Coalition debunks rumor that she was being swapped with Gbehzohngar Findley, says absolutely no one can alter the party’s ticket
The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) yesterday rubbished a report, terming it as a mere gossip without any iota of truth that the party is poised to replace its vice-standard bearer, Jewel Howard-Taylor with the newly recruited strong man, former Grand Bassa Senator and Senate Pro-Tempore, Gbehzongar Milton Findley.
At a press conference in Monrovia on Sunday CDC’s Campaign Manager, Professor Ansu Sonii indicated that the coalition has no plan to replace the VSB and it is, in fact, finding it difficult to figure out where such information is coming from.
He indicated that the Bong County Senator is, and will remain the VSB for the CDC, and possibly the Vice President of the Republic when the CDC is given state power at the polls in October.
“Amid rumors that the CDC is on the verge of making a last point change in the package that it intends to present to the Liberian people in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections, I would like to say that the information is baseless. Madame Howard-Taylor remains the VSB of this great political institution that will overwhelmingly be elected on October 10,” he said.
at the press conference that was held at the Party’s headquarters.
“Anybody can even join the CDC now—even standard bearers from other parties can join us now but no one can alter our ticket. That is the ticket we will take to the polls on October 10. So that report is just one that is intended to distract us, but we remain focus to accomplish our mission which is making Senator Weah the next President of this Republic,” Prof. Sonii said.
He said Senator Taylor was out of the country on an official duty and will be back very soon and will walk in her capacity as VSB of the CDC. “We will even plan for her to speak to the media so you guys can interact with her,” he said.
The CDC’s VSB swapping saga seems to be of much concern to partisans, many of whom have taken to social media to rebuke the report. With such a report already circulating the public, the NEC could not help but add more flame to the fray when, while interpreting the election laws last week, indicated that a change is possible at this point as long as the final ballots have not been printed.
“The election law says you can withdraw a party’s nominee 12 days before the printing of the final listing of candidates,” NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, said at a press conference last week at the NEC’s headquarters.
Findley, a former Pro-Tempore of the Senate, was defeated in a senatorial election in 2014 by Liberty Party’s Jonathan L. Kaipeh. He was one of those who was rumored to have been courted by Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, as a possible running-mate on the ticket of the ruling party, though an outsider, Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, was eventually picked. A move that many believed, led to Findley quitting the ruling party a fortnight ago to join the biggest opposition, the CDC.
Findley was along with Weah during the launch of the party’s campaign, recently which further fueled the report of the pending swap.
A similar case in point as per the Howard-Taylor vs Findley scenario was in the 2014 Senatorial election when the ruling party’s choice, young Ali Sylla, made a last minute pull out of the race on health grounds, though it was reported that he was making way for the President’s son, Robert Sirleaf who was also vying for the same post but had been denied the party’s slot. Ali was reportedly given a handsome upfront payment of cash and promised an ambassadorial post that he currently occupies in Qatar.
It is in a similar regard that many believed Senator Taylor could trade her slot for a huge pay out and a guaranteed Senate leadership. Her absence at the CDC official campaign launch a week ago raised more suspicions.
A few weeks ago, there were reports that the President has started courting the CDC as she does not trust the inner circles of her long-time chief lieutenant and standard bearer of the ruling party, Joseph Boakai.
Her outreach to the CDC, it was reported, is for two reasons: protection of her family from prosecution and Weah’s support to Robert Sirleaf during the special elections for Montserrado for his vacant seat if Weah wins. However, the report does not say what President Sirleaf would be seeking protection from.
A high placed source within the government said that the resignation of UP stalwarts, Eugene Nagbe as Secretary General of the Party and Gbezongar Findley from the party—who are also confidants of the President, were due to the president’s provisional outreach by Weah and the CDC hierarchy.
“The President told all of her confidants to choose between the Unity Party and her. As a result of this, we are expecting mass resignations from the ruling party as the campaign goes on,” the source said.
In addition, it is being reported that Robert Sirleaf has promised Gazprom, a Russian Oil Company, some of Liberia’s oil wells with the election of Weah.
According to the report, President Sirleaf does not want Senator Taylor as a Vice President because of the bad reputation of her ex-husband, Charles Taylor as Weah leadership could not be received favorably by the international community.
“The official line is if the CDC will get America’s blessing and win the elections, they need to put distance between Weah and Taylor,” the source added.
The President a few days ago paid a visit to the campaign headquarters of the CDC, which probably appeared to be the first since active campaign activities started—and many believe the visit was meant to divert attention away from her dealings within the CDC.