Calls on UP Partisans to put acrimony behind and push Liberia forward
William Q. Harmon and Gloria T. Tamba
Ahead of the official announcement of final results by the National Elections Commission (NEC), Vice President and standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai, conceded defeat to rival Senator George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who emerged distant winner of the December 26th runoff presidential election.
Speaking at the emotionally charged headquarters of the ruling Unity Party, where scores of partisans had converged in tears on Friday afternoon, VP Boakai said “a while ago, I called Senator Weah of the CDC to congratulate him on emerging as the winner in the presidential contest.”
“I also availed myself to help him in any way he finds me useful to advance the good of our country,” said the VP, flanked by several members of the top brass of the Party, including Chairman Wilmot Paye and Campaign Manager Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan.
The VP’s earlier call to the Montserrado County Senator, and his (Boakai) public concession speech ends his quest to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — his boss of 12 years and Liberia and Africa first democratically elected female president — who many believe had never been in support of her VP’s presidential bid.
The NEC, on Thursday, December 28 announced that, of the 98.1% of the total number of total polling places tallied so far across the country, the CDC candidate, Weah, emerged with a distant and comfortable lead. NEC Chairman Jerome Kokorya, at a press conference at the electoral body’s headquarters, announced that Weah had accumulated 720,023 votes, which amounts to 61.5% while Boakai earned 451,088 representing 38.5%.
However, like hundreds of thousands of supporters across the country and in the Diaspora, the VP entered the runoff election confident in a victory that would have ensured the party retained not just the Executive Mansion for what would have been considered a third consecutive term, but a change of course that would have ensured that a robust governance with focus on a more vibrant economic governance structure; vigorous fight against the menace of corruption and a more socially inclusive agenda, under its new leadership.
At that UP headquarters on Friday’s afternoon, the scene was set for Liberians to witness an event that has a rarity in the nation’s history. Liberia seems to have no history where a close political rival, the CDC included, had conceded defeated to a winner.
With tears in his eyes, the VP indicated,“I, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, a man of peace, humility and a Liberian patriot with deep faith in God, hereby accept the results of the elections.”
The VP Boakai’s emergence to the second round and subsequent defeat came following tedious litigation processes precipitated by allegations of gross irregularities and fraud of the October 10 presidential and representative elections.
In spite of Boakai’s concession, many still harbor the belief that the fraud that characterized the previous elections also attended the runoff though this is yet to be proven on a large scale, apart from the pocket of incidents where few persons were caught with pre-marked ballot papers in favor of the CDC’s candidate.
But as rightly, the UP standard bearer said Liberian history is characterized by some disturbing episodes of fraudulent electoral processes and the attendant consequences. Notable among these, he said are the presidential election of 1927 and 1985— outcomes of which were rejected, thereby engendering conflict, which occasioned the loss of lives and protracted fratricidal national conflict.”
“I refuse to subject our nation to such an experience. I reject any temptation of imposing pain, hardship, agony and uncertainty upon our people. My name will not be used as an excuse for one drop of human blood to be spilled in this country.
“My worth and ambition to serve will never push me to stoop low to violence. The truth of the matter is that what I’m seeking was not the power or title, but instead an opportunity to serve. My love for country is more profound and intrinsic than my desire for the presidency,” he said.
VP Boakai noted that Liberia is at a historic crossroad, and called on Liberians to remain “cognizant of the extent to which elections are conflict-prone and have the potential to destroy nations, disintegrate families and undermine the sanctity of a nation.”
He noted that he has seen the good of the country and learned that there are many good people, and that, ultimately, good triumphs. “Although we worked so assiduously for a different outcome than what the results show, my faith, values and principles dictate that I respect the will of our people as announced by the NEC.”
During his concession speech VP Boakai called on his supporters and well-wishers of the Unity Party to support peace collectively join hands to build Liberia, heal wounds and serve the people with honesty, as well as a renewed dedication and commitment.
“Let us put the election and the acrimony occasioned by it behind us and close ranks to push this nation to its rightful place within the comity of nations,” he said.
“I value all of you and hereby urge you to demonstrate that Liberia can be a better country. As I have so frequently urged, we must subordinate our personal ambition and interests to the good of all and love for our country.”
“I appreciated the years I have been serving as Vice President and the privilege of serving with utmost dedication and integrity,” he said.
The VP is proud and, according to him, dearly cherishes his services to country, both in the private and public sectors, “and for that, let me express my gratitude to the people of Liberia for giving me that noble opportunity to serve my country.”
With sorrows and tears in the faces of the few supporters who had gathered at the party headquarters, the VP acknowledged that he is aware that UP partisans and his many other supporters are disappointed by the result of the election. Yet, he asked them to be consoled by the fact that it was a collective fight.
“Our campaign was characterized by many tangible projects to communities. We did our best and each of you deserve my personal gratitude. Let us continue to work even harder to promote reconciliation and integrity in government,” he said, adding: “All of you are the Liberian heroes.”
The VP also lauded the international community for standing with Liberia. “Our gratitude goes to all our international partners who stood by Liberia during this long and arduous electoral process,” he said. “Many of you traversed this country to let our people sell our agenda to fix our roads, produce food to feed ourselves, heal wounds inflicted over the years, unite us and develop our country.
UP Campaign Manager Ngafuan noted that the fight was a valuable one and called on those who stood with the VP to take pride in the fact that they were able to work together for worthwhile cause.
“We had wanted him to be the captain of the ship but the Liberian people in their ‘majority’ have spoken; so we want to congratulate the winning team and we wish members of the team the best as they steer the affairs of our state.
Now that Boakai has been gracious in defeat, it is now incumbent upon the winner to be magnanimous in victory.