Liberia: Three Running For Secretary-General Of Former Ruling Unity Party

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For twelve years, the Unity Party enjoyed power and authority over the political space. Now part of the opposition Coalition of Political Parties, the UP is working toward maintaining its relevance, in a nation short on patience and second chances.

Monrovia – Much of Liberia’s early history was dominated by a one-party rule. For years, the True Whig Party muscled its way into implanting itself on Liberia and Liberians. The democratic trail of Africa’s oldest republic has been haunted by one record: No former ruling party has returned to power after losing or being forced out of office.

The True Whig Party died when Samuel Doe and his band of misfits ended decades of Americo-Liberian rule. Doe’s National Democratic Party of Liberia, a powerhouse in the 1980s,  is slowly gravitating toward the territory of has been while Charles Taylor’s NPP continues to hold on to what’s left of its relevance even though it is now part of a ruling coalition.

For twelve years, the Unity Party enjoyed power and authority over the political space. Now part of the opposition Coalition of Political Parties, the UP is working toward maintaining its relevance, in a nation short on patience and second chances.

Ahead of the party’s national convention in September, we continue our profile of some of the key races to watch, this week, with a look at the candidates contesting the Secretary General position.

According to the party’s constitution, the National Secretary is tasked with the responsibility of organizing the day-to-day operation and management of the party’s headquarters; and performing all such services and exercise all such powers and authority as are normally and traditionally exercised by the secretariat.

‘whoever gets the nod will perform in the role for the next six years, assisted by a National Deputy Secretary General.

Who’s in the Race?

HELENA M. DOE-KNUCKLES

Helena, 49 is the only woman contesting any of the party’s position in the upcoming elections.

Helena grew up in the Fiamah, Sinkor area of Monrovia in what she describes as a humble beginning and one of eleven children.

A firm believer in education, Helena says her school days offered her lots of lessons in life.

She started her primary education at the Teacher Pepper School, in Wazea, in 1980, at the age of nine years old but the late start helped mold her into the woman she is today, she says. “I started school late because I came down with pneumonia from the rain and was admitted to the JFK hospital for about six months to a year. I later enrolled at the Oral M. Horton Elementary school in the first grade. After years of studies and promotion; I had to work with my mother [Mother Amanda Collins-Doe] at the American Cooperative School, (ACS) cafeteria, on the Old Road, Sinkor, to afford me transportation to go to school.  I later enrolled at the Newport Junior High School in the seventh grade, and left after one year of studies, after promotion to the eighth grade. I enrolled at the A. M. E. Zion High School, where I was given a scholarship by Rev. Frederick Umoja. After years of studies and the disruption of the civil war in 1990, I enrolled at Wells Hairston High school, where I graduated, and obtained my high school diploma. I atteded the A. M. E Zion University College, in 1993 and graduated in 2001, finishing up with a bachelor in Business Administration/Management (BSc). After few years of work; and in pursuit to further my education, I enrolled at the Cuttington University Graduate School (CUGS), in 2006, and later graduated with a Master in Business Administration in 2011.”

Helena is married to Mr. Alexander C. Knuckles, from Careysburg. We are a family of three. My husband and I have been happily married for about 17th years now.   I am also a former employee of LPRC were I served in various high, and middle-level positions from 1994-2015; and the last were, the Assistant Manager for policy & Procedures, in the Compliance Department. I also served as Actg. Secretary-General of the Unity Party for four months, under the supervision of Chairman Wilmot J. M. Paye. I also served as Deputy Chairperson for Montserrado County, Unity Party from 2011-2016. I currently served as the Assistant Secretary-General for Administration & Coordination, 2016 to present. I am a believer in the Lord, Jesus Christ, and the current President of the Seys United Methodist Church Women Ministry, Careysburg, Montserrado County.  My life so far; comprised of a wonderful family, great friends, and a sincere dedication to my family, education, work, and church.” 

She says, working hard to pursue my goals and keeping a positive attitude are the qualities that has helped her when she is required to maintain a level-head in times of success and failure.

“These are the tools that help me overcome the toughest phases in my life. Now that I am in a position and is working even harder, I would like to take up a new assignment and explore different areas of the institution. I want to work and excel in what I do in the Unity Party.”

STRENGTH: she has the ability in organizing programs and has administrative skills. She once served as Chair of the Women Congress of Montserrado UP Chapter. She has served as Assistant SG for Administration since 2016.

WEAKNESSES: she not very political alert and doesn’t have the weight to take political arguments. Others think that she is very quick to anger.

MOHAMMED  ALI

Known to many as Mo Ali, the rising political force hails from Kpeneje, Grand Cape Mount County and did his elementary education at the Kongo Public School in Mano River, Cape Mount. At the onset of the civil conflict, Mo, along with his mother, foster father and other family members sought refuge in Sierra Leone. He stayed in Sierra Leone for five years where he did his junior high school education at the Peninsula Secondary in Waterloo.

In February 1995 he returned to Liberia and completed his high school education at the Seventh Day Adventist High School on Camp Johnson Road in 1998. In June 1999 he enrolled at the University of Liberia where he studied Biology and Chemistry and graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2006. In 2013 Mo Ali enrolled at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom where he obtained a graduate (master) degree in Water, Sanitation and Health Engineering.

Mo has more than 15 years of work experience in both the private and public sector. He has worked with several INGOs including Creative Associates International, Inc., ActionAid Liberia International, and WaterAid Liberia/Sierra Leone serving in various capacities. In the public sector, Mo has served as County Development Officer for Grand Cape Mount County with the former Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and as Director for the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Unit at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and he is widely traveled.

Upon his enrollment at the University of Liberia, Mo joined the Vanguard Student Unification Party and quickly became a very active student activist. Mo was elected overwhelmingly at Secretary-General of the Freshman Class in 1999/2000. At the UL, Mo became a stalwart of SUP and became a cardinal part of the strategic teams that saw the elections of two successive ULSU presidents.

Mo joined the Unity Party in 1997 during the election that ushered in Charles G. Taylor as President of Liberia. At the onset of the 2005 elections, Mo Ali (Organizing Secretary) along with Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan (Organizing Chairman), Stephen Johnson, Stephen Marvie and others organized the Youths for Ellen’s Presidency (YEP), a movement that became the largest auxiliary of Ellen’s 2005 presidential campaign. In 2011, Mo Ali became a key member of the Strategic Media Team for Ellen’s second term presidential bid. He remained active with the UP and in October 2016, Mo Ali was appointed as Assistant Secretary-General (Spokesman) of the party, a role he still plays. 

During the 2017 presidential and general elections, Mo was appointed as the Official Spokesman of the Joseph Boakai Campaign Team and he played a very vital and strategic role in that campaign. After the election in which the UP lost to the CDC in the second round, Mo, along with few others kept the touch of the UP burning as an opposition political party by fiercely critiquing the government’s policies and development agenda. He is one of the outspoken and fiercest critics of the Weah-led government.
In 2018, Mo, along with others including Moriah Yeakula, Boakai Jaleiba, Abraham Darius Dillon, Kou Fahnbulleh, George Wisner, Stephen Johnson, the Fadiga brothers, etc. established the Opposition Working Group which eventually proffered the idea of creating a formidable opposition bloc to the CDC-led government. Ali eventually became one of the progenitors of the now Collaborating Political Parties of the ALP, ANC, LP and UP, and played a major role in the formation of the CPP. He served on Technical Committee that drafted and validated the CPP’s Framework Document that was signed about a month ago.

Mo is a founding member of the Council of Patriots (COP) which organized both the June 7, 2019, and January 6, 2020, mass protest against corruption, bad governance, and other vices in Liberia. He currently serves as the Secretary-General and an influential member of the COP. Currently, the COP is the largest pressure group in Liberia.

STRENGTH: Has served as Assistant SG for Press, Publicity, and Outreach since 2016 and has been a member of the UP since 1997. He has been the face of the party since the election. He articulates issues well and writes well. From his work experience, he has administrative skills and his 4 years in the secretariat of the UP has given him much understanding of the operations of the UP.

WEAKNESS: some people see him as being a part of the Wilmot camp. Others think that he was part of the major decisions taken in the party.

AMOS TWEH

Tweh describes himself as an independent thinker, researcher, patriot, and a midcareer citizen with more than 15-year experience in the public and private sectors. He has served the government of Liberia as Assistant and Deputy Minister for Urban Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs. Worked as a policy analyst at the Governance Commission, in the Civic Education and Identity Mandate area. Comrade Tweh has also worked with LPRC in two managerial portfolios: Manager for projects, planning, and policy; Manager for compliance and policy. Earlier, Mr. Tweh served as co-founder and Program Director for the Youth Education Foundation Initiative (YEFI). Previously, he worked as a Research officer at the Liberian Senate, in the office of former Senator John A. Ballout. 

Tweh is a Unity Party faithful, a community mobilizer, project management, development policy, and governance practitioner. He has served the Unity Party in many capacities to wit: Youth coordinator for Constituency #10 covering via Town up to Tweh Farm in 2004. In 2009, he was appointed Secretary for the Youth Secretariat, a position he occupied with dedication and passion. In 2010, Tweh was overwhelmingly elected National Youth Chairman to complete the unexpired term of Francis Dopoh who traveled for studies a few months after his election. As a youth leader, Comrade Tweh guided the Party’s youth congress in the 2011 general and presidential elections that saw the re-election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the second successive time. 

Under Tweh’s watch as a youth leader, a three-year program – roadmap to youth development in Unity Party – was designed with a focus on youth in Agri and cooperatives. Tweh also steered the design of a youth Congress Constitution and organized many high-level policy retreats. 

Tweh has dedicated his entire life to the service of the Unity Party. He was dismissed in 2014 from the government because he had backed the Unity Party’s decision not to support any candidate in the Montserrado Senatorial election. Tweh was removed from his Job at the LPRC by the CDC government for encouraging Unity Party Partisans to participate in Party meetings for the purpose of democratically removing the CDC government. 

In 2016, he was a consensus candidate for the National Secretary General position but was asked by JNB and other party leaders to resign his ambition to accommodate Eugene Nagbe who was favored by the former Standard-bearer, EJS. In District 15, is one of the favorite aspirants for Representative, Amos Tweh was again asked by the Unity Party to step aside for ALP candidate, Telia Urey in order to facilitate broader corporation and trust within the CPP.

Tweh’s desire is to see a viable Unity party led by patriots with strong determination to ensure socioeconomic and political protection for all citizens of Liberia. This is why he has not wavered to make decisions that best serve the collective interest of the people and institution to the peril of his family and personal happiness. 

Tweh was born unto Sampson B. Tweh and Helena Brown. He schooled and raised in Montserrado. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the African Methodist Episcopal University and a Master of Science in Planning and Project Management from Birmingham City University, UK. He also attained a post-graduate certificate in Financial Management from Duke University, USA, and a Certificate in Renewable Rural Energy from Nanchang College of Foreign Studies, People’s Republic of China.STRENGTHS:  has served the party as Youth Chair before and was also Deputy Campaign Spokesman for the 2017 Elections. He writes well and particular political issues well. 

WEAKNESS: he campaigned for the SG position in 2016 and compromised at the very last minute to Eugene Nagbe. Many of the voters see that as a betrayal and could play against him.

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