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Observations and suggestions on the Liberian election Part II

21 July 2017 at 23:05 | 3636 views

Observations and suggestions on the Liberian elections Part II

By Dagbayonoh Kiah Nyanfore II, USA.

In my initial observations on the 2017 presidential election in Liberia, I saw the emergence of new dynamite political parties in Liberia for the presidency. But I stated that most of the political parties, particularly the newest ones, will not do well in the election. Incoming parties, such as the Movement for Economic Empowerment (Movee), All Liberian Party (ALP), and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), would not obtain more than 5% of the national votes. I also indicated the the opposition have a better chance of winning the election if they are united as a coalition.

This paper is an update on the election and on the initial analysis since its publication in January this year. In January 2017, George Weah, the standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), selected Senator Jewel Howard as his running mate. The CDC was the first and so far the only coalition of opposition parties in Liberia.

On March 3, 2017, the Liberian Supreme Court ruled that the Code of Conduct is constitutional and legal. The Code was originated from the 1986 Liberian Constitution, Article 10C. The Executive Branch added provisions onto the Code and submitted them to the legislature in 2009. The legislature ratified the Code and the executive signed it into law in 2014. Among its many provisions, the Code of Conduct forbids public servants appointed by the president from canvassing as aspirants in elections if they do not resign from their posts two years or three years for tenured posts before the election.

On October 2015, Selina Polson-Mappy, while serving as an appointed superintendent of Bong County, filed a petition for Declaratory Judgment to the Supreme Court on the Code, arguing in part, that the Code of Conduct violated her right to contest a representative seat. Her petition resulted in the Supreme Court ruling on the Code of Conduct under discussion.

If the Code is implemented fully by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, many presidential candidates and their running mates would be ineligible, including Dr. Mills Jones, standard bearer of Movee , Alexander Cummings, ANC; and the running mates of Cummings and Charles Brumskin of the Liberty Party (LP). In fact, NEC has started implementing the Code fully.

In short, the Code of Conduct could impact the presidential election. Although the executive will not, as passed by the legislature, be able to influence the ombudsman, parts of the Code which prohibit the use of government vehicles in political activities and the participation of government officials from party activities are being violated daily.

Political activities
Most of the standard bearers of the leading parties have selected their running mates. But as of this writing, the standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party, Vice President Joseph Boakai, has not selected a running mate. The reasons could be due to several factors. The vice president could be concerned about the Code of Conduct, for many of the individuals shortlisted for selection are appointed by the president or did not resign from their posts in line with the code.

Second, the vice president is struggling with overbearing pressure from the president to choose one of her buddies.

Third and lastly, the VP is simply incapable of making an important and independent decision. This may indicate his leadership inability. For a vice president who has wanted to become president since 2014, he should have known by this time who he would like or who he wanted to become his running mate. NEC’s stated deadline for candidate’s registration has expired and yet the VP has not selected a running mate.

Opposition members, specifically the Liberty Party, have criticized NEC for extending the deadline for what they alleged that NEC extended the deadline because of the vice president. But an individual close to the NEC informed me that the extension was to give all candidates time to find running mates and standard bearers affected by the Code to make a replacement. The extension is for 10 days from July 7th.

Native-Congo divide
As discussed in my article on the role of ethnicity in Liberian politics, I will here state briefly the impact of ethnicity in this election. The Native-Congo divide is not new and it will not go away soon. It can be minimized however.

Congos, previously known as a part of the Americo-Liberians who were descendants of the Black ex-slaves from America, settled in Liberia in the early 1800s. The Congos are recaptured African slaves who were on their way to be sold in America. They were intercepted on the Atlantic Ocean and brought to Liberia. They joined the ex-slaves and later became part of the ruling class. The Congos originally came from the Niger-Congo Delta. In subsequent years, the population of the Americo-Liberians declined. The settler population later became known as Congo people.

The natives, on the other hand, are in the majority and are descendants of the aborigines of the land. They have been ruled and marginalized by the settlers. The Congo rule ended in 1980 in a military coup, which brought Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, a native in power. But he was killed in the civil war by a native influenced by the war brought by the Congos.

