 grievances that JNB had written down, and kept in his home office. I attempted five times, and he read that list to me each time. Others did too and failed. All of the issues were personal; some genuine and others frivolous to say the least,” Mr. Konneh said about Mr. Boakai.
Konneh added that former president Sirleaf became stunned when she got to know about the list, and could not believe that her VP “had been unhappy with her all these years.”
“I saw her struggle with it and made efforts to solicit help from others, who could help. She was also depressed that he had not raised any of the issues during their regular one-on-one meetings during their 12 years of marriage, including when she selected him in 2015 as the choice to succeed her.
“Also, during the UP Executive Committee’s meeting that was organized by party stalwarts, the UP political leader said EJS had done nothing wrong to him,” the former minister added.
Mr. Konneh said the rift between the two politicians became severe, and visible to the extent that those who had severed ties with the former President kept throwing fuel in the fire instead of focusing on winning the 2017 elections.
“No one cared about the campaign’s slogan to put country first, but an opportunity to attain top jobs should JNB win,” he said.
The former Finance Minister, who now works at the World Bank, said that when all efforts by many people in Liberia failed, Madam Sirleaf solicited the help of the same regional leaders from whom she had solicited moral and financial support for Mr. Boakai, including former Nigeria Head of State Olusegun Obasanjo, who flew to Monrovia to broker peace between the two.
“When JNB failed to deliver on the commitment he made at that meeting, the line was now drawn, and this was at the core of the choice that was made in 2017,” Konneh said.
He declared that supporters of VP Boakai did not care to know the truth and to help close the gap between the two, but rather refused personal contacts with folks who were associated with Madam Sirleaf and the faction panicked,” Mr. Konneh said.
He added further that the rift between the two leaders of the party came as a surprise, “as none of them expected a deep rift between the party’s two leaders.”
Meanwhile, Konneh has also said that there remains a serious rift between Madam Sirleaf and Mr. Boakai; therefore members of the party need to work together to resolve the impasse.
Mr. Konneh: “For any reconciliation of the two and their supporters to be successful, those 17 grievances must be resolved. They were at the core of the choice that was made in 2017. Life is a competition with winners and losers. For the losing side to win the next game, a good coach always makes his/her team watch the video and review the plays of the game they lost. Regrettably, I see folks in the JNB faction still pointing fingers and not accepting any personal responsibilities.”
Mr. Konneh, whose revelation reinforces long-held speculations of a rift between the two politicians, said contrary to the rumors, he was never a choice to succeed former President Sirleaf or to become VP Boakai’s running mate.
“By the way, I was never a choice to succeed EJS, neither was I a choice to be JNB’s running mate as was widely speculated,” he added.
Mr. Boakai, in a statement issued on Monday, October 28, said he has personally forgiven individuals from the party, who by design or omission offended him, and asked them to do likewise.
Mr. Boakai added: “[Unity Partisans], the time has come when we must bite the bullet, bury the hatchets, and reach out to those who we feel have hurt us. We must do so not because we are weak, nor that they are indispensable to our progress, but because we must, as people of faith in God and in the nation, be willing to give each other a second chance for redemption.”
He continued, “As a Christian and a devout Baptist, I have learned to trust in God and allow Him to fight my battles. In my public life, I have always strived to be a man of peace, and a servant dedicated to working assiduously and selflessly to making our beloved country, Liberia, great. This I intend to do as long as God continues to give me strength and wisdom. No sacrifice for me is too great a price to pay for peace and reconciliation.
“In this connection, I wish to announce that I have personally forgiven all who, by design or omission, have offended me, and ask them to do the same. I hold no malice toward any partisan. I also appeal to all partisans, home and abroad, to do the same and initiate true reconciliation at all levels of the party.”