Holding On to the Party that Let Her Go, Sirleaf Sues Boakai
Lawyers representing former President and standard bearer emeritus of the Unity Party (UP) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have filed a lawsuit against former vice president and standard bearer of the party Joseph N. Boakai, alleging her expulsion orchestrated by Boakai was in violation of the UP’s Constitution and the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
The suit before the Board of Commissioners (BOC) of the National Elections Commission (NEC) named other party’s officials also expelled and seeking legal redress were Senator Commany B. Wesseh of River Gee County and member of the party’s executive committee, Medina A, Wesseh, ex-executive members and chairpersons on publicity committee and Patrick Worzie, acting secretary general.
The matter is expected to be heard on Tuesday, February 20, at 2pm, in the Dispute Hearing Room of the commission.
Madam Sirleaf and other party executive were expelled on January 18 of this year for allegedly violated the party’s constitution as the former president was seen campaigning with now President George Weah, who was then running under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC( during the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections.
“The behavior of the expelled persons… constitutes sabotage and undermined the existence of the party,” said the statement announcing the decision, which was taken by the party’s executive committee.
The lawsuit filed by the International Law Group (LLG) alleges among others the meeting which led to the expulsion of the former president and other executive members of the party was secretly held at the residence of Boakai with 31 executive members in attendance, but only 17 voted to effect said prejudicial and illegal action.
They argued that the party’s constitution provides that the National Executive Committee shall require at least 42 votes in favor to acquire the two-thirds majority of the 65 members at the time of the decision, unfortunately only a majority of 32 were at the residence of Boakai that took the expulsion action.
“The said vote cast was far less than the two-thirds majority called for by the party’s constitution to constitute a quorum to effect any major decision as enshrined in the by-laws and constitution, of which Boakai must be held liable for the illegal expulsion and gross violation of the those legal instruments of the party,” the suit filed by LLG chief of litigation, Cllr. Jonathan Massaquoi alleges.
But when contacted for comment, Unity Party spokesperson, Mo Ali denied having any knowledge about the suit filed by former President Sirleaf. He however clarified that it was the Party acting through its Executive Committee that expelled former President Sirleaf and others.
It can be recalled that on Thursday, January 14, a group of individuals described as thugs converged on the UP Congo Town headquarters to stage a protest against the expulsion of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and few other party members. The protesting group had come to read a statement debunking the expulsions but met stiff resistance from security officers and other partisans on ground according to a report carried in the January 19th edition of the Daily Observer newspaper.
Further, according to the story, protesters who besieged the party headquarters were reportedly imported from various slums communities in and around Monrovia. They were described by party officials as thugs who have no stake in the party but had come to make the vicinity chaotic and bring the institution into public disrepute.
They were said to have been led by expelled UP Acting Secretary General, Patrick Worzie and several confidantes of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was booted out of the Party earlier, when the protesters stormed party headquarters demanding use of the facilities to hold their press conference.
Some of those reported to have been involved in the fracas at the UP headquarters were the National Chair-lady of UP Women’s Wing, Maceatoh Wreh, former Nimba County Representative, Worlea Saywah Dunah, Assistant Minister at Transport Ministry, Kansualism Kansuah, Deputy Information Minister, Rixch Barsigiah, and several others.
The report further observed that scuffles erupted when security officers and few UP partisans who were on the ground initially resisted the entry of the group whose members were conveyed by four buses to the grounds of the headquarters.
Reacting to the expulsion at the time, the then Presidential Press Secretary Jerolimek Piah declared the party’s rules were clear on the requirement for expulsion, noting that such requirements had not been fully exhausted.
He said President Sirleaf had heard of the action against her by the party, but was focused on the conclusion of her transition. According to him the pronounced action by the UP did not deserve or require a reaction adding, “when she leaves the presidency, the party matter will be handled the party way”.
But the matter had since gone cold apparently leaving many with the impression that the issue had been laid to rest. However with this latest lawsuit seeking to reverse her expulsion, it appears that former President Sirleaf and her expelled allies have not since let go and are seemingly prepared to have the matter run its gamut including up to the Supreme Court if needs be.
It remains to be seen, however, whether this latest move on the part of former President Sirleaf will prove sufficient to compel a reversal of her misfortunes now that she is no longer president and lacks the coercive power of the office of an imperial Presidency.