Liberia: Ex-President Sirleaf, VP Boakai on Reconciliation Path; Unity Party Hails ‘Direct Face-to-Face Meeting
Monrovia – Just days after urging partisans of the former ruling Unity Party and the Collaboration of Political Parties to bite the bullet and bury the hatchet amidst growing discontentment amongst feuding parties’ rivals, former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Vice President Joseph Boakai appear to be on the verge of setting the pace with a direct face to face meeting, seen as a major path toward opposition unity.
“Today’s meeting sets the pace for genuine reconciliation in the Unity Party. Against this backdrop, the leadership of the UP is encouraging all of its members to begin to work collectively and genuinely to further strengthen the party.”— National Executive Committee, Former Ruling Unity Party
Both Sirleaf and Boakai sat down for a tete-a-tete at her home, along with Senator Conmany Wesseh Friday, under the former President’s palava hut.
Shortly afterwards, the National Executive Committee; the National Chairman, Wilmot J. M. Paye; stalwarts and members of the Unity Party issued a statement welcoming the direct face to face meeting between their former standard bearer and vice.
“Today’s meeting sets the pace for genuine reconciliation in the Unity Party,” the statement said. Against this backdrop, the leadership of the UP said it is encouraging all of its members to begin to work collectively and genuinely to further strengthen the party.
“This meeting which follows the Standard Bearer’s statement after his returned from attending the UP USA/Canada’s Convention which was held in the USA signifies the party’s quest for genuine reconciliation not only in the UP but nationally. We all look forward to working with everyone in the interest of a stronger UP.”
Former VP Boakai said recently: “The time has come when we must bite the bullet, bury the hatchet, and reach out to those whom we feel have hurt us. We must do so not because we are weak, nor because they are indispensable to our progress, but because we must, as people of faith in God and in nation be willing to give each other a second chance for redemption.”
Relationship between Sirleaf and Boakai were strained in the months leading to the 2017 presidential amid her alleged support to the George Weah Presidential run.
Shortly after the 2017 elections, her party did not hold back, expelling Sirleaf for not backing her vice-president.
Sirleaf who turned 80 on October 29, handed power over the Weah on January 22, 2018, after serving two six-year terms. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner made history in 2005 when she became Africa’s first elected female leader.
“The National Executive Committee (NEC) which took the decision to expel Sirleaf explained: “The vote was taken as a result of several violations of the party’s constitution and other acts inimical to the existence and reputation of the party,” it added, noting that the party’s constitution clearly provides for “support (of) the Unity Party’s candidate through campaigning for the election.”
Weah, a senator who made his name as a soccer star primarily with AC Milan and won a FIFA World Player of the Year title, saw off Boakai, winning 61.5 percent of the vote, with Sirleaf not offering public backing to either candidate.
Boakai had been seen as Sirleaf’s natural successor having stood on her ticket through two successful campaigns. In the campaign just ended, however, she did not appear on a platform with him.
With both Sirleaf and Boakai now seemingly putting a united front, many political observers are keen to see whether the party’s base will embrace the act of reconciliation by their two former leaders.