‘Reformed UP’ Under Boakai?

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In what appeared to be a direct response to criticisms by former Unity Party Chairman Cllr. Varney Sherman that the party has been betrayed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her failure to implement major policies and decisions earmarked by the party at the 2011 Convention in

Nimba County, UP’s newly elected political leader, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, says with his election the party has been reborn.

Ambassador Boakai said he “is bringing hope to a dying and disintegrating UP” and told many disenchanted partisans that with his election as the Standard Bearer, he is “here to change the dynamics of things.”

“This is a new Unity Party. This is not going to be the same UP that you know,” Boakai said, as he changed the name of the party from “The New Unity Party” to the “Reformed Unity Party,” which was greeted with roaring applause from the partisans.

Tensions flared up at the opening of the UP Convention in Gbarnga, Bong County, last week Thursday after former Chairman Varney Sherman performed his last official duty – delivering a report on his six-year tenure. During the deliberation, an enraged Sherman was very vocal about the strained relationship between the government and the party during the larger part of his chairmanship.

“There is gross dissatisfaction among partisans because our government has done little to satisfy our aspirations,” said a stern Cllr. Sherman, who didn’t crack a smile throughout the convention, adding, “This is because of government’s failure to adhere to the policies and agreements reached by party executives at the party’s last convention in Nimba.”

He told the 425 delegates and several partisans and observers at the convention that the UP Government has let the party and its many stewards down. As such he is leaving the chairmanship an unhappy man because his promises to the people were never met due to betrayals within the rank and file of the party, especially at the higher-ups.

“In May 2010, I was elected chairman of the new Unity Party. That election was done with much satisfaction, aspiration and ambition of our partisans and the Liberian people,” he said. “But if all that we agreed upon, both written and oral, at that convention had been implemented to the letter, I would have been resigning happily.”

Sherman noted later, “I decided to make my report vague [not pinpointing issues or calling names] because these would have caused many pains and opened more wounds.”

Meanwhile during the induction of other elected corps of officers, Vice President and standard bearer-elect Boakai said under his leadership, the Reformed UP will be a critical part of government’s agenda. The Vice President was earlier inducted by President Sirleaf, who said she has exclusive confidence in Veep Boakai to lead the party for a better Liberia.

VP Boakai admitted that after the slew of exits and internal wrangling within Unity Party, the party was at its lowest ebb. This was when other nationalists began to rally and form organizations to boost the morale of the imminent political leader and the party. Some of these included the Boakai Movement; the Boakai Wings and others.

The strain within the UP began to surface just over a year ago, after a President Sirleaf’s successful second term bid in 2011. At that time, some partisans said, many of them were not receiving what had been promised them. Many partisans complained on numerous occasions, at times through demonstrations, that they had been sidelined by the President for what they termed as “imported Liberians who knew nothing about how the UP was elected to power.”

The “imported Liberians,” they said, “enjoyed the fruits of the party’s labor,” which caused a lot of disenchantment within and contributed to the mass exodus from the party. Key partisans, many of them, of late, executive members, said the party could no longer unite them.

But Boakai said under his leadership those who work hard are the ones that will be rewarded in his government and frowned on what he termed as lip service, thus calling for total involvement and commitment to the cause of the party’s third term bid.

He said the party needs to show its strength and maturity by the way it shares its power. “UP is not a Monrovia based party,” he said.

He also noted that by his election, the party has chosen well. “Unity Party has chosen,” he said, noting that his experience and number of years in public service gives him leverage over many of his rivals, declaring that he would not be learning on the job.

He noted that diversity and democracy are compatible and as such everyone should be encouraged to come on board to make the UP’s quest for a third term a reality.

President Sirleaf had earlier called for reconciliation, noting that whatever had transpired within the party was meant to make it better. She apologized to those aggrieved and those disappointed by past events, adding that decisions taken were for the interest of the party and the Liberian state at large. She noted “let bygones be bygones” to a frowned Sherman, who was sitting at her immediate right.

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