Gbarnga, Bong County - President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Saturday inducted Vice President Joseph Boakai as the new standard bearer of the ruling Unity Party.
President Sirleaf performed the brief historical ceremony during the early hours of Saturday before thousands of UP partisans, sympathizers, and well-wishers attending the party’s national convention in Gbarnga.
The President noted that Vice President Boakai brings to the UP standard bearer position a wealth of experience that will transform the party and unite partisans in promoting its principals of working with all Liberians in furtherance of the current democratic path on which the nation continues to progress.
President Sirleaf said, that despite the challenges that have existed in the Unity Party, she was glad that the party remains a trusted and responsible political institution that has and continues to drive the nation to its destiny that many of its citizens are proud of today.
"There will be difficult times in our keeping our party dreams alive but I admonish you Mr. Vice President that with all of us support and constructive engagement the Unity Party will torch bearer of our democracy" President Sirleaf noted.
The President reaffirmed her commitment to the Presidential ambition of Vice President Boakai, adding that she will do all she can to ensure that he is elected come 2017.
President Sirleaf told jubilant UP partisans, sympathizers and well-wishers in the Gbarnga administrative hall that she gives her “unflinching” support to the Vice President because she wants the party to become the bridge of continuity, unity and development in Liberian history.
The Liberian leader informed the gathering that the Unity Party-led government has over the last ten years implemented substantial developments that have impacted the lives of every resident across Liberia.
The President encouraged UP partisans not to take anything for granted, going as far as advising them to make alliances with other political parties if the Unity Party is to win the pending Presidential elections.
The Standard Bearer of the UP admonished party members to strategize new plans for the party’s survival, one that is different from those of the other political parties, even if the party is not in power.
President Sirleaf informed those at the convention to be committed to their collective gains, which would secure a comfortable seat for the Vice President ahead of the 2017 elections, and to warn other parties that the Unity Party is for development.
On democracy in Liberia, President Sirleaf said the Unity Party, the Liberia Unification Party and the Liberia Action Party played a leading role in restoring democracy in the country.
The Liberian Chief Executive said the three political parties challenged the military regime of the time – a first for Liberia – and paved way for multi-party democracy in Liberia.
She challenged party members to use the convention to unite with partisans “who one way or the other felt cheated or hurt,” to reconcile and concentrate on the crucial 2017 elections.
It can be recalled, the out Chairman of the Unity Party Senator Varney Sherman at the start of the convention also pledged his support and loyalty to the Presidential quest of Vice President Boakai, who he said is the ideal candidate to lead the country in the right direction.
Senator Sherman said he will join the campaign come 2017, to go to every nook and corner of the country and canvass for the election of Boakai as President.
He described VP Boakai as one with a humble beginning and also level headed; has the characteristics to revive the hope and aspiration of the UP faithful, who see Boakai as their only hope for redemption both for the party and the country.
He said if the partisans want Boakai to be a successful standard bearer of the party, they should elect the right people.
“Boakai needs a leadership that will work with him to ensure that he becomes successful, and not one that will be suspicious of his presence,” he said, stressing that he needs a leadership that he trusts and that also trusts him.
Nagbe too strong for Fahnbulleh
With Boakai and the former Secretary General of the party Wilmot Paye voted unopposed, all eyes were on the election of who becomes the party’s new Secretary General.
Information Minister Eugene Nagbe overwhelmingly elected as the new National Secretary General of the governing Unity Party. Minister Nagbe defeated Representative Henry Fahnbulleh and Mr. Miller Katacaw with 251 votes to cling the SG position of the UP.
Catacaw took 77 votes ahead of Fahnbulleh, who accumulated 68 of the total ballot cast. Minister Nagbe was elected Saturday morning.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica, some UP partisans said they have explicit confidence in the ability of Minister Nagbe to bring the needed transformation that would ensure a more united and robust Unity Party before and after the ensuing 2017 elections.
"Our party needs a reconciler who will heal the wounds and further strengthen our unity in diversity as we prepared our party for the political task in 2017," the UP partisans emphasized.
The Unity Party Partisans explained that with the wealth of experience the MICAT boss brings to the UP, they have no doubt that he would closely work with everyone in the party to better prepare it before and after the 2017 elections.
Fahnbulleh branded ‘spy’ in UP
Reacting to the defeat of Fahnbulleh, partisans of the party said they were overwhelmingly gratified by the outcome, describing the Monsterrado County Representative as a ‘spy’ and disloyal partisan.
“At one point you will see Representative Fahnbulleh associating with the Congress for Democratic Change then another time he is affiliating with the Unity Party. And for us we see it as an act of inconsistency.
According to the partisans they had long wished for such a day to demonstrate their anger at the ballot box to send a message to Representative Fahnbulleh.
But supporters of the Monsterrado County lawmaker rebuffed the claims and said the Representative has over the years demonstrated high level of commitment to the party over the years.
Clarence Sameway, a member of the Unity Party district 14 chapter said the lawmaker’s commitment to the party is measurable to anyone.
“No one in this party will tell us that he or she has demonstrated high level of commitment as compare to Representative Fahnbulleh,” he added.
Arthur Bestman, who lost the position Deputy National Secretary, attributed his defeat to the spat between the former party chairman Cllr. Varney Sherman and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Given his connection to the Sherman bloc, Bestman rue his defeat and said it sent a bad omen for the party.