The Unity Party (UP) was formed in 1984 in Buchana, Grand Bassa County by the late Dr. Edward Binyah Kesselly who served as its first standard bearer. On July 27, 1985, the UP did register as a full flag political party. The late Dr. Kesselly served as Minister of Posts and Telecommunications in the late William R. Tolbert, Jr.’s government on Feb. 3, 1978. After the late Samuel Doe’s coup in 1980, UP featured the late Dr. Kesselly as its first political standard bearer in the 1985 general and presidential elections in which the UP netted 57,443 votes of 11.07% against the late Doe who also netted a winning margin of 264,362 votes with 50.93% thus being declared as winner in the 1985 general and presidential elections, no sooner, the Late Dr. Kesselly died in 1993 and was buried in Monrovia after eighteen years, he was again reburied in his native village of Nyama-Kamadu in Quardu-Gbomi District of Lofa County.
Other elections were held again on 19 July 1997, this time the UP did bring on board its newest presidential candidate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who won 9.58% of the votes against the now-jailed rebel leader former president Taylor. The US won 7 of 64 seats in the House of Representatives and 3 of 26 in the Senate. While international observers deemed the polls administratively free and transparent, they noted that it had taken place in an atmosphere of intimidation because most voters believed that the former rebel leader and National Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate Charles Taylor would return to war it had been defeated in the elections, as a result, the former rebel boss, won 468, 443 votes with 75.33% and Ellen Sirleaf won 59,557 votes with 9.58%.
22-years on, in 1996, former President Sirleaf was again put in charge of the UP, since 1996 after her first presidential attempt in 1997 and 12-years of successful attempt in the 2005 general and presidential elections which ended in January 2018. Initially, former President Sirleaf departed the Liberia Action Party (LAP) to join the UP in 1996. But the irony here is the former President had her left leg in LAP and right leg in UP as part of her normal political maneuver. The death of Dr. Kesselly, in 1993 rendered the UP terribly impoverished and deplorable.
That was the condition by which former President Sirleaf took over the party as a financial savior. But she couldn’t improve the party structure as shown by her performance 22-years ago as UP stalwarts. According to most UP’s insiders, they believe that former President Sirleaf encroached on the UP by taking due advantage of its impoverished financial status. The weary UP stalwarts, couldn’t hold former President Sirleaf accountable officially as to what plans she had for the future of UP. The UP stalwarts soon endorsed her candidacy unconsciously as the party standard bearer in both the 1997/2005 general and presidential elections, without investigating what were her plans for the UP and what led to her departure from the Liberia Action Party, LAP in the 90s.
Former President Sirleaf cleverly managed to wrap the stalwarts of the UP one by one into a political purse to achieve her political objective as president of Liberia. The former President careful political calculation which worked perfectly for her political agenda and maneuvering powers were fulfilled in the end. By 2005, the UP pulled all its might, expertise and political sympathy behind Ellen Sirleaf at which time she won amid enormous elections controversy against the CDC’s football legend that was resolved behind closed doors.
During former President Sirleaf 6-years in office, there was no plan toward the growth and development of the party because from the onset the leaders had no ideas to discuss one or to hold Madam Elle Sirleaf to revamp the party. Jobs were given to more outsiders than UP insiders privileges were given to more outsiders than UP insiders. The youths of UP party being political orphans in a political orphanage home in their own party.
There were no school opportunities neither talked about business and development opportunities for the party and its weary leaders. After the first 6-years in power, the UP Stewarts still couldn’t see the former President Sirleaf good intent to toward UP’s growth and development in any form or shape, yet the up Stewarts were once again committed to rallying with former President Sirleaf that subsequently led to her 2nd and final presidential victory in 2012.
The UP’s governing party witnessed more tribulations and disaffection due to former President Sirleaf lack of concern for the party. She oversaw massive defection of key members of the party including her son Robert Sirleaf, and other party stalwarts like Harrison Karnwea, Musa Hassan Bility, Gbehzohngar M. Findley and the former spokesman of UP Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan just to name a few.
Before the massive defection, the UP convention endorsed VP Boakai as its candidate in the ensuing general and presidential elections, but the process was soon cloudy with a double standard and deep-seated betrayal by the former President Sirleaf. The UP’s candidate was undermined, sidelined, ignored, and slapped in the face in favor of the now incumbent President Weah who was giving the full support of the former President Sirleaf. Former President Sirleaf according to party insiders dumped her partisans and betrayed the party at a critical time in operations of the party.
Party insiders revealed that former President Sirleaf’s double standard, political betrayal and lack of concern for the UP party and partisans that stood with her rain or shine were finally put under the bus and rendered useless in the eyes of other political parties. Former President Sirleaf’s 12-years as president and standard bearer witnessed the systematic disintegration of the UP party and deep division and a more and more bad blood between and among the disadvantaged members of the party, which on 14 January 2018 compelled the remaining weary stalwarts to expelled the former President from the UP party.
UP’s credible insiders believe that the end of former President Sirleaf tenure witnessed the slow death of the once all-powerful ruling UP party, who image was characterized with systemic corruptions and lip service initiatives after 12 years of full financial support from the international community.