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GeneralLiberia newsON 2ND THOUGHT

On 2nd Thoughts: Why VP pick in Liberia’s 2023 elections matter

-The case of UP, CPP and LPP

By Othello B. Garblah

By all accounts, Liberians are expected to head to the polls on October 10 to vote in a crucial election that may see either incumbent President George M. Weah being re-elected for another six years term or be replaced by one of his numerous contenders.

Although the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to announce names of qualified candidates on August 5, there are about 20 or more individuals aspiring to unseat President Weah in the upcoming polls.

Among the laundry list of candidates seeking to unseat him are former vice president Joseph N. Boakai of Unity Party (UP), former Coca-Cola Executive Alexander B. Cummings of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), and renowned human rights lawyer Cllr. Tiawon S. Gongloe of Liberian People Party (LPP).

Cummings with running mate Charlyne Brumskine

Unlike Cllr. Gongloe and few others that will be contesting the presidency for the first time in this year’s elections, President Weah, Amb. Boakai and Mr. Cummings were among dozen other candidates that participated in 2017 elections which brought Mr. Weah to power following a run-off with Amb. Boakai of UP.

However, the stakes in this year’s elections are high, even higher than in 2017 amidst a fragmented opposition divided by sheer greed and moles. Under such prevailing political atmosphere, the Vice Presidential pick is very crucial for the numbers.

There are arguably six vote rich counties in Liberia-they are Montserrado, Nimba, Bong, Lofa, Margibi, and Grand Bassa Counties. The rest of the nine counties account for a mere 20 to 25 percent of total votes.

Thus, the expectation that a vice presidential candidate coming from any of these counties would boost a party’s ticket is high-albeit and assuming that such candidate does not come with excess baggage that could play to the advantage of the incumbent or other contenders.

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Truth be told a vice presidential running mate should be able to add value to the ticket. In an event where a potential running mate comes with a piece of excess baggage, it impacts negatively on that party’s entire campaign as the presidential ticket is concerned.

The Case of UP

The Unity Party’s choice of vice running mate in the person of Sen. Jeremiah Koung comes with a bag full of mixed reactions. Koung is a senator from vote rich Nimba County and political leader of Prince Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR).

He is expected to pull the numbers for the UP from his native Nimba to the disadvantage of other parties including incumbent President Weah who has a herculean task defending his policies over the last six years.

However, the Prince Johnson factor could ruin the party’s chances of attracting votes from other regions. Sen. Johnson, a designee of the United States association with the Baokai-Koung ticket could cause him (Boakai) a serious problem and could take away from his chances.

Though UPists will argue otherwise, Prince Johnson’s alignment with Amb. Boakai at this stage would have a negative impact on his chances.

However, it remains to be seen how huge such an impact will be on UP’s attempt to wrestle power from CDC.

The case of CPP

The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) is a brand still reeling from the split. Originally, a collaboration of Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP), Alternative National Congress (ANC), and Liberty Party (LP) has been reduced to just the ANC and a fragment of LP.

Though conspirators pointed fingers at ALP’s Benoni Urey and embattled LP Charmian Musa Bility as being moles of the ruling CDC in helping to split the CPP, a recent pronouncement by Mr. Urey referring to President Weah as his junior brother whom he can call at any time render more credence to such conspiracy theory than sound to the naked ears. And with Bility’s recent podcast, something just doesn’t add up.

However, the CPP’s choice of Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine, daughter of the founding father of LP appears to have brought some light to the CPP campaign. Nonetheless, the political novelty of Cllr. Brumskine and her criticism of not being in touch with the Bassa people could hurt the CPP to the advantage of its opponents. But this is politics, anything can happen.

The Case of LPP

Gongloe with running mate Urey

The Liberian People’s Party (LPP) comes to this year’s election on the platform of integrity. Both standard bearer Cllr. Gongloe and running mate Dr. Emmanuel K. Urey-Yarkpawolo are from a legal background and pride themselves on integrity. Although Dr. Urey is from Bong County, one of the vote rich counties, he appears an unpopular and hard to sell candidate among many.

The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) which is currently swimming in a pool of allegation full of failed policies, extreme poverty, corruption, and failure to bring corrupt officials to book could be rethinking its strategy with all these factors in play. But who knows politics can be unpredictable at times.

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