Despite the current wave of exodus of big names from the ruling Unity Party, the UP boasts here that grass-rooters are now taking over the party, maintaining that the exodus is even making it stronger.
In barely three months, the ruling party has lost three of its stalwarts and executive committee members to the opposition Liberty Party notably beginning with Mr. Musa Hassan Bility, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s campaign manager for Montserrado County, Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Harrison Kanwea, and recently, former Amb. Jeremiah Sulunteh.
But commenting briefly on what is no doubt becoming worrisome for the presidential bid of its standard bearer Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, UP National Chairman Wilmot Paye said, the exodus of big names indicates that the party is now property of grass-rooters and getting stronger.
According to him, the UP is now of people-orientated especially, grass-roots Liberians, who many think are of less importance.
Speaking to this paper via mobile phone, on Monday, February 20, Chairman Paye said that the Unity Party has lot to do than waste its precious time on people, who couldn’t pull votes at the needed time, so their departure has created a corridor for people considered by the public as downtrodden to take charge of the party for the October 10, Representatives and Presidential elections.
He said the departure shows there’s more love, unity and that the party is getting stronger by the day in order to take state power for the third time succession.
He noted that some of the defectors that the media referred to as ‘big names’ could not pull votes for the party both in 2005 and 2011.
However, amid the exit of stalwarts, the UP recently witnessed the entry of Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee from the de-certificated National Union of Democratic Progress or NUDP, formerly of ex-presidential candidate Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, who became kingmaker in 2011 when he threw his weight behind President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the run-off for her second term bid.
Providing justification for his exit in in a communication to the ruling party dated February 15, former Ambassador Sulunteh wrote, “This letter comes to inform you of my decision to disengage with the Unity Party effective today, February 15, 2017. This decision is predicated on the need for me to have an independent mind on my future endeavors.”
He subsequently told a news conference in Monrovia the same day that over the years, the Unity Party has experienced lapses in the implementation of its own promises, saying, “When some of us pointed to these lapses and proffered suggestions, we were branded as internal opposition in the Unity Party. Be that as it may, we did not waiver in our effort to support the party. For example, in March and April, 2015, we used our two months home-leave and conducted an analytical assessment of the party in seven of the 15 counties in Liberia at our own expense.”
Sulunteh recounted that during the 2011 general and presidential elections, when he declared his bid for the senatorial race, the Unity Party created a situation as if he and former superintendent Ranney Jackson were fighting in Bong County, saying, “The party through its standard bearer asked Sulunteh to abandon his senatorial bid to allow Mr. Jackson to contest on the ticket of the party. The result was a loss.”
He disclosed that again in 2014 during the Special Senatorial elections, when he positioned himself for the second time for the senatorial race, he was advised that it was in the best interest of the country to continue the good work with the American people in mobilizing much needed support for the Ebola fight.
“For the sake of our country, we did not contest again, which was serious disappointment to our many supporters. As if, this is all that was meant for Sulunteh in the Unity Party, there is now an artificial rift being created between Ambassador Sulunteh and Dr. Henrique Tokpa for a possible vice presidential pick, which continues to hang a dark cloud over Bong County,” he concluded.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne