THE BOAKAI-PYJ-KOUNG TICKET – A SERIOUS THREAT TO LIBERIA’S NATIONAL SECURITY- (PART 2) – JUNE 24, 2023
Abraham Barlou Mitchell – Secretary-General, NDC
THE UNITY PARTY-BOAKAI- PYJ- KOUNG Presidential Ticket for the 2023 General and Presidential Elections, I insist as I indicated in my first article of May 2023, is a serious threat to the national security of Liberia – today and tomorrow – and should therefore be resisted by all Liberians (in and out of the country), as a matter of national urgency – PERIOD!. The threat is both potential and actual, that could engender “a clear and present danger” – a state of emergency in Liberia.
Accordingly, national security threats are not mere bluffs, neither are they imagined, nor are they speculated or subjective-perception-based. They are real, actual, objective and empirical, when manifested within a given body politic, at given moments. National security threats can be local, internal and external (regional and global), as defined by the National Security Strategy of the Republic of Liberia (NSSRL-2008, revised 2016-17), in the context of Liberia. Thus, and very importantly, anything that threatens the national security of the sovereign people of Liberia, and their sovereign state, must be disallowed, rejected, eliminated and/or drastically reduced, as a matter of absolute necessity and national urgency – that’s the doctrine of all national security strategic goal – the elimination of anything that threatens national security. If such a threat (s) are overlooked, and not eliminated, they undermine and jeopardize national concord and political stability, whether by internal or external forces.
As a post-conflict county on the difficult path of national recovery after fourteen years of civil wars, wars so barbaric and catastrophic, with irreparable consequences, Liberia’s national security should be construed principally within the context of the on ongoing peace-building process, and its non-interruption; zero tolerance to ethnic/tribal conflicts, and religious harmony; political stability, national reconciliation and healing; the fight against all crimes , including public corruption, drugs, fraudulent elections, disrespect for the rule of law, etc.; and above all, the maintenance of an investment friendly climate for the attraction of urgently needed foreign investments, for sustained and uninterrupted economic growth, development, prosperity and political stability – the essence of genuine peace.
In this regard, anything that has the inclination to threaten the national security environment in Liberia in this context, as the Liberian Civil Wars, EBOLA and COVID-19 Pandemics did, should be seen as a national security danger, and should therefore be vehemently rejected and eliminated – that is exactly what the Boakai-PYJ-Koung Presidential ticket represents – bringing to the constitutional presidency of Liberia, the highest office of state authority, a very dangerous belligerent combatant and a notorious warlord from Nimba County, whose ultimate goal in politics in Liberia, as demonstratively proven is to destabilize and subvert Liberia.
In other words, General Prince Y. Johnson, a notorious soldier, should not be allowed to determine the presidential ticket (president or vice president) in an election in Liberia for obvious reasons, particularly to choose an ethnic-based, political surrogate-client as a vice running mate to the presidential candidacy of an Oldman that is said to be terminally sick. PYJ and others like him, remains a threat to the national security of Liberia, unabated, since December 24, 1990.
It should be recalled, in 2017, the National Democratic Coalition (NDC), unanimously endorsed former Vice President Boakai as its presidential candidate. In 2003, conversely, the Boakai-PYJ-Koung concocted political caricature is a no go zone for the NDC as an institution, neither has the NDC made an institutional decision for the opposite side. Only the party’s convention or congress has the authority to do so. Individual members on their own volition, however, may do so or not – that is the current debate within the party.
Meanwhile, the rushed-into an unholy alignment of forces for the Liberia’s presidency by Boakai and PYJ, contains viruses of both potential and actual national security threats capable of reviving tribal and ethnic political feuds; undermining national reconciliation, healing and concord; instigating a state of national unpredictability and uncertainty; encourage drug pushing and other transnational-organized crimes, etc., and thereby scare away foreign investments urgently needed; and as well as undermine the steady economic progress of the country. More importantly, such threats do have the potential to jeopardize the peace, tranquility, and stability of the Liberian state – a reecho of similar manifestations of the 14 years of armed conflicts in the ECOWAS Sub-region.
As national security threats are not imagined, the empirical determinants of threats the UNITY PARTY-JNB- PYJ- KOUNG-Presidential Ticket pose to Liberia’s national security lie in the fact that the rebel general Prince Y. Johnson, chief architect of the current unholy alliance, is a clod blooded murderer; a wicked man, ungodly, demonically possessed and mentally unstable; he is a trouble-maker, a driver of conflicts, a spoiler, and a political destabilizer.
The Chief patron of Koung and Boakai, General Johnson, was responsible for the capture and butcher of the sitting president of Liberia during the Liberian armed conflicts. He literally butchered and skinned President Samuel K. Doe alive, after his opportunistic capture of the Head of State at the ECOMOG Base, unarmed, as a result of a conspiracy. As despotic as Doe himself was, that is not the issue; the issue is, in a civilized world, there are better ways to remove despots from power, and those who do so must themselves be better. For this, Prince Y. Johnson cannot be consider a “hero”, but a butcherer, which virtually all rebels in the Liberian Civil War were.
On arrival at the regional force’s Freeport Base for a visit during the war, President Doe was mandated by ECOMOG to disarm to the regional force along with his entire presidential guards, as a condition precedent to enter the ECOMOG Base. President Doe complied; subsequently, a few minutes later, Prince Johnson and his men of the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) “forced” themselves into the ECOMOG Base, armed to the teeth, and opened fire on, and eliminated the unarmed Doe forces; subsequently, President Doe was captured, unarmed, in the office of the ECOMOG Force Commander, after having been abandoned by the Force Commander during the fracas at the ECOMO Base. That was the story later revealed by the then ECOMOG Chief of Staff in an interview. That tragic incident of September 9, 1990, video recorded, in which President Doe was seen capture by General Johnson, gruesomely torture, including his ear and a toe cut off, etc., infuriated ethnic hate and thereafter complicated reconciliation between compatriots of Nimba and Grand Gedeh, on the one hand, and the entire country at large, on the other. In fact, the situation led to a leadership shift within ECOMOG high command. Notably, Had ECOMOG not been on the ground, that singular incident, would have pushed the Liberian Civil War into a genocide, as in Rwanda, as the Doe forces went on the rampage in Monrovia, shooting and shouting, “no Doe no Monrovia”.
