Dr. Gwenigale Shows Example of Political Maturity and Soberness
June 30, 2005
LIBERIA UNIFICATION PARTY (LUP)
BONG COUNTY BRANCH
GBARNGA CITY, BONG COUNTY, R.L.
June 26, 2005
Members of the Executive Committee
Liberia Unification Party (LUP)
Att: Hon. Isaac Mannah/Chairman
36 Camp Johnson Road, Monrovia
Dear Chairman Mannah:
It is with sadness that I am forced to write this letter to tell you how I feel about the primary election that was held on June 25, 2005 to select the presidential candidate for our party. As a constitutional requirement in our party, Dr. Shelton Beedoe and I, the two presidential aspirants in LUP, were interviewed by the Advisory Council on June 24th to clear us for contesting the standard bearer position. I was interviewed first. One of the questions put to me by you, Chairman Mannah, was whether or not I had a dual citizenship. I answered that I was a citizen of Liberia alone. Because Liberia does not have a dual citizenship arrangement for adults, I know I would have been disqualified for standing as a standard bearer had I been found to be a citizen of another country.
After Dr. Beedoe’s interview, in which you also participated, three of the senior members of the Advisory Council personally told me that Dr. Beedoe was a naturalized citizen of the United States of America. Knowing that the election law does not allow a non Liberia citizen to contest an elective position in Liberia, I naively concluded that Dr. Beedoe would be disqualified and I would be given a “white ballot”. To my outmost surprise, Dr. Beedoe was allowed to stand. Before the vote, I publicly asked to know if both Dr. Beedoe and I had been found not to have dual citizenship and were, therefore, cleared to stand. The Chairman of the Advisory Council, Hon. Ketter, put up his hand, asking for recognition probably to answer my question. Unfortunately, the presiding officer did not recognize Hon. Ketter. You, Mr. Chairman, did not try to answer my question either, even though you participated in our screening interviews.
I have no problem with the balloting process. My doubt is about those who were allowed to sit as delegates from the different counties. The LUP Secretariat, headed by Hon. Cletus Sieh, chartered two very large buses and brought people from Monrovia to Gbarnga to represent the southeastern counties. You even refused to seat all the delegates that came from Nimba and Lofa, replacing some with people you had brought from Monrovia.
Before the Convention, you personally campaigned against me, giving misleading information to some of the party executives that I did not want party alliances for the coming election. You were doing this, even though I had told you that I was in favor of forming coalitions among parties with equal strength. You had made no attempt to set up party offices in the different counties and wanted to take LUP into an alliance/coalition as a very weak partner.
I lost to Dr. Beedoe by two votes not because I did not have support in LUP for my candidacy, but because I believe that you and the Secretary General of our party “stacked the cards” against me to make sure that I should not win the standard bearer position. Because you really wanted to put LUP into LAP, you persuaded the Convention to pass a resolution approving a coalition based on the 1997 alliance between LUP and LAP. You did this before our vote, to tie the hands of the person that would be elected standard bearer, especially if that person would be Walter T. Gwenigale.
When the results of the vote were announced, my first reaction was that I would protest to the National Elections Commission. Instead, I have decided to write you and members of the Executive Committee, telling you that I can no longer trust you to lead fairly in LUP. The reason I do not want to write a formal protest to NEC is that I no longer want to pursue the standard bearer position. If I make a formal protest and I am found to be right and declared the winner of the contest, I will still not want to work with party executives I do not trust.
I want you and all the LUP partisans to know that I love Liberia first and LUP next. I will not do anything that will hurt my own country or the party that was founded in rural Liberia, to meet the development needs of our people. I will continue to play whatever positive roles I can play for us to have peaceful and fair elections in October. I will urge all LUP partisans not to abandon the party because of dissatisfaction over how the presidential aspirant election was handled on June 25, 2005. I am at ease with myself and want all LUP members to be prepared to participate in the coming elections, voting wisely for candidates they think will lead our country fairly. I myself plan to vote in October. If I find a presidential candidate that I feel will lead our country the right way, I will publicly endorse that candidate and ask my supporters to vote for him/her.
Saying that I do not trust you does not mean that I hate you, or that you have become my enemy. The things I have said in this letter are the same things I told you personally when we met yesterday before you left for Monrovia. Let us now all work for a stronger LUP and lasting peace in our country.
Walter T, Gwenigale, MD
cc: National Elections Commission
LUP partisans/through the mass media