Most Liberians of Congo background feel that the presidency of the country is their entitlement, while most natives believe that it is now their time to lead. From April this year to present, Native-Congo has become an exchange mainly between Vice President Joseph Boakai and Counselor Charles Brumskin, an opposition party leader. Boakai is running to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Brumskin, a Congo, had called for the presidency of Bassa person, a native Liberian tribe. But Grand Bassa County is also the birthplace of the counselor. The county is the fifth populated jurisdiction in Liberia.

On the other hand, the VP camp called Brumskin a Congo and Boakai a Kissi, native. The Boakai camp felt that their candidate, because his is a native, should become president. President Sirleaf, meanwhile, is silent on the issue, though others see her supporting the counselor and his party. The discussion continues and other politicians have joined the fray. It is only in this election that ethnicity has become a major issue, since the election of 1951.

How are the candidates doing?
A candidate can make a lot difference in a presidential election. He/she can make or break the campaign. A weak candidate can make the campaign weak and can make it stand still. Whether the candidate is young and wealthy, he/she must bring excitement and energy into the campaign. The candidate must be honest, must have integrity and show love and care for the country and people. Let us review the major presidential candidates in this election to see if changes have occurred.

Mills Jones, Movee
Dr. Jones was the former governor of the Central Bank of Liberia. His post was tenured, and he did not resign concerning the Code. He vows, however, to contest no matter what. Recently he selected a running mate, Pastor Samuel Reeves of the Providence Baptist church in Monrovia. Initiate reactions say that his campaign is over. Also, some members of the church distanced themselves from the selection while others praised it. Governor Jones is from Sinoe County.

Jones has no political base. Again let us look at the 2011 presidential election statistics. It is important that we do so, for review of the stats and others would give some prospective on this election. Dew Mayson, who is also from Sinoe County, received .0 48% of the national votes, and only %7 for Sinoe, though Mayson, like Jones, started on a high note. Mayson “fumbled” the ball at midfield and performed dismally.

One can argue that Mayson and Jones are different individuals and 2011 is not 2017. Good argument. But in politics you look at the reality on the ground. Mayson and Jones have money, have helped the poor; they have similar education exempt Jones has a doctorate. Both have international experience. However, Mayson is more popular than Jones. So if Mayson did poorly, do you think Jones would win? Secondly, Mayson did not have problem with NEC for any reasons.

Benoni Urey, ALP
Business man Benoni Urey is a minority owner and board chair of LoneStar Cell, a foreign company, which is part of MTN Group. Besides being a business man, he is a farmer and humanitarian. LoneStar in Liberia has employed many Liberians and is one of the major taxpayers in Liberia, according to records. He is the standard bearer of his party, the All Liberian Party (ALP). But Urey has no political stronghold. He never held an elected political post. Although he is from Montserrado County, the largest populated area in Liberia, his influence is concentrated in the Congo settlements, mostly Careyburg, his birthplace.

Secondly, Urey, despite his goodwill effort, his connection with former President Charles Taylor still haunts him. Moreover, he does not seem to understand the daily conditions of the Liberian people. For example, a successful aspirant of his party primary who stated on condition of anonymity, asked Urey.
“Mr. Urey, do you know what “First Phase” is”?
Urey said “no”.
“You mean you do not know, Mr. Urey”? The aspirant asked and added. “I do not think you can become president of Liberia ooh”.
First Phase, the aspirant described to me, is the breakfast food of the average Liberian. It entails a cup of rice, bouillon cubes called chicken soup, red palm oil, peppers and probably bitter- balls and muemue, a rotten fish. Sometimes First Phase comes in the afternoon or evening if possible; and when that happens, it would stay in a person’s stomach for the night and the next day. If you have a family, you have a war to fight. That is how most Liberians live today”, he said.
I was surprised to hear this detailed description of conditions of Liberian majority. A political presidential aspirant must know the people, their basic lives and what they go through daily. Though Urey has no problem with the NEC about the Code, it would be extremely difficult for him to win the presidency.

On July 8, Urey selected Alexander Doupu as his running mate. Alexander Doupu is the son of the late Moses Doupu who was killed during the Civil War. Moses Doupu, a son of Nimba, joined the NPFL and was a friend of Charles Taylor in the US and in Liberia before his demise by the NPFL. The young Alexander Doupu is said to be an instructor at the Liberian University and is not well known. There is no indication that he was born and raised in Nimba. Urey was close to Taylor and the NPFL. Some observers view the selection as a mean of reconciliation and other see it as a move of desperation.

ALEXANDER CUMMINGS, ANC
Former Coco-cola Executive Alexander Cummings is a humanitarian who has spent most of his executive life abroad as a Coco-cola company boss. As a retired business man, he has enough money for his presidential bid. Cummings has many problems. In addition to the Code of Conduct, he had accepted an appointed post from the president. Further, he has been away from Liberia for more than ten years, a violation of the Liberia Constitution for a presidential candidate. Cummings is said to be a US citizen, another violation, because Liberian Constitution forbids dual citizenship. Cummings is on tape saying that he holds an American passport.

Like the candidates discussed above, Cummings does not have a political stronghold. Even though his supporters and surrogates believe that he will win the presidency, the reality on the ground does not support that thinking. In fact, his selected running mate, Former Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, was recently disqualified by NEC for not resigning in time from his ambassadorial position

PRINCE JOSHNSON, MDR
Senator Prince Johnson is essence the Godfather of Nimba County, which is the second largest populated county in Liberia. He became famous during the civil war when he was a member of Charles Taylor NPFL that started the war. He assassinated Doe despite his pleading for Doe’s mercy for his life at an earlier encounter with Doe in the crisis.

Nimba County is his stronghold. The Nimba people see him as their hero and in 2005 and 2014, elected him twice as their senior senator. Johnson maintains that it is time for Country/Native people to rule Liberia and that he will not go second to a Congo presidential candidate as a running mate. He flirted with Brumskin, LP; Urey, ALP; and recently Boakai, UP. He called himself the most beautiful lady in town.
Having broken relationships with many suitors, on July 5th he selected Audrain Forbes from Grand Bassa County as his running mate. Ms. Forbes is unknown nationally. According to Senator Johnson, she is an administrative consultant and works as a director general at the Ministry of Youth and Sports. However, Senator Johnson and his running mate have no Code violation so far.

CHARLES BRUMSKIN, LP
Hon. Charles Brumskin is a lawyer by profession. He is the standard bearer of the Liberty Party. Prior to the formation of the party, he was the legal adviser of former president Charles Taylor during the civil war. He became senate pro-tempore in the Taylor government. He resigned and later founded the Liberty Party of which he was its standard bearer for the 2005 and 2011 presidential elections.
Grand Bassa and Rivercess Counties are his strongholds. Grand Bassa County is the 5th largest populated subdivision of the Liberia. Brumskin lost the two elections. After the last loss, he announced retirement from politics, but shortly changed his mind and easily regained the standard bearer-ship of the party for the 2017 elections. He is not in violation of the Code. However, the NEC has rejected his selected running-mate, Harrison Karnwea for Code violation.

Karnwea, who is from Nimba County, was appointed managing director of the Forestry Development Authority. Upon the ruling of the Court, he resigned the post, resigned from the ruling Unity Party and immediately joined the Liberty Party and Brumskin quickly selected him as his running mate. The Liberty Party has appealed his rejection to the Supreme Court.

Separately and respectfully, Karwea and Ambassador Jeremiah Salunteh argued that they did not have the “Desire” to become running-mates but were asked to, and that the NEC denied them due process. Some observers say that “desire” is difficult to determine. One’s heart desires a thing, wants a thing and only when it is received that we know that it was desired or wanted. Political analyst Eugene Fahngon of “the Liberian Talk” indicates that the fact of accepting the offer would show “desire”; you want, or likeness to have the offer. Had the candidates refused, it would have indicated their non-desire or want to have the offer.

Another point is that the Code, as a law, was in existence at the time of the offer and the giver and receiver known of the law or should have known. Brumskin, for instance, is a trained lawyer and knew or should have known that the offer could be challenged and Karwea could be rejected relative to the Code.

JOSEPH BOAKAI, UP
Vice President Joseph Baokai is the standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party. He and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were elected in 2005 and 2011. He has been a loyal vice president. He is quiet, easygoing, and will do on the job what he is supposed to do. But he is a non-action oriented person. Regarding his function as vice president, he said, “I do not hire nor fire”.
As vice president, Boakai presides over the senate as president and signs all agreements. But under his watch, the senate ratified 68 concession agreements of which only 2 were considered good while the rest 66 were bogus and lacking international standard, according to Moore Stephens, an international auditing firm.

The president has said, and the vice president confirmed later, that she and the VP came together and will retire together. The vice president has, however, broken that promise when he in 2014 started positioning himself to succeed her. In that year during the Ebola crisis in the country, some Liberians and others in the US called for the resignation of the president and wanted a change of regime administrator. The VP, who was also in the United States, was said to have been asked to consider taking over. Upon his return to Liberia, the VP was said to have been questioned by the Liberian security structure regarding the alleged consideration/plot.

It was stated that the president was unhappy of the accused action when the vice president returned. In 2016, kinsmen of the VP petitioned him to succeed the president in the 2017 elections. Senator Varney Sherman, than Chairman of UP, stood by the vice president during that ceremony. VP Boakia accepted the petition. The president was not apparently informed prior of the move.
The situation may have created two issues for the president. On the one hand, she might have promised the succession to a younger loyal servant and hence saw the VP’s move embarrassing. On the other, the president could not stop the vice president from traveling for petitions, for doing such would violate his constitutional right to contest.

Meanwhile, Augustine Ngafuan, former minister of foreign affairs, had resigned his post cognizant of the Code of Conduct, to seek the higher/highest post. Another interested member was ex-ECOWAS representative, Ambassador Toga McIntosh, who was said to have expressed desire to succeed his former boss, the president. The dilemma created a personal and party problem.

However, in 2016, Boakai succeeded to become the standard bearer of the party on a white ballot, thanks to Senator Sherman, current Chairman of the party and Wilmot Paye and other party officials. Ngafuan and McIntosh resigned from the party before the convention.

The president was not pleased of the actions. Meanwhile, sensing her quiet and gradual withdrawal from party related matters and maybe the non support or slow pace of party funding, the vice president took a bold step to arrange an interview with FrontPage Africa, the country leading and internationally known newspaper. In the interview, the VP publically informed of the president’s non support of his candidacy. He indicated that he was not the one saying it, but others are saying that the president is supporting Brumskin and the Liberty Party. VP Boakai touched on other issues indicating the existence of a president – vice president conflict.
Additionally In early 2017, he had another interview, this time with BBC focus on Africa. While he struggled to state the accomplishments of the administration, he excused himself from its failures and claimed credits for its limited successes. The Boakai campaign or support team is distancing the VP from the Unity Party, attempting to use a different emblem, not of the party, but of something not close to the party. Whether the vice president knows or is pretending not to be anyone guesses.
On July 10, Vice President Boakai finally named his running mate at the party headquarters, selecting Emmanuel Nuquay, Speaker of the House of Representatives. Some Liberians were disappointed of the selection, saying that he took all that time just to select an unpopular person who is not from the party. They see the ticket dead on arrival. Speaker Nuquay left UP and helped found the People Unification Party (PUP), a little known party which endorsed the VP candidacy but is not a part of the ruling party. Others support the selection, seeing it as the vice president reaching out to the young population. Nuquay is 48.

Boakai’s selection of Nuquay appears to have created dissatisfaction among some key party members, including Senator Thomas Grupee of Nimba and ex-senate pro-tempore Gnehzongar Findley of Grand Bassa. They are said to have expressed that the VP respectively promised them the position. Senator Grupee made his feeling known in addressing the people of Nimba that the VP gave them the impression that he was going to select one of them but deceived them. He pointed out that the vice president acted like an insincere lady promising to marry her suitors. This could cause problem in the party and hurt the vice president in vote rich Nimba and Bassa.
Nuquay started with tough- talk after the selection. He told a group of constituents that he would do everything to stop non supporters from getting government employment if he and Vice President Boakai win “after October 11”, meaning after the election. He has received negative responses to that promise.

Boakai’s selection of Nuquay has received more negative reactions. A group protected at a pro-Baokai event in Claratown, Monrovia a day after the pick. The next day, another group demonstrated at a Baokia-Nuquay rally in Margibi. Opinions in Bong County on the selection have been split and so in Nimba where views of elders and other citizens divided. The Public opposition or negative reaction to the selection could hurt the party nationally.

Nuquay’s name was not on the list of about 15 individuals shortlisted for the selection but his name suddenly appeared on top. There are views that he paid for the post. Senator Gupee commented on the allegation.

“Now, there is a common saying that money cannot buy love. If it is true that Speaker Nuquay used money US$2 million dollars as it is widely being perceived now, for him to secure his vice Presidential nomination – of course I don’t think that will speak well for them – if that is not the case and it is based solely on his character as a public servant – then we will see the reaction before the election…I mean before the campaign even start.”