By those gruesome acts committed, such characters as Prince Johnson and others should not be seen near state authority in post conflict Liberia. Instead, General Johnson unremorsefully boasts of his war crimes and uses same to cajole the people of Nimba into believing he is their “messiah”. That is why he has effectively turned Nimba County, the second largest electoral collage of Liberia into his political collateral and a pawn on the chest board, for his post-war self-seeking political interests and machinations. Tragically, these are the Liberia’s dilemmas.
Apart from his personal role and direct involvement in the habitual extrajudicial shooting and killing of Liberians in the public at close range with a “silver pistol” during the Liberian Civil War, the cold-blooded warlord also captured and adopted fair color women and young girls, and held them hostage as sex slaves and concubines – international criminally reprehensible acts of classical human trafficking – a trans-national organized criminal enterprise. His records on the violation of International Criminal, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Laws are well documented, both nationally and internationally, including rape, kidnapping, trafficking in persons, torture, extrajudicial killings, criminal conspiracy, the loot and theft of properties (public and private), economic sabotage, murder, etc.
Because of his infamous records, the Nimba County pariah senator has been disbarred of his oversight functions of the Liberian Senate as head of the Senate Standing Committee on “Security, Intelligence and Defense”, as the international community has refused to do business with the fugitive-warlord. All of these diabolic acts make Prince Johnson a serious threat, and he should therefore not go beyond the senate, and be allowed to come near the constitutional presidency of Liberia.
On the other hand, Jeremiah Koung, the man former Vice President Boakai relies on to make his presidency for the 2023 Elections as a vice running mate, is a so-called local businessman, whose so-called business activities undoubtedly are inextricably linked to the Liberian Civil War and its spoils, as well as other questionable deals that could link his business ventures to some of the crudest forms of primitive capital formation. Koung, like PYJ, is politically a direct product of war – these are people for whom the Liberian Civil War was about loot and plunder, when innocent people were killed, while others fled for their lives, and their properties looted. He claims to be a college degree holder, acquired during war years; if he does, this still does not make him properly schooled to hold the second highest constitutional office of the Liberian State, and to become the second in command to head the National Security Council (NSC) of Liberia. At best, Koung should remain as a local ethnic senator of Nimba County.
As we analyze Senator Johnson’s threats to Liberia’s national security, lest we forget, it is also important to remind the Liberian people that this is not the first time General Prince Y. Johnson, the destabilizer, is being allowed to nominate a vice to the presidency of Liberia.
During the Liberian Civil War, in 1991, as head of the INPFL, this imposter demanded the position of Vice President in the Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) at the “All Liberian Conference”, held at Hotel Africa, Monrovia, as an appeasement to off-set Charles Taylor’s aggression. Consequently, the earlier Vice President of IGNU, Bishop Ronald Diggs, was sacrificed for Prince Johnson’s vice nominee, Dr. Peter Lorkulah Naigow, a spineless and an obsequious sycophant to the warlord. General Johnson was also offered many other strategic sloths in IGNU, including the head of the Liberia National police.
As he has done in the Coalition for Democratic Change government, he threatened and undermined IGNU with all sorts of unreasonable political demands; he used the IGNU Vice Presidency to undermine IGNU at critical junctures of the peace process. Eventually, he ordered all of his nominees in IGNU to pull out of the IGNU government, including his vice president, Naigow, as he prepared to secretly join forces with Charles Taylor to launch the NPFL October 1992 “Octopus War” on Monrovia and ECOMOG. His Caldwell Base was one of the bridgeheads in Monrovia for the “Octopus” war. It was God first, and ECOMOG second, Prince Johnson and Taylor would have over-run Monrovia and ECOMOG, and imposed a military junta on Liberia and ECOWAS.
IGNU, under the presidency of Dr. Amos Sawyer, abrogated the J.J. Roberts Bank Notes, and had them replaced with the new Liberty Notes, as a legal tender. That policy by IGNU was intended to strangulate Charles Taylor in particular, and other war and economic criminals in general. The new bank note policy of IGNU affected and weakened General Johnson’s financial and economic base as a warlord. PYJ and his INPFL, as well as the National Patriotic Front, and others, had all looted the “National Bank of Liberia” (now the Central Bank of Liberia), as well as other commercial banks in the country, and they used the local money to fuel wars and undermine the peace.
By that policy of IGNU, both Taylor and Prince Johnson became violently furious, as a core of their vital criminal economic interests of war-making had been threatened, attacked and eroded by IGNU. In his realignment with Taylor to launch “Octopus” in 1992, his ploy backfired; Taylor had a plan “B” to capture and have him (Johnson) eliminated. Realizing this, the INPFL General shamelessly absconded under the cover of darkness, abandoned his troops and dozens of concubines, and turned himself in to ECOMOG as a fugitive and a common refugee. Subsequently, the fugitive and common refugee, sought sanctuary in Nigeria. Since the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003 that brought lasting peace to Liberia, the fugitive has returned to Liberia, and has manipulated the Nimba people and Liberian politicians for political survival and to evade prosecution. He attempted the presidency three times and was overwhelmingly rejected by the sovereign people of Liberia.
