President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf left political watchers guessing if she has given or will give her blessing to the presidential bid of her Vice President, Joseph Nyumah Boakai, as she declined yesterday to make her opinion on the issue known to the public.
Upon accepting a petition last month from his kinsmen in Voinjama, Lofa County to run for President of Liberia the 2017 elections, Mr. Boakai in no uncertain terms told journalists that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had approved his aspiration for the nation’s top office. He promised his people that he will not let them down and, if elected, would emancipate the Liberian masses from social, political and economic deprivation.
Since that ceremony, Liberians the world over, have been anxious to know whether his decision to accept the petition carried the consent and backing of President Sirleaf.
However, upon her arrival at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) yesterday from the G-7 summit in Munich, Germany, President Sirleaf declined, when asked by journalists, to confirm or deny her alleged approval of Boakai’s bid.
“This is not an issue to discuss with the media,” President Sirleaf told reporters, “but rather with the VP himself. I think that is something that I would like to respond to when I am with the Vice President and not with you.”
What the President did not mention in her response to journalists was that, as outgoing standard bearer of the Unity Party, she is not empowered to unilaterally select the new standard bearer for the party. And even though she may personally endorse a candidate, it does not necessarily mean that her choice will be congruent with that of the party.
There is a strong belief, however, that her comment (or lack thereof) only intensifies the debate in public gatherings, on social media and many other forums.
Some well-placed sources suggest that President Sirleaf does not favor Boakai, who ran and won two consecutive elections with her, as a successor.
Others feel it is too early for President Sirleaf to disclose her candidate of choice, as doing so will divert attention from the pressing deliverables her administration has set out to achieve in the final months of her second and final term as President. Redirecting the focus of the government at this time will be the wrong thing to do, many Liberians have said.
The President was recently in Germany at the G7 meeting where the issues of health, poverty, illegal migration, terrorism and many other global issues were high on the agenda.
Speaking earlier on the G7 meeting that she attended along with a few other African leaders, the president said made a strong comment, calling on world leaders to address the issues of global poverty, suffering, illegal migration and many others.
Regarding the commitments made by leaders of the G7 countries, President Sirleaf said, “I think they believe that they are committed to those… they will tell you that they have been doing just that through their various bilateral and multilateral programs and they would do more. They realized that until poverty is resolved many of these global tensions that we see today will not come to an end. All of the illegal migrations that are to be addressed can be resolved by fighting poverty.”
She also said countries of the world should have mutual respect and mutual responsibility if the globe is to become a better place for all.
“Mutual respect means that they should allow us also to own our programs, maintain our priorities. Mutual responsibilities means we, too, have to finance our development; we cannot depend on them hundred percent.”