President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was conspicuously absence from the Unity Party campaign rally over the weekend, with a spokesman saying that she had a prior engagement to break ground for a clinic in Suehn Mecca District in Bomi County.
Her absence at the beleaguered ruling party campaign launch which saw thousands of supporters trucked from Bong, Ganta, Capemount, Bomi and Margibi County to showcase its crowd strength left many of Boakai’s sympathizers bemoaning that the president has left their man in the cold.
Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, who recently resigned his post as UP Secretary General told this writer Sunday that Mrs. Sirleaf had earlier announced her prior engagement days before the rally.
Minister Nagbe further argues that Mrs. Sirleaf did not want to steal the show from Vice President Boakai, saying that it was his moment. On Friday Executive Mansion correspondents were told that the President had scheduled a program at her farm in Jule Juah, Bomi County. The reporters were again informed that the program had been re-scheduled for Saturday September 16, the same day of the UP launch. But they were later informed on Saturday that only Executive Mansion photographers were now needed to cover the even.
Earlier in the week, the Executive Mansion issued a release announcing a 2-day International Retreat on the Sustainable Development Goals. The retreat had been scheduled to kick-off from Friday September 15-17, the same weekend the UP had scheduled its rally.
“The Secretariat of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning in collaboration with the International Research Forum, from London UK, will this weekend (September 15-17) hold an international retreat on the Sustainable Development Goals on the theme: “Achieving the SDGs’ vision of equity, growth and resilience in Africa through regional cooperation;” A regional retreat for government planning officials and non-governmental partners.
According to a release from the Secretariat, the two-day retreat will bring together government officials from several ministries, academia, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Participants hail from various African countries and institutions including Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Tunisia, Rwanda, South Africa, the Pan African Parliament, ECOWAS, (and) the Africa Center on the SDGs in Kigali among others.” The release said.
The President’s absence from the UP campaign rally comes at a time there are mounting speculations among UP partisans that Mrs. Sirleaf is not in support of Boakai’s presidential bid, something which has been denied over and over by the President’s office and some officials of the party including candidate Boakai himself.
But what remains to be seen is whether President Sirleaf, Boakai and former party chairman Senator Varney Sherman are ready to sit together in public.
Sen. Sherman has insisted that Vice President Joseph Boakai doesn’t need Mrs. Sirleaf’s support to win the 2017 presidential race. Of course, it is left with the conscience of Mr. Boakai to distance himself from Sherman’s rant against the president, something he is yet to publicly denounce.
Boakai who came to his own rally late could not read out his prepared text. He arrived at the Antoinette Tubman Sports Stadium when many of the UP supporters who have braved the heavy down pour of rain on Saturday were already tired of waiting and were now leaving. The unread text was distributed among media houses at the rally for subsequent publications and broadcast.
By Othello B. Garblah