As Liberia prepares for its presidential run-off election November 8th between President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Winston Tubman of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change, Prince Johnson, whose National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) received nearly 12% of the first round vote, said he will support President Sirleaf.
There have been suggestions that Johnson was offered money in return for his endorsement. But, he said his support for the president is not for sale.
“Our support is primarily based on what we believe Madam Sirleaf can deliver and mostly based on the need to move Liberia forward. We spent pretty closed to $15 million for our campaign, and so it is not on the basis of money that we have decided to give our support to Madam Sirleaf,” he said.
Johnson said the people of Nimba County in north central Liberia, his main constituency, had asked for the ruling Unity Party to make available funds for them to campaign for President Sirleaf in the second round.
“I was in Nimba when they brought the resolution. They were talking about going out there to campaign for the ruling Unity Party, but they needed funding to be able to facilitate the campaign. But, in terms of compensation to throw their weight behind Madam Sirleaf, I would say “No,” he said.
Johnson, who as a candidate criticized President Sirleaf on many issues, said there is no contradiction in his new position.
“I don’t see conflict at all. I had thought that I would win but, as it stands, I’m the kingmaker. And so, I would prefer to work with Madam Sirleaf who has six more years to go. She has worked hard and we believe that, whatever may be some of the missteps, we all can work together to correct those steps and move forward in the interest of peace and stability for the country,” Johnson said.
He also rejected the suggestion that he was not supporting Tubman because he had reportedly said that he would implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report. That report calls for the prosecution of the key players in Liberia’s 14-year civil war, including Johnson, who once was an ally of former President Charles Taylor.
“Well, truly speaking, that part of the TRC incriminating us and Madam Sirleaf cannot in any way bother us legally because that part of the TRC that incriminates people and indicting for war crimes has legal and constitutional problems. So, we are not afraid of anybody trying to prosecute us because we know, at the end of the day, we shall prevail. But, what I am talking about is that we prefer Madam Sirleaf to Mr. Tubman. TRC, or no TRC, we don’t care about that,” Johnson said.