The New Deal Movement; Can Another Political Party Be The Answer To Liberia's Massive Problems?
By Tewroh-Wehtoe Sungbeh

One of the positive things that came out of the presidential elections of l997, is that the political parties and their leaders realized the mistakes behind their humiliating loss to Charles Taylor, and decided to do something about it.

Their major mistake, many political observers and the Liberian public believe wholeheartedly, was the inability of the political parties to unite and field a popular candidate who actually could have defeated Mr. Taylor decisively in that election.

Vowing not to repeat the mistakes of '97, many of the political parties have been ahead of their game plans; meeting and talking unity in order to come up with a strategy they believe would help them later down the road.

Though the presidential elections which ushered Charles Taylor in were held two years ago, and the next one is four years away, there seems to be the birth of yet another political party - a party whose ideology, according to its leader, is "social democracy."