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Nimba political clique awaits Gongloe 

Liberian human rights lawyer and presidential aspirant Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe risks a battle with some of his ‘bitter kinsmen’ in Nimba County and a political clique there build around long-standing Nimba “strongman” and ex-warlord, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, as the country pushes closer to the 2023 presidential elections.

The votes-rich Nimba County has many of its sons who have voiced their interest to contest the presidency, including the immediate past Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) president Cllr. Gongloe, and the Vision for Liberia Transformation party (VOLT) political leader Dr. Jeremiah Z. Whapoe.

Talking about Cllr. Gongloe’s presidential bid during a talk show on OK FM Wednesday morning, 6 April 2022, Nimba County Senator Jeremiah Koung warned that in Nimba, every group of people coming up there’s a clique, claiming that when you go across Nimba, people are saying that Cllr. Gongloe is not noted for supporting his friends.

Koung advises Cllr. Gongloe that “there are too many senior brothers in the county (Nimba) that are very bitter; and if you wait for that time to come and they get out, it could be difficult.”

“So the Dr. [Joseph] Kortu, the Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Gbeisay, you know, every group of people coming up there’s a clique. Y’all find yourselves into groups. So Kortu ran in 2005, Tiawan didn’t support Kortu. Though Kortu won Nimba, Tiawan supported Madam Sirleaf,” Sen. Koung explains.

“So the best to do now is to start to reach out to some of those people who believe you hurt them,” he added.

Senator Koung said everybody will be happy for a president to come from their home, but urged Cllr. Gongloe to go home and reconcile his brothers.

Koung explained that when Prince Johnson ran for the presidency in 2011, Cllr. Gongloe did not support him. 

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“In 2011 when Prince Johnson was running for president, Samuel Kogar, me, Garrison Yealue, we were the champions for Prince Johnson’s presidency,” said Mr. Koung.

And when Cllr. Gongloe’s very good friend Gbeisay asked for his support for his senatorial bid in 2011, Koung claimed that at the eleventh hour, Cllr. Gongloe’s sister Madam Edith Gongloe – Weh came in to run for the Senate, and Tiawan shifted his support toward her.

“Gbeisay felt betrayed, and that’s why when Grupee won the election and Madam Gongloe went to … Elections Commission, Gbeisay became a lawyer for Groupee against the Gongloes,” Koung explained.

According to him, Chief Justice Korkpor and Cllr. Gongloe went to school together, recalling that when the imprisoned former President Charles Ghankay Taylor’s regime was giving Cllr. Gongloe’s hard time, Chief Justice Korkpor, then the head of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), stood in the gap for him.

But Koung claimed that “nobody has brought the Chief Justice to public ridicule equal to Tiawan,” an apparent disagreement with Cllr. Gongloe’s firm stance against what the human rights lawyer sees as weaknesses of the Supreme Court under the watch of the chief justice, and his fearlessness in speaking his mind.

In addition to Cllr. Gongloe and Dr. Whapoe’s quest for the presidency, Senator Koung also named the former chairman of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) Mr. Wilmot Paye as another son of Nimba County who wants to be president of Liberia.

“There are too many Nimbaians running … One of the first persons I heard running that Wilmot Paye. You know Wilmont Paye was here, he said he running for president,” said Senator Koung.

“You got Jeremiah Whapoe, so there are too many persons from Nimba. It’s just that Tiawan has started so early and so he seems to be,” he added.

Cllr. Gongloe has consistently insisted that he wants Senator Johnson and all those responsible for war crimes and other war-related atrocities, economic crimes and other forms of corrupt practices to face trial. 

But Senator Johnson and his loyalists, especially his followers from Nimba County, get furious at those seeking the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to try the former leader of the defunct Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL) and other warlords.

Majority of Nimba voters have made the ex-warlord a senator two times and they have overwhelmingly supported his presidential bid too.

In addition to serving two nine-year terms consecutively in the Liberian Senate, it seems likely Senator Johnson’s followers will give him support for a third term once he shows up for the Senate race in 2023.

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The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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