Liberia: Unity Party Members Decry Exorbitant Fees Being Charged to Contest Primaries ahead of 2023 Elections


MONROVIA – Some partisans of Unity Party (UP) have criticized the former ruling party over exorbitant fees for elective positions at its pending national convention scheduled to take place from July 26-29 in Gbarnga, Bong County.

Following an adoption of the revised constitution that has been endorsed by the National Executive Committee, the UP announced this week that several vacancies, including the standard bearer position, national chairman, would be up for grabs, though it didn’t announce the fees for various positions.

But some partisans who are desiring to contest for elective positions and we’re were informed about the fees of various positions say the price tags were totally against the democratic aspirations of less privileged partisans who have shown commitment to the party over the years.

The party’s current Vice Chairman for Recruitment and Mobilization, John F. Karnga, aspiring for the Deputy Secretary General for Training and Research position, has accused the party’s National Chairman Amin Modad of ‘unnecessarily charging astronomically’, and wants the standard bearer of the party Joseph Boakai intervene. 

“Standard Bearer is paying US$ 7,500.00 and for my position I am being asked to pay US$ 1,500. Besides, I’m required to pay dues as far back as 2018 even though I have been supporting the party,” he said.

“So, I will be paying US$3600 for dues plus the US$1500 before I can be allowed to contest.”

He suspects a ploy by Modad to “deny Boakai from being elected president of this country”, adding that those with deep pockets “are not loyal partisans.”

“Dedicated partisans of the UP might be denied from contesting for various positions because they can’t afford the amount being charged while someone sitting in Monrovia with all the money who has never shown commitment to the party will be elected”.

Up to press time, efforts exerted to reach Modad and the chairman of the Convention, Lofa County representative Clarence Massaquoi for their responses proved futile.

 Lawmakers recommends high fees for Aspirants

In 2014, the House of Representatives proposed and debated a bill seeking to increase the registration fees of President, Vice President, Senatorial and Representative Aspirants in forthcoming elections.

Amongst other things, the bill also sought to suspend for 12 consecutive years candidates that acquire 2% or below of the total number of valid votes cast and 30% seat allocation for women.

The Law, sponsored by former Bong County Senator and now Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, stipulated that candidates contesting elections would be required to pay the amounts in United States dollars: presidential – $25,000; vice-presidential $15000; senatorial – $5000; and representative – $3000. 

Furthermore, candidates applying for the positions of paramount, clan, and town chiefs would be required to pay $150, $100 and $50 respectively.

 In stark comparison, the current law requires the following payments from candidates: presidential – $2,500; vice-presidential- $1,500; senatorial – $750; and representative – $300. 

The proposed amendment represented an astronomical increase of 1000% in the required presidential, vice-presidential and representative fees, as well as 667% in the senatorial fee.