Liberia’s Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor is seriously contemplating on contesting for the Presidency in 2023 on the NPP ticket against President George Manneh Weah, according to the embattled chairman of the former ruling party, James Biney.
The current ruling Coalition for Democratic Change is a conglomeration of the Congress for Democratic Change of President George Manneh Weah, jailed former President Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Party presently headed by ex-First Lady of Jewel Howard Taylor, and the Liberian People Democratic Party of criminally indicted former Speaker Alex Tyler’s, respectively.
“Mrs. Taylor came at my NPP’s office in Congo Town and said to me, we are in the coalition for four or five years but I want to contest the presidency in 2023 and we need people who will join you that will remove us from the coalition and I said, Mrs. Taylor, that will be the saddest mistake you will make. You want to contest the presidency in 2023 with a fracture party? We need to be rebranded and be accepted by our international partners. There are lots of people who have misgivings about our party; wait for 12 years. Her response to me is, if I don’t conform to her thought; I should get out because the NPP belongs to her husband. I refused because I was duly elected. I told her that it will be great an error politically because it will destroy the party.”
The tough-spoken Biney is a stalwart of the NPP and former lawmaker for Maryland County. He served under jailed ex-president Charles Taylor up to era of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
This is his first response since the internal wrangling in the NPP as a result of his reported expulsion from the party characterized by fistfight among partisans during a recent executive committee meeting.
Speaking to this paper on Friday, 09 November along the Roberts International Airport here, Mr. Biney explains the internal crisis that has engulfed the NPP was allegedly masterminded by Vice President Taylor after some senior partisans of the party refused to give in to her presidential ambition.
He narrates the NPP and its partisans should be grateful to the Congress for Democratic Change for bringing the former ruling party to political life.He notes that five months prior to the formation of the Coalition, the NPP was dead politically, as its standard bearer Madam Taylor, was associating with former presidential candidate Dr. Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment, while Bomi County Senator Sando Johnson was with the All Liberian Party of businessman Benoni Urey, and its secretary general Andrew Peters contested on the ticket of the former ruling Unity Party, and another NPP stalwart Lawrence George, was running mate at a smaller political party during the 2017 Presidential and Representative elections.
Commenting on his reported expulsion from the chairmanship, Mr. Biney says: “I being accused of wanting to merge the party with the Congress for Democratic Change, wait and see because meager is not done in the dark, every aspect leading to meager has to go the National Elections Commission for legal standing and recognition and the public will see the unfolding, but as things are, there is no evidence to establish their claims. The reason for the battle is Madam Taylor is creating what I called divide and rule. One man cannot merge a party with the others secretly; it takes the executive committee to do such. I can fully understand because they are from the National Patriotic Front of Liberia background where one commander to take over and says your come charge, but political party does not work like that” he says.
Senator Sando Johnson had earlier accused Biney of meeting stalwarts of the CDC for meager talks and that President Weah is also reportedly behind the meager engagement.“Sando does not understand anything about political party, that’s why he’s acting and behaving in such manner”, he responds.
Biney says it took extra time and energy to encourage people to return to the party and that, his mandate from the NPP convention that elected him as national chairman is to rebrand the party.He points out that over the period of time he had engaged foreign missions here and abroad to rebrand the NPP. “Under the former and founding Standard Bearer, former President Charles Taylor, the NPP never had a charter [chapter] in the United States but today, under his leadership, the NPP has a charter now in the United States. It took several negotiations before Madam Taylor could be accepted at the State Department,” the embattled Biney reveals.
According to him, those claiming he is expelled are not members of the NPP, as they are total strangers and returnees who do lack political grounds to raise such argument. He further argues the constitution of the NPP is very clear: If any partisan resigned and decided to return, that individual has to pick up a membership form and start all over as ‘just partisan’.
He notes for anyone who was partisan and resigned and to think that upon his or her return, that previous position held are still available for them without convention or endorsement, that person might come from different planet.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne