Mr. Richard Tolbert, the nephew of slain President William R. Tolbert wants to see a reformed True Whig Party (TWP) that will attract every Liberian who was never part of the party’s agenda during its over one hundred years’ rule until the ascendency of the last two standard bearers.
President Tolbert , who was the last standard bearer of erstwhile grand old TWP, and inarguably its brightest leader, thought to radicalize the party upon his ascendency by bringing about reforms into the governing system, but had not realized his dreams when he was killed in the April 12, 1980 coup d’état.
His reform initiatives were prompted by years of oppression of a majority of the population and lack of inclusiveness on the part of the ruling hegemony. Many said that he had the mind of a refined visionary, but was a victim of circumstances that had degenerated prior to his ascendency.
The speaker at yesterday’s intercessory service held at the historic Zion Praise Baptist Church in Bentol City, the home of the Tolberts, in observance of the 35th National Convention of the TWP, Mr.
Tolbert stressed the need to reform the TWP, adding that a reform could begin even with the name of the party.
“This is my personal thought. I’m not on the executive committee. Certainly one can sit on the old mat to plait a new one.”
The TWP is expected to elect its new corps of officers today in Bentol, the birthplace of President Tolbert, to steer the affairs of the party for the next four years. Delegates from the 15 counties are already converging in the city.
Mr. Tolbert said the party should incorporate the aspiration of all Liberians, and not build on sectionalism, ethnicity or tribalism, “vices that invoked the level of insecurity that the country experienced over the years.”
The long rule of the TWP came to an abrupt end on April 12, 1980, with the brutal assassination of President Tolbert by 17 enlisted men of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) who formed the People’s Redemption Council (PRC) that was led by Master/Sergeant Samuel K. Doe. Thirteen senior officials of the government and party were also executed on orders of the PRC.
The TWP was founded in 1869 and subsequently took state power, but its first standard bearer, Edwin James Roye, was reportedly assassinated by then members of the Republican Party.
Dr. Tolbert noted that in spite of the unfortunate 1980 coup that took away the lives of his father and uncles as well as many other people, the party did a lot of good. He said “The party was not perfect; let me make this very clear. They made their mistakes, a lot of mistakes, most of all by not incorporating all of the citizens into the body politic as well as social and economic participation of all Liberians. We should have done more to unite all Liberians under the banner of the TWP.”
He indicated that it was actually the mission of the last standard bearer, William R. Tolbert to bring about radical reforms and to build the country. “It was his goal and aim to reform the TWP and radicalize it to impact all Liberians.”
During the Party’s last convention that was held in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, President Tolbert intended to bring young Liberians on board. He wanted to make an indigenous man, Jackson F. Doe, his vice standard bearer. “The party was actually going in the right direction, but it was halted by the abrupt coup.”
Mr. Tolbert indicated that his uncle’s dreams can still be fulfilled, but this depended on the composition of the corps of officers that will be elected during today’s national convention.
“For me it is a duty, a matter of pride and honor to be associated with the party again. I’m not a member of any party yet, but I’m proud to be associated with this party. It is a party that has great history,” said Mr. Tolbert.