FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

2 July 2013

Liberia: NUPD's Prince Johnson Cites 'Concocted Plan' to Oust Him

The embattled former political leader of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson has fiercely fired back at his detractor's plot to have him replaced as the party's flag bearer.

Senator Johnson reacting to news of his replacement at a convention held by the NUDP in Buchanan Grand Bassa County over the weekend said he still remains the legitimate political leader of the party, rubbishing news of the election of Rep. Ricks Toweh as the new political leader of the party which in effect means he (Johnson) no longer enjoys the confidence of his party.

The Senator accused Rep. Toweh of bribing delegates into signing a fake resolution to remove him from office illegally.

"Contrarily, they went outside of the convention. After the completion of the convention, overnight, Ricks Toweh provided one hundred and eighty thousand Liberian dollars with one cow to the county chairpersons and asked them to sign resolutions to vote me out from the standard bearer position," he said.

The Senator told FrontPageAfrica in an interview that he accepts the decision of the party to elect other delegates at the Buchanan convention but contended that the position of political leader was not up for grabs.

"Let me say to you, the convention in Buchanan had to do with replacing administrative positions that were made vacant because in 2011 May 8, they were elected in Saclepea convention and 2013 made it three years for which they were elected expired; so the election commission mandated the NUDP to go to convention, and replace those administrative positions excluding the standard bearer position and that of the deputy national standard bearer position," Senator Johnson said in a mobile phone conversation early Monday morning.

"Though I was absent I bless the convention and the outcome of the convention leading to the election of the administrator- the chairperson, the secretary general; the youth chair the county chairs, I give my endorsement. I support it 100 percent and I called all of them who were elected and I congratulated them."

Man of peace

The Nimba County Senior Senator who did not attend the much anticipated convention after he issued threats of going to Buchanan with a one hundred and fifty men man power, noted that he had a change of heart for the sake of peace and stability.

"You know, before the convention, these guys were on the radio, sponsored by a clique of people here that I know perhaps who I may not mention at the moment were on the radio threatening my life, they will beat me if I ever footed on Buchanan soil," he said.

"And because of that I would have carried more than 200 or 150 men and they will have come into conflict with them; that would have been disastrous for this country and the county and because I want to see this country remain stable, peaceful and more secure, I had to obey the advice given me and even my own conscience."

But Eric Gbemie, defeated former Secretary General of the party told state Radio ELBC that the Senator was crying wolf unnecessarily adding that the Buchanan process was transparent.

"The convention result was quite credible and whatever decision that came out of Buchanan is a decision that was endorsed by our delegates as well as the party leadership who were elected in Buchanan," said Gbemie.

"Everything that was done in Grand Bassa was done transparently. The national election commission had a representation in Grand Bassa County; political parties attended the convention in Grand Bassa County. But with Senator Johnson coming up with such a story, I think that is erroneous, misleading and a direct misrepresentation of what really unfolded in Buchanan. The NUDP is about to have the party decentralized."

He said the decision to replace Senator Johnson was based on a unanimous decision of all at the convention and not the party's leadership.

"The party leadership does not have any objection to Senator Johnson becoming the p[political leader of the party," he told the state broadcaster Monday night.

"The decision to have Senator Johnson replaced as the national leader of the party did not come from us in the party's leadership. It came from the delegates that came; the delegates said they were not prepared to work with Senator Johnson and so they came up with a resolution that Senator Johnson be replaced with Ricks Toweh."

Party's Ex- officio differs

David Zarlee Chairman emeritus of the NUDP who also served on the convention committee backs PYJ's assertion that the position of political leader was not up for election.

"The National Election Commission mandated us to go to convention only to put the party leadership structure in place with no reference to political leader or standard bearer," he said.

"From the inception of the convention committee and in all our meetings we had as convention committee members, I was always straight on that, we were going to elect new leaders in the party but not a political leader."

He said the Buchanan Convention was meant to put the party's leadership structure in place but noted that the NUDP officials took matters into their own hands thereby violating standing rules of the party. He said Senator Johnson remains the leader of the party despite Rep. Toweh's bogus election.

"First of all the political leader issue was not the problem, it wasn't the problem or an issue for us to debate. There is a political leader and he's Senator Prince Johnson.

"He still is the political leader of this political party. He is the vision bearer and it's based on his vision that this political party was organized and me being the founding chair and organizer of this political party, he and I worked together on that vision to organize this political party now, to come and say there is no political leader is just complete fabrication."

He called the cosmetic replacement of Senator Johnson a decision taken by a few people namely Rep. Jeremiah Kun (NUDP-Nimba-Dist. 1).

"Those who wanted to make their self-feel good decided to just go ahead with this kind of thing. The issue we are talking about never came on the floor like the way other issue came on the floor," said Zarlee.

"It came after we had conducted the election, the officials inducted into office and we had all left and gone to our various boarding places. Only to our surprise the next morning to hear about it; the same thing with Jeremiah Kun, whatever they did was done in our absence, it was not done with our approval or our consent."

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