VP Boakai cast ballot
Some key opposition political figures have publicly declared support to ruling Unity Party or UP’s newly inducted standard bearer, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, just before President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf cast a white ballot for him at the Gbarnga, Bong County convention on Friday, 8 July.
UP is seeking a third term in office as Boakai takes over the party’s standard-bearership on a white ballot, though he will have to contend with dozens of presidential candidates in the upcoming 2017 presidential and general election.
“Mr. Vice President, Mr. Standard-bearer elect, please stand as I induct you into office. I charge you first of all to respect, defend, protect the constitution and laws of the Republic of Liberia and to continue to bear faith and allegiance to the Republic,” President Sirleaf said as she swore in Boakai.
In separate comments from oppositions, Sen. Peter Coleman said what the ruling UP decided in the convention hall will be responsible for Liberia’s destiny for the next six years, indicating that the party has done well for Liberia over the last 12 years.
“I travelled the length and breadth of this country, and I see, I’m a witness to the transformation this country is undergoing,” he noted, and told President Sirleaf that it was why he wanted to be at the convention to ensure that the transformation continues.
Sen. Dan Morias of the former ruling National Patriotic Party or NPP, publicly declared his membership of the “Joseph Nyumah Boakai or JNB Movement,” saying, “We are with you.” Adding that the fact that he (Sen. Morias) had been embraced by the UP and he was witnessing an event that would usher in a new democratic dispensation was enough to send home the message.
He said he was in Gbarnga to be part of a ceremony that was the kind of development that Liberians need. For her part, Sen. Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, formerly of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change or CDC, said as Liberian … she was concerned about the forward match of the nation and, “about who takes the garble of authority to build upon what was started” by President Sirleaf.
“So we have come to observe, Madam President, where you have stopped, those good legacies that you are leaving, whoever becomes the president should follow. I have come to make sure that what happens here should represent the supreme interest of the Liberian people,” Sen. Doe-Sheriff.
“We have come because we have a stake; we have come because we are decision makers. And as such, as Liberians, it is our responsibility and obligation to ensure that the next leader of this country is someone that has a heart; is someone that understands the dynamics; is someone that understands that we are to build the human resource capacity of our people,” she added.
She argued that it was not about which political party one came from, but it was about Liberia coming together to make a critical decision to elect a leader that understands that Liberia must come forward and to unite the people.
Later at the convention, Mrs. Sirleaf announced that former Senate Pro-Temporate Gbezohngar Findley had formally joined the ruling UP. While inducting Mr. Boakai into office as UP standard bearer, President Sirleaf charged all those that won various party leadership positions to work as a team, to help to heal the wounds, brings
everyone together to ensure that the party will continue to grow from strength to strength as it prepares for third term. Mr. Boakai and UP’s new chairman Mr. Wilmont Paye did not have the stress of competing against any one at the convention because they won on white ballots. But Liberia’s Information Minister Mr. Len Eugene Nagbe faced two rivals for the secretary General post, though he massively defeated them with 251 votes against just 77 votes for Cllr. Miller Catakaw and 68 votes for Rep. Henry Fahnbulleh.
President Sirleaf urged Mr. Boakai to be his own man, have his own vision which he would set for “us to follow,” and to be strong in the defense for what the party stands for and to be bold when he starts constitutional reforms to ensure that he deepens the democracy which encompasses the principle of freedom of choice.
Floor suggestions against reports made at the convention include the need for the UP to be clear on issues like same sex and Christianizing Liberia, but President Sirleaf said they will be conveyed appropriately, while also noting that Liberia believes in democracy, equal opportunity and equity for all.
President Sirleaf told Mr. Boakai that as leader of the party and “as a continuing leader of the government,” he should make sure that “we all” as one family, one nation, one country, indivisible to claim the rightful place “that we all” have worked so hard for.
Mr. Boakai acknowledged the confidence reposed in him and his team of officers to take up the platform of outgoing UP President Sirleaf, while also announcing that the party is open to enter into serious discussion with other political entities.
He called on Liberians to start shifting their concerns on what the future of Liberia will be, noting that things are rapidly changing in this global village as the shift in the balance of power is being witnessed all around the world. He meanwhile stressed that terrorism is a threat that requires “our” utmost concern.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah
By Winston W. Parley