Renowned Human Rights Lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, has admonished the True Whig Party (TWP), which is experiencing a period of rebirth after many years of dormancy,that it should do away with political dominance and exclusion as was the status during its long reign in the country. These flaws, he noted, plunged Liberia into long years of carnage.
Speaking on the theme, “The 35th Convention of the True Whig Party- a time for Reflection, Redemption and Renewal,” Cllr. Gongloe said many Liberians suffered at the hands of the TWP during its heyday. As the party re-emerges it should no longer go down that path.
“The party was a repressive party that marginalized the masses, banning freedom of speech and political participation by others who had the desire,” said Gongloe.
Speaking during the 35th National Convention of the TWP in Bentol City, Montserrado County, Cllr. Gongloe said TWP was formed on the promise of making Liberia a land of liberty for all and opening the political space for the participation of all Liberians without distinction, but that was a promise which was not kept, though the party had the opportunity to do so.
Mr. Gongloe, who was also a victim of the TWP’s brutality, said the party cannot shy away from blame for introducing patronage, cronyism, nepotism, favoritism, political exclusion and marginalization, and massive abuse of human rights in the governance of Liberia.
“The legacy of this type of governance practice transformed into a mainstream governance culture and that governance culture still remains with our country to this day,” Gongloe charged.
“TWP achieved many things for Liberia; but opening the political space for all and making Liberia a true land of liberty for all, cannot be counted among its achievements. In fact, it was the systematic effort by the TWP to close the political space for all, except for its Partisans, that lead to the virtual creation of a one party state in Liberia, followed by violent political eruptions in resistance to such rule and the eventual failure of the Liberian state.”
He however indicated that no one can take the credit from the True Whig Party for beginning the process of the infrastructural development of Liberia.
“It was under the True Whig Party that motor roads, railways, airstrips, and seaports, amongst others were built for the first time in Liberia. No one can also take from the True Whig Party the credit for the introduction of telecommunications, radio, television broadcasting, electricity and pipe borne water. These are great achievements for which the TWP must be applauded,” he affirmed.
The TWP, Cllr. Gongloe said, cannot run away from taking the blame for introducing a governing approach that stimulated violent reactions, which hindered the progressive development of Liberia and the conflict that destroyed the very infrastructure it built and caused the near collapse of the Liberian state.
He recommended that the party must now take serious note of some aspects of its style of governance that affected the chances of other Liberians to have a role in the governance of their country.
“This convention should be used by the TWP to reflect on its past, not for the purpose defending it , but for the purpose of examining all of the criticisms that have been made against it over the years by Liberians, scholars and observers of Liberian politics in order to redeem its image.” TWP can do so by “recommitting itself to the promise it made to the Liberian people at its formation that it would be a party for the masses of the people and not a party for the elite or a party surviving on political exclusion and marginalization,” he said.
The system introduced by the TWP could appropriately be described as black apartheid, whereby, one group of people controlled political power and had better access to the opportunities provided by the state while the rest of the people were denied the same opportunities.
“The party developed and encouraged a political culture of opportunism and sycophancy that has become so entrenched in Liberia. If the party wants to be accepted by the Liberian people it has to commit itself to denouncing patronage, cronyism, favoritism, opportunism and sycophancy because these are tendencies that undermine every effort to make Liberia a land of liberty for all Liberians on an equal basis.”
“Is the TWP willing to change from these old ways? This is a challenge for the True Whig Party, if it wants the Liberian people to give it a second chance to govern Liberia,” Gongloe declared.
He said No well-meaning Liberian should be hoping for reviving a Liberia in which respect for rights and access to opportunities are based on one’s last name, ethnicity, class, religion, creed, color, fraternity, sex, among other such types of distinctions.
“That type of Liberia brought us conflict and hindered the development of our country. We must all strive to prevent a return to that type of Liberia. Liberia should be for all Liberians without distinction.”
Meanwhile, Cllr. Gongole noted that his selection by the party as a keynote speaker is intended to critically take an introspective look at its past with the view of redeeming its image and renewing its commitment to the building of Liberia as, truly, a land of liberty for all without distinction and on an equal and fair basis.
Terming the convention as an occasion that called for brutal frankness, as a way of helping the party to experience the rebirth that it so badly needs, if it must be reconsidered by the Liberian people as an alternative in the search for national leadership, given its not so favorable political history.