Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Friction Bends Family Bone in Liberia's Ruling Unity Party; Sherman Wants Fahnbulleh Out

Friction Bends Family Bone in Liberia's Ruling Unity Party; Sherman Wants Fahnbulleh Out
Source: http://www.frontpageafrica.com/newsmanager/anmviewer.asp?a=11021&z=37


On the eve of the induction of the recently-elected leadership of the ruling Unity Party, Cllr. Varney Sherman, the party’s new chairman has put his induction set for Saturday, June 2010 on hold in the wake of an ongoing wrangle between the party’s hierarchy and the newly-elected Secretary General Henry Fahnbulleh.

Citing what he calls a strong family relationship between him and Fahnbulleh, Cllr. Sherman told a news conference at his Congotown residence Friday that he and Fahnbulleh are distant cousins and could not possibly serve the two key positions in the party’s hierarchy.

In 2009, the Unity Party officially endorsed its Articles of Merger document bringing together the UP, the Liberia Action Party (LAP) and the Liberia Unification Party (LUP) at a convention held in Gbarnga, Bong County. The merger document was initially signed by UP leader, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and endorsed by the party’s National Executive Committee. The UP, LAP and LUP were established as political parties in Liberia in 1984 after the military regime of the late president Samuel K. Doe had lifted the ban on political activities. Distinguished revolutionaries such as Binyah Kessely of the UP, the late Jackson F. Doe of the LAP and the late William Gabriel Kpolleh of LUP organized political movements to canvass for political leadership for the 1985 elections, anticipating a democratic environment for free expression to exercise their suffrage.

After the 1985 elections, the idea of a coalition was proffered; and in 1986, it was established as the Grand Coalition and incorporated the UP, LAP and LUP. This was short-lived due to a decision by the Supreme Court of Liberia declaring its (the Coalition’s) activities illegal. It was subsequently banned and prohibited from participating in every public activity and denied the prerogative of a political party within the borders of Liberia. During the 2005 elections, LAP and LUP joined forces against the UP, who eventually emerged as the winner of the elections.

On Friday, Sherman said he made the decision two days ago that he will not serve as National Chairman of the Unity Party while Fahnbulleh, his cousin, serves as the National Secretary-General, as he would not and will not undermine a fundamental philosophical and ideological basis for the founding of the three constituent political parties and the recent merger as one political entity, nor would he participate in a political relationship that is abhorrent to deeply ingrained beliefs that are precious to him. “And on the basis of that, I informed several elected officers that both Henry Fahnbulleh and I will not be inducted into office on tomorrow, Saturday, 19, June, 2010.” If I will be inducted, then Henry Fabhbulleh, shall not be conducted if Henry Fahnbulleh will be inducted, then I refused to be inducted,” Sherman declared.

Sherman said his decision presented a crisis to the newly-elected officers, who, after a full day of deliberation and not having succeeded in resolving the crisis, opted for a postponement of the induction program. Notwithstanding that it is my decision which finally precipitated the crisis. “ I was delegated as the most senior elected officer, to disclose the postpone of the induction program and the reason for it.” I am confident that the Unity Party will manage the crisis successfully; and I assure each and every partisan that whatever solution is found, other than Henry Fahnbulleh and I serving in those two capacities at the same time, even if it means that I decline to serve as the National Chairman, I will humbly accept and continue to serve the Unity Party with the same vigor, commitment and loyalty that ha s characterized my service in every position I have heretofore held in politics.”

Said Sherman: “Now Henry Fahnbulleh, our National Secretary General-elect is from Grand Cape Mount County, a member of the Vai tribe, similarly, I, the National Chairman-elect, am from Grand Gedeh County, a member of the (now tribe. We are even closer than that; we are distant cousins. My putative paternal grandmother was a Fahnbulleh; my putative father paternal grandmother Momo Fahnbule Jones. For those of you who are old enough, you might know that that when that, the namesick of our Secretary General Secretary Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh(the namesick of our National Secretay General r to defend him, it was counselor Momo Fahnbulleh Jones(my putative father, given the family relationship, who took Ambassador Fahnbulle’s case.”

Cllr. Sherman noted that the treason trial merely illustrates the consanguinity between himself and Fahnbulleh.

Cllr. Sherman said on the basis of the relationship, he admonished voters at the recent party convention in Ganta, Nimba County that irrespective of a candidate’s competence and qualification for an elected office, they should vote in a way that would give Unity Party a leadership that reflects our national character, a leadership that is based on both geographic and ethnic balance. “With the tumultuous joy that followed my white-ballot election, I believe that many of the convention delegates did not hear my admonishment. Henry Fahnbulleh was elected Secretary General by a margin of 40 votes.

Cllr. Sherman further noted that as it is abhorrent to the philosophical foundations of the Unity Party that two persons from the same county, with the consanguinity described, hold two most senior and strategic positions within the party and considering that such a leadership, though elected, bothers on political nepotism, contrary to deeply ingrained personal belief, he engaged Fahnbulleh in a series of meetings prior to the May 8, 2010 convention in Ganta, urging Fahnbulleh to decline his(Sherman’s) election as National Chairman if he would not concede what he (Sherman) considers to be the politico-high ground. “All of my entreaties were rebuffed; but I was not perturbed. I enlisted the assistance of other elected officials, friends and associates, all of whom agreed with me that it was political the unpalatable for both Henry Fahnbulleh and himself to serve in the positions to which they were elected.”

Said Sherman: “In lieu of the position of National Secretary General we made various offers to Henry Fahnbulleh, including offers that would lead him to achieving what he confided n me to be the pinnacle of his career objective – Minister of Foreign Affairs. Henry Fahnbulleh rebuffed all these entreaties and insisted that he would not, in his words “subvert the will of the people.” In my mind, declining an election to a position because of the political necessities and exigencies described above is not a subversion of the will of the people; to the contrary, it is evidenced of magnanimity and sacrifice for the greater good and higher interest of the organization.

Cllr. Sherman said several partisans of the party assured him recently that they would continue to engage Fahnbulleh to see the wisdom, in the cardinal and supreme interest of our political party, to decline the election instead of him Sherman declining his election as party leader. “They determined, in their wisdom, that as between a chairman of the Unity Party, who was himself a presidential candidate at the 2005 elections, and a secretary general, who has not had such national exposure and relevance, the chairman, not the secretary general, should concede so that fundamental philosophical and ideological basis for the Unity Party are adhered to and maintained.”

Sherman said while he was disheartened that the induction of the program has been put off, history shows that those who will not stand for principles they sincerely believe in will wallow in their cowardice and often times damage their followers. “I will never compromise what I consider to be in the supreme interest of our political party even if it is inconvenient to me. It is only when our political decisions and works are matched to principles and reason can we comfort ourselves and assure our fellow Liberians that our political party is genuinely interested in their well-being and the future of our country.”

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

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Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

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