Uncle, Nephew in Battle for Nimba House Seat -But Paye Layleh Says Rep. Yonqoiu Wronged Him

MONROVIA : As Liberians prepare to go to the polls on October 10 this year, from all indications, it appears that the process will not be short on the usual political intrigues that occasion such a crucial electoral season. In Northern Liberia for example, the country’s second vote-rich Nimba County is expected to see an uncle and his nephew pitted against one another in a deadly duel for the Electoral District #8 seat at the House of Representatives. But as veteran journalist-turned politician Jonathan Paye Layleh puts in, his uncle Representative Larry Paye Tozay Younquoi should not be on the ballot because he (Rep. Younquoi) had openly agreed not to run for a third term in 2023 after he had endorsed his nephew in March 2018 to run for the District #8 slot.

“It saddens me, but let me make it clear to our family people in Lao,  Gipo and Flumpa (Nimba County) and my friends in ANC/CPP that my uncle, Hon. Larry Paye Tozay  Younquoi, and I will be campaigning and contesting against each other for the District 8 seat because he agreed nearly six years ago that I should run this year. He endorsed my intention to run way back in March 2018 after he had declared openly in 2017 that he was not going to seek a third term in 2023,” Mr. Paye Layleh said in a recent social media post.

According to the former British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Liberia correspondent, he and his uncle Representative Yonquoi had a meeting at the representative’s Capitol Building office in Monrovia where Larry told him that he was the one person suitable and qualified to replace him.

“He even recommended some of his local office staff to work with me to succeed him. Spencer Glay was one of them. Spencer can attest to working with me at some point. I really had thought that Brother Larry would want to leave the legislative stage while people were still clapping for him. But against our understanding and contrary to his commitment to me, he has decided to contest again for a third term. I’m not afraid to take on him, even though my respect for him remains very strong. But it would have just been fair enough to me if he had indicated six years ago that he was still intent on running in 2023.

“This is not politics. We are family. We shared the same room, bed and pillow for more than a year in Gbarnga in the 1990s. Larry mentioned this before to a gathering in Zahnboi. And so unfortunately, the two faces (Larry’s and mine) will be on the ballot. I don’t know how members of the Johnny Gipo, the Yarwoah, the Tanakah, the Kiapieh, the Younquoi, the Gbanwa and the Paye Layleh families to which Larry and I belong will feel entering a voting center and seeing the two of us on the ballot.

“Personally, it should not be my pleasure to challenge somebody who is older than and connected to me biologically. But this is the scenario. I just wanted to make this clear. We are going to the legislative battle. God willing, I will win the votes in Gbannah where I lived and went to school and from where my people (from the mother side) migrated to settle in Lao,” Mr. Paye Layleh lamented.

Public Reactions

Meanwhile, although several attempts to contact Representative Yonquoi and get his side of the saga failed, some concerned citizens have started to make their positions known about the impending battle for the District #8 seat between the uncle and his nephew.

“Go into the battle. This is politics and I pray that you win the seat. He has served two terms. He should give you a chance,” remarked journalist Rhodoxon Fayiah.

“An agreement is an agreement! Why is he turning back on his words? Hope to hear from him also!!” another concerned Nimbaian remarked.

As for veteran journalist Augustus Fallah, “Larry broke the commitment, so you both go for it and God will be there for you. Congratulations in advance”.

“Very much embarrassing situation for the family, but big brother, you are not at fault! I’m so, so disappointed in him as an elderly person but this is our world today. Wish you all the best through the journey,” says Mr. Jackson Tamba Farfollay.

“In my mind, he did that with the sole intent to derail the mindset of the people of Lao. Unfortunately, the both of you have failed and failed bigly,” Amb. J Oliver Nelleh III stated but did not clarify how the two aspirants failed bigly.

“From your explanation, you can’t be blamed. The Oldman should have given you chance. But whatever the case, the people will decide. All the best my brother,” Patrick Flomo remarked encouragingly.

For journalist Mengonfia Neywon Mengonfia, the blame should be laid squarely at the feet of the Government of Liberia because the census results were not used to delineate constituencies.

“Had the census results been used in these elections to set constituencies, I am sure you would have had the opportunity to contest in a different district while Rep. Larry Younquoi would have likewise contested in another side of Nimba,” Mengonfia said.

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