FrontPageAfrica (Monrovia)

Liberia: Ex-Liberty Party Chair Enters 2014 Senate Race, Slams Incumbent

Buchanan — Israel Akinsanya, the former Chairman of the opposition Liberty Party (LP)has officially declared his intention to run in the 2014 Mid Term Senatorial elections, slamming the incumbent, Gbehzongar Findley for what he describes as 'Me, Myself and I' style of leadership the Grand Bassa Senator has adopted .

Speaking to reporters in Buchanan on Thursday, Akinsanya said he was visiting his Liberty Party partisans in Grand Bassa to let them know his intention. "I'm consolidating within my party to ensure I'm one of those allowed on the party's ticket to contest the election in 2014," Mr. Akinsanya said.

Akinsanya added that he has held consultations in three of the five electoral districts in the county, and pledged to engage the remaining districts to ascertain the approval of his fellow partisans.

When asked if he would prefer going through the primary process of the party or selected by hierarchy of the party, he opted for the primary.

"I prefer to go through the primary. I do not want to be handpicked as the chosen one because we built an institution called Liberty Party. We advocated for the primary for other people and as a norm, we institutionalized our candidacy selection process," the former LP chairman said.

Mr. Akinsanya's declaration come amid reports Gabriel Smith and Senator Byron Brown are also said to be contemplating throwing their individual hats in the race, paving the way for a rugged fight for the party's nomination.

Akinsanya is suggesting that Smith - who won Buchanan District as an Independent -declare his current seat an LP seat recognized by the National Election Commission, so that if Smith loses the LP primary, he (Smith) will go back to the legislature as a Liberty Party Lawmaker.

Regarding Brown, Akinsanya believes that it is unnecessary for the Liberty Party lawmaker to contest the senate because he's already at the capital and quickly to mentioned that he and the other two potential contenders for the party's senatorial candidacy will try and hammer it out, stressing that they are all close friends.

According to the former LP chairman, the party customarily utilizes any of the three means of selecting a candidate. Akinsanya said if there are multiple candidates, the party suggests that the aspirants decide amongst themselves who will run on the ticket, if it doesn't work, the party's hierarchy convenes a meeting with the local county hierarchy for input and solution. The last option is to hold a primary if the other two have been exhausted. "I intend to go through all the process. If I lose the primary, I intend not to contest as an independent candidate. I will support any candidate on the party's ticket," he said.

Mr. Akinsanya's intention to run in the 2014 senatorial election has come as a shock to many who consider him an LP steward who has never opted for an elected post.

"I'm more of a kingmaker than a politician that runs. Through all the elections since 2005, I had the opportunity to raise my hand and say I want to run but I never did it. This time around I thought about the disunity within the caucus (Bassa Legislative Caucus)," Akinsanya said.

Akinsanya continued: "I don't like the way we have developed in the last nine years from the level of the leadership, especially the senatorial leadership."

Mr. Akinsanya claims his decision to unseat incumbent Findley is due to the many lapses noticed during his tenure. He mentioned the lack of coordination amongst the county caucus, lack of development agenda and the personal glory Findley enjoys in the wake of numerous problems affecting the county.

"I'm determined that we will take the "I" and put "We". When one person claims he's doing everything, it becomes an issue whereby you wonder if we are running a pseudo presidency when one says it and that's it," he said.

While slamming Senator Findely, Akinsanya also was quick to realize the political strength of the incumbent and urged the party to be more organized politically by producing the best candidate for the election. "No one should be delusional to think that Hon. Milton Findley does not have political machinery or have not developed the political machinery to try and retain his seat. However; we (LP) need an equal potent machinery in order to unseat him," he said.

WHY LP WANTS THE SEAT IN 2014?

Mr. Akinsanya told reporters that Grand Bassa County and the Bassa belt are perceived stronghold of Liberty Party, therefore; the Grand Bassa Senate seat was not just important to the party for 2014 but for the party's 2017 consolidation.

"Liberty Party feels it must have this seat as part of its consolidation for the kind of reforms, the kind of developmental things the party wants to bring to Grand Bassa County and the nation in 2017," he stressed.

Akinsanya rejected the perception that his party is becoming unpopular in Grand Bassa, stating that the party has won all the by-elections in the county over the past election periods, but expressed concerns about a divided party and warned against senior partisans going independent when they lose primaries.

"A divided Liberty Party going into the election will be a disaster for LP. Any attempt to spilt the vote, it's a win for Findley, so that will not be encouraged. This is why the condition to go to the primary will be strong and that's why anyone who wants to go independent must be expelled from the party," Akinsanya suggested.

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