9 May 2016

Liberia: Who Heads UP?

As the tenure of the leadership of the ruling Unity Party expired last Friday, May 6, reports of reluctance by party executives to convene party convention are emerging.

The reports have indicated that this delay to immediately hold party convention is against the backdrop that the Toga McIntosh Gayewea bid for the standard-bear position for the 2017 election is gaining ground and there are fears amongst party executives that the Dr. Gayewea may be challenging to the bid of Vice President Boakai at the polls in the party’s primary.

An insider who hinted The Analyst said the Varney Sherman leadership was elected in 2010 for a five-year term during the party convention held from May 6-9, 2010 in Ganta, Nimba County. The Convention brought together five-hundred and forty registered delegates plus sympathizers from a political marriage-Liberia Action Party or LAP, Unity Party or UP and a fraction of the Liberia Unification Party or LUP led by its expelled Chairman, Issac Mannah.

Those elected along with Cllr. Sherman were the standard-bearer Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, vice standard bearer Amb. Joseph N.Boakai.
Others elected were, Senior National Vice Chairman, Jeremiah Sulunteh and the disputed Chairman of the Liberia Unification Party, Isaac F. Mannah was given the position of National Vice Chairman for Governmental Affairs,.Boima Fahnbulle. Secretary General who after few months was replaced with Wilmot Paye as Secretary General, while D. Sheba Brown was selected to Chair the Women Congress, amongst others.

This paper was hinted that nearly all members of the current party officials, including members of the cabinets and the present standard-bearer, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have given their loyalties to Vice President Boakai for the position of party standard-bearer, but the Gayewaa factor which is gaining momentum in the party has built the impression of defeat for Boakai should the convention be held by this time.

Notwithstanding, our source has indicated that the party’s need for election at the end of the Varney Sherman chairmanship cannot be ruled out nor compromised.
He pointed out that it is mandatory that UP elects a new corps of party managers at the end of the tenure of the Sherman leadership in preparation for the 2017 election if they should not be rendered illegal.

Instead of proceeding for party primaries, the current leadership is indulging into holding side-bar meetings that have the tendency to evade the urgency of party primaries, our source disclosed.
According to the source, the delay tactics employed by current UP leadership is meant to buy time and support from the Gayewea camp and to reconsolidate the position of Vice President Boakai against the Gayewea side.

Meanwhile, The Aanalyst has learned that the current UP Secretary General, Wilmot Paye has developed the ambition for the national chairmanship of the party, a position which Madam Medina Wesseh and Pinky Duncan Cassell – the Minister of Gender - are also eyeing while George Wisner of the National Investment Commission and one Warway Bryant, an executive of the Unity Party, is said to have planned to contest the national youth chairmanship of the party.

Our source said Warway Bryant, a onetime staunch supporter of Vice President Boakai has now switched loyalty to the Gayewea camp like other influential but silent partisans.
Our source noted that further delay of the UP convention is an abrogation of the constitution of the party, although he did not elaborate.

He however indicated, “This delay may lead to agitations within UP as it may render the Sherman leadership of the party illegal in the absence of amendment of the party’s organic law”.
Amendment, he said, is only possible during party convention which is expected and that in the absence of the convention is definitely impossible.
Attempts by this paper to verify the information did not materialized as party officials could not be reached. Another report on the UP Convention will appear in our subsequent edition.

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