15 January 2018

Liberia: UP Expels Pres. Sirleaf

Photo: Tami Hultman / AllAfrica
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The UP is revoking the membership of its Standard Bearer Emeritus, President Sirleaf, on claims that she supported the opposition candidate, George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change. She has consistently denied the claim and still considers herself a member of the Unity Party.

But she rejects action, terming it illegal

The ruling Unity Party issued a statement over the weekend, expelling its former standard bearer President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for what it says was her meddling in the 2017 elections in which its candidate Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai lost to popular footballer George Weah. Also expelled were River Gee Senator Conmany Wesseh, his wife Medina Wesseh and Patrick Worzie. President Sirleaf has however dismissed the action, terming it illegal.

In a Press statement issued late Saturday, the Party amongst other things said "The behavior of the expelled persons ... constitutes sabotage and undermined the existence of the party". The release also said the expelled persons had violated party rules requiring Party members to support all Unity Party candidates in elections.

It can be recalled that in last November, during the period to the runoff, there were reportedly failed attempts by some UP stalwarts to expel President Sirleaf. Party Chairman Wilmot Paye had at the time declared at a Press conference that President Sirleaf had, one month earlier, acted inappropriately by meeting with Elections Magistrates and some NEC Commissioners in the privacy of her home just about on the eve of October 10 elections.

Paye further declared in his Press statement,"Greed has resurfaced in its most callous form, sowing seeds of discord yet again with the intent of disrupting the fragile peace of Liberia."Sources say the statement was in reaction to what was described by some ranking party officials as President Sirleaf's alleged funneling of large amounts of cash to the opposition first to the Brumskine led Liberty Party and subsequently to the Coalition for Democratic Change.

According to sources, the then attempted expulsion was thwarted by Vice President Boakai who prevailed on Party Executives, especially members of the Youth league, and successfully convinced them to restrain from such action. However this time around it is still not clear whether Vice President Boakai had endorsed such an action. Sources say the decision to expel President Sirleaf was taken in a meeting held at the home of the Vice President.

Further according to sources, when word got out about the Party's impending action a large group of individuals converged on the Party's Congo Town headquarters, allegedly with the intent to disrupt the meeting. Upon learning that Party executives were convening the meeting at the home of the Vice President they stormed the area but were prevented from forcibly entering the home of the Vice President after security officers threatened to open fire on anyone attempting to forcibly enter the home of the Vice President.

According to diplomatic observers near Monrovia, the expulsion of President Sirleaf by her own party at this eleventh hour when she should instead be receiving her flowers from the very Party, could becloud her image and dent whatever legacy she intends to bequeath to Party and country. Party executives however remain self-assured that their course of action was in keeping with party rules and regulations

But President Sirleaf, according to Presidential Press Secretary Jerolinmek Piah, has dismissed the action terming it as illegal and not in conformity with party rules and regulations.

He added, "the pronounced action by the UP will not have a reaction from the President because it is not an action that requires or deserves a reaction form the President. She is focused on concluding her transition".

Mr. Piah did not explain in detail why the President considered the UP's action against her illegal but said, "the party rules are clear as to how such decisions can be derived. Expulsion does not come from the thin air. There are things that an individual should do that result in expulsion. When she leaves the Presidency, the party matter will be handled the party way. As far as she is concerned, she still considers herself a member of the UP", Mr. Piah emphasized.

At this point it still remains unclear just how far reaching the implications of this recent move might be but some analysts say that such an action coming just days before President Sirleaf is expected to preside over the UN High Level Panel on Migration and the official celebration of ECOWAS Human Rights Day, may throw a blight on what should otherwise be crowning moments of glory climaxing 12 years of service as President of Liberia.

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