Given all these accounts, this is the man former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has gone to bed with politically to orchestrate a constitutional presidential ticket. The two war criminal suspect-collaborators, General Prince Y. Johnson and his hand-picked ethnic surrogate, Jeremiah Koung, are dangerous, and must not be allowed to go near the presidency of Liberia, given the powers the offices of the president and vice president enjoy. For this would amount to the continued and further desiccation of the highest offices of the Liberian state, and thereby institutionalize impunity, as well as viciously undermine the project to democratically reform and modernize the Liberian state, as Liberians endeavor to fight impunity, and strengthen the respect for the rule of law in a post-conflict democratic society.
Accordingly, I argued in my first article, Published by the Analyst Newspaper, Wednesday, May 10, 2023 that election-related incidents in Liberia have historically been responsible for the spark of serious political crises that have led to bellicose political violence, instability, regime change, and armed conflicts – including the 1985 Elections, and its associated November 12, 1985 Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-Thomas Quiwonkpa putsch that sparked the tragic 14-year Liberian Civil War.
In retrospect, the aforementioned election-related-crisis-incidents that caused political upheavals in Liberia specifically centered round the following elections:
Firstly, the1930 grossly fraudulent elections, its Fernando Po Crisis and other outcomes, inter alia, that principally led to the forced resignation of the 17th President of Liberia, C.D.B. King and his Vice President.
Secondly, the 1955 Elections that resulted in the elimination of all opposition parties, the destruction of multi-party democracy and its replacement by President William V.S. Tubman’s 27year rule of totalitarianism, and the institutionalization of an unconstitutional one party state under the True Wig Party hegemony, until its catastrophic dethronement in the 1980 military coup – whose endless tragedies Liberia seems never capable of recovering from.
And, thirdly, the1985 Elections under the military dictatorship that were manipulated by the military regime with the aim to entrench the 1980 military dictatorship in power. The 1985 Election and its outcomes served as a pretext for the horrific November 12 putsch.
We could also add the 1997 Election and the dangers of appeasing constitutional presidential powers and privileges with notorious warlords, Charles Taylor, for example, and its consequences as a post-election crisis that revived the Liberian civil war in 1999, with the creation of new warring factions – Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL.).
Liberia has had three relatively peaceful successive post-conflict elections since the signing of the August 18, 2003 Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement, twenty years ago. The processes of those elections were not only supported, but seriously monitored by the ECOWAS Sub-region, as well as the international community at large. Elections are not an event, but are process-based; part of the process of the impending October Elections are being contaminated by a very dangerous warlord, e few of the surviving warlords of the Liberian Civil War, and he must be stopped!
As we prepare for the fourth post-war General and Presidential Elections of October 2023, anything, contrary to the previous elections, that has the proclivity to provoke and reintroduce ethnic and tribal conflicts in Liberia, to threaten and disrupt the peace, as well as undermine the political tranquility and stability of the post-war republic, as well as the Sub-regions of the Mano River Basin and ECOWAS, must be exposed and checked. Here, the UP-Boakai-PYJ-Koung ticket, represents a potential replay of the election of 1997 and its consequences that gave the belligerent warlord, Charles G. Taylor, constitutional powers as president.
What are other dangers of, and where are the national and regional security threat-implications, from all intents and purposes, that the UP-Boakai-PYJ-Koung Ticket empirically represents? Here are additional threat assessments:
Threat number one. Firstly, and significantly, we must be reminded that upholding the sanctity and the soul of the Liberian Constitution is paramount for our democracy. The constitutional presidency of Liberia, as in all republican or representative democracies as ours, is the highest, most powerful office of authority by law; the presidency in this context can either break or build the republic, as we have seen in Liberia and elsewhere, including Charles Taylor’s election in 1997 and the placement of constitutional presidential powers in the hands of a warlord.
Constitutionally, the Liberian presidency is headed by a president and vice president, simultaneously, the two highest and most strategic offices of government. Moreover, governments are the central agency of the state, while the state itself, the all-powerful omnipotence, is the monopoly and custodian of all sovereign powers of the sovereign people of Liberia, which has, since 1847, most often than not, been abused by vicious elites – including C.D.B. King, Tubman, Doe, Taylor, and others. The president under our system is also constitutionally the Head of State, Chief Executive, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia. As both head of state and government, the President is also Chairman of the National Security Council, the highest national security policy-making body of the Liberian national security architecture. The powers of the President are voluminous and very strategic indeed.
Similarly, the vice presidency is the most strategic and the closest heart-beat to the office of the president as its constitutional immediate deputy. The Vice President, while being entrusted with executive functions, also serves as President of the Senate and breaks ties on all legislative law and policy-making matters when there is a tie. Both the President and Vice President have the same constitutional qualification requirements, since the latter could replace the former at any unforeseeably given moment.
In essence, Article 50 of the Liberian Constitution says “the Executive Power of the Republic shall be vested in the President who shall be Head of State, Head of Government and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia”.
The Liberian Constitution also authorizes the Vice President, the immediate deputy to the President, to exercise dual functions of government simultaneously, executive and legislative, as President of the Senate, including to supervise impeachment processes, with quasi-judicial implications. Moreover, the Vice President is also Vice National Chairman of the National Security Council of Liberia.
Significantly, in terms of constitutional succession, the Vice President is the first and immediate constitutional replacer of the President, in the event of disability and incapacity to serve, as well as in the case of death.
These are the two most powerful and strategic offices of the state and government of Liberia, Major Charles Taylor, Generals Alhaji Kromah, Prince Y. Johnson, and all other warlords and factional leaders targeted throughout the history of the Liberian armed conflicts, in their factional and ethnic power struggles.
Because of the strategic importance of these two highest and most powerful positions of our system of government, ECOWAS and the international community at large, uncompromisingly prohibited all factional leaders and warlords from serving as president, Head of State, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, in all appeasement deals of factional power-sharing governance arrangements.