Emmanuel Nuquay is from Margibi County, the 6th largest jurisdiction of Liberia, but now the county with the 5th highest number of registered voters about 144,604 for the 2017 election. He became speaker in 2016 after Alex Tyler was forcibly removed in a power struggle in the house. He was chair of the Ways, Means and Finance Committee. With this post, he became an instant wealthy man, according to sources. In the power struggle, the House passed over Deputy Speaker Han Barchue to make him the new speaker. He enjoys support from the president and from other members of the legislators. It is said that the executive office helped the process to make him speaker.

Nuquay stated that he is Kpelle in his accepted speech for being picked for running mate. Kpelle is the largest tribe in Liberia. He also gave praises to the president and her government. The VP also mentioned that Nuquay is a true native son of the soil. Nuquay’s statement of tribal identity and the vice president’s expression of it signify the role of ethnicity in this election. The speaker will not have problem with NEC regarding the Code of Conduct.

Obviously, the Boakai campaign is hiding from the Unity Party and the system but does know how and where to hide. By going to Nuquay, the camp is coming back to the same arrangement. For instance, in the present system, Sirleaf is number one; Boakai is 2, and Nuquay 3. Boakai is keeping the same arrangement by picking Nuquay, a Sirleaf man. The Boakai camp wants party funding but not its presence or involvement. To them, UP is bad news. Certainly the party’s failure to keep campaign promises in previous elections is not a good PR for this crucial election.

GEORGE WEAH, CDC
Senator George Weah, standard bearer of the Coalition for Democratic Change, is the political leader of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). His party lost the 2005 and 2011 elections to the Unity Party. For this election, his party has joined with the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP) to form the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). As stated earlier, George Weah has selected Jewel Taylor, senator from Bong County, the third largest populated county. The 2008 census gives the county a population of 328,919. She won the county’s two senatorial elections in 2005 and 2014.

Weah is senator from Montserrado County, which is the largest county in the country and has a population of 1,144,806, according to the 2008 census data. With that number, Montserrador constitutes about 25% of the national population.
Weah defeated Robert Sirleaf, son of the president, by landslide in the 2014 senatorial election. His party is considered the largest opposition party in Liberia. Senator Weah is popular nationally and internationally as a soccer icon and as a peace ambassador. The Forbes Magazine has listed him as one of the young, influential, and powerful leaders in Africa.

Weah was born in Liberia in a slum community in Monrovia. His parents are of native background, but he does not publically speak of his nativity. His running mate Senator Jewel Howard Taylor is a Kpelle originally from Lofa. She too like Weah is not talking about her native background.

Critics of George Weah point out that he does not speak on issues. Most members of the elite or ruling class feel that he is not educated, is not of their standard, is not a presidential material and therefore he should not become president. Supporters of Weah view him to the contrary, that yes, he was not born with a silver spoon, but he cares and has done much for Liberia and the people before entering politics.
Both standard bearer and running mate have no Code of Conduct problem with NEC accordingly.

PROSPECT OF WINNING
Before we discuss this topic, let us talk about the elements needed to have a winnable presidential campaign. There are many elements, four important of which are: Candidate personality, numerical strength, finance and strategic organization.

CANDIDATE PERSONALITY: The candidate is the main seller of the campaign. The candidate’s record and platform must be sellable.

NUMERICAL STRENGTH: The campaign must have the numbers to win. Numbers win elections as the saying goes. In this election, for example, the big numbers are in Montserrado with 733,000 estimated 2017 registered voters; Nimba, 258,000; Bong, 195,000; Lofa, 150,000; Margibi, 144,604; and Bassa, 140,000. They are like California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania in US presidential election, though their system is different. The smaller counties in Liberia are important and should not be over looked. The candidate should visit them also.
FINANCE: The campaign must have adequate finance to cover logistics, leasing, rents, material/supplies, staffs, etc. In Liberia, a respectable presidential campaign by estimate could cost up to 6$M @ $6.1 per voter.

