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Editorial: Challenging the Ruling Unity Party

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“Internal Rift Intensifies In UP” was the front page banner headline in our Thursday, May 5, 2011 edition. The story highlighted the internal rift characterizing the ruling Unity party ahead of its primaries. At the core of this wrangling is the party’s representation at the Liberian Legislature, i.e., who to contest on the UP ticket for legislative seats come this year’s general and presidential elections.

According to the story, a number of legislative aspirants who are party loyalists to include current lawmakers seem not to be in line with the hard politics ongoing within the Unity Party among the tops.

Such may just be leading to the frustrations and fears, considering the fact that their respective electoral districts may be awarded to others favored either by the party’s political Leader and President, Ellen Sirleaf, as well as National Chairman Varney Sherman in the absence of primaries.

This paper quoted a source inside the ruling Unity Party as suggesting that Chairman Sherman and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf were ensuring at all cost behind the scene that aspirants of their interests were awarded party tickets to contest the various legislative seats. Most of the current lawmakers, most especially some of those who defected to the UP and others considered radical, may not have the opportunity to seek re-election on the Unity Party’s ticket.

From all indications, there’s a suggestion that the leadership of the Unity Party could be harboring the fear that fielding individuals with discouraging popularities in the various electoral districts of Liberia may be a political risk for the party, owing to the fact that voters would base the decisions on the qualities of candidates.

It is an open fact that some current representatives, not only of the Unity Party, have not actually been in good relations with their respective constituents since entering the Capitol Building. While this may be the really, the leadership of the Unity party must give aspirants (representatives and senators) who it may think are not popular, the opportunities to justify their aspirations by ensuring that there are primaries, and that they participate.

The Leadership of the Unity Party must not bury the fact that democracy is not only at a party-to-party level for state power, but also within a political party. The Unity Party must try at most try to avoid a repeat of its May 2010 Ganta Convention occasioned by “armed-twisting, threats and promises”  in favor of the interests of its political leader and President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, including National Chairman Varney Sherman and his Vice Chairmen, including the current Labor Minister Jeremiah Sulonteh..

We believe that as a ruling party,  the UP must actually lead and not to follow their imprints of the National Union for Democratic Progress, whose political leader Prince Johnson has begun making his autocratic intentions known to the people of Liberia. Should President Sirleaf and Chairman Sherman have  any political interests among either of their partisans, the best to do  is extensive lobbying among delegates during the convention and primaries to ensure that their interests prevail.

But to create such situation as we are hearing at the moment is tantamount to strangulating and hijacking democracy, as well as sending the message that we all need to harbor fears for the main electoral showdown come October or November this year. The Unity Party must begin now to set the record straight or else public perceptions may just be judgmentally wrong.  This is the challenge to the ruling Unity party.

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