This led to such non-combatant, civilian personalities to head all warring faction power-sharing governmental arrangements, order than the warlords – they included: Professor Amos C. Sawyer (President, IGNU, November 1990 – May 1994); Cllr. David Donald Kpormakpor (First Chairman, “Council of State”, 7 March 1994 -1September 1995); Honorable Ruth Sando Fahnbulleh Perry (Chairman, second “Council of State”, 3 September 1996 – 2 August 1997); Professor Wilton Gbakolo Sengbe Sankawulo, Sr. (Chairman, third “Council of State of Liberia”, 1 September 1995 – 3 September 1996); and, Businessman Charles Jyude Bryant (Chairman, Liberia National Transitional Government – 2003-2006).
Having been repeatedly rejected by the Liberian people as a non-presidential material, it is these two most strategic offices of the Government that General Prince Y. Johnson now targets, through disguised political manoeuvers, under a sick and aged Boakai presidency, by attaching a very dangerous ethnic stooge, through a vice nominee, Jeremiah Koung, in order to achieve politically that which he and other warlords failed to have achieved militarily – this is the crux of the national security threat the PYJ-Boakai unholy alliance poses.
Threat number two. Entrusting warlords with the constitutional presidency –president and vice president. When Charles G. Taylor, as a warlord, like Prince Johnson, was eventually entrusted with the presidency by the Liberian people and ECOWAS in the 1997 Special Elections, and he subsequently became a constitutional President, Head of State, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia, we saw how vicious, dangerous, unremorseful, vindictive, and undemocratic Mr. Taylor became – he became a direct national security threat to himself, to the peace process of Liberia, and the security of the entire ECOWAS Sub-region.
Taylor immediately expelled ECOMOG from Liberia, and concomitantly ordered his stooges of the so-called Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone to seize power militarily in that sisterly country. As Head of State, Commander-in-Chief, and Chair of the National Security Council, Taylor replaced the old AFL with his private army, the “Anti-Terrorist Unit” (ATU), and deceptively coopted some compromised AFL generals into his new national security architecture as a ploy; by extension, he factionalized all security agencies, including the Liberia National Police (LNP), Bureau of Immigration (BIN), National Security Agency (NSA), the then Special Security Service (SSS), etc., and subsequently began a sweeping wave of clamp down on all his war and other political adversaries.
We also saw the gruesome murder of the Dokies, John Youme, Isaac Vaye and others, while the rest of his foes fled the country for safety; journalists were publically flogged and human rights organizations suppressed or banned, including the closing down of the “Star-Radio Station”.
As a constitutional president, Taylor had been given all legitimate authorities to be used as a pretext to institutionalize terror and a tyranny, which he did perfectly; his son Chucky Taylor, Benjamin Yeten, and other war criminals had a field day politically in Liberia.
Economically, President Taylor accounted for not dime he generated as government revenue; his residence – “White Flower” – became the “National Bank of Liberia”, while his administration reneged on the payment of civil servants. There were more outrageous consequences of the tragic Taylor phenomenon. At the time, no one dared question the monster! These are the dangers and national security threats in bringing warlords to the constitutional presidency.
It was only Bishop Michael Kpakala Francis (bless his memories) and the Catholic Church (its Justice and Peace Commission, its Radio Station, “Radio Veritas”, etc.) that had the guts to defy Taylor in Monrovia without arms.
There was not a single political party nor human rights organization, except the New DEAL Movement (the only opposition party formed and registered by the National Election Commission under the regime), the Press Union of Liberia, and a few gallant men and women, through audacious leaderships, that led the Liberian people, in and out of Liberia, to challenge the despotic regime of Taylor without arms in Monrovia. Not even the US Embassy was allowed to travel anywhere in Liberia, beyond Mount Barclay.
Again, those were some of the serious national security threats and dangers, a warlord entrusted with constitutional powers of the presidency, via so-called elections, posed, rather than stopping the war and reconciling the country.
By the time ECOWAS and the international community could come to their senses, the damage by a “constitutional” war criminal president had been done in Liberia and within the ECOWAS Sub-region. Taylor had also invaded Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, and was contemplating going beyond the Mano River Basis, into the larger ECOWAS Sub-region. It was then by 1999, the so-called Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), the Special Court of Sierra Leone, and other mechanisms were manufactured, to counter the Taylor menace. The International Crisis Group on Liberia (ICGL), had been established, and it smuggled very though covert operatives that came to Liberia on facts-finding to make the case for Liberia internationally; they met and had lengthy meetings with my party – New DEAL Movement. My party, the New DEAL Movement, was also led by a two-man delegation (including my very self), as all other political parties, to the Accra Peace Talks. My Party is signatory to the Accra CPA. Therefore, we have the moral high grounds as a national stakeholders to speak on critical national issues, in our national tragedy.
By mid-2003 before LURD could enter Monrovia, the Accra Peace Conference on Liberia was convened, and Taylor finally indicted, Monrovia had become what Khartoum of Sudan is today – “military vibration” – and “Gray Stone”, near the US Embassy in Monrovia, became both a grave yard and a refuge for women, children and the elderly.
The foregoing historical recollections of the election of Charles Taylor in 1997 show how dangerous warlords can become when they come near the constitutional presidency and vice presidency. As if these stories of tragedy in Liberia are not sufficient to constitute the threats we now alert, Liberians and politicians have forgotten the danger posed by rebels when entrusted with constitutional powers and authorities.
Similarly, in respect to the threats warlords pose to national security when entrusted with the constitutional presidency, we can also draw in the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf phenomenon. A bellicose political gambler and the principal architect of the Liberian Civil War and, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s election as the first post-war constitutional president, posed serious national security threats to genuine reconciliation and national renewal, the fight against crimes committed during the Liberian civil war, as well as the sincere fight against public corruption. Both Sirleaf and her Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai belong to the True Whig Party, and they could never have transformed Liberia by addressing the root causes of the Liberian Civil war.
In fact, had it not been for the heavy military presence of the United Nations and ECOWAS on the grounds, President Sirleaf would never have survived politically for twelve years; she would never have even been elected in the first place, as she was rejected at the Accra Peace talks to chair the “National Transitional Government of Liberia” (NTGL).
Not only was Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf unremorsefully vindictive (as Taylor and other warlords – including General Prince Johnson today) during her constitutional presidency; through subterfuges, she got at her adversaries, one after the other – with the extrajudicial and physical elimination of some of them.
She jailed the Chairman of the National Transitional Government of Liberia and some of his associates based on orchestrated charges. Harry Greaves, an alleged adversary to Madam Sirleaf as a sitting president, died mysteriously in Monrovia during the Sirleaf administration. Rather than put in place blueprints for national renewal and reconciliation, she used her 12-year of rule essentially to plunder and privately accumulated wealth, criminally, for her and her children, and family cronies, through acts of broad-day-light public corruption. The Executive Mansion she ordered destroy, she failed to fix, albeit, for almost twelve years, she allotted huge budgets for the repairs of the Mansion.
As an exit strategy, she also sought, and did to put in place an effective mechanism to determine her political successors as long as she lives.
Today, as Charles Taylor and Prince Johnson, former President Sirleaf, as one of the richest persons in Liberia, also poses similar dangerous threats to democracy, albeit, unnoticeably, by means of all sorts of political schemes; through the workings of her political cronies in the Liberty Party, so-called Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), ANC, as well as within the UP, she remains a supreme manipulator.
These are the dangers associated with placing the constitutional presidency into the hands of warlords. And as Liberia fights to minimize and eventually eliminate the involvement of belligerent thugs in national politics, Boakai is resuscitating the threat by going to bed with set of belligerent thugs, Prince Johnson and his hand-picked vice nominee for the constitutional presidency, because he (Boakai) must be president of Liberia at any and all costs, including at the peril of the Liberian state – this is objectionable and must be resisted by all well-meaning Liberians.
Threat number three is a precarious Boakai-PYJ-Koung Presidency, plagued with unpredictability and uncertainty. Significantly, as a national security threat, Boakai’s age and ill-health, combined with his unholy alliance with dangerous and vicious war criminals for the Liberian presidency, is a serious matter of concern, because it makes the Boakai presidency unpredictably precarious, and fraught with future uncertainties. Here lies another angle of the national security threat
Accordingly, should Boakai be elected president under his current condition and the current political circumstance under critical review, he is very likely, predictably, to be unable to exhaust a six-year tenure in power.
Under such a circumstance, General Prince Y. Johnson becomes the defacto President, Head of State, and Commander-in-Chief of the Republic of Liberia, through his surrogate crony, Jeremiah Koung.
More alarming about this unholy alliance is the fact that Boakai, by default and contributory negligence, prepares these two dangerous characters for both the Vice Presidency and the Presidency of Liberia, at one stroke. It means, in other words, should anything incidentally happen to Boakai as president, in terms of incapacity to further serve, Jeremiah Koung would be eligible to complete the first six-year tenure of his predecessor, and go for other two-six year terms as president. In this context, Lofa County’s dream for the presidency would have become essentially aborted, with PYJ and koung, stealing the show, and taking the presidency rather to Nimba, under the leadership of two unpredictable scoundrels, and thereby imposing on the Liberian people the most political undesirables. This is the other angle of the national security threat, as there would be a fight politically, between the pro-Boakai and pro-PYJ-Koung factions in a UP government.
Such a fight would undoubtedly break down the peace, disrupt the tranquility, and return Liberia possibly into the current Sudanese situation. This impending tragedy is a luxury Liberians cannot afford, and it must be resisted effectively immediately, at any and all costs, within the confines of the law.
On the other hand, the fact that former Vice President Boakai would settle down for a war criminal to acquire the presidency, speaks volumes, and questions the sincerity of his slogan: “Think Liberia; Love Liberia and Build Liberia”. No presidential material in post-war Liberia, knowing the dangers warlords pose to peace and democracy, and who calls on Liberians to “Think Liberia; Love Liberia and Build Liberia”; would bring Prince Johnson closer to the Liberian Presidency, as he has done. By that the Boakai-PYJ-Koung-UP Ticket, it also questions the sincerity of the former Vice President to fight corruption, pursue post-conflict social justice and promote national reconciliation, and the building of democracy. Evidently, this is not the required national team to sincerely reconcile and transform Liberia, nor to do serious business with the international community; in fact, people seriously interested in bring long-term investments in Liberia would be hesitant to do so, and would adopt a wait-and-see posture.
The Boakai-PYJ-Koung Ticket represents a political gamble, is impregnated with political uncertainty, and does have the potentials to wreck the country with renewed tribal power struggles and conflicts, after January 2024.
Arguably, if Nimba County was so unavoidably a choice for the Vice Presidency, one had thought Boakai would have chosen more trust-worthy and credible citizens of Nimba, including Cllr. Tiawon Gonglo (a legal scholar, with uncompromising human rights stances); or his sister, Edith Gonglo, who does have records of electability, based on her vote counts in two prior successive elections in Nimba, etc.
On the other hand, Ambassador President Boakai should never think he can use the notorious warlords and their associates to acquire Nimba votes, and in the end dump him. That is an illusion; because, Liberians can be assured, elected as a constitutional Vice President, Koung, Johnson and their supporters would insist that they were elected by the Liberian people as Boakai himself, and they will put up a fight, as PYJ did in IGNU, when he withdrew his IGNU VP, and joined Taylor to launch the “Octopus war” on Monrovia.
