President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf – the dark horse in Liberian politics
MONROVIA – The spokesman for Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s on Monday denied allegations from her own party that she meddled in this month’s presidential election.
The conflict has brought to light the rift between Johnson Sirleaf, a “Nobel Peace Prize” laureate, and her party’s leadership after 12 years in power.
Since assuming to power in 2006, her government has faced sharp criticism over alleged, glaring and proven corruption and underdevelopment.
At a Sunday news conference, leaders from Sirleaf’s Unity Party accused the president of holding inappropriate private meetings with election magistrates before the Oct. 10 vote.
The ruling Unity Party also accused the president of showing greed “in its most callous form” with the “intent of disrupting the fragile peace of Liberia”, and backed a challenge to the first round results brought by other parties before the country’s election commission.
The party’s candidate, Vice President Joseph Boakai, is a second place runner-up in the first-round with 28.8 percent of the vote to front-runner George Weah’s 38.4 percent, setting up a second-round run-off scheduled for November 7, 2017.
“The office of the president wishes to state unequivocally that these allegations are completely baseless and an unfortunate attempt by agents provocateurs to undermine Liberia’s democratic process,” Johnson Sirleaf’s spokesman, Jerolinmek Piah, told media group.
Piah claimed that all of the president’s meetings with election officials were “consistent with her constitutional role to ensure that the process was supported”.
“These allegations fall into the category of hate speech and inciting language which should be condemned by all peace-loving Liberians,” he added.
Sirleaf and her family are accused of acquiring stolen wealth and usurping assets belonging to the country. Those assets include the former International Trust Company, a financial institution established as part of Liberia’s maritime program. The Sirleaf’s family has since converted the financial institution into a private family bank and changed the name from ITC to the International Bank.
Her son, Robert A. Sirleaf is accused of running the country’s national oil company into the red and is believed to be worth more than $2 billion dollars.
Critics say Sirleaf is interfering with the Liberian election for fear of prosecution from war crimes and crimes against humanity for her involvement in Liberia’s civil in which she is accused of founding and financing the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebels of Charles Taylor. She, however, betrayed Taylor later.
Others say she and her family and cronies are interfering in the electoral process because of the widespread theft of public funds they are accused of committed, leaving the country into financial and economic hardship.
Analysts say Boakai has served as Johnson Sirleaf’s vice president since her inauguration in 2006 is opposed by the president because he declined to say whether he will pardon her from prosecution on war crimes charges. This infuriated the Liberian leader and she decided to oppose his candidacy.
Sources say the country’s election commission on Monday heard the challenge to the first-round results brought by the Liberty Party of third-place candidate Charles Brumskine. That challenge received the backing of the ruling Unity Party and the All Liberian Party of businessman Benoni Urey.
Sirleaf who enjoys broad international respect enjoys zero respect at home where a majority of the citizens considered her as ‘evil, mean, corrupt, and Unforgiven.”