Liberia: Charlyne Brumskine Scrambles to Save Father‘s Liberty Party

For Charlyne, the fight is about restoring the party’s image to its glorious day and protecting her father's legacy. As such, she chooses not “to fall on no side'' but instead “to STAND on the side of the Liberty Party.”

 

Charlyne Brumskine has begun a fight to salvage the image of the opposition Liberty Party, after trying unsuccessfully behind the scenes to resolve the conflicts between the party’s chairman and political leader.

“I want you all to know that although the public saw me as being silent, I have continuously been engaging the leadership and stakeholders of Liberty Party behind the scenes,” said Atty. Brumskine during a press conference yesterday. “I have remained publicly silent because I wanted to respect the role of our leaders in the Party. My hope was that the leadership would resolve the issues of the Party and never allow it to get to this point. But now my public silence no longer benefits the partisans of Liberty Party.”

Charlyne, whose late father, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine founded the Liberty Party, is making a difficult proposal – something the party’s National Advisory Council (NAC) has tried and failed.

And with tensions at an all-time high in the Liberty Party and the possibility of reconciliation broken, it is yet to be seen how Atty. Brumskine, proposing a committee of elders, will go about finding a safe option to resolve the internal political quagmire that came out of the claims of tampering, to find a safe landing.

But while politics is full of surprises, the internal crises in the Liberty Party are deeply rooted among shared interests about the ‘ousted’ party chairman Musa Bility and the ‘suspended’ political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, in terms of who to support among the opposition community for president.

“Now, in order to truly reconcile, rebuild, reform and recover the Liberty Party, I ask that we constitute a council of elders composed of no more than 7 persons, to engage the leadership of Liberty Party to find a means of making all views compatible and to help us find a way forward! This council will meditate,” she added.

“To the office of the Political Leader, to the Executive Committee and Chairman, I say now is the time. Tomorrow is not promised,” she noted. “I challenge you to step up, put your differences aside, and agree to the reconciliation council for the betterment of the Party and the Nation. I ask you to find it in your heart to come in the middle and lead from there!”

Under Atty. Brumskine’s proposal, the council will work behind closed doors as a means of reconciling the already ruined Liberty Party via findings and recommendations, which might not be binding.

“I offer to sit on the council.  I strongly believe that all we need to do is take the first step, God and our moral obligation to this country will lead us to the rightful end,” the Liberty Party founder’s daughter said. 

But for her plan to work, it firstly needs the approval of Bility and his faction, who suspended the political leader, Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, for alleged unpaid dues and threatened to expel her if she fails to make the payment of US$18,000 in 90 days. 

And then, Senator Karnga-Lawrence will have to also reverse her decision to nullify Bility’s chairmanship and return it to status quo ante under the chairmanship of Senator Stephen Zargo.

Both tasks, which appear highly unlikely, are highly popular among Bility’s and the Senator’s factions. But as things stand, no one is willing to lose a single grip on the base, as well as the ensuing war, which ranges from allegations of anti-democratic behaviors to fraud.

It is worth noting that Bility and Senator Karnga-Lawrence and their respective campaigns have shot down previous attempts to reconcile the party by individually dividing the party’s National Advisory Council (NAC), whose existence was originally intended to settle disputes and find solutions to internal conflict. 

The Council, at present, is split between the two leaders with its secretary-general leading a campaign towards the Senator, while the party’s former Vice Standard Bearer from the 2017 election, Harrison Kanwea, is leaning towards Bility and is being reportedly tipped to head the party chair Liberty Party as a political leader.

However, Atty. Brumskine has promised people of Grand Bassa County, the home county of her father, that she will not let them down but fight to restore his political legacy — the Liberty Party once known for it its organizational tranquility, and succinct criticism against bad governance, corruption, and poverty, while providing alternative recommendations.

“I remain true to the principles and legacy of Cllr. Brumskine. This Party will not die, we will hold the Party up, and we will keep the Party alive. The Brumskine dream will come to pass!  The Liberty Party will surely produce a unified leadership that will plow forward towards a better Liberia. We see you! We hear your cries, we feel your pain. [We] remember what is at stake, your blood, sweat, and tears are at stake,” Charlyne Brumskine noted.

With such a vow, Atty. Brumskine has a heavy task at hand. The Liberty Party, which once appeared as a kind of tie-breaker for opposition candidates seeking the Presidency, especially from the Collaborating Political Parties, halfway learning towards Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party, via its political leader, Alexander B. Cummings, of the Alternative National Congress through chairman Bility.

And with Bility moving the LP toward favoring Cummings, who Senator Karnga-Lawrence had viciously accused of tampering with the CPP’s framework documents, the thought of aligning her party with Cummings could be nothing shy of embarrassing. And she would not give in without a tug-of-war with Bility, which is happening now.

But for Charlyne, the fight is about restoring the party’s image to its glorious day and protecting her father's legacy. As such, she chooses not “to fall on no side'' but instead “to STAND on the side of the Liberty Party.”

“I stand on the right side. I chose to stand with the principles and values that the Liberty Party was built on.  I chose to stand with the masses who are despairingly watching what is being played out in the public arena,” Atty. Brumskine added. “We are better than this. We are the Liberty Party! We are an institution with some of the most patriotic, compassionate, and brilliant young people. We are an institution with four current senators, from three of the largest counties. And for the past few years, the only Party to proudly produce a female senator! We are a Liberty Party!”

Evoking her father's memories, Charlyne reminded the disputed parties that it is time that they come together under the rule of law and reconcile while accepting the fact that “this will not be easy.”

“I know that there is tremendous hurt and anger on both sides.  This is understandable. This speaks to the strength and the passion of our Party. But now, it is time to turn the grenades and rockets, the machine guns and knives away from each other in the party and launch them at poverty, corruption, lack of patriotism, and all other societal ills.

 “This is the time for reconciliation! This is time to put Liberia and the Liberty Party first.  There were times when my father faced tremendous opposition, even from within his own party,” she said. “There were some who betrayed him, who left him, who lied to him but in the end, he always put those hard feelings aside. In the end, he always chose reconciliation. That was what the Liberty Party was about—the greater good, not about personal interest!”

Meanwhile, the widening rift is a spillover of Senators Karnga-Lawrence and Dillon on the one hand,,= as well as Daniel Sando, an assistant to the party’s political leader, open accusation that the party’s chairman Bility and secretary-general made dubious changes to the party’s constitution.

Then chairman Bility and secretary-general Martin Kollah denied the allegations but took revenge by suspending Sen. Dillon and Sando for “making several unauthorized public utterances, derogatory statements against the chairman and executives.”

In the end, the Liberty Party has been entangled in one problem after another which, at any given time, can be kick-started by the two leaders or their supporters – thus underscoring the growing challenge they faced in exerting control over the party and unifying it.