Prince Johnson: The Face Of Unity Party?

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Even though his face may not appear on the ballot paper come October 10, 2023 general and presidential elections, Nimba County’s Senator, Prince Y. Johnson, is gradually positioning himself to become the face of the Boakai/Koung ticket ahead of the National Elections Commission (NEC) officially declaring campaign open.

   Senator Johnson recently vetoed the restructuring of his Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), influencing the election of the party’s Chairman, Cllr. Cooper Kruah, and the Standard Bearer, Jeremiah Koung, on white ballots.

   A few months later, the UP Standard Bearer, Boakai, would select Koung as his running mate, naming the ticket the “rescue team” and dashing the hopes of long-time allies Henry P. Costa, Prince Moye and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.

   However, since the formation of the “rescue team” and to the dismay of integrity enthusiasts, Senator Johnson has overshadowed the entire team, projecting himself as the face of the team and speaking on its behalf in every matter along the way.

   Wikipedia describes Prince Johnson as a Liberian politician and the current Senator from Nimba County, and former rebel leader who played a prominent role in the First Liberian Civil War, serving as leader of the Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), capturing, torturing and executing President Samuel Doe.

   On September 9, 1990, Johnson’s supporters abducted President Samuel Doe from ECOMOG headquarters in the Monrovia port district. Doe was tortured and executed in Johnson’s custody on September 9, with the spectacle videotaped and broadcast around the world. The video showed Johnson sipping a Budweiser beer and being fanned by an assistant as his men cut off Doe’s ear.

   After Doe’s death, Johnson briefly claimed the presidency of Liberia. Johnson’s claim to power ended following the consolidation of rebel power under Charles Taylor. In an attempt by the weak national government to reconstruct Liberian politics, the INPFL was recognized at a conference held in Guinea, where Amos Sawyer was elected president. Johnson was forced to flee to Nigeria to avoid capture by rebel forces supporting Taylor.

   After the civil war, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was established, and indicted Johnson for heinous crimes, including killing, extortion, massacre, destruction of property, force recruitment, assault, abduction, torture, forced labor and rape. The TRC recommended that all individuals and entities noted as most notorious or requiring further investigation, including Prince Johnson, have a formal trial in the Liberian justice system. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen.

   With Prince Johnson gradually becoming the voice of the “rescue team”, observers are beginning to wonder how Ambassador Boakai, who was seeing by many as the hope for a better Liberia, would explain his affiliation with a documented warlord and how he intends to bring justice for victims of the war if elected to the presidency.

   Supporters of Ambassador Boakai have begun to argue that “when Prince Johnson was supporting Weah he was a holy ghost, but now he is supporting Boakai he is the devil”. This argument appears to originate from Senator Johnson himself, who was heard repeating a similar rhetorical statement when the youth of the National Patriotic Party (NPP) disrupted the Sunday service of his church, Christ Chapel of Faith Ministries.

   This, observers say, may not augur well for the future of the country. They say the United States of America, through its embassy in Monrovia, warned Liberians not to do business with sanctioned persons, lest to elect them to positions of public trust. At first, it was argued that only the CDC was deeply involved with the sanctioned individuals; however, this argument is taking a dramatic twist, with the UP recruiting the greatest among them all.

   Speaking to the Hot Pepper with signs of frustration, the observers said Ambassador Boakai is a diplomat who does not involve himself with lots of things, and that his running mate, Koung, is like a son to Senator Johnson who would obey and act at Johnson’s first spoken words. They express fear that, if a JNB/JKK/PYJ leadership is sealed, Liberia would become a greater laughing stock in the comity of nations, with integrity institutions and nations with close ties to Western democracy distancing themselves.

   They argue that the objective of the 2023 elections is to provide better leadership direction for the country to bring about a progressive twist for the future of the youth, and not to dampen the already dampening opportunities for the young generation. According to them, if the target is only to remove Weah—even for the worse—Liberians should begin to put themselves on record for what lies ahead.    

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