Barely two years to Presidential and General Elections here, Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States of America, says the impending 2017 poll will be a flood gate with proliferation of individuals, vowing to occupy the nation’s highest seat.
Speaking in a news conference in Monrovia Thursday, 23 April at his Rehab Community residence on the outskirt of the capital, Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh said the race for the Presidency in 2017 will see individuals from all walks of life, who think they stand a better chance to lead Liberia after Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The last Presidential election in 2011 saw over 20 candidates in the race, but none of them were able to secure the 50 percent plus one of the total votes to be declared winner as required by the Constitution of Liberia, which led to a runoff between the governing Unity Party of Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Cllr. Winston A. Tubman of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) led by Ambassador George Weah, now a senator.
However, the Ambassador hosted Thursday’s press conference to clarify media report quoting him to have said, “It is time for Kpelle people” to take the Presidency. The Kpelle tribe is one of Liberia’s 16 ethnic groups, situated in the central region of Bong County, native home of Mr. Sulunteh.
Responding to the report, Ambassador Sulunteh said at no time he ever granted interview to reporters, making such comment. He said it’s worrisome that the media would create such statement and attribute it to him.
He is also reported to have told his kinsmen of Bong County during a recent visit that: “I will be contesting in 2017. I can’t tell whether it will be for the Presidency or not; all I can say is I will be a candidate in 2017.”
The report further quoted him to have said Bong County has long been a backbencher in Liberian politics and it was now time to utilize its numerical strength as one of the most populated counties in Liberia.
“At no time I ever conducted interview with a local newspaper since my arrival into the country. The issue of preaching tribal politics is far from the truth. I’m not an extremist, tribalist, and interestingly, I have not decided about the 2017 Presidential race,” Ambassador Suluteh further clarified at yesterday’s press conference.
He disclosed that currently, he serves as the senior national advisor to the governing Unity Party, and since returning home, all of his time and energy have been spent on the party’s operations.
“We have not utilized our strength as a county in previous elections. I think this is the time we unite our voices and population as a county in 2017. Some politicians will come and pretend to be natives of Bong County only because of your numerical advantage, don’t listen to them. If we want to see Bong County develop, let’s unite as a county and shun politicians, who will want to exploit our ignorance,” the local media had reported Ambassador Sulunteh to have said in Gbarnga, Bong County recently.
But the Ambassador has maintained that the information provided in the media is unfounded and lacks the basis of realities.
Sulunteh is not the only Liberian politician currently entangled in a tribal politics controversy.
Ex-presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party, has come under increased public criticism for telling the people of River Cess County recently where he had gone to campaign on behalf of the LP’s candidate for a by-election that it’s time for the Bassa people to take the Presidency.
But the assertion was swiftly countered by new appearance on the political landscape, businessman-cum politician Benoni Urey, who thinks campaigning on tribal lines is counter-productive.
Neither Cllr. Brumskine nor his Liberty Party has responded to the public criticism, which seems to be taking away from the party.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor