Senator Prince Y. Johnson (MDR, NIMBA) Standard Bearer of the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction today endorsed the candidacy of football legend-turned Senator George Manneh Weah, dealing a major blow to Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai's bid to succeed Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Last September, the Senator from the vote-rich county invited twelve political parties to a gathering in Ganta where the parties signed a communique agreeing to work together and collaborate for victory in the ensuing 2017 Presidential and legislative elections.
The two-day gathering brought together Senator Johnson, Liberty Party's Charles Walker Brumskine, Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party ALP, George Weah's Congress for Democratic Change and Alexander Cummings of Alternative National Congress (ANC). Other parties include the former ruling National Patriotic Parties (NPP), Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), Movement for Progressive Change, All Liberia Coalition Party, Victory for Change Party, New Liberia Party, Vision for Liberia Transformation, Union of Liberian Democrats and Liberian Nation Union.
On Thursday, Johnson proclaimed: "Pursuant to a historic meeting of opposition political parties I called in Ganta in September of 2016, which gave birth to the Ganta Declaration, we committed ourselves to ensuring an opposition victory for change in 2017 presidential elections."
Senator Johnson urged MDR members, supporters, sympathizers and well-wishers and all signatories of the Ganta Declaration and opposition political party leaders, to join him in endorsing and supporting Senator Weah for the Liberian Presidency.
The lawmaker said as he toured the 15 counties during the campaign, he became convinced more than ever that Liberia needs change and a new government with a new vision. "The roads linking our counties are deplorable and impassible! I believe that Liberia can fix this problem thru the introduction of the Toll Gate System," the Senator averred.
Senator Johnson added that he was also convinced that Liberia needs security- that includes food, security, job, security and health security.
The next government, he said would needs to stop the importation of rice and invest in mechanized farming in order to make our country self-reliant in food production. "I know that no one party can solve all these problems alone. That is why we must all join in to make the Liberian dream a reality. We must also continue to promote the doctrine of freedom of speech and civil liberties for all Liberians and strangers within our borders. WE must lend our support to elect that government that will be "for the people, of the people and by the people"!
Judging from the results of the just-ended first round presidential elections, Senator Johnson said he had no alternative but to choose the CDC over the UP. "Analyzing the results further, the majority of the Liberian people voted for change. The message therefore was loud and clear and unavoidable."
The Senator said after holding a broad-based consultation with stakeholders and partisans from across the country and our stronghold in Nimba County, including executives of the MDR and with their approval and consent, he has resolved to remain committed to the spirit and intent of the Ganta Declaration of which was the convener, host and architect-in-chief. "Consistent with this belief, I am therefore honored today to announce to the Liberian people and the world at large, that with abiding faith in God and love for my country, my full and unflinching support and collaboration to the Coalition for Democratic Change and the candidacy of Senator George Manneh Weah as President of the Republic of Liberia in the forthcoming Presidential run-off elections schedule for November 7, 2017."
Senator Johnson said he was grateful to the Almighty God for the peaceful conduct of the October 10, 2017 General Elections of which he was a candidate for the Presidency and hailed the National Elections Commission and the Liberian people for their strong commitment to peace and democracy.
He also paid homage to partisans, sympathisers and well-wishers especially the people of Nimba who he describe as his backbone - who have stood in long lines the sun and rain to vote for him.
This is Senator Johnson's second attempt for the Liberian Presidency.
In 2005 after a bloody civil war, Johnson contested and won a Senate seat representing Nimba. For a period he served as the chair of the Senate's defense committee.
In the June 2009 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission(TRC), which was established as part of the 2003 peace deal, the TRC recommended Johnson's inclusion on a list of 50 people who should be "specifically barred from holding public offices; elected or appointed for a period of thirty (30) years" for "being associated with former warring factions." Johnson labelled the recommendation a "joke," noting the absence of several other combatants from the list, and vowed to resist any charges brought as a result of the report.
In 2011, Johnson ran in the presidential election as the candidate of the newly formed National Union for Democratic Progress party, placed third, with 11.6% of the vote; His support to incumbent Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was crucial to Sirleaf's re-election.
Johnson finished fourth in the just-ended first round after securing 127,666 votes for 8.2 percent. It remains to be seen how much his backing of Weah, who won the first round with 596,037 votes for 38.4 percent, will impact the run-off.
Johnson is the first high-profile candidate who has declared support for one of the two candidates in the presidential run-off. Brumskine, Cummings and Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party are yet to endorse and have raised various concerns amid allegations of irregularities during the first round of voting.
Prior to Thursday's endorsement, both Weah and Johnson were in Lagos, Nigeria as guest of Bishop T.B. Joshua's Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. FrontPageAfrica had earlier reported that efforts were being made to push Joshua into bringing the pair together ahead of a potential endorsement. During the service, the clergyman said of Weah: "My brother is here today because he loves his country and wants God's choice for his country. He is not here to impose himself. What does God say about his country, Liberia? What is God's opinion? That is why he is here." The cleric went further to reiterate that he was not favoring any particular side of the political spectrum but his own role was to pray for "the will of God" to be done in the nation of Liberia.