Moreover, should the Boakai presidency submit to the manipulations and dominance of his government by Johnson and Koung, that would also make matters worse – as all of this would lead to tribal power struggles – this is where the national security threat further unfolds itself – the commencement of a dangerous power struggle between the Boakai and Johnson-Koung factions within the supposedly UP Government.
As a matter of national urgency and action, Liberians are under double obligation to stop the leniency and loop warm attitude, when it comes to the characters that head the nation’s highest public offices, particularly in a fragile post-conflict context, as the world might be tired of conflicts of disproportionate dimension in Liberia that might require yet other forms of regional and international interventions – this is the other angle of the national security threat.
Threat number four. Historically, there have existed inherent rifts between presidents and vice presidents globally; those rifts were usually compounded by serious national security implications. In Liberia, Boakai should remember, as Vice President, he had to fight to remain the running mate to President Sirleaf in her second bid. The fight between him and Mrs. Sirleaf – two first constitutional presidents of Liberia, remains unabated. Additionally, there were moments, for example, when the police Director of President Sirleaf invited Vice President Boakai to the LNP National Headquarters for “investigation”, on suspicion of actual or perceived threats against the Sirleaf presidency.
Similarly, Boakai and his supporters would certainly be required to deploy surveillance on Koung and PYJ, as there would be mutual suspicion of each other, given the potential threats the belligerent side poses, in a supposedly UP election victory. This would breed conflicts undoubtedly.
Also, in the initial period of the Weah administration, we saw the rifts within the presidency between the President and the Vice President, which understandably have been brought under control. Those rifts had their negative impacts for the Congress for Democratic Change in the “Mid-Term Elections”.
Furthermore, Charles Taylor is believed to have killed his Vice President, Enoch Dogolea, based on threat assessments. Similarly, Head of State Doe also eliminated his Vice Chairman, Thomas Wehsyn as a result of protracted in-house fights on policy differences. This is how dangerous the rifts between presidents and vice presidents can be, and this is how, undoubtedly, the impending fight between Boakai and Koung would be in a security state of fragility in Liberia.
Remotely, as Vice President to William V.S. Tubman for 19 years, William R. Tolbert, Jr. had his challenges in the Tubman administration; it is alleged Vice President Tolbert was jailed at the Executive Mansion on several occasions, on suspicions of “threats”. Consequently, when Vice President Tolbert succeeded Tubman, he became so vindictive against Tubman’s surrogates and cronies.
Elsewhere – the rifts between President Olusegun Obasanjo and his Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, both of whom clashed over the issue of constitutional tenure. Those rifts are presumed to continue unabated. Others include the crisis between President John Jerry Rawlings and his Vice President, Ekow Nkensen Arkaah, which became worst, and turned into a fist fight; in Sierra Leone, under President Ernest Bai Koroma, his Vice President, Alhaji Samuel Sidique Sam-Sumana, went into hiding at the US Embassy in Freetown, and later fled into exile to neighboring Guinea, as a result of power struggle; of course, we can also vividly recall, historically, that Blaise Compare assassinated Thomas Sankara as head of state – consequently, since then, Burkina Faso has never seen peace and stability up to this present moment.
From the foregoing illustrations, it is clear that the issue of the presidency and vice presidency are delicate, and dealing with such a matter in a power relations, needs to be treated with utmost tact and care, due diligence, and at all times, in good faith. This is not an issue to politically gamble with, and then threaten the national security of the state.
It is these critical historical incidents and the threats they posed to the Republic of Liberia and its citizenry we are trying to replay to further educate the Liberian people by exposing contextually, very similar dangers and threats the PYJ-Boakai_KOUNG unholy alliance represents for the 2023 General and Presidential Elections.
Finally, the Liberian Presidency is not a trophy to be awarded to war criminals and their conies. It is time we move from the militarization to the democratization of our national politics. The JNB-PYJ-Koung Ticket amounts to the militarization of our electoral politics, and the encouragement of impunity, with General Prince Johnson elevated to the presidency through his surrogate.
Former Vice President Bokai should have known better; he had better alternatives for his vice running mate, but he decided the reverse, as a political gamble; political gambles are acts of desperation, and do certainly lead to extreme results.
Plain and simple, one who cannot make a prudent decision in the selection of well-meaning characters for the second highest seat of constitutional state authority, can certainly not make a good president. Moreover, one who cannot show leadership in presiding over a coalition of political parties, mismanages it and ejects out, as in the case of the Collaborating Political Parties, can also predictably, not demonstratively preside over the complex Liberian state, in a polarized society. If Boakai could not help effectively manage the CPP, and rather broke it down, after the death of Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine, it questions whether or not, he is capable of managing the controversial JNB-PYJ-Koung unholy alliance, at the helm of state and government in Liberia. The saying is, charity begins at home, and ends abroad; what one does in a party or a coalition of parties outside of the state power and while striving to acquire power, would become a repeat when entrusted with state and government management.
What is even most disgusting is the fact that the Unity Party, not of Boakai’s own creation, borrowed from his former boss, was in power for twelve years – a decade and two, and left behind no success story as a legacy. It introduced two “Poverty Reduction Strategies” (I and II), along with a “Lift Liberia Program” as well as a “7-year Agenda for Transformation (AfT)”. It pretentiously, under pressure from the international community, put in place all the anti-graft mechanisms – including the Anti-corruption Strategy and its Commission, etc.
Evidently, at the end of the UP tenure, neither was poverty reduced, nor public corruption threatened or fought and curtailed, but rather reinforced and further encouraged and became rampant in government. The education and reeducation of the young people of Liberia is the fundamental requirement for the transformation of the Liberian society. Our system of education is neither linked to the national economy and vice versa; nor does it produce people readily relevant for the required skills needed by the job market and the economy. Thus, our youth graduate from college in a society where human capital is so urgently needed for development, and become part of the critically mass-unemployed. This is a serious contradiction that needs to be addressed structurally.
