The much talked-about merger convention for the new Unity Party has finally taken place in the commercial city of Ganta in Nimba County, northern Liberia.
The convention, held from May 6-9, 2010, brought together five-hundred and forty registered delegates plus sympathizers from the various political parties in this 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.
Climaxing this convention, dominated by Monrovian partisans of the three political parties and individuals who had gone to “hustle for jobs”, Should have been democratic elections for officials of the new Unity Party.
Instead, from what we observed, it was just a process to award a number of individuals favored by either the President, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who happens to be the Standard Bearer-in-waiting for the merger or others big names in the merger.
From our observation in Ganta last weekend, it was apparently decided in Monrovia as to who should get what in this new political arrangement.
It was, indeed, no secret that the new Unity party’s merger convention was characterized by manipulations, coercions, deceits, bitter exchanges, cash-flows and frauds in some instances.
Anyway, it was just a matter of hatching and confirming the “Monrovia blue print” of the entire convention process under the guise of conducting elections-at least as far as key national positions are concern, from what we at the New Dawn witnessed in Ganta.
As it was destined, Former LAP’s Standard Bearer Varney Sherman was awarded the Chairmanship of the new Unity Party, having been the only favored candidate, while the position of Senior National Vice Chairman went to the Minister of Postal Affairs, 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.
Dusty Lawrence Wolokollie was awarded the National Vice Chairman for Inter-party Affairs position, but was later placed on hold for reason not available to the New Dawn, D. Sheba Brown was selected to Chair the Women Congress, just to name a few.
We were told in Ganta that the way the process went, was intended to foster cash-flow and strike a geo-political balance in the party, taking into accounts counties with huge voting populations.
For delegates, candidates politically outcast and observers who had thought that the new UP’s Ganta convention would have been in consonance with civilized democratic norms, it was a complete disappointment.
Considering the anti-democratic tenants characterizing the process of selecting the leadership of the new Unity party and the current composition of the National Elections Commission, we have all reasons to harbor serious fear for the 2011 general and presidential elections in Liberia.
Being cognizant of the history of the political behaviors of incumbent Liberian Presidents and their quests for second terms, we foresee an electoral process in 2011 going through similar process as the just-ended Ganta political exercise, if Liberian political parties outside of this merger and other national and international democratic institutions failed to effect the necessary political reforms in the process of electioneering.
This, in our minds, is a serious warning for all well-meaning Liberians, as well as those in the international community, who have worked assiduously to restore peace and democracy to Liberia.