The NEWS (Monrovia)

15 November 2012

Liberia: 'Ellen Single-Handedly Running Govt.'

A stalwart of the ruling Unity Party has criticized President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for the manner in which she is steering the affairs of government.

Senator John Ballout of Maryland County claimed that the President is "single-handedly running the government" without the input of the Unity Party (UP).

He said the party which brought the President to power does not have any say in who becomes what in the government.

However, the Secretary General of the ruling Unity Party, Wilmot Paye said Senator Ballout has his rights as opinion leader of the party to speak on issues affecting the party.

He said the issues raised by the Maryland County Senator are not strange, however, he believes it is a wakeup call for the ruling party to examine the way it is proceeding.

Mr. Paye said from time to time individual members of the party will come out to speak on issues affecting the party.

He disclosed that the party is assessing the performance of the government, and that by early next year, it would report to the people of Liberia on the performance of the government.

However, the Maryland County Lawmaker Ballout pointed out that the party is not being given the space to share in the governance of the country.

He said though it is the party that owns the government, but unfortunately, it does not form part of the decision making process of the government.

Senator Ballout expressed disappointment and said it is a mockery to the tenets of democracy, something which he says, the Unity Party stands for.

Senator Ballout made the statement on Wednesday during a live interview on ELBC radio via mobile phone from Maryland County. The Maryland County Senator is said to have expressed interest to contest the 2017 presidential elections.

The tough-taking lawmaker said there is nowhere in the world that a political party that wins elections would be excluded from the running of the government.

He said it is totally unacceptable for thousands of partisans and sympathizers who supported Unity Party to be betrayed by President Johnson-Sirleaf by leaving UP leadership out of operation of government.

He wants the leadership of the party to be involved in running the government rather than President Sirleaf alone.

The Senator indicated that policies of the government must be decided by the ruling party and given to the Standard Bearer to direct and implement.

However, he noted that this is not the case with the current government, saying "This is wrong and a mockery to democracy."

Senator Ballout said the action by the President to sideline the party in the governance process of the country is creating embarrassment and credibility problems for the party in future elections.

He said though the President would not contest future elections, but the Unity Party will participate, as such, she must stop dampening the party's chances; "we should not destroy the morale of the partisans."

"Enough is enough; it is about time for the President to rethink her decision and get the party involved in the governance of the country," Senator Ballout added.

Senator Ballout said he is under obligation to speak against the wrongs in the party and would continue to do so because he was elected by the people to represent them.

When contacted, Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson, said he was shocked that an executive of the ruling party would make such an allegation.

Mr. Jackson believes there has to be a clear distinction between party politics and the running of a government. He said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected by the Liberian people, adding that the people own the government, but do not own the ruling party.

He indicated that the President cannot compromise her responsibility because every Liberian suppose to have ownership of the government.

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