Liberia: Why Is Senator Prince Moye Suddenly Trending as the Possible Running Mate to Unity Party’s Joseph Boakai

Our Correspondent September 12, 2022

GBARNGA, Bong County A lot has happened since September 9, 2022 when Unity Party (UP) distanced itself from speculations that Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence was poised to become running mate to the party’s standard bearer Joseph Boakai.

It was widely speculated that Karnga-Lawrence was the favorite for the UP running mate until the party surprisingly issued a press statement debunking the claim, which has raised many eyebrows on Bong County Senator Prince Moye’s constant presence around Boakai.

By Selma Lomax

There are a number of factors going into Boakai’s important decision that go far beyond politics. As former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s No. 2, Boakai says he wants a vice president who is ideologically aligned with him and is someone he can work well with. 

As the oldest president ever, if elected, Boakai — who turns 79 November — has also been clear he wants someone considerably younger and ready to assume the duties of the presidency should health problems or other unforeseen circumstances arise.

“The most important thing — and I’ve actually talked to people about this — the most important thing is that there has to be someone who, the day after they’re picked, is prepared to be president of Liberia if something happened,” Boakai said.

Among the candidates reportedly reviewed most closely by Boakai’s vetting team are Karngar-Lawrence and the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, and Senator Moye, whose name has in recent months floated Boakai’s radar.

The lobbying for and against the various candidates has grown intense, and some prominent folks in the UP have spoken out in recent weeks against what appears to be a concerted effort to spread negative information about some of the contenders in hopes of boosting their own candidate of choice.

Mo Ali, former secretary general of UP, appeared on OK FM’s Morning Rush days after the UP convention in Gbarnga to endorse the Boakai-Nyonblee ticket. His words: “I think Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence can be a good VP pick for Joseph Boakai because of her gender couple with her political history in the country.”

But people close to Boakai acknowledge that, at this point, the V.P. choice is almost entirely in his hands.

Is Senator Moye now the favorite?

The UP standard bearer’s criteria appear to have strengthened Moye, with whom Boakai has developed a tight political bond in recent months.

At the recent UP convention, Moye, against all odds, convinced Boakai to grace the dedication of a town hall he (Moye) built in Gbartala, Yellequelleh District, Bong County. 

At that program, Boakai lavished praises on Moye, describing him as a “trusted” and “reliable” person whom he can rely on in the future.

Moye has built a reputation as a strong voice in Bong County politics since his rise to political prominence in 2011. He twice won as representative of electoral district two, both in 2011 and 2017, before going on to win as senator of Bong County in 2020, defeating the incumbent senator and a member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change candidate, Henry Yallah.

In 2011, from the five candidates, Moye secured a total vote of 8,526, which amounted to 50 per cent of the votes, before securing an overwhelming vote in 2017 to secure a re-election. In 2020, Moye defied the odds yet again, defeating the ruling party’s candidate, Yallah, with an overwhelming margin of over 15, 000 vote difference, one of the senators who secured the most votes in the country.

But that feat didn’t come without a challenge from the ruling establishment. As a former Deputy Speaker, Moye had to fend off the challenge of “strangulation” from the Lower House, where his benefits were reportedly seized, while local officials of the county were reportedly forced to support the ruling party’s candidate.

Moye’s potential preferment by Boakai would give rise to questions about the presence of Jewel Howard-Taylor, the current vice president, a former senator of Bong County who’s is set to be retained as running mate to President Weah in 2023.

Howard-Taylor, a native of Sanoyea District in Bong County, has won twice as senator of Bong County – in 2005 and 2014 – before her rise as vice president to President Weah in 2017. It’s true her presence on the CDC ticket enabled the party to secure the county in both the first and second rounds of the elections respectively.

But it’s fair to say that her popularity that propelled CDC to that feat has since plummeted, having lost all three by-elections in Bong County where she’s supported a candidate.

In 2018, the by-election to find her successor proved costly for the CDC as District Three lawmaker Marvin Cole lost to a Moye-sponsored candidate in Dr. Henrique Tokpa, who won with an overwhelming 48 per cent of the votes, thanks to a vigorous campaign ran by Moye.

In 2020, though VP Taylor didn’t take a side in the senatorial election, but the influence by the ruling CDC became glaring for former Senator Henry Yallah as President Weah took time off to campaign for the party’s candidate. In that election, Moye secured a 50 per cent vote difference, far more than Howard-Taylor’s 10 per cent vote difference she obtained in 2014.

There are a lot of factors that rate Moye high over Howard-Taylor in Bong to date. Howard-Taylor has created more enemies for herself as vice president as Moye has created for himself as senator. Howard-Taylor in 2018 reportedly influenced the dismissal of several chiefs who were members of the opposition after publicly threatening them to join the CDC or be fired.

Besides, her recent statement that “with or without Bong County CDC will still win re-election hasn’t gone down well with many residents of the county, with many branding her statement as being “ungrateful” to the county.

In terms of infrastructure, Moye has commissioned over 91 projects since becoming a lawmaker of the county compared to Howard-Taylor’s 41 projects.

Bong residents “would welcome Boakai-Moye ticket”

Residents of Bong County have called on Boakai to select Moye as his running mate, describing the ticket as “politically relevant”. FrontPageAfrica gauged the opinion of stakeholders of the county about the prospect of a Boakai-Moye ticket.

Viola Cooper, an influential business icon in Bong County told FrontPageAfrica. “That would be a perfect combination for the fact Moye has done so much for the people of Bong County and we would be obligated to him by voting overwhelmingly in 2023.”

Bong County lawmaker, Moima Briggs-Mensah, an independent candidate, said: “I want this to happen so I can begin campaigning for the Unity Party because Moye is someone who has been tested and trusted politically.”


Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