Friday, 15 April 2011


Is Prince Johnson Standard Bearer Of NUDP?

Julius Kanubah, FPA Legislative Affairs Writer (+2316586240)

The Presidential fate of Nimba County Senator and former rebel leader Prince Johnson has been plunged into doubt with yet a defiant statement from his hand-picked running mate, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Abel Momolu Massaley of the National Patriotic Party (NPP).

Senator Johnson (Independent) had in January 2010 declared his Presidential bid after angrily listening to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf announcing her decision to contest for re-election in this year’s (October/November 2011) crucial Presidential election.

In declaring his surprise Presidential ambition, Prince Johnson stood tall enough to label himself as the ‘most formidable candidate’ to unseat the incumbent who had told Legislators and the public in her 5th annual message that she would not just be a candidate in the 2011 Presidential election but a ‘formidable candidate’.

In the process, he put forth Grand Cape Mount County Senator Abel Massaley who is considered a seasoned Liberian Legislator and Foreign Policy specialist of the Senate as his running mate.

Though Senator Massaley confirmed his decision to run with Senator Johnson, there have been reports that the pair may split as the date for the Presidential election draws closer. Reports have even suggested that Senator Johnson is considering dropping Senator Massaley from his ticket because their relations have soured.

Prince Johnson himself has not spoken to this issue but Senator Massaley has now admitted that the fate of Senator Johnson’s Presidential bid is in doubt like his.

According to him, the virtue that Senator Johnson declared his intention to contest on the ticket of the recently registered political party- National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) means his Presidential fate is in doubt as the NUDP has not held its convention to determine its flag-bearers.

“Let me tell you something today, the National Union for Democratic Progress- Prince Johnson and myself are not incorporators of that party. We were only called upon to provide political guidance. My friend Emmanuel Lomax is the Chairman of that party. So, Prince Johnson and myself are not executive members of that party.

Commenting whether he remains a running-mate to Senator Johnson, Senator Massaley said “it is the convention that will determine that…the convention could take me to be the standard bearer or it could maintain him”.

Senator Massaley then plunged the Presidential bid of the erstwhile Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL) rebel commander into indecisiveness when he declared “until we can go to convention, Senator Johnson himself fate is uncertain….what I’m saying, until Convention endorses you, as it is the highest decision making body, it is that convention that must endorse you as its standard bearer, vice standard bearer, Senator, Representative candidates then before you can say yes, my fate is certain”.

Asked whether he wants to be a running-mate to the former insurgent commandant, Senator Massaley- an entrenched supporter of ex-President and war crimes indictee Charles Taylor, he questioned “why will you jump the gun? Let’s wait until we reach the point we are about to drive to. It’s not for me to determine as to whether or not I will remain running mate to Senator Prince Johnson or Senator Johnson to determine he will remain standard bearer. It’s the party that will make that decision”.

Despite throwing the Presidential bid of the Nimba County Senator into ambiguity, Senator Massaley declared “Prince Johnson and myself are political godfathers to the NUDP leadership and they will determine who becomes the standard bearer and vice standard bearer”.

Senator Massaley could be right in his declaration as he is yet to resign his long-time membership with the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) that now has Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor- a divorced wife of war crime indictee and the first flag-bearer of the NPP as its standard bearer. The NPP is not expected to challenge for the Presidency but its standard bearer is presumed to be a running-mate of the National Democratic Coalition’s Dew Mason who is now leader of the New Deal Movement.

Senator Johnson and the NUDP leadership are thought to be pressurizing Senator Massaley to resign his membership with his beloved NPP before he is considered for any position in the NUDP which he must openly endorse.

Once Senator Massaley meets such requirement, the NUDP will be satisfied that he has given it a huge boost in terms of political capital with a slap in the face of the National Patriotic Party. But can Senator do such and stab the NPP in the back? The answer is a probability as the stakes are high for political power in Liberia with cross-carpeting of politicians and lack of trust in most political leaders.   

With Months running slowly but yet remarkably to the 2011 Presidential election, the hurdles in the NUDP still need to be cleared as either Senator Prince Johnson or Senator Abel Massaley could be dropped or the pair could thrash out their differences to form a combine ticket to take on the incumbent- Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in a crowded political field for the Liberian Presidency.