Liberia: UP Leadership in Crisis, Standard Bearer Reportedly Wants 'Standalone' Party Chairman Changed

Monrovia — FrontPageAfrica has reliably learned that there is an ongoing beef between the chairman and the standard-bearer of the former ruling Unity Party to the extent that the standard-bearer the pair reportedly no longer see eye-to-eye.

FrontPageAfrica gathered the former Vice President who now serves as the political leader of the party, Joseph Boakai, though known to be a calm man, reached his boiling point when the chairman of the party, Wilmot Paye, unilaterally held a press conference on January 5 calling on partisans to not to get involved with the January 6 protest organized by the Council of Patriots.

Boakai had earlier condemned the George Weah-led administration for being insensitive to some of the plights of Liberians and called on the government not to stop citizens from expressing through protest.

Paye in League with ANC?

A high-placed source within the Unity Party informed FrontPageAfrica that Boakai has expressed his discomfort with his party chairman, believing that he is in bed with fellow opposition Alternative National Congress headed by Alexander B. Cummings.

According to the source, Paye has been advocating for a candidate in his/her 60s for President come 2023 which makes Mr. Cummings his preferred choice.

"You know things happened and when it reaches a certain point, it comes to an end. The old man (Boakai) has always protected Wilmot and it is no secret that he didn't win 2017 elections because of Wilmot and Madam Sirleaf, but it has come to a point where he continues to disrespect the standard-bearer to the point where he makes unilateral decisions without consulting him and it appears as if the standard-bearer supports some of the things he says," the source said.

Paye's 'Unilateral' Press Conference

A day before June 6, Mr. Wilmot Paye had a press conference calling on all partisans of the Unity Party to boycott the June 6, protest, but the former ruling party through its National Assistant Secretary-General debunk the call, saying it wasn't the decision of the party, rather the personal decision of the chairman.

Said Mr. Paye: "We want to urge all our supporters and sympathizers, friends and citizens of Liberia to be cautious about Monday, January 6, 2020 and not allow our party to be drawn to any standoff that could have dire and adverse consequences. The most prudent thing to do therefore is to avoid the streets and monitor unfolding events from our homes."

However, Mr. Mo Ali, National Assistant Secretary-General for Press, Publicity and Outreach, issued a statement, declaring that the entire Executive Committee of the UP and party faithful still affirm and support as declared by its Standard Bearer, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, any peaceful gathering of any group of Liberians as provided for by the Constitution of Liberia

Choose Ye This Day

The heads of the party at the county level are due to hold a major meeting in Monrovia on Tuesday. FrontPageAfrica gathered that Mr. Boakai has reportedly told the heads of the party from the counties that as they meet on Tuesday, they would have to make the ultimate decision - choosing between him and Paye.

Mr. Paye could not be reached on Sunday for comments.

EJS Called for Change

Late 2019, in what seemed to be a reconciliatory meeting between Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the leadership of the UP, the former President called for a change in the party's leadership but was careful not to mention names.

She was bold in her call for a change of leadership of the party if the party must have genuine reconciliation. She, however, said the change is not about the standard-bearer.

EJS: "There is no two ways about it, I am not talking about the standard-bearer but there got to be. You cannot go forward in a new day with the old ones, some of you may not like it, but it's a statement of fact.

"There is a need for a change of order, a change of major commitment, and a change of ideas so that you can be able to claim the leadership in the collaboration."

Paye's Resistance

In response to Madam Sirleaf, the party's chairman, Wilmot Paye, said the change in the leadership of the party would happen at the rightful time.

He said, "We cannot make party decision that would affect a whole nation on sentiments; when we get to 2022, we will discuss the need for change."

But the former President had the backing of the current Deputy Speaker of the House, Prince Moye, who is an executive member of the party. He described Madam Sirleaf's call as "honest", stating that "In as much we are the biggest opposition if we are not seen stronger together, it weakens our strength in any collaboration."

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