Former President Sirleaf faces ‘open active’ partisan politics dilemma
Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has revealed that she has decided to remain an influential player in the world and would not be actively involved in partisan politics. However, the political institution that elevated her to the presidency in 2006, the Unity Party, is robustly mobilizing for the pending 2020 Senatorial election and, apparently, they need her help.
The former President told reporters on Wednesday, July 8, after a meeting with the Unity Party (UP) political leader Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai and the UP Legislative Caucus that she prefers focusing on global peace and development of women, with men in leadership positions.
“My colleagues asked me to meet with them to say all is well; they are working together, they are unified in UP; but l was very clear, and they know it, that l am no longer involved in active partisan politics,” former President Sirleaf said, adding: “l have major global obligations, l am working for the peace, development and empowerment of women and other nations of the world.”
She continued, not mincing her words: “So all l can do is … I’m a UP partisan, so they can talk to me. Anytime they say they want me meet with them, l will meet with them, but I’m not involved in active politics anymore.”
Some analysts argued that, in spite of the former President’s claims, something which is normal when involved in intentional work, they believe she is manipulating the party behind the scene, attributing the expulsion of former chairman Wilmot Paye to her alleged manipulation of the UP.
Sirleaf, the UP’s standard bearer emeritus and former chairman Wilmot Paye became extremely bitter against each other when, just days before the end of her 12-year tenure, she was expelled by from the party by its National Executive Committee, which accused her of supporting the opposition candidate and now President George Manneh Weah.
A press statement from the UP at the time said that Mrs. Sirleaf, Africa’s first female democratically elected head of state, had been expelled because of “several violations and other acts inimical to the existence of the party.”
Among such “acts” was her failure to support her Vice President, Joseph N. Boakai, in the election.
The UP former chairman accused then President Sirleaf of using state resources to fund Mr. Weah’s campaign, promising to disclose evidence of her involvement to the public at a later date.
Analysts say that the former president’s expulsion from the party could raise questions about her legacy.
Sources close to the former president disclosed that her expulsion was orchestrated by the former chairman’s mentor, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Cllr. Varney Sherman, who was also an executive committee member and party’s financier.
However, the former president challenged her expulsion and, eventually, her membership was reinstated, something which many believed saved her legacy of promoting good governance.
“The former president is facing an open active partisan politics dilemma, but in actuality she preferred it perfectly because she is manipulating behind the scene,” a one-time ally of the former president, who has joined the ruling CDC, said.
Begging for anonymity, the one-time ally of former president Sirleaf, said: “Former President Sirleaf is a smart politician and is one of the smartest female politicians in the world. Most of her words have sinister meaning.”
Meanwhile, the former president, in a discussion with international media, said she intends to help other African women reach the top in a continent dominated by male heads of state.
“We’re creating this wave of women who are ready to take high-level leadership positions in society, and they’re going to do it unabashedly; they’re going to go for it intentionally,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
“After many years of trying to ascend to top leadership positions, I had the experience of how difficult it is for women,” said Johnson Sirleaf.
“I felt I had a commitment to dedicate after my presidency, my time, effort, and resources to promote women in leadership positions,” Johnson Sirleaf said ahead of the launch on International Women’s Day.
In its first year, the initiative will provide mentorship to 15 women leaders, with the support of two other female ex-presidents – Malawi’s Joyce Banda and Catherine Samba-Panza of Central African Republic.