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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

WANTED-AN HONEST LEADER OR A THIEF OF STATE FOR LIBERIA?

Date:

By John H. T. Stewart

MONROVIA – The gloves are off and there is no more time for niceties. The character of every presidential candidate needs to be, must be carefully and exhaustively scrutinized.

This is because Liberia and the interest of Liberians have been compromised on the altar of greed by “Thieves of State” and there is every reason why every patriotic Liberian should resist the second term bid of President George Weah.

It is an open secret that officials of this government have been illegally secreting funds (printed Liberian dollar banknotes) which they are now dumping on the market in a frenzied attempt to rally support and buy votes.

And CDC officials are no doubt aware that the tide of popular opinion runs against them. They have eaten and licked so much grease that even the elbows are not spared the wrath of their greedy tongues. Now they appear desperate to cling on to power and are employing every trick in the books to do so.

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Senator Jeremiah Koung

But just what such efforts will amount to remains unclear. Only recently House Speaker Bhofal Chambers was booed and called derogatory names like “rogue” when he toured Pleebo- Sodoken District in Maryland County. In the video, the voices of women can be heard saying……”We na wan Jor Weah again oo!

But such was not strange because other CDC officials have also been booed and called names, “rogue, rogue”. In the eyes of most Liberians, it is now just a matter of time when they(George Weah and his CDC) will be voted out of office.

And it is this near certainty of a CDC defeat that has inspired a grab for power by former warlord, now Senator Prince Johnson. He has twice made a bid for power since 2005. His major stronghold has been vote-rich Nimba County.

In both bids for the Presidency, he garnered enough votes that earned him a third place in the final vote count results in the 2005 elections.

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Nimba Senator Prince Yormie Johnson

In the 2011 elections, he also made a failed bid for the presidency but his performance highlighted the fact that Nimba did throw her support behind her sons, Joseph D. Z. Korto (deceased) and Prince Johnson.

It is from this backdrop that one can most probably explain why a Prince Johnson surrogate was quite an easy sell to Boakai and his UP supporters whose apparent desperation for a return to power has driven them into the arms of the yet unrepentant and murderous Prince Johnson.

Johnson, whose longing for power has been manifest since the day in September 1990 when he sat drinking beer before a trussed up and helpless captive President Samuel Doe watching while his men cut off Doe’s ears, now has perhaps another opportunity, it appears, to bid for power.

This time around he is doing so through a surrogate Jeremiah Koung, a politician with questionable character according to a 2-year-long investigation conducted by the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, CENTAL.

The investigation revealed that between 2012 and 2021 Jeremiah Koung illegally diverted US$1m from the national budget to his privately owned Jeremiah and Josephine Koung Hospital in Ganta.

It is this very hospital which Koung claims to have been providing free surgical services performed by surgeons from abroad at his so-called personal expense.

Critics however maintain that the so-called free surgical services conducted by foreign surgeons is a cover under which human organs are harvested from unsuspecting individuals for sale abroad to patients awaiting kidney and other organ transplants.

Koung has also allegedly been linked to ritualistic killing in Nimba and that his rise to wealth and fame has largely been attained allegedly through questionable and dishonest means.

This includes the illegal diversion of funds from the national budget to his private interests and his alleged involvement in the illegal harvesting and sale of human organs.

More to this Senator Jeremiah Koung is one of those senators who accepted the US$30,000 dished out to lawmakers recently under a dubious legislative engagement scheme for which accountability/audits are not allowed.

Additionally, Senator Koung was also one of those Senators who supported calls for the establishment of a body to examine the recommendations made by the TRC.

All this was part and parcel of a calculated attempt to undermine popular calls for the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court for Liberia and ultimately shield perpetrators including his patron, Prince Johnson from criminal accountability for past crimes against humanity.

He as well as his running mate, Vice President Boakai have both declared that they will support the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia.

However, most Liberians are aware that these are but unctuous statements because they know that such statements are merely intended to placate voters and deceive them into believing such inherent falsehoods.

And this is because they are also acutely aware that Jeremiah Koung will never lift a finger against his chief benefactor, Prince Johnson on whose support he heavily relies. And so all the big talk about accountability is just talk nothing more.

Although he (Prince Johnson) holds the distinction as the single highest individual perpetrator of atrocities including extrajudicial killings, according to the TRC Report, he has not yet been brought to justice. Embolden by impunity for his actions, he twice contested the presidency.

And on both occasions, he did exceedingly well thanks largely in part to the Nimba vote most of which was based on the perception that he (Prince Johnson) is the savior and godfather of the people of Nimba.

In the wake of the US officially imposed sanctions on him, he reluctantly resigned as the political leader of his MDR party and relinquished the same to his trusted surrogate, Jeremiah Koung.

And it was he, according to informed sources, who played the key role in courting Boakai (allegedly) with offers of money to have Prince Johnson’s surrogate Jeremiah Koung named as his running mate.

But what Liberians should know is that the marriage between the Unity Party and that of the murderous Prince Johnson Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) is an unholy scheme crafted by a criminal cabal with the obvious intent to continue the plunder and pillaging of the Liberian state.

The question is how can UP executives justify the selection of an individual with a questionable reputation to serve as vice running mate to a sick and frail octogenarian whose ailing health conditions may not permit him to take on the very strenuous task of manning the state through a six-year term?

Further, how can an individual linked to the theft of state resources be called to the rescue of the very state from which he has stolen and is stealing big time?

What is the Unity Party trying to tell the Liberian people, that Jeremiah Koung should be hailed and rewarded with the Vice Presidency of Liberia because he is a “Pay to Play” man, a big spender of resources, most of which has been acquired through questionable means?

Is this the kind of character that Vice President Boakai has decided would best lead Liberia should in case he becomes incapacitated? Does this not say something about his decision-making ability?

President Sirleaf has often come under harsh criticism for passing the baton over to a candidate who was not a proper fit and who amongst a lot of presidential wannabes was clearly most unprepared for such a high office.

Such criticism has, according to sources come even from Vice President Boakai who once likened his role in the Sirleaf government to that of a race car that remained parked in the garage forever but was he?

Can he actually be excused from the excesses and or missteps of the Sirleaf government? Critics disagree but such discussions will be left for another day. For now, the gloves are off and it(the fight) is bare-knuckled.

The focus is on the murderous Reverend Prince Johnson and his surrogate, Jeremiah Koung, a “Thief of State” and alleged illegal harvester of human organs, who is now poised to become vice president of Liberia that is if he ever, God forbid, ever gets elected.

And so the final question is what kind of leader is best suited for Liberia – an honest straightforward leader or a thief of state?

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Smart News Liberia is an online news outlet and a product of Smart Media Group Inc. Our website, smartnewsliberia.com, covers a broad spectrum of news content. For inquiries or information, you can reach us at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or email us at smartnewsliberia@gmail.com or info@smartnewsliberia.com.

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