The Splits -As Liberians Prepare for Runoff

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

Reconciliation, which was not achieved under the Ellen-led government, remains a challenge that will greet the next government. Liberia continues to experience a divided population as indicated by turbulence in political parties-splits!

Even though Liberians are not engaged in large scale and physically violent activities, high division on political lines, is likely to create a mental menace among Liberians, and could be counter-productive to development.

Division among officials of top political parties is showing its face in  recent times, with claims and counterclaims.

The ruling Unity Party (UP) and the opposition Liberty Party (LP) are currently experiencing splits, with supporters and sympathizers following their respective sides.

Vice president and standard bearer of UP confirmed how the party is being divided in blocs, with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and her followers on one side while those who believe in him on the other side.

The situation is being considered a fall of the UP, which is one of the contenders in the presidential runoff.

For the the LP, some of its executives recently endorsed George Weah of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) and the endorsement has been greeted with controversies. It appears controversial because the party’s leader, Charles Brumskine, who was in the United States during the endorsement, returned the following day and distanced the party from the executives’ decision.

But the controversies continue to grow as the endorsers have stood their grounds that it was the party’s decision to carry out the endorsement while other executives, including Brumskine, are on the counter. Brumskine maintains that every member of the party has the right to endorse any candidate; but said the executives acted on their own and not the party’s.

Chairman Ben Sanvee, vice standard bearer Harrison Kanwea and campaign chief Musa Bility have all spoken that the National Executive Committee agreed at a meeting to endorse Weah.

It is also being reported that Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP) and some supporters are planning to endorse VP Boakai, days after other executives of the party endorsed Amb. Weah.

This political bickering is being sparked by officials committing their parties to the dislike of others; something analysts say could make the future of forming political parties bleak.

At the same time, it is alleged that Professor Wilson Tarpeh has been removed as CDC’s campaign chairperson due to misunderstanding among executives of the party. Tarpeh is a professor, who may be at grief along with his supporters as well.

It may also be recalled recently that former Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) executive governor, Mills Jones was expelled as a political leader of his party, Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE). Jones subsequently resigned; and he, too, may have gone with his supporters amid the splits.

While national split is a creeping menace, pundits say institutional division, as being experienced in major political parties, is more dangerous and could undermine the peace and reconciliation of Liberia as well as development. Institutional division, they contend, is very difficult to manage, thus calling for expeditious interventions.

They noted that Liberia has a multi-party system with numerous political parties, in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone; and so they must work with each other. They also underscored the institutionalization of political parties where members will support and have voice.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!