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Woman who could cost Weah the Presidency

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As vote tally confirms run-off

By John Eche

 

Official results from @NECLiberia on Sunday confirm that with 95.6% of results now in, ex-footballer George Weah has scored 39.0% of votes cast in last Monday’s presidential contest, Vice President Joseph Bokai, 29.1% and Charles Brumskine, 9.8%.

The commission’s tally also puts total valid votes this far at 1,466,852 and invalid votes at 84,071.

Meanwhile, a question that is presently raging in the minds of some polity watchers is this: does the current front-line contender for the Presidency have a woman challenge?

Let the facts speak. In Liberia’s first post civil war presidential elections held in October 2005, the first round leader then, even as is the case now was George Weah of the CDC who had secured 28.3% of the tally.

The eventual winners, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her Unity Party was only able to muster 19.8% of the votes in that first round.

However, at the conclusion of the second ballot in November 2005, Ellen Sirleaf’s UP was able to raise their tally to 59.4%, leaving George Weah’s CDC to pick up the remaining 40.6%. Critical factors that helped Sirleaf then were her better educational, managerial and political standing.

In the current contest, Weah, who has since taken steps to improve on his 2005 shortcomings has again led the pack; and this time with 39 percent of the votes counted to Vice President Joseph Boakai’s 29 percent.

However, as the nation braces for a November 7 run-off, concern is being raised that another woman, Jewel-Taylor, may cost Weah the office he has so long coveted.

Political watchers say that while it is very likely that Weah may have indeed reached out to the ‘Taylor camp’ as part of his continuing efforts to ingratiate himself to as many of the political families in Liberia as possible (he had since done that with the Tubmans and the Sirleafs), the still very strong resentment by many to ‘brand Charles Taylor’ may presently turn out to be a miscalculation.

Notes one most impassioned commentator:

‘This glorious land of Liberty and first independent African Republic cannot afford a President whose only claim to leadership is being an “ex-soccer star”, the only description all local and international media are attributing to him and nothing more. And the country cannot similarly afford a Vice President whose sweetheart is an imprisoned ex-warlord known for executing one of the worst civil wars in modern history which claimed hundreds of thousands of Liberian and West African lives and maimed thousands more, leaving Liberia very badly divided to this day.’

The Difference checks even in Lagos, Nigeria affirm that this sentiment is still quite pervasive, and most notably among victims of the civil war.

On her part, Jewel, who is the current senior Senator representing Bong County, was married to President Charles Taylor between 1997 and 2006 and was First Lady of Liberia during his presidency.

In 2005, she was elected to the Senate of Liberia in Bong County as a member of the National Patriotic Party. She is the Chairperson of the Senate Health and Social Welfare Committee on Gender, Women and Children.

While her husband was president, Taylor held a number of official posts in the Liberian government, including Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Liberia (forerunner to the current Central Bank of Liberia), President of the Agriculture Cooperative and Development Bank (ACDB) and Mortgage Financing Underwriter of the First Union National Bank. In addition, she focused on educational, health and social projects.

She is the holder of a graduate degree in banking and two bachelors’ in banking and economics. She equally graduated from the Louise Arthur Grimes School of Law of the state-owned University of Liberia.

Though formally separated from Taylor, many insist that this is only a cosmetic estrangement. And for good measure they have the example of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa – who promoted his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for the AU Presidency and is currently rooting for her to succeed him as leader of the ruling ANC in December and President of South Africa in 2019 – to point to.

 

Liberian Vice Presidential aspirant, Senator Jewel Taylor

 

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