>VEEP BOAKAI A LOCK?????: Hometown Lofa Tipped for 2011 Indy Celebration


>07/27/2010 – M. Welemongai Ciapha II

Monrovia – 
Source: FrontPage Africa

For months speculations have been in the air that Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was contemplating dropping Dr. Joseph Boakai as her running mate in the much-anticipated presidential elections in 2011. Speculations have surfaced for months that partisans within the party’s hierarchy, fearing fielding an ageing ticket, have behind the scenes been pressing for Sirleaf to drop Boakai for a much younger candidate as the party looks to address concerns about the ageing ticket factor.

Political analysts here believed that the president’s assurance to one of the sons of Lofa of the next year celebrations is a clear signal that Hon. Boakai is physically fit to ride the political wagon of 2011 or Sirleaf is comfortable with him by her side.

On Monday, however, Sirleaf and the UP appear to have settled on sticking with Boakai. During celebrations marking the 163rd Independence Day Celebration, the incumbent leader of the post-war Unity Party government tipped Boakai’s hometown, the vote-rich Lofa County as the next stop for the Independence Day bash.

Political analysts here believed that the president’s assurance to one of the sons of Lofa of the next year celebrations is a clear signal that Hon. Boakai is physically fit to ride the political wagon of 2011 or Sirleaf is comfortable with him by her side.

In her remark, President Sirleaf told the gathering of elders, dignitaries and citizens that Liberians were proud of their global village, Liberia, despite the decade-longed civil strife fought, her country are of resilient people with undaunted pride.

The president noted that with all projects on course in Nimba, further proved that the county is on the move in terms of developments and progress.

She said that her administration has always try to celebrate the July 26th , where most of the population in leeward counties would benefit, which began in 2006 in Montserrado County, followed by Grand Bassa County, Bong County, and now it is in Nimba county, adding, “and now I say to you Lofa,” amid applause from the audience.

The president further observed that her visit to Sanniquellie has brought back to her memory of 1959, when the leaders of Ghana, Guinea and Liberia, Kweme Nkrumah, Sekou Toure’ and William V.S. Tubman and other leaders at the time, met to discuss the formation of African Unity, now African Union.

She maintained that the discussion between the three leaders led to the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU).

Boakai was noticeably absent from the celebrations in Sanniquellie as he represented Sirleaf in Chad at the Community of Sahel Saharan States (CEN-SAD). Following the CEN-SAD meeting, the Vice President will proceeded to Kampala, Uganda to represent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the 15th Session of the African Union Summit. The Vice President also participated in the 14th Summit Bureau Meeting upon the request of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The Vice President and party are expected to return home on Wednesday, July 28.

With Boakai being from the ruling Unity Party, political pundits are still unsure whether UP will abide by the merger agreement signed along with LUP and LAP – or stick with Boakai.

Boakai has not shied away from addressing the controversy surrounding his political future. In a 2009 FrontPageAfrica interview, the veep said he came on the ticket of the Unity Party not as a liability but as an asset.”I have large constituency and during the campaign of this party, unlike other parties you didn’t see me follow the president to go and campaign, I campaigned independently because I knew that not just in Lofa but all over Liberia, people know who I am.”

Over the past few months, Boakai has been showing his card, making of tour in Lofa in weeks leading to the recent Unity Party convention in Ganta, Nimba County where the party tipped Cllr. Varney Sherman as Chairman. Ironically, Sherman has been one of many names in the mix of potential replacements for Boakai but Sirleaf appears to be comfortable with the subtle Boakai.

Sherman debunked the speculations himself in a recent FrontPageAfrica interview when he said that he had no intentions of replacement Boakai. But the complications of the recent merger remains a prevailing dilemma for the ruling party.

According to Sherman in a recent FPA interview, the parties had an article for merger and the article of merger says that if the standard bearer of the Unity Party is selected for one of the constituent parties, that standard bearer will exercise his or her best efforts to select a vice standard bearer from one of the other two constituent parties. “That is what the article of merger says. Based on that, you gentlemen and ladies assume that Varney Sherman will be the vice standard bearer. There is no basis for that. I don’t see how you analysis can come to that kind of conclusion.”

With Boakai being from the ruling Unity Party, political pundits are still unsure whether UP will abide by the merger agreement or stick with Boakai.

Sherman was clear when pressed as to whether the merger meant that Boakai would not be Vice President because he’s from the Unity Party as is Sirleaf.

Said Sherman: “They say exert your best efforts. If the standard bearer exerts his or her best efforts and comes to the conclusion that it is Boakai and that is approved by the party, that’s it. But the thing about it is this. Even though Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has said that she would be formidable candidate, we still have to have a convention and come to that decision as to whether or not she would be the candidate. The assumption that she is automatically the candidate is wrong. Not in this unity party.”

The talk of replacing Boakai has fueled speculations that several young officials in the current government were being considered. Among them, Finance Minister Augustine Ngafuan, Dr. Henrique Tokpah, President of Cuttington University, Planning and Economic Affairs Minister, Amara Konneh, Bureau of Maritime Affairs Commissioner Binyah Kesselly and others surfacing, VP Boakai admitted in an interview with FPA in Ganta shortly before the electoral process of the UP convention that in politics anything can happen and nothing is taken for granted.

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