Liberia: Another Spar over Signing of ‘Corrected’ Liberty Party Constitution; Chairman Says Embattled Political Leader Acted Unilaterally
MONROVIA – The embattled political leader of the Liberty Party along with some of her followers on Monday gathered at the Boulevard Palace in Monrovia to sign the corrected version of the party’s constitution for onward submission to the National Elections Commission. This was, however, done in the absence of the party chairman, Secretary-General, and other Executive Committee members.
Report by Obidiah Johnson and Henry Karmo
The chairman, the secretary-general, and the executive committee members’ absence from the signing, FrontPageAfrica gathered was due to the “unilateral manner” in which the embattled political leader, Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence makes decisions relating to the party.
FrontPageAfrica has obtained a copy of communication dated July 6, 2022, written by Sen. Karnga-Lawrence to the party chairman inviting him and all Executive Committee members of the National Advisory Council, to the signing ceremony of the now-corrected LP 2021 constitution.
As a follow-up to her communication, Sen. Karnga-Lawrence sent the chairman a text message stating:
“Good afternoon Musa, in the spirit of reconciliation and redeeming our party from all these unnecessary fights and noise, let me appeal to you and the other EC members to be at the boulevard hotel tomorrow to conclude on this matter,” noting that, “if you don’t mind both of us can have a one on one an hour before the actual meeting”.
In his response via the same medium, Mr. Bility accused Senator Lawrence of wrongly proceeding to resolve the matter.
“Nyonblee, I am once again constrained to remind you that the manner in which you are proceeding is wrong and I urge you to reconsider your stance if your objective is indeed “reconciliation and redeeming our party from all these unnecessary fight and noise”. Let me remind you that the unnecessary fight and noise stemmed from your decision to bring a Party matter, which could have been resolved internally, to the NEC for resolution”.
Mr. Bility claimed that he has tried to apply logic to why Senator Lawrence believed was necessary to make the decision that led to the fight and noise within the LP, but “I am at a loss for a justifiable answer”.
He pointed out that at this point, his only desire and responsibility, as Chairman, is to ensure that the party moves forward and the mistakes of the past are not repeated.
Signing ceremony was unilaterally planned
Mr. Bility acknowledged receipt of the invitation to attend the LP signing ceremony at the Boulevard Palace in Monrovia, but claimed that the event was organized by Senator Lawrence “without any input from and in disregard to the consensus decision of the very EC, which is the highest decision-making body of the Party, speaks volumes”.
“It would seem that you are decided on continuing to make unilateral decisions on behalf of the Party, which is the exact source of contention that brought about the crisis we face today. For the record, even though I thought it was absurd to begin with, I forwarded your initial citation to the EC to attend this event because, even as Chairman, I do not have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the EC”.
Mr. Bility pointed out that he forwarded the citation for the signing of the constitution to the National Executive Committee of the party.
According to him, the EC has overwhelmingly rejected the citation.
“You have chosen not to address the concerns put to you but, rather, to again ask that the EC be present at the event. This in and of itself shows your utter lack of respect for the very EC that you are asking to attend and your belief that we should continue to run our Party as an imperial body where you are the one who makes all of the decisions regardless of the opinions of other leaders”.
Mr. Bility emphasized that despite the move made by Senator Lawrence as a “Public Relations show” and as such, he and other executives of the LP had “no interest in participating in that”.
“We have had enough public displays. For the record, the EC will not be in attendance at the event for the reasons we have already stated in the communication to you”.
Nyonblee remains expelled
Mr. Bility maintained that Senator Lawrence remains expelled as Political Leader of the LP and as such, she should focus on dealing with the issues which prompted her expulsion.
“Secondly, if you are genuine in your stated desire for reconciliation, we welcome it. However, I urge you to rethink the path that you are taking towards achieving this. Let me give you a word of advice – the surest way to ensure that you don’t achieve your objective would be your continued disregard for the EC and the Constitution of the LP. If I were you, I would cancel your scheduled event and, instead, reach out to the EC for discussions and consultations about moving forward, which includes first dealing with the fact that you have been expelled as Political Leader and how you intend to remedy what brought about this expulsion.”
He stated that leadership is not about shoving your positions down people’s throats, but about working alongside others to build respect and trust.
“Reconciliation is not a word that you throw around just for play, but it is an action term and your actions must show your intent. Nyonblee, frankly speaking, this action of yours does not show that intent and, putting aside the personal injury that your actions have caused me, as Chairman I must warn you that if you decide to proceed with your planned event tomorrow, you will be in effect putting a wider divide in an already untenable situation”.
“Lastly, reconciliation does not occur in a vacuum of acknowledgment about roles in the rift. As a leader, one must be prepared to heal the wounds BEFORE true reconciliation can occur.”
Mr. Bility emphasized that he and other EC members of the LP are not interested in “sound bites of talks of reconciliation but rather in positive actions towards reconciliation”.
Remains committed to reconciliation
He noted that despite the current situation, he remains committed to reconciling the LP.
As evidenced by that, he disclosed that he has already begun consultations with stakeholders to hear their views and opinions.
“We will continue to do so within the prescribed Party mechanisms. But be assured of this – we will never allow our Party’s Constitution or its leadership structures and mechanisms to be railroaded and never again return to a place where the fate of Liberty Party is decided by a single individual or a few persons”.
“This is again an invitation to you to do the right thing and engage the Party in a TRUE spirit of reconciliation. We have made the difficult decision to move on from what has happened and chart a way forward that considers all. I urge you to do the same”.
Despite the absence of the party and other relevant executives of the party including members of the National Advisory Committee, Senator Karnga-Lawrence led a faction of party executives to the signing ceremony as planned.
The signing of the corrected version of the LP constitution was necessitated by a Supreme Court opinion that instructed the party executives to ensure that all the agreements of the Farmington MOU are reflected in the constitution.
According to Senator Karnga-Lawrence, the constitution was corrected and the corrected copy was initialed by her and given to Mr. Martin Kollah as was instructed by Mr. Bility, pending signing a day after the parties had informed Justice Jamesetta Howard-Wolokolie of the conclusion of the process.
She maintained that the Liberty Party is executing an official signing ceremony in keeping with the NEC regulation, where the Chairman and the Secretary of the convention will sign the convention report and subsequently, the party will sign the Constitution, as stated in the second provision in the NEC Guidelines.