The rigmarole in the Unity Party (UP) camp continues to take surprising trends a few months to the conduct of the October 10, 2023 general and presidential elections, with strange recordings and speculative reports of a “dying collaboration” surfacing in the media.
The Hot Pepper is being hinted that the problem in the UP has heightened to a level that, if not handled with political sensitivity, may lead to an unresolvable internal conflict, similar to what occurred in the then Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) that saw major players of the collaboration backing off and parting ways.
The UP withdrew from the CPP sometime last year and entered into an alliance with the Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence faction of the Liberty Party (LP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP) of Benoni Wilfred Urey. However, the alliance was short-lived, with the ALP breaking away after the UP Standard Bearer, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, announced the Political Leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) and Nimba County Senator, Jeremiah K. Koung, as his running mate and “Rescue-2” for the ensuing election.
Before the announcement of the Rescue-2, Senator Prince Johnson, who had been an ally of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George M. Weah, would breakaway from the CDC friendship and find solace in the UP.
Senator Johnson would retire himself from the MDR leadership, organize an election and support Koung for the Standard Bearer position of the party. Koung would run for the position unopposed, be declared winner and receive the blessing of Senator Johnson. Senator Johnson would then recommend him to Ambassador Boakai for his running mate slot, which would be accepted immediately and the announcement made in the following days.
Up to a month ago, a cordial relationship subsisted among members of the alliance between the UP and the MDR, with Senator Johnson becoming the focal person of the new collaboration. He would appear on talk shows to defend the ticket, rebut the negative feedbacks and use his pulpit to project the ticket to the Liberian people. Unfortunately, this relationship, too, has short-lived, with the Johnson-Koung relationship worsening and affecting the UP and its chances of victory.
Sources who preferred anonymity told the Hot Pepper that the misunderstanding between senators Johnson and Koung has allegedly so deepened that Koung is no longer taking calls from Johnson, lest to mention seeking political advice. According to the sources, the problem became visible when the United States government denied Koung a visa to accompany Ambassador Boakai on his current visit to the United States of America.
Koung, the sources alleged, sees the visa denial as a result of his affiliation to the renowned warlord, Prince Johnson, who is on the US Global Magnisky sanctions and whom the US has urged the public not to do business with.
At a recent burial of a MDR member, Peter Karyee, in Tropoe Town, Gbao Clan, district #7, Nimba County, the two senators were allegedly seen going their separate ways. Karyee died in Ganta after he fell off in a stampede that broke out on June 28 when the UP went to announce Koung as the Vice Standard Bearer of the party.
Since then, it is alleged, Koung has been making strange decisions without consulting Senator Johnson, with some of the decisions being detrimental to the MDR. One of such allegations is the decision to allow the UP to feed candidates in Nimba where it is believed their candidate has political strength over their opponents.
However, the allegations of influencing the UP list against MDR in Nimba and Koung’s refusal to take calls from Prince Johnson were all denied by an aide to Koung, who asked for protection.
But Senator Johnson has allegedly taken serious exception to what he considered a “backstab” by his political son, whom he trusted and handpicked for the 2023 political journey.
It is reported that Senator Prince Johnson and top members of the MDR were absent from the Unity Party unveiling ceremony on Friday, July 28, 2023.
In a press conference Tuesday, August 1, 2023, Senator Johnson confirmed to reporters the Monday story of the Hot Pepper that he raised serious concern about the UP feeding candidates against the MDR, but that the issue has been resolved.
All these furies are happening again at the conspicuous silence of the UP Standard Bearer, Joseph N. Boakai, which critics have termed a display of ineptitude and political insensitivity.
Political pundits, who see Ambassador Boakai as the person with the requisite qualification, experience and numerical strength to challenge Weah at the ballot, are becoming critical of Ambassador Boakai’s silence, which they see as unhealthy for the party at this critical time. They called for Boakai’s immediate intervention before the situation becomes a hindrance to their October 10 victory, noting that the Liberian people are still hopeful of being rescued from the alleged “kleptocracy” of the Weah administration.