‘Grudge Denied Unity Party’ -Former Finance Minister Reveals Why UP Lost 2017

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While stalwarts, members and sympathizers of the former ruling Unity Party continue to nurse the defeat of the 2017 national elections that saw their candidate Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai losing to a consolidated Coalition for Democratic Change headed by former Senator George Weah, Liberia’s former Finance Minister Amara M. Konneh, on the other hand has now opened a Pandora box that outlines reasons for the UP’s defeat. But as The Analyst reports, Konneh’s seemingly soul-searching revelation has stirred a hornet’s nest that many see as a futile attempt to open old wounds without addressing symptoms of the sore.

In an unprecedented social media post on October 25, entitled: “The choice 2017: setting the record straight” Mr. Amara Konneh shockingly disclosed how the deep rift within the UP regime had taken most of them by surprise.

“None of us in the UP regime suspected the deep rift between EJS (Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf) and JNB (Joseph Nyumah Boakai). Most of us who attempted to reconcile them were shocked by the list of 17 grievances that JNB had written down and kept in his home office. I attempted five times and he read that list to me each time. Others did too and failed. All of the issues were personal, some genuine and others frivolous to say the least. EJS too was stunned and she struggled with the discovery that her VP had been unhappy with her all these years. I saw her struggle with it, and made efforts to solicit help from others who could help. She was also depressed that he had not raised any of the issues during their regular one-on-one meetings during their 12 years of marriage, including when she selected him in 2015 as the choice to succeed her,” Konneh said in his social media confessional post, which he said is been transformed into a memoire.

Despite the Vice President’s open confessions of grudge held against his boss Ellen, Konneh said, surprisingly, during a key UP Executive Committee meeting that was organized by party stalwarts, the UP political leader said his boss Ellen had done nothing wrong to him.

“Meanwhile those who had severed ties with EJS, now solidly with JNB, saw an opportunity to attain top jobs should JNB win. They kept throwing fuel in the fire, instead of focusing on winning. No one cared about the campaign’s slogan to put country first.

When all efforts by many people in Liberia failed, EJS solicited the help of the same regional leaders from whom she had solicited moral and financial support for JNB, including Obasanjo who flew to Monrovia to broker a peace. When JNB failed to deliver on the commitment he made at that meeting, the line was drawn.

Meanwhile, supporters of JNB didn’t care to know the truth and help close the gap. They even refused personal contacts with and analytical support from folks who were associated with her. In the meantime, the EJS faction panicked,” said Konneh.

Closing his controversial social media post, Mr. Konneh said, for any reconciliation of the two and their supporters to be successful, those 17 grievances must be resolved.

“They were at the core of the choice that was made in 2017. Life is a competition with winners and losers. For the losing side to win the next game, a good coach always makes his/her team to watch the video and review the plays of the game they lost. Why? Because the prescriptions of the correct cure is dependent on a rigorous analysis of the reality.

Regrettably, I see folks in the JNB faction still pointing the fingers and not accepting any personal responsibilities. By the way, I was never a choice to succeed EJS neither was I a choice to be JNB’s running mate as was widely speculated,” he said.

 

Mixed Reactions

In the heat of the quite shocking disclosures from former Finance Minister Amara Konneh, Liberians from all quarters are expressing their opinions about his revelations: a few conciliatory, a good number unsavory.

According to Dukuly Joseph, “even though I supported JNB with all my blood in me; Amb Boakai didn’t play smart politically. Again, the 17 grievances should have waited, to say the least. You needed the woman’s blessing, why didn’t you wait until you got the mantle of authority? To admit, JNB blundered.”

Opposition leader Telia Urey on the other hand believes there is a dire need for reconciliation. “Whatever the case may be, our generation must not carry the hate and anger of the older generation. We must also stop fueling UNNECESSARY tension. I hope you guys in the UP can reconcile! The Party needs you all back.  2020 and 2023 bring new opportunities for us to do things DIFFERENTLY! We all made many mistakes and missteps in 2017!” she cautioned.

As for the Unity Party’s acting Secretary General Mo Ali, “Every story has three sides, YOUR SIDE, MY SIDE and then the TRUTH. So it is only meek for everyone to give their sides and history will reveal the truth.”

“EJS foot soldier is now speaking when he was also part of the process. When last did you respect the VP let alone to answer his calls? You finish messing up the country. EJS just didn’t want a successor from her party; period. We came together and we will leave together. You are not coming to check behind me. Smart student afraid of another smart student in the classroom because he/she doesn’t want his/her friend to score above. No sincerity in the game of politics, period,” yells Samuel Jebor.

Evan Kotio too believes, “Amara is speaking out of deception and optimum betrayal of trust and confidence. He had enough of time to have publicized his memoir than choosing to make descending views against the great statesman JNB when there is a political wrangling within the CPP. In my view, he is fighting a proxy war. Stop deceiving the people and stand down.”

“One can infer by reading this that the main reason for the UP defeat in 2017 was, if not, primarily based on the 17 grievances squarely placed on JNB head. The true political realities at the time however was completely opposite the pointing conclusions of your writings. The concluding message you left with your reading audience in this writing is that JNB still has those 17 counts against EJS and there can be no reconciliation in the UP if he (JNB) is not in the position to drop them.

Again, this will be a logical fallacy to assume that other factors are not key to the reconciliation in the UP, given my understanding of the person in EJS. The two (EJS and JNB) needed to be open to each other in 2017. But again, close associates to them had their own political undertones, which is the real truth! For some reasons you did not write this in 2017, writing it now is a chronic problem in itself rather than a solution to the current challenges faced.

To me, if you were genuine, this is not the medium and time for such writing.  It leaves me to conclude that the real problem in 2017 was the pretense of close associates in high positions who subscribe to themselves as gods of political wisdom and could change any decision they wanted. How could you be the one to talk to JNB, when it was widely speculated that you used your position to strangulate his office for the very reason of him wanting to contest in 2017? How genuine were your engagements with him at the time? I think we need to stop the pretense and work toward accepting our faults and responsibilities rather shifting them,” Augustine Tamba responded to Konneh’s memoir.

says Douglas Farngalo, “And what’s about the faults of EJS. I see you only touched deeply on JNB’s resentments of her. What were the things he did to her that made him bitter against her? Didn’t she tell you? And why did she choose to support a candidate from another party aside from her own? She could have told her party she wasn’t pleased with JNB’S candidacy and they would have had him changed.”

James Fasukollie, a diehard supporter of former Vice President Boakai feels Amara Konneh was very economical with the truth when he said he was never Ellen’s choice for VP to Joseph Boakai.

“The brother is not saying the truth. At one point, Ellen was hustling Uncle Joe to carry Amara as his veep. She was very adamant, and it brought confusion in the UP camp because some of the party stalwarts felt Ellen and her son Robert Sirleaf would have used Amara as a decoy to control the party when JNB won the elections. When the pops refused, Ellen told Amara to turn their support to the CDC,” Fasukollie further disclosed.

Whatever the case, the Amara Konneh disclosure, coming hot on the heels of the current rift within the opposition camp, leaves many analysts into believing it could strengthen the ruling CDC’s shaky political stranglehold on the opposition – making 2020 and 2023 predictable outcomes in favor of the ruling regime.

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