The Sirleaf-Boakai administration created a few millionaires, including themselves, and left endemic poverty and corruption intact. They both left the national economy, anchored on massive extractive plunder, and driven structurally by foreign dominance, unreformed. In her self-admission of guilt, she publically confessed that her administration failed to “fight corruption” and “reconcile” the nation. The guilt was a shameless face-saving. Boakai himself admitted that 12 years of the UP in power was a “squander” (waste and misuse of time).
For the former Vice President of a failed administration for twelve years and that squandered an unprecedented unanimity of international good will to help rebuild Liberia at a critical juncture of post-war Liberia, to refer to himself as one better competent than others, is shameless, laughable, and a gross display of dishonesty. It is a luxury, unaffordable, to repeatedly experiment with failed leaders of the past, particularly those who claim to have had decads in public service under the True Whig Party, with virtually nothing to show as achievement records.
As for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, it was so obvious, by her class nature, as a comprador elite, she could never have fought corruption, reduced poverty and reformed an economy based on foreign dominance and abuse. Compradors (local agents/elites paid to work for and protect foreign economic and political interests against their own country’s national interest) do not fight but encourage public corruption, in collaboration with corrupt transnational and multi-national corporations. On the other hand, comprador elites do not ever reduce, but rather induce and increase poverty by their sterile, anti-people public policies.
The crux of Liberia’s post-war development challenge is the national economy, which entails an overdue urgent need for the prudent and uncompromising management of the national economy and the nation’s natural resources as directed by Article 7 of the Liberian Constitution. This is what Article 7 of the 1986 Constitution says in this regard: “The Republic shall, consistent with the principles of individual freedom and social justice enshrined in this Constitution, manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia.”
Similarly, and in relations to the aforesaid provision of the Liberian Constitution, Article 22 (a) and (b) of the Constitution further directs that: “a) Every person shall have the right to own property alone as well as in association with others; provided that only Liberian citizens shall have the right to own real property within the Republic”; the Constitution further directs that: “b) Private property rights, however, shall not extend to any mineral resources on or beneath any land or to any lands under the seas and waterways of the Republic. All mineral resources in and under the seas and other waterways shall belong to the Republic and be used by and for the entire Republic”.
When the Liberian Constitution says that “All mineral resources in and under the seas and other waterways shall belong to the Republic and be used by and for the entire Republic” – it fundamentally means that the natural resources of Liberia, as per the Constitution, belong to the entire sovereign people or citizenries of Liberia (in and out of the country), and not a small clique or a group of privileged elitist cliques of Liberian officials, who in collaboration with foreign crooks (so-called foreign “investors”), in the past and today, grossly failed to “manage the national economy and the natural resources of Liberia in such manner as shall ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia.” What this also fundamentally means is that all contracts, heretofore, between the Liberian state-party and Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), entered into by the National Legislature and the Executive, on behalf of the “Republic”, that are grossly unequal, unjust, and unconscionable, are a blatant violation of the organic law of the land, and should therefore be subject to critical review, with far-reaching adjustments by the citizens of Liberia, at any given moment.
Enough is enough. The time has come to review and reform all legal instruments and frameworks linked to the management of Liberia’s natural resources, including, inter alia, the “2021 Minerals and Mining Law”; the “Revenue Code of Liberia”; “Commercial Code of Liberia”; the “Public Procurement and Concession Act” of 2005; and the “Business Association Law of Liberia”, etc.
To achieve these critical economic reforms, certainly, it cannot be such a team of the Boakai-PYJ-Koung leadership.
Contrary to these constitutional directives in regards to the prudent management of the national economy and resources of the Republic, past and present administrations have either knowingly or unknowingly, deliberately or ignorantly, continued to grossly violate the organic law of the land because of greed.
As a matter of fact, post-conflict governments, central agencies of the state, choose to blatantly violate these cardinal aspects of the Liberian Constitution, at a critical juncture, when the wellbeing of the Liberian people have become economically jeopardized and worsened by wars, and these Liberian comprador elites collude with foreigners to loot the country via unjust, unequal and unconscionable multimillion dollars mineral and other-related “concession contracts – including oil exploration.
“Afua Hirsch, West Africa correspondent, Wednesday, 8 May 2013 19.01” reported that “An audit of lucrative resource deals in Liberia found that almost all the concessions awarded by the government since 2009 – i.e. under the Johnson-Sirleaf-Boakai administration, have not been in “compliant with law”.
The reporter further revealed – “in a damning report commissioned by the Liberian government, under international pressure, international auditors found that only two (2) out of 68 (natural) resource contracts worth $8bn (£5.1bn) were conducted properly”. This revelation is a drop in the ocean, in terms of acts blatant public corruption, characterized by past and present mineral and other-related unconscionable contract deals in Liberia.
One who participated in the gross mismanagement of the national economy and natural resources as Vice President and President of the Senate, respectively, for twelve years, and failed to “ensure the maximum feasible participation of Liberian citizens under conditions of equality as to advance the general welfare of the Liberian people and the economic development of Liberia”, Joseph N. Boakai, in particular, as Vice President to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is not fit for critical national leadership as president of Liberia..
And we are not unaware, that the current administration of President Weah is also not part of Liberia’s structural and systemic economic and political quandary. And if we must replace the current administration for the better and not the worse, certainly, the Boakai-PYJ-Koung ticket, is not an option for serious leadership, advancement and progress.
