Gbarnga, Bong County - Liberia’s political history is replete with numerous candidates contesting presidential elections. In 2005, there were 21 presidential candidates and in 2011, there were 16 with indications that 2017 could be another process that will see many candidates.

Already Dr. Togbah Nah Tipoteh has publicly declared his intention, followed by Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine. Others look to be working hard before coming up to announce their bid with Central Bank of Liberia Governor, Dr. Mills Jonesis  deeply working with locals in the various counties the CBL empowerment program. Benoni Urey also has his friends of Urey working around the country and the future of Vice President Joseph Boakai who is yet to be endorsed by the President also remains uncertain even though he is believed to be preparing to contest.

Rev. Kennedy Sandy resigned from the Constitutional Review Committee to prepare for his political ambition and another candidate has publicly declared his intention to contest. Liberia’s Ambassador to America, Jeremiah Sulunteh has said he will contest the 2017 presidential election.

Ambassador Sulunteh, however, didn’t state whether he will contest as president or vice president. “I will be contesting the presidential race in 2017. I can’t tell whether it will be for the presidency or not, all I can say is I will be a candidate 2017,” Ambassador Sulunteh averred.

Ambassador Sulunteh, who contested as a running-mate to Cllr. Winston Tubman during the 2005 presidential election, said for too long Bong County has served as a back bencher in Liberian politics and it was now time to utilize the numerical strength as one of the most populated counties in Liberia.

“We have not utilized our strength as county in previous elections. I think this is the time we unite our voices and population as a county in 2017. Some politicians will come and pretend to be natives of Bong County only because of your numerical advantage, don’t listen to them. If we want to see Bong County develop, let’s unite as a county and shun politicians who will want to exploit our ignorance,” Ambassador Sulunteh added.

Bracing for PUP?

In recent months, the newly established People’s Unification Party, PUP, has been reportedly scouting for a prominent son of Bong County to contest as its candidate and Ambassador Sulunteh, FrontPageAfrica has gathered reportedly emerged as the favorite. But Ambassador Sulunteh in a recent interview with FrontPageAfrica quashed rumors as untrue and a ploy to distract him.

“I am a member of the Unity Party. I have not resigned neither have I sought membership with the PUP. If there are any plans to carry me as its presidential candidate in 2017 I have no idea about that,” Sulunteh said.

Reactions to Sulunteh’s declaration

Mixed views continue to be expressed over Ambassador Sulunteh’s declaration to contest the 2017 presidential race. Expressing their views on a local radio talk-show, many residents of Gbarnga hailed the move as crucial and a step to awaken the county’s political image.

They said Sulunteh’s potential entry could be a turning point for the county. Obediah Weahweah, a political analyst in Gbarnga said: “Ambassador Sulunteh is one of our trusted sons with an impeccable character. We will support whatever ambition, he is harboring. He has established himself as a character worthy of our trust, we love him,” he added.

Another political observer, Alieu Sackor, said: “We see him as our political godfather because of what he has done for Bong County. He has helped to unite us as one family. I guessed he will be overwhelmingly supported in 2017. He is loved by his people,” he added. But on the contrary, there are others who hold the view that Ambassador Sulunteh should nurture his presidential ambition and prepare for future contest rather than contesting in 2017.

Prince Macauley, an entrepreneur in Gbarnga said: “Ambassador Sulunteh will need to nurture his presidential bid rather than contesting in 2017. Bong County doesn’t make anyone president. I am still wondering if his popularity is unique to other counties like it is in Bong,” he said.