PYJ, Koung Support Rival Senatorial Candidates in Nimba

MONROVIA: Ahead of the senatorial bye- election in Nimba County there has emerged a serious imminent clash for supremacy between Vice President Jeremiah Kpan Koung and his erstwhile “political godfather”, Senator Prince Yormie Johnson both of whom are supporting rival candidates and mustering whatever within their respective means to clinch victory which will be an ample opportunity to show strength in what seems to be a long race that may define the future of the 2029 general elections.

In what some political pundits described as the height of a serious rift with the Unity Party that he supported and ensured its victory in 2029, Senator Johnson has public endorsed Representative Samuel Kogar as his preferred choice ahead of the Nya Twayen who is the flagbearer of the UP in the ensuing senatorial bye-election to replace VP Koung who previously held the position.

Senator Johnson had told newsmen last week that his stance against the UP was based on the Party’s quest for the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court which to him, is being designed to target him and take him to anywhere the court will be situated to try those accused of bearing major responsibility during the brutal civil war.

The senator said such a quest by the party he supported was a betrayal because he was assured by then candidate Joseph Nyuma Boakai that he will not pursue the option of establishing the court which favors the Nimba County lawmaker.

The choice of Kogar came to many as a surprise as Johnson had earlier favored Mark Gblinwon, the former County Inspector of Nimba because according to him, Mark will work with him in the senate to make sure the cause for the court will be defeated along with others in the upper chambers of the national legislature.

Kogar on his part in the past has always being at loggerhead with the senator but the last summersault during the deliberation for the resolution that was adopted by the House in which Kogar stood against it and did not sign it endeared him to Johnson and in the process endorsed the Nimba county representative to succeed Koung as both he and Kogar will constitute a force in the senate to oppose the WECC.

But there is a betrayal element in the latest decision by the erratic senator who according to reports had pledged his support to Twayen in principle because of the similar support Twayen gave the UP, especially then candidate Koung during the second round of the general elections last year where it was said he vigorously campaigned for the UP ticket after he had lost to Johnson though he pulled a good number of votes in the senatorial race.

It was premised on the support he garnered from Twayen that Koung and the Unity Party had decided to pledge their undivided solidarity and allegiance to his senatorial pursuit and vowed to make sure that against all odds, Twayen should emerge as the victor after the votes are cast and counted.

As the heat gets hotter in what seems to be one of the biggest if not the biggest contests in Nimba politics since the restoration of civil rule in 2006, the entire process is already gathering storm and political watchers believe that this could be a rehearsal to what may occur in 2029.

As for Senator Johnson, this contest is to further consolidate his grip on power in Nimba County that he has dominated since he veered in national politics and has never lost his seat just as he had also made leaders in the county despite challenges to resist his power and influence on the county and its people. A win for Kogar will mean that Johnson could remain as an unchallenged kingmaker with a lot of benefits including Koung whose election as a senator and now VP could not be contested.

“Beyond this, Senator Johnson will be sending a clear message to the UP people that he could undo them in 2029 and that he should not be discounted in any calculations they may harbor against him. It may also trigger a possible U- turn by UP on their stance on the establishment of the War and Economic Crimes Court not to pursue it to attract Senator Johnson’s wrath”, Sunh Taypayson, social critic spoke to The Analyst.

As for Vice President Koung, the contest will be the toughest he had ever faced going against the man who commands a huge followership and being referred to by many as “the godfather of Nimba County” but there is enormous pressure on him by the UP to outperform the senator and ensure Twayen becomes the next senator as his successor.

Some analysts who spoke to The Analyst last week said a marching order may have been given to VP Koung to deliver on the mandate as a possible condition to handle the standard bearership in 2029 as it will show his strength and ability to win in a big contest if the opposition community led by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) puts up a big fight.

Already Koung is said to be building his own power bloc in Nimba County Outside Of Senator Johnson and their party, the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction as can be seen from the number of non-members of MDR who are from Nimba County said to have been influenced by Koung. It is said that Koung is getting maximum support from President Joseph Nyuma Boakai in a battle that is meant to “pull the rug from Senator Johnson’s feet and make him powerless”.

“Though this could be seen as a sign of betrayal, this is politics and the choice is Koung who wants to reach the zenith of his career now that he is the number 2 man in the country and aiming to be the person to succeed the President.

“But there is a dangerous path to the process and I just hope the Vice President will be able to sit down and further analyze his decisions one of which is to weaken both Johnson and the MDR and by the time he may need them when the chips are down, he may not get them and it could cost him the Presidency possibly in 2029”, a political watcher who did not want to be named in the papers said.

For now, the race is on and political actors are looking on as “the two elephants fight each other to determine who owns and controls Nimba County and its people.

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