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The Boakai-Weah Presidential Runoff: Youth vs. Old Age and Wisdom? Bring It On

By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh    


The Liberian legislative and presidential elections are over for now, at least, until November, when the much-anticipated second round runoff between Joseph N. Boakai and George M. Weah, the two leading contenders square off.

These elections have been an emotional seesaw for those who did not see their candidates go all the way to winning the coveted presidential race. 

For others, Liberia is getting there.

But for a country as old as Liberia is – 170 years old to this day, ‘getting there’ is not enough.

The Liberian government and the National Elections Commission should have done a better job in terms of having electricity, better roads/streets to transport voters and elections workers, less errors and the audacity to post the elections results the next day on the NEC’s website for the Liberian people.

Instead, Liberians are anxiously waiting and speculating and drawing their own conspiracy theories about what they think and believe the “corrupt Liberian government is doing to deny their candidate the presidency,” because the results are taking too damn long to be posted.

When people have to wait that long, a day or two, or a week after the event to get electoral results that should have been provided them earlier, can result in rumors, conspiracy theories and distrust of government and politicians.

This is the reason why there shouldn’t be a centralized and nationalized National Elections Commission. We need a localized/countywide elections monitoring body, not an ancient, corrupt, dysfunctional and bureaucratic National Elections Commission.

According to reports out of Liberia, officials are still counting the ballots.
However, according to reports also dripping out of Liberia, Joseph N. Boakai (Unity Party), and George M. Weah (CDC), are the leading contenders for a runoff in November.

Alexander B. Cummings (ANC) did not make it to the top to join Boakai and Weah in the runoff, which is disappointing to his supporters.

Cummings’ many supporters in Liberia and abroad, who were counting on him to bring new political blood to a country that desperately needs the injection of new ideas and vision to rebuild the country, are conspicuously disappointed.

As I have written in the past on this page, Cummings’ problems are not his patriotism and his inability to articulate the issues. He can.

Like many of the other presidential and legislative candidates, Cummings’ seasonal presidential candidacy has been a problem for him from the beginning.

Cummings’ core supporters are the diaspora intellectual elites and working class – the same people who (once upon a time) supported another (once) untainted and uncorrupt diaspora politician, an outsider, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. These people supported Madam Sirleaf in droves and saw her as the one who could save Liberia.

However, to have the urge to run for president (from the comfort of another country where you’ve lived for decades); and to declare your candidacy few months, a year or two years before the actual election, and with no credible emotional connection to that country because you haven’t been there for the people, is a turn-off for many Liberians.

Of course, Cummings is untainted and uncorrupt (for now) because he is unknown in Liberian government cycles and politics, and does not have a political paper trail for us to gauge his character and his political leadership skills.

All we have seen and heard about Cummings – this unknown political person is from our outside lenses – from those corporate Coca Cola lenses that glorified him as a doer who could salvage Liberia from doom.

But can Cummings govern in a political world as complex, corrupt and tribal as Liberia?

George Manneh Weah is Samuel Kanyon Doe in a football jersey.

Like the fatally deposed Samuel Kanyon Doe whose presidency was as corrupt and despotic as William VS Tubman and others, George Weah is intellectually unequipped to be President of Liberia.

George Weah is a shoo-in to win the runoff in November to become President of Liberia, if there are no fixed and corrupt reasons to deny him the election and the presidency.

Remember 2005?

Most Liberians believed in 2005 that Mr. Weah won the presidency only for it to be given to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, by James Fromoyan, who was head of the Elections Commission at the time.

With his stratospheric popularity and lack of ideas and vision to govern the country, George Weah’s supporters are those sassy and young football-crazy crowd between 18-25 years old; desperate, uneducated, unemployed and care less that Weah is unfit to be president.

The November presidential runoff between Boakai and Weah can be characterized as a battle between youth, old age and wisdom.

Remember Ellen’s generational change comments?

Weah’s 18-25-year-old unemployed and uneducated supporters care less about the issues. They glorify him, romanticize his football exploits, and are into the cult of personality business.

Their “ambassador” Weah is to them what rice (our nation’s staple) is to the Liberian people. For those reasons, Weah is their choice, and he shouldn’t be denied the presidency.

In a country such as Liberia where friendship, tribal loyalty, football and the cult of personality holds true, George Weah’s supporters are ready to crown Mr. Weah as Liberia’s next president.

Joseph N. Boakai is inextricably linked to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s 12-year failed administration. As Vice President, there is no way he can distance himself from the good and bad policies of the administration that he represented for dozen years.

If Mr. Boakai can embrace the good policies of the administration he faithfully served, he should be mature enough to accept the bad policies as well.

Just recently, Madame Sirleaf spoke of “generational change,” which resonated with the Liberian people.

Generational change does not mean that George Weah is the face of that change, but the roadmap for such change.

Joseph N. Boaikai is not the change that Liberia desperately needs.

Let’s thank him for his service to Liberia.

It is time for Mr. Boakai to retire.

Category: Editorial, News Headlines

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