In our February 20 editorial, we recalled how Jacob, on his mother Rebekah’s instigation, double-crossed his older brother Esau and showed up with an excellent gift that father Isaac graciously accepted. The gift led Isaac to bless Jacob instead of Esau as promised. By the time Esau arrived with his gift, it was too late. Bitter enmity immediately erupted between Isaac’s two sons.
Our recollection of this third Biblical manifestation of sibling rivalry, which has been repeated in families throughout history, followed the sudden defection of Harrison Karnwea from the ruling Unity Party to presidential candidate Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP). Surprisingly to everyone, Karnwea still kept his high profile job as Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s UP government.
How did this happen? we asked editorially. For contrary to normal politics, Mr. Karnwea was never questioned about his sudden political move, nor was he fired or asked to resign. Indeed, he kept his job until several weeks later when he voluntarily resigned.
This led many, including us, to speculate that President Sirleaf had been behind Karnwea’s move in the first place, for he could not have dared such a thing without his boss’ blessing.
Now the “voice of Jacob” is being clearly made manifest. President Sirleaf, in a New York interview with CNN International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour, boldly declared “I’m sending a strong signal; not only should we respect the Constitution and the law, but l also say it’s time for generational change.”
“We have young people that are vying for leadership, that have the capacity . . . passion and . . . capability . . . it’s time for them to take over and we’ve got to make way for them.”
What does all this mean? Well, the first thing it means is that she will NOT be supporting the man who was twice successfully her running mate, Vice President Joseph Boakai, who is himself now seeking the presidency.
But who are the “young people” that Ellen believes “have the capacity . . . passion and . . . capability” to lead Liberia? Who is he for whom she believes she “must make way”?
There are five prominent opposition candidates running against the incumbent, all of them younger than Veep Boakai. One is Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP). He, however, could not be the one she would support, since he is on record as saying Liberians should NOT elect a UP partisan as our next president, because he insists, UP has failed the country.
The second is former Central Bank Executive Governor J. Mills Jones, also believed to be in his sixties, who is also an unlikely candidate she would support. He was the prime target of the so-called “Code of Conduct” that attempted, unsuccessfully, to stop him from running.
The third is Alexander Cummings, 60, of Alternative National Congress (ANC), former CEO of Coca Cola International. President Sirleaf has shown no signal that she might favor him.
The fourth is Liberty Party’s Charles Brumskine, 66. We consider him definitely one whom Ellen might support for obvious reasons—Harrison Karnwea. Besides, remember that earlier on, one of Ellen’s close confidantes, Musa Bility, suddenly quit UP to join LP, where he became the party’s campaign chief executive officer!
The fifth candidate is football superstar George Weah, standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). He, too, surprisingly, is one who may likely get Ellen’s nod—why? Three cogent reasons: First, remember that a few weeks ago another very close Ellen confidante, former Senate President Pro Tempore Gbehzongar Findley, suddenly quit UP to join CDC. This was immediately interpreted by some to mean that Ellen wished to put her foot there, too, within CDC ranks.
Secondly, Ellen’s son Robert Sirleaf is believed to be firmly backing George Weah for the presidency.
Third is the link to the CDC by one of Ellen’s leading Cabinet officers, Education Minister George Werner, who is also believed to be very close to the Sirleaf family.
But there is yet a more serious link between Robert Sirleaf and CDC. Pundits believe he is aiming to succeed George Weah in the Liberian Senate!
It is, therefore, anyone’s guess where President Sirleaf is leaning—toward Brumskine? or toward her beloved son Robert’s CDC?
Why is she, in her dying days in office, jumping helter skelter to ensure that the Liberian people will elect her chosen successor? What does that tell us about this President?
Will the Liberian people buy this? Not if they want constructive, positive and visionary change in their beleaguered (long-suffering), yet beloved country.