Liberia: Former Liberty Party Lawmaker Calls for Reconciliation in the party; Says LP is Not Property of the Bassa People

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MONROVIA – A National Executive Committee (NEC) member of the opposition Liberty Party (LP), Mr. Jeh Byron Brown, has dispelled insinuations that the LP is a political institution which belongs to the “Bassa People” and an intestate estate to the Brumskine’s family.

The LP is one of the political parties that make up the CPP. Other parties that are part of the CPP are: the former ruling Unity Party (UP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP).

Most often, executives, partisans and supporters of the LP and other political parties referred to the party as one that is heavily supported by citizens hailing from Grand Bassa or are from the Bassa tribe.

As evidenced by this, no other political party has won the LP for the presidential elections in Grand Bassa since 2005.

Bulk of the Senatorial and Representative candidates who contested on the party’s ticket in past general and by-elections have been victorious.

But speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa in Congo Town, outside Monrovia recently, Mr. Brown pointed out that in keeping with the 1986 Liberian constitution, the LP does not belong to a specific tribal group in Liberia.

He noted that though the LP was birthed in Grand Bassa, there were four other counties that were present during the formation of the party.

He disclosed that Grand Bassa and the remaining counties made it about five counties that originally established the LP, following an interest to contest the presidency expressed by fallen LP’s Political Leader, Cllr. Brumskine.

“The Constitution of the Republic of Liberia clearly states the establishment of a political party should come from five counties. Those five counties are the original owners of the Liberty Party. However, there is no doubt that Grand Bassa County gave birth to the LP”.

Liberty Party was founded on May 29, 2005 by Cllr. Brumskine along with the Late Jerome Walker, Romeo Bartea, the Late Able Volker of Grand Bassa County, Abdullai Kamara of Grand Cape Mount, Lamin Kpargoi of Grand Cape Mount County, Milton Quaye of Marlyand County, among others.

Prior to the formation of the Party, Cllr. Brumskine’s vision was supported by others including Deputy Speaker Fonati J. Koffa, Mr. Debar Allen, and Mr. Jah Fahnbulleh. 

Not intestate estate

Mr. Brown pointed out that the LP is not an intestate estate of any family of group of people as being perceived in the public by some individuals.

According to him, the Brumskine’s family remains members of the party as compare to members from other families across the country.

Discrediting Bility?

Following the purchasing of brand new pickups for the LP, Mr. Bility, former President of the Liberia Football Association (LFA) was elected to steer the affairs of the opposition Liberty Party at its just ended controversial convention, held in Gbarnga, Bong County on January 23, .

He and other executives of the party were elected unopposed.

Bility, who is the owner of Truth FM 96.1, Real TV and Srimex, replaces Lofa County Senator Steve Zargo who resigned from the LP barely few days to the conduct of the party’s convention.

The Liberty Party, which was once considered as a “party of integrity” in Liberia, received barrage of criticism and condemnations minutes after the election of Bility as the new Chair of the party.

Critics made specific reference to the ban placed on Bility at the time he served as executive committee member of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), and accusation linking him to the squandering of funds intended for the resettlement of scores of citizens in Nimba County following the conclusion of a land dispute in 2013, among others .

Bility was banned by football governing body Fifa for 10 years and fined him $500,000 for breaching its code of ethics.

He was found “guilty of having misappropriated Fifa funds, as well as having received benefits and found himself in situations of conflict of interest”. Fifa said it has been investigating the 52-year-old since May 2018 following a forensic audit of the LFA.

The misappropriation of Fifa funds at the time was in relation to those granted under the global body’s “11 against Ebola” campaign and as part of its Financial Assistance Programme. Liberia was one of three west African countries affected by an outbreak of Ebola between 2013 and 2016, when more than 10,000 people lost their lives.

“Saul to Paul” Comments

But in respond to those criticizing delegates at the LP convention for electing Bility, Senator Dillon in a post on his official facebook page Monday; backed the newly elected LP Chairman, by stating a biblical reference with a hope that Bility is now a changed person.

 “Jehovah God used some of the worst sinners on earth to do his work on for His glory. Some of those sinners probably had no intention of changing for the better; God used them still. And they changed for the better! Yes, they changed for the better and never went back to their sinful ways”.

He continued: “We can change too and also be the reason others can change for the better! So, encourage people to change than beat them up at their attempt or opportunity to change! Let us always encourage, embrace and allow our “Sauls” to change to “Paul” for the good of our country and to the glory of God!”

Senator Dillon has since backpedaled over his defense for Mr. Bility.

Mr. Brown disclosed that “partisans from the counties and in the diaspora were not the ones who elected Chairman Bility”, adding that, “it was the delegates that were qualified and attended the convention”.

“I was not part of the convention that elected Chairman Bility and I was not a delegate”.

Recognizing Nyonblee

The LP crisis deepened following the holding of the latest convention held in Ganta by embattled Chairman Bility and his loyalists.

At the convention, the LP endorsed Mr. Alexander Cummings to head the CPP’s ticket come 2023 and elected Mr. Harrision Karnwea as its new political leader.

But former lawmaker Brown disclosed that despite the decision which was taken by Mr. Bility and the others at the convention, which he didn’t attend, he (Brown) recognizes Senator Lawrence as the Political Leader of the LP.

“I believe that whether she (Nyonblee) is suspended or not, that does not mean that she is not the Political Leader of the party”.

On Cummings’ Endorsement

Mr. Brown was among several executives of the LP who boycotting the “kangaroo” convention that was convened by embattled Chairman Bility.

Mr. Brown stated that though he did not attend the recent convention which was held under the gavel of Mr. Bility, he and other executives of the party will be constrained to abide by the decisions that were reached at the convention when it is established that it was held in keeping with respect for the rule of law.

According to him, the LP is a political institution that believes in the rule of law.

“I am a member of the executive committee; I was not in Ganta to be a part of that decision (of endorsing Cummings). But if the Ganta decision met a quorum and it operated under the rule of law-then of course we are under obligation to honor it. Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence is the political leader of the LP and she has no side. Our party believes in the rule of law”.

LP not divided

Mr. Brown noted that the internal wrangling and impasse within the party is not unique to the LP.

He expressed the hope that the situation will be resolved in a timely manner.

He welcomed the recent statements made by a member of the Advisory Council of the LP, Attorney Charlyne Brumskine.

Atty. Brumskine is the daughter of the fallen Political Leader and Vision Bearer of the LP.

She described Mr. Brown, Mr. Jacob Smith, Ms. Mariah Fyneah, Mr. Nathaniel Toe as the “backbone” of her late father.

Mr. Brown, however, expressed the hope that all executives and partisans of the party will work together for the forward match of Liberia and its citizens after the internal wrangling has been resolved.

He emphasized that despite the situation, the LP has not been divided as being insinuated in the public.

He claimed that the LP will remain in the CPP collaboration and any other decision would be taken in the best interest of the Liberian people.

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