STRATEGIC ORGANIZATION: This element is equally important. It is the meat of a campaign. Having many cars and motorcycles is good and impressive, but having fewer cars and motorcycles, and many broadcast and print media outlets, including thousands of table and pocket radios would be operationally effective and cost effective. A customized country map, showing the locations of all voting districts, registered voter counts, etc, can be utilized in the campaign head and sub-headquarters. The map should have overlays. Liberian talk show host Henry Costa and political scientist Eugene Fahngon have individually suggested nationally the media component of my recommendation. So I think political parties in Liberia would put this suggestion into action maybe during campaign.

The head campaign manager and his team should be able to design the strategic plan focusing on the major counties as well as the other counties with lesser votes. Campaign work can be 24/7, involving paid staffs and volunteers. The manager should break down the work.

Campaign work is not easy, requiring serious and committed people. When I worked on campaigns in the US we stayed out late talking to voters and spending hours at the office manning the phone, talking to voters by social groups and political districts. The map was a guide.
I would not recommend a complete US style campaign structure for Liberia or Africa in general. The basics should be applicable however. Detailed plan should be modified relatively to the subject terrain or situation. I included the use of hand radios because majority of Liberians or African people cannot read and write and cannot afford TV. But they must get the campaign message in the cities and rural areas.

Part of the organization structure is the use of a rapid response team, which quickly replies to any negative view on the candidate or campaign expressed in the media. The Boakai Response Team is doing a good job in this regard. Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign had similar operation in the “War Room”.
Another part of the organization structure is the use of opinion polls. The campaign should have its own professional pollster in house in addition to outside independent polls. While polls are good guides, they are not gospels, but are public opinions, which can tell how the campaign is doing. I was stunned by Trump’s surprised victory. Most political analysts, pundits and pollsters were surprised. I covered that election; the polls gave us a wrong read. Hilary did everything, including winning all the debates overwhelmingly. But the American people were tired of the established politicians and wanted change! Trump was not the smartest candidate and not the most likable guy either. He saw the need, the vacuum and the fear of the American people and exploited it.

This paper has discussed the major candidates. The financial data or information on their respective parties is not available. FrontPage editor Rodney Sieh and others say that most parties are not doing financially well. However, the Liberty Party seems to be in a better financial shape than in 2011. Moreover, the Unity Party looked better financially in 2011 than now. Earlier this year, CDC structurally appeared not going anywhere, but lately it has acquired fleets of SUV jeeps, dozens of motorcycles and 3 or 4 large brand new passenger buses. Understandingly, campaign organization and strategies are internal. Campaign is scheduled to start July 31, 2017.

As discussed earlier, Mills Jones, Alexander Cummings and Benoni Urey would not do well. Prince Johnson, as Nimba favorite son, would take a giant part of the Nimba votes. However, that would not be adequate for the presidency. He is not likable nationally. His power base is concentrated only in Nimba. He would like to play kingmaker, though that influence would not be as huge as it was in 2011. He can, however, take credit for creating the need for coalition of the opposition such CDC.
Thus with the above and with previous discussions, we can project that the election would be among UP, CDC and LP. I disagreed with Fahngon for excluding the Liberty Party in the final mix. Although the party performed dismally in 2011, from 16% in 2005 to 5% in 2011, it is now better organized and managed. It could also benefit from the Nuquay saga. In my analysis, the Liberty Party could take the lion share of Bassa. If Karnea is still on the ticket, the party should have a respectable number in Nimba. It could do well in Bong, Margibi and Montserrado.

Unity Party could take the lion share of Lofa, Boakai’s home. It could fine in Margibi, Nuquay’s county. It could do respectably well in Bong and Nimba. It could do OK in Montserrado. The tribalistic message of the campaign would drive away votes from non-tribal Liberians in urban Montserrado. This could also impact votes in urban Nimba and Bong.

CDC would do very well in Montserrado, taking 50-75% of the votes in the county. It could also do well in Bong, taking 30% of the votes with Slunteh on the ANC ticket. If he is not, CDC could take 40% or more. It could do well in Nimba, Lofa, Bassa and Margibi, a neighboring County of Montserrado. The spillover of the Nuqual selection could benefit CDC also.

The projection of CDC doing very well in Montserrado County is based on the 2005
and 2011 presidential elections and most recently the 2014 senatorial election data. The projection notes also the increase of votes in 2011 together with increase in estimated first- time voters for 2017.

Hence as things stand in this election, CDC could be in the second round if there would be one. The second spot would be either UP or the Liberty Party. If LP is in, CDC could win easily. If UP in and the standard bearers of the other opposition parties join CDC, the coalition could win by landslide. If they split their support, CDC could win but with a smaller margin or number. If UP gets all their support along with their counties, UP could win. But that could come with a sacrifice; Brumskin’s political career could end. It could prove that he had been a regime collaborator all alone. He would not be trusted politically.

A CDC-UP matchup in a second round would be interesting because the Boakai camp would not play the Native-Congo card. Two “native sons”, Weah and Boakai would be competing for the presidency. Removal of the ethnic card would disarm the Boakai troop.

It is not impossible for a first round victory. The possibility looks better for CDC than with UP. But this is election time, “first round victory” sounds surety and energetic. A campaign can say that to fire-up its bases or to put fear in its opponents. But seriously, it could be possible. If the Nuquay factor continues to hurt UP and CDC is up with its ground strategies, it could happen.

One should be cautious, however. CDC’s (Congress of Democratic Change) loss in 2005 was in part due to complacency; i.e., some youth failed to vote in the second round or their mothers took away their voting cards. Generally, young people, specifically students, though are energetic, do not vote. The same is in the US, where students are fire-up in a campaign, but do not vote on Election Day. But with strong mobilization, they can carry out the “Jehovah witness” styled campaigning.

REFERENDUM AND ARGUMENT
This election is a referendum on continuity vs. change. Certainly the Unity Party is up against a reality which is sweeping over the world. For example, In the US, the American people, tired of the same politicians and the same system, elected Donald Trump for change.

In Nigeria, Muhammed Buhari defeated incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan because the Nigerian people were tired of corruption and wanted change.
In Ghana, Nana Akufor Addo defeated sitting president John Dramani Mahama because the people of Ghana wanted change.

Most recently, in Gambia, Adama Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh, who had ruled the country for over 20 years. The Gambian people were tired, tired of the True Whip Party styled government and wanted change.

The elections in Nigeria and Gambia for instance, were possible because of the formation of a coalition by the oppositions for change.

The advocates for change in Liberia could say that the Unity Party does not deserve a third term, that the party fails to improve the lives of the Liberia people, fails to electrify the country, fails to bring clean and safe drinking water, fails to bring the 20,000 jobs promised, fails to fight corruption and fails to reconcile the country and people. The party received over eleven years $16 billion in international investments and assistance and has little to show for it. The Liberian people continue to live in abject poverty while party bosses and government ministers and officials live on $US15,000-$US30,000 a month.

Further, the oppositions can specifically say that under UP:
A cup of rice is up.
The cost of chicken feet is up.
The cost of fish is up.
A bottle of red palm oil is up.
Drinking water is up.
Hospital fee is up.
Children school fee is up
Unemployment is up.
Poverty is up.
Everything is up.

Proponents for continuity, however, can argue that yes we have failed. In fact, President Sirleaf has admitted that we fail to fight corruption; we failed to reconcile the country. Education is a mess. Vice President Boakai also admitted that we squandered opportunities and that the young people of this country deserve opportunities for the next leadership. But the oppositions calling for change and for our removal from power are not better than we.

They are selfish and they are not together, all of them want to be number one. Since they met in Ganta, Nimba County last year, they have not be able to come together to form a strong and united coalition like serious people in other countries have done. If they cannot come together as one, how can they unite our country and us as a people? Some of them want to become president when they do not have the numerical strength and the money; they never worked in an elected office. They do not respect laws; they are fighting the Code of Conduct because they want power. How can they manage power when they cannot respect and keep the laws? We do not want lawless people to lead us. We are just coming out of a civil war; we do not want to go back.

Look at them, look at their standard bearers, almost all are Congo people wanting to return us to the dark past. They want to rule us; they want to keep us down like before. We are part of you. VP Boakai is Kissi and Nuquay is Kpelle. We are true sons of the soil. Let’s take our country back.

We admit our failures and our faults. We are not perfect. We are not newcomers, coming from America and hiding our American passports. Let us continue. Give us a third term. We will do better.

On October 10th the Liberian people will decide, either to continue or to change. Three months is a while and the variables could change or new dynamics may enter the process, just as the Code of Conduct. I will give the last update hopefully before October 5th.

Writing about Liberia gives me a great pleasure. I was born in Liberia and I am a Liberian national.

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