Accordingly, today, in Liberia, what we need is a national leadership with the political will and scrupulous, to radically transform the Liberian economy, overhaul all major concession contracts acquired on fraudulent and unequal basis, and create a robust zero tolerance to public corruption. Moreover, the new approach to Foreign Direct Investment (FID) in Liberia should be partnership – and not a non-inclusive, unequal concession contractual arrangements, that lead to foreign economic abuse and dominance.
Certainly, we cannot successfully and significantly build roads and other critical infrastructure, properly educate our children and provide universal health care, etc., in a sustainable and expeditious way, when the Liberian economy is not industrialized, locally self-propelling, and self-sustaining; when the citizens, who should be skilled and equipped to lead national development, are hungry, poor, jobless, and live in a permanent state of squalor and hopelessness.
Moreover, genuine investments shall never come to Liberia when government officials unscrupulously and stupidly demand “ten percent” from investors’ legitimate capitals as preconditions for investment in Liberia – practices that drive away genuine investors. Since the signing of the CPA in 2003 to date, Liberia has lost or driven away billions of dollars of genuine foreign investment opportunities because the investors refused to submit to unscrupulous and scandalous demands by public officials. Thus, what is a country, whose economy creates unemployment, and whose citizens are all virtually unemployed? The Liberian political class is so incredibly useless, unpatriotically unjealous, spineless, visionless and grasping (greedy).
Realistically, the IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions as well as foreign donors, can never ever build Liberia without a clearly defined, and a well-articulated Liberian-brewed economic agenda, to serve as guide for critical and urgent national development in Liberia. Infact, the outdated practice by state officials to collude with foreigners to plunder the country is constitutionally a crime against humanity in Liberia.
Simply put, economic mismanagement, public corruption and foreign economic dominance and abuse, via unjust, unequal and unconscionable concession contracts to so-called foreign investments, are the greatest threats to Liberia’s national security interest and political stability. An unconscionable contract is one that is so one-sided or so unfair that it shocks the conscience.
For example, by 2026, three years from now, Firestone-Liberia, the pioneer of unconscionable concession contracts-holders, will be one hundred years in Liberia, doing nothing but the transshipment of coagulated natural rubber latex form Liberia for one hundred years – with not a single factory to produce semi and/or finished rubber products.
The argument that Liberia does not have the market or the issue of electricity for manufacturing, is senseless and very stupid. Firstly, markets are not exclusively local; they are largely external (regional and international). If Japanese cars can be globally marketed, Liberian rubber products (tires, inner tubes, surgical gloves, catgut coil for surgical purposes, condoms, buckets, chairs, plates and other eating utensils, etc.), could also be marketed externally. Malaysia and other Asian rubber producing countries export their rubber product for sale and are not exclusively internally consumed.
Secondly, no nation is born with electricity from its mother’s womb. In 100 years, if the Liberian state and Firestone-Liberia together, were both serious about electricity for manufacturing, it would have been available long since. In fact, Firestone-Liberia generates electricity from the Farmington River for its operations. Could we not use similar means with bigger reveries for more electric power in Liberia?
The point is, both the Liberian state, Firestone-Liberia and others, are in an unholy economic alliance to loot for the benefit of the local few comprador elites and their foreign patrons – that is the crux of the matter.
Shortly, after the signing of the CAP in 2003, when the sovereign people of Liberia were still in Internally Displaced Camps; when they were refugees in foreign land, and had largely not yet repatriated; and when DDRR had not sufficiently taken place; the NTGL, on its knee, from the position of weakness, was rushed into negotiating multimillion dollars contracts. Thus, NTGL gave Firestone-Liberia an additional 37,000 hectares of land (added to existing 1 million hectares).
Similarly, the Liberia Rubber Corporation (LAC) also acquired additional land for expansion during that very period. Moreover, ArcelorMittal Mining Company also rushed to sign a multi-million concession contract with a very weak NTGL, during the same period. As the first constitutional president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf threatened to review all such unequal concession contracts – if she did, absolutely, nothing fundamentally did she change.
These are the economic tragedies of Liberia that Boakai, Cummings, Gonglo, and incumbent President Weah, must be confronted and preoccupied with, as the main contenders for president in October. These are the tragedies, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who had an overwhelming international favorable climate, should have tackled, but grossly and deliberately failed to address, because, ideologically, her role historically in Liberia is to serve foreign interests, through wars, instability and foreign plunder.
The forces of foreign plunder, in collaboration with their local comprador surrogates, make super profits – when Liberia is weak, and when her people are on the run. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a foreign-paid agent, who used twelve years of rule, after the destruction of our country, to lock Liberia in the box, and has made it difficult to govern.
Only a serious patriotic Liberian leadership can deal with Liberia’s political predicament. These are the critical issues about the national economy, etc., that Liberians should be debating as we prepare for presidential and legislative elections.
Assuming President Weah is the problem, which would be so simplistically erroneous to think, given the complexity of Liberia’s underdevelopment dilemma as we try to illustrate, is the PYJ-Koung-Boakai arrangement for president, the solution? Those who say they are a better quality, and claim to be better than others, when they are not, are the issue, particularly, when they prove to be worse demonstratively by the choices they make in the building of a national team for national leadership.
The UP was in power for twelve years, with Boakai as Vice President; the very vehicle Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf used to plunder – the UP – is the same vehicle Boakai is using, unrefined, with the same personnel, or more ridiculous ones; and worst of all, this time, the UP has recruited an outrageous set of war criminals, as a part of his national team. This is the tragedy and the national security threat under discussion.
Meanwhile, as the nation cannot operate in a vacuum, we are where we are, understandably. But let me conclude here:
The Liberian people would have themselves to blame, should the notorious warlord, General Prince Y. Johnson be allowed to capture the presidency, given the far-reaching national security implications. President Doe failed and led Liberia to civil wars – The people of Liberia should not allow a repeat of history. This, too, is an early warning for ECOWAS!
Viva – Aluta!