MONROVIA: In a swift move that could be described as an exercise to assert themselves and their relevance in the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction(MDR), Messrs Wilfred Bangoura, Melvin Youe and Gonpue Kargon have sharply responded to the reported expulsion handed them for “supporting the reelection bid of President George Manneh Weah”, describing the action as “sheer hypocrisy, intolerance and vindictiveness” and vowed to challenge the action through the legal process to have their expulsion trashed.
Speaking to newsmen yesterday, Thursday, May 18, 2023, the three executives of the party who were deviant that they remain active in their respective positions said the leadership of the party under Senator Jeremiah Kpan Koung was bent on rubbishing them and making them irrelevant in the country and called on the public to disregard such as action as “it cannot be allowed to stand”
“The media was awashed with a corrupted, polluted and indefensible and hypocritical content of our expulsion from our party, our crime, we are supporting the re-election of the President.
“The party’s constitution did not say, as can be seen by any reasonable person, that if a party is not a presidential candidate, members of that party cannot support a candidate of their choice”, said Mr. Bangoura, who was the lead spokesperson at the press briefing.
To buttress their assertion, Bangoura who is the Deputy Secretary General of the party said there is already a precedence within the MDR where some members of the executive committee, including then Representative Koung who supported another candidate from a rival party when Senator Prince Y. Johnson, then the political leader of the MDR, was a presidential candidate in the race.
“The fact here is that the MDR is not fielding any presidential candidate in these elections. Be mindful there has not been any political party that has been established to run for the Vice President.
“Now let us unearth the hypocrisy. Our party has a precedence of executive member, then Representative Koung supporting a different presidential candidate; he overtly and openly supported the Presidential bid of former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai in the very same election when Senator Prince Y. Johnson, then standard bearer of MDR was a candidate.
“Fellow Liberians, nobody probed the then Representative Koung, nobody suspended him, nobody expelled him in 2017. We were made to understand at the time that Koung was exercising his democratic and constitutional rights to canvas for the candidate of his choice”, Bangoura said.
He said despite what Koung did to the party by voting against its standard bearer, Senator Johnson, “interestingly three years later, we took a step further by rewarding Koung today with a senatorial position when the party overwhelmingly voted for him during the midterm Senatorial race in 2020. He said their decision to endorse and support the re-election bid of President Weah was informed by what they had already learnt from Koung being a member of MDR who did not support Senator Johnson at the time but voted for Boakai in 2017.
“But let there be no doubt about our endorsement of the President in these elections. We were taught by a doctrine of Koung called Koungism which is a doctrine that you can be in a party and support a presidential candidate in any other party. So, in 2023, we have decided to practice the doctrine.
“We are exercising the same right he exercised in 2017. The same man who is not running for President but as Vice President has now ordered his henchmen to expel us for practicing Koungism”
Bangoura took a swipe at Koung whom he described as “someone who has no record of building institution but always took advantage of situations to position himself” as well as being party to a scheme that expelled Senator Johnson from the National Unification and Democratic Party(NUDP), the first political party under whose platform the Nimba County lawmaker contested the Presidency in 2011.
“Koung presided over a committee in Buchanan that expelled Senator Johnson from the NUDP in 2013 and installed Rick Toweh as the new political leader. He always goes into anything to make a profit being a businessman who buys and sells.
“Today, he has successfully purchased the MDR and has used it to pave his way to the Unity Party”, he said.
The tough talking Deputy Minister of Commerce said they did submit themselves to any investigation because the atmosphere was given as guaranteed under the constitution of MDR as well as the committee appointed to investigate them was under a strict instruction to bring down a guilty verdict against them.
“We are not accepting any bogus expulsion. It has no currency, it has no basis, no constitutionality, it is illegal, it is vindictive and we see it as an act of witch- hunting and it must not stand”, he said.
When asked what impact can they make for the re-election of President Weah in Nimba County with the presence of Johnson who is being seen as the Godfather of the county, Bangoura responded that contrary to such insinuation, the senator’s rating and acceptance in the county has been on the decline since 2011 when he contested as a Presidential candidate.
“Now you have to look at the support he has gotten in elections he contested as presidential candidate. In 2011, he got about 67.7% of the votes; in 2017 he got about 53.3 which is like half of the voting population. So, 50% voted for him and 50% did not vote for him.
“If you look at the demographics, you will see that those who voted for him are now between the ages of 50-70 years and above and those who rejected him are the young people, most of whom born from 1990 and beyond, these are people between two generations. These are people who are seeing development and progress in the county under the administration of President Weah and will vote for him during the election”, he said.
Bangoura said in the elections of 2005, 2011 and 2017, Weah did not get that much votes because there were massive developments being undertaken by the President but what has been happening in terms of development has changed the narratives.
“There was nothing like Ganta to Sanniquellie road, no Sanniquellie to Loguatuo road, there was no Ganta to Saclepia road, there were no new markets, no scholarships. But there has been massive development all over the county and the people are seeing these things for themselves for which they are going to re-elect the President.
“Now look at this. Senator Johnson will not be on the ballot and Nimba has always supported people who run for President not Vice President.
President Weah was introduced to Nimba by Senator Johnson as our nephew. Our nephew will be on the ballot. Now, tell me who these people are going to support?”, he said.
For his part, Melvin Youe, who until the action of the leadership of the party was the Secretary General, the position which he said he still maintains, concurred with the submission of Bangoura, stressing that the leadership of the party erred by taking an action that went totally against the constitution of the party.
He recounted that their presence in the compound of Senator Johnson with respect to getting their side of the story was horrible, stressing that if such experience was to have been during the heydays of the war, something different was to have happened to them.
He said the legal proceeding is on and was very optimistic that the court will overturn the decision of the leadership so that the rights of the people will be restored.
Representative Gonpue Kargon, who also spoke at the briefing said his decision to support the President’s re-election was anchored by the request from his constituency because “they have decided to embrace development, something they have not seen before”
“My people said they appreciate the development of the President and I told Senator Johnson and the leadership of the party that I am a member of MDR but for the choice of the presidency, I will support the re-election of President Weah.
Senator Johnson was not happy when the President saw me among other people and hugged me and he does not expect me to snub the President because the president is a good man and as a Christian, I should not keep anything against someone for no reason.
“My people are all in support of the development that the President is bringing and I should be the one who should encourage them so that we should have more of such in the district. So, there is no reason why I should not embrace him”, Representative Kargon said.
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