As More UP Strongmen Abandon Ship, Pres. Sirleaf Swears She’s Still On Board

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A brief cordial interaction between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the UP vice standard bearer, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, recently

The ensuing presidential and representative elections have already witness barrage of controversies ranging from crossing carpet to political parties, political parties in-fightings, especially the ruling Unity Party and the much topical and controversial Code of Conduct recently laid to rest — or so it seams — by the Supreme Court. All in all, it would be fair to say that 2017 electoral activities have been filled with tension, as well as surprising, if not mystical, occurrences. And many believe the person dictating the current electoral climate is no other than President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

And rightfully so, the President has maintained that she still support the presidential Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, though recent occurrences suggest otherwise, pointing to the “visible crashes” within party.

The recent resignation of UP stalwart Gbehzongar Findley, a strong confidante of the President, and the resignation of Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe of his Secretary General post had made many to believe that the President no longer has interest in her long-time lieutenant.

But at a press conference in Monrovia Tuesday, August 8, the Spokesperson of the President, Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah, said that the President still supports the presidential bid of the of the UP Standard Bearer.

Secretary Piah told “those spreading the fake news about the President’s support to candidates other than Vice President Boakai,” to use the energy they have to gather the votes and make the case about the VP’s election instead of seeking to tear down and destroy the unity of the Unity Party and the relationship of the President and her Vice.

In a rather abraisive tone, Mr. Piah indicated that the rumor represents “triviality and a complete non-issue.” He said the Executive Mansion had no intention to comment on such an issue but because of the nature of the Liberian society, “we have determined that it is of importance to be spoken to.”

“What I’m talking about is the continuous attack and accusation mainly coming from individuals and groupings that are supposed to be collaborating for the sole purpose of electing VP Boakai as the successor to President Sirleaf at the polls in October.

He indiacted that President Sirleaf had a lengthy discussion with the VP prior to he being officially endorsed in Lofa County to seek the Presidency. “At that meeting, the President made clear her support for the bid of her Vice President.”

Piah said the direct response to the many insinuations and rumor is that: “As of this point, VP remains President Sirleaf’s choice for the Presidency realizing though that the actual power of determining who becomes President remain the sole responsibility of the Liberian people who will make the choice through their votes.”

As customary among world leaders, he said, the President has informed all of her colleagues at the levels of ECOWAS, AU, the United Nations and others institutions that she supports the Presidential bid of the Vice President. “This has not changed!”
he said President Sirleaf is aware that she is President of Liberia and must remain seized of the responsibilities of said office. This means that she has an obligation to provide leadership even though she has a candidate that she supports, he said.

The Executive Mansion response comes just a day after the ruling party’s Assistant Secretary of press and public affairs, Mr. Mo Ali, told a local radio station that the VP camp was still waiting for the backing or support of the President. Mr. Ali, who is the spokesperson of the party’s campaign team, further indicated that he is not aware of any support the VP was receiving from President Sirleaf.

This was swiftly rebuffed by Mr. Piah who said the President has done everything in her powers to lend her support to VP Boakai, including introducing him to several regional and world leaders.

However, the resignation of Nagbe as SG seems to hit the ruling party hard. It could be recalled Nagbe emerged as SG of the UP on a controversial note at the party’s convention last year as he was earlier deemed not qualified to contest the post by the UP election commission, then headed by Bong County Representative, Prince Moye. But Nagbe’s inclusion on the ballot at the last minute brought uneasiness amongst delegates who thought that the process was being manipulated from the top.

Many of the delegates and partisans believe Nagbe was being planted as an “eye” of the President in the UP’s hierarchy. However, information have begun to that the President has been courting the tow major opposition party as she now has ideological differences with VP Boakai, since Nagbe resigned his post.

Nagbe indicated in his resignation letter that he is quitting his post because he want the space and time to help President Sirleaf end her tenure on a fruitful note. In a phone conversation with the Daily Observer, he said now that the party had put together a campaign team, he felt he could let go of the party position, noting also that he could not be effective serving as SG of the party, while also serving as Minister of Information.

But with this reason provided, one who wonder why an SG, who plays a very pivotal role in a party, especially during an election year, would resign to commit himself to a mere four month to end a tenure rather than work frantically to ensure that his party wins another six year mandate—ample time that would help cement the party’s legacy.

President Seeks Protection From No One

Sources have also emerged that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is making frantic efforts to seek political alliances in certain opposition parties to serve as safe haven when her mandate comes to end early next year—though many continue to wonder why the President doesn’t trust the current Unity Party candidate and exposure of her investments in Liberty Party and CDC.

According to a high-placed source, the President’s outreach to the CDC is for two reasons: protection of her family from prosecution and Weah’s support to Robert Sirleaf as his successor in the Senatorial seat for Montserrado for his vacant seat if Weah wins the presidency.

“Since the provisional acceptance of her outreach by Senator Weah and co., the President has instructed all her trusted confidants to choose between the Unity Party and her,” the source said.

This, the source however said, led to the resignation of Nagbe (from his post) and Findley from the party— with prediction that Nagbe will officially resign from UP soon. “More resignations are expected in coming weeks. 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.

“This has prompted Gazprom to make some significant commitment to the campaign of Weah through the Sirleafs. The CDC is expected to benefit from aircrafts and some good sum of money from this arrangement,” the source noted.

But Mr. Piah stated at yesterday press conference that the President has nothing to hide, and as such, she seeks protection from no one.  “Let me state for the record that when it comes to the issue of integrity, President Sirleaf stands by her integrity and those of her family members. Her integrity remains untainted and exemplary. This is therefore an open challenge to those who think otherwise because President Sirleaf has absolutely nothing to hide and seeks no protection from anyone because her records are just clear and clean,” he said.

In short, Piah noted, President Sirleaf has done nothing wrong to warrant seeking protection from whoever takes over as President of Liberia following the elections.

Another high-ranking member of the UP said recently that the “stage managed” press conference is a mere political cover-up by the President, as her political game is well advanced.

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