Nimba Officials Accused of Coercing Local Leaders to Support President Weah’s Re-election Bid

GANTA, Nimba County – Local government officials in Nimba County including County and Statutory District Superintendents, Commissioners, City Mayors and Town Chiefs over the weekend met in the commercial hub of Ganta City to pledge their support to the re-election bid of President George Weah and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor.

According to report, the local officials should have converged at the President’s Jamaica Resorts to meet with him in person to affirm their support, but in order not to look like they were being coerced, the President and his team of advisors later decided that the ceremony be held in Ganta without him.

It is gathered that Deputy Commerce Minister Wilfred Bangura and others who were expelled from the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) Party of Senator Prince Y. Johnson and a group of Nimba County lawmakers who are supporting the President’s re-election bid are coercing all of the local officials to openly declared their support to the President and the CDC.

Some of the Nimba lawmakers pictured at the gathering include Representatives Johnson N. Prince O.S. Tokpah (District #2), Joseph Nyan Somwarbi (District #3), and Johnson N. Gwaikolo (District #9).

K-news gathered that the local officials were jammed and locked up at the Peace Empire Hotel, owned by Associate Justice Yamie Gbeisay, who was appointed by President Weah to affix their signature to a resolution pledging their support.

Some of the local officials, citing anonymity, said, most of them are not in favor of the idea, but have been threatened with reprisals if they fail to turnout and affix their signatures to the document.

Despite the warning, some of the officials were still hesitant to sign, and as a result, the organizers rescheduled another meeting to be held in Karnplay, Nimba County.

However, in response, some of the Nimba lawmakers denied the allegation.

Rep. Tokpah said he was invited to the occasion by the local officials who willingly pledged their support to the President and was never coerced. His colleague, Rep. Somwarbi, in an angry tone, demanded the reporter to disclose the names of those who made the allegation against him, else he will not “waste his time responding to non-sensical issues.”

The Chief of Staff of the Rep. Gwaikolo, Columbus Dorlaie said the allegation has no iota of truth in it. He said his boss, as a lawmaker, does not have jurisdiction over the local authorities who fall within the executive.

 He acknowledged that Rep. Gwaikolo attended the occasion based on an invitation accorded him by the local leaders.

The Constitution of Liberia mandates that most of these local officials should be elected, but successive governments continue to ignore this important constitutional provision, giving the president undue power to appoint these local officials, thereby subjecting them to serve at his/her discretion.

Election year is a nightmare for these local officials as they are threatened by the ruling establishment that they would be fired if any of them support opposition parties.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, speaking at a forum organized by a group of Legislative staffers at the Capitol Building recently, lamented that when she served as Senator of Bong County, local county officials including the Superintendent of Bong were warned by the then ruling Unity Party (UP) not to attend any of her political activities. 

Since her allegation, observers and pundits have linked her “This is our time” statement she made after the CDC’s victory in 2018 to the alleged treatment meted against her and other oppositions by the UP Government.

The alleged treatment meted against the Nimba local officials comes at a time the George Weah-led government has been accused of purging Government officials that are not supporting the Weah and the ruling CDC.

Last month, the Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Cllr. Cooper Kruah was sacked by President Weah after he attended a rally by the main opposition Unity Party. After the event, Montserado County Representative Acarous Moses Gray took to his Facebook page and in a demeaning statement, branded Cllr. Kruah as a traitor and called for his immediate dismissal.

Days later, President Weah relieved the Postal Affairs Minister of his post. 

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