Defection in Liberty Party Shows Major Slip on Brumskine’s Grip on Party


Monrovia – Liberty Party is facing the most difficult challenge in savaging its reputation since the Supreme Court dealt them a major blow by ruling against their argument for a rerun of the first round of voting.

Report by Alpah Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]

The party is now struggling to separate itself from a set of staggering decisions by top stalwarts to join the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) ahead of the runoff.

The LP breakaway officials’ decisions come as both runner-ups – Unity Party and Coalition for Democratic Change – opt to lure more supports ahead of the December 26 vote.

Vice standard-bearer Harrison Karnwea, party chairman Ben Sanvee and chief financier Musa Billity recently switched political lane by joining the CDC. They claimed “the Ganta Declaration and personal conscience” motivated their decision.

When Ben Sanvee declared his support for the CDC on December 14, he inferred that his speech was delivered in his capacity as chairman of the LP although the backlash from the party’s standard-bearer sparked further disagreement.

“Today, we are here representing our consciences,” he said.  “Those of us who believe that when you give your word, your word is your bond.

Sanvee was referencing the so-called Ganta Declaration, which was signed in September 2016 amongst top opposition political parties in their bait to succeed the ruling Unity Party.

“We signed the Ganta Declaration; we committed to bringing each other along – we campaigned fearlessly… we endorsed your (Weah) candidacy because the Liberian people have spoken and because they have spoken, we who are leaders in different segments should listen,” he said.

But as predictable as Sanvee and colleagues switch appears, the party’s standard-bearer Charles Brumskine, who is fresh off the heels of a failed legal tussle with the National Elections Commission, is now bemused and must also fathom the ramifications of their actions on his political future and the party’s.

 “Liberty Party is about values; Liberty Party is about those things we believe in,” Brumskine told a crowd far less than two hundred people on Friday, December 15 at the party headquarters in Congo Town, Monrovia.

It was a tough message to pitch to a handful of supporters and a headache for political observers to decipher. Be as it may, the outcome is acrimonious for the party and has also ridicule the astute lawyer’s control of the party he formed almost one-and-half decade ago. 

The legacy of LP litigation against NEC, which was labeled by a portion of the Liberians as ‘heroic and precedential’, is dwindling especially as its top members settle down at their new political home in the CDC.

This also significantly weakens the rational of the party’s rejecting the October 10 Presidential poll’s results, and some observers are arguing that Cllr. Brumskine’s political formidability is at stake.

Like its political leader, LP is struggling to separate itself from the switch. The party’s reluctantly agrees that it respects the decision of its breakaway members.

 “As a democratic institution, Liberty Party respects the individual rights of our Partisans including Messrs. Harrison S. Karnwea, Musa Hassan Bility, and Ben Sanvee, who have already personally and individually endorsed one of the two Candidates in the Runoff,” says a statement released on Saturday in Monrovia.

Earlier on Thursday, December 14, the LP standard-bearer tried to re-garner the political motivation that once-upon-a-time attracted thousands of partisans at the headquarters in Congo Town, Monrovia.

He declared that the Liberty Party has not endorsed any political party in the run-off election and that he cannot be happy if the “partisans on the ground are not happy.”

“The thing that Harrison, Musa and Ben did – y’all leave it. If y’all believe in me, if y’all love me – y’all leave it,” he said in simple and plain Liberian accent.

“I wrote all of them a lil’ (little) note – I told them, the thing you want to do was not endorsement business your want – you want to degrade me … Musa, Karwea and Sanvee will have to issue a statement to let people know that it is not Liberty Party.”

His disappointment in “Harrison, Musa and Ben” is now even more vivid leaving the handful of supporters excited that the party is bigger than the trio.

However, disavowing the move by the top three confidents in declaring support for the CDC would make little significance in Liberia’s body politics with less than 10 days to the poll.

On Saturday, popular LP stalwarts Abraham Darius Dillon, who signed a press release as acting chairman of the party, stated that “broad based consultations are nearing conclusion” to determine which of the two candidates the party would endorse in the run off.

“We are aware that arriving at such a decision is difficult, if not impossible, to have a unanimous consent.”

“A consensus or majority decision is being reached so as to reflect the image and integrity of Liberty Party. Said decision will be officially announced, following discussions between our Party and the Party to be announced,” the statement stated.

The statement was “unequivocally” that the national executive committee of Liberty Party has not endorsed neither of the two Political Parties or candidates.

 “Any and all endorsements of Candidates thus far do not represent or reflect, and should not be construed as an institutional endorsement for, and/or on behalf of, Liberty Party,” it said.

But his statement seem to have been rejected by Chairman Sanvee who in separate statement issued over the weekend, urged the public not to honor any statement which does not come under his signature.

He noted, “LP informs the public that no other party official has been authorized to issue any statement on behalf of the Party. Any statement made by unauthorized individuals should be disregarded by the public as it does not represent any official position of the party.”

In acknowledgement of Sanvee’s statement, Dillon issued another statement on Sunday saying, “Ben Sanvee is and remains National Chairman of LP until otherwise replaced appropriately in keeping with laid down procedures in our By-Laws.”

“I personally apologize for error of the Secretariat representing me as Acting Chairman. I am Vice Chairman for Political Affairs.”

The three defectors have clearly made their independent decisions and they claimed, are not binding on the party.

Howbeit, it can arguably be said that they form part of the most influential figures that have the political prowess within the party to shift an exodus of supporters elsewhere.

The turnout of supporters on Friday at the headquarters when Brumskine tried to distance himself from his once trusted allies’ decisions epitomizes his diminishing control on the Liberty Party.

Now, he wants a disclaimer from the trio, but whether they announce it or not, the crack in the party is clearly visible and irreversible and has only deepened the fragility of his own political future; at the same time handed a better chance to CDC.