Presidential hopeful Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party has chosen his running mate for the 10 October elections from votes-rich Nimba County. Brumskine over the weekend picked ex-managing director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA)and native of Nimba, Harrison Kanwea, as his vice standard running mate, ending anxiety and speculations here, who the twice defeated presidential candidate would choose as running mate.
All eyes had been on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s campaign manager for Montserrado County during the 2011 elections, Musa Hassan Bility, who resigned from the governing Unity Party late last year and joined the Liberty Party.
Both Bility and Kanwea hail from Nimba, the second largest populated county after Montserrado. At a colorful ceremony characterized by singing and dancing, performance of mask dancers and strong battle cries from LP youth wing in the historic city of Sanniqullie, Nimba County, Cllr. Brumskine eventually announced Kanwea as his running mate.
He had constituted a special committee to search for the politician who should become vice standard bearer of the LP, and after two months of search, the committee arrived at Kanwea, a man considered a strong challenger to Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of the newly organized Movement for Reconstruction and Democracy or MDR.
According to Brunskine, the decision of the special committee to have recommended Mr. Kanwea is in the best interest of the party and the country at large. “Two months ago, we appointed a special committee to recommend a vice running mate and I think that Mr. Kanwea is the best person that can fill the gap with honesty, dedication and commitment to the process. I think with the coming on board of Mr. Kanwea, Liberty Party can rest assure that we can move the party and win this elections,” the rather optimistic LP leader said.
He noted that there were other names that have similar characters like Mr. Kanwea, but the deal is one at a time and for now,Kanwea is adequately suited to serve the Liberty Party in the capacity as vice running mate.
Mr. Kanwea is believed to have a strong political base in Nimba County, particularly amongst the Gioethnic tribe, where Senator Prince Johnson, also a presidential hoprful in this year's election is regarded as a political 'godfather'.
Kanwea’s selection by Brumskine could dilute the political dominance of Senator PYJ, who has won two senatorial elections in Nimba besides becoming kingmaker for the presidency during the 2011 runoff presidential elections.
Many are predicting a 'dogfight' between the Liberty Party and Johnson's Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction over the Nimba votes. Meanwhile, Mr. Kanwea has expressed appreciation for the preferment and promised to work tirelessly in ensuring that the Liberty Party becomes victorious at the polls in October and subsequently an LP-led government is inaugurated in January 2018 with him as Vice President of the Republic of Liberia.
With the pick of a running mate, the Liberty Party now joins the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC as the two parties that have name standard bearers and vice standard bearers, respectively.
All eyes seem set on the governing Unity Party standard bearer, Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai, who amid mounting speculations, is yet to pick a running mate, preferring to play the card close to his chest.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne