Liberia’s 2023: Jewel Howard-Taylor and Jeremiah Koung, the Contrast, the Similarity

 

By Our Staff Writer

The resilient country of Liberia, a nation still healing from the wounds of a painful past is going to the polls on October 10 with the paths of two prominent politicians hailing from the two main political parties intertwined, revealing contrasting backgrounds but also surprising similarities.

In the political landscape of Liberia, George Weah, a former international football star, rose to power as the President, with hope of bringing progress, unity, and healing to the nation. Alongside him stands Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, a woman whose connection to the past is both complex and controversial. Jewel Howard-Taylor, the wife of war crimes convict Charles Taylor, is a prominent figure in Liberian politics, held positions of influence during her husband’s presidency. She was the first lady who later became deputy governor of the national bank of Liberia, now the central bank of Liberia. She’s also a former senator of the central county of Bong.

On the other side of the political spectrum, former ruling party’s standard bearer Joseph Boakai emerged as the main opposition leader, carrying with him years of experience as a former vice president. He held several Presidential appointed posts before becoming vice president of Liberia. In his quest for the presidency, Boakai made a surprising choice for his running mate, Jeremiah Kpan Koung, a member of the party led by former rebel general Prince Johnson. Koung is a senator of Nimba County and is a famous businessman. His boss Prince Johnson for his part, is very  infamous for his involvement in the civil war that ravaged Liberia, and his actions were responsible for the loss of many innocent lives.

The contrast between the two pairings is stark. One is a vice president, Jewel Howard-Taylor, whose husband is convicted for war crimes committed, not in Liberia, but Sierra Leone. while the other is a senator, and a running mate, Jeremiah Koung, who came from the party of a rebel general responsible for the deaths of many Liberians. These connections to a troubled past raised concerns among the citizens of Liberia who yearned for a brighter and more harmonious future.

However, as the campaign unfolds, it becomes apparent that amidst their contrasting backgrounds, both Howard-Taylor and Koung possess qualities that offered a glimmer of hope. They recognized the weight of their associations and are determined to use their positions to foster healing and reconciliation.

Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor acknowledges the pain and suffering caused by her husband’s actions and vowed to work tirelessly to address the wounds of the past. She desperately tried to distance herself from the carnage caused by her husband and has embarked on initiatives that aimed to uplift communities affected by the war, providing support for victim communities especially in her home Bong County. Her efforts are said to be driven by her genuine desire to bring healing and reconciliation to Liberia.

In a similar vein, Jeremiah Koung, although hailing from a party associated with violence, has distanced himself from the dark chapters of Liberia’s history. He seems to dedicate himself  to promoting unity and stability. Koung  has no background of violence past, but is being pinned for associating with a former rebel soldier linked to killing two sitting world leaders-Samuel Doe of Liberia and Thomas Sankara of Burkina Faso. Koung  also seems to recognize the actions of Prince Johnson, his Godfather. He has said repeatedly his association with General Johnson should not define his commitment to a brighter future. Koung has focused his efforts on grassroots development, prioritizing education, healthcare, and economic empowerment for all Liberians, irrespective of their backgrounds.

Despite their contrasting backgrounds, they  both have similarities. Howard-Taylor and Koung shared a common vision for Liberia—a vision that transcends the shadows of the past and aimed for a united, prosperous, and peaceful nation. They believe that the wounds of war could only be healed through collective efforts, forgiveness, and genuine reconciliation.

As the election day approaches, the people of Liberia are faced with a choice. They could focus solely on the past and judge these candidates based on their last or associations, or they could see the potential for growth and redemption. Liberians have the opportunity to embrace the transformative power of forgiveness and allow these leaders to contribute positively to their nation’s future.

In the end, the decision is in the hands of the Liberian masses-the people who have the power to shape their destiny-to move beyond the scars of the past, and to build a nation where unity, justice, and progress prevail. Or better still,  use their power as eshrined in Liberia’s Constitution, to push for “clean” slate of candidates from other parties that will give justice to a destroyed nation and davastated people and as well as  those who were brutally murdered by bloody thirsty individuals who have driven Liberia-Africa’s oldest black nation into the abyss of backwardness and are now using their loots to rule over their victims, a cowardice means of hiding and shielding themselves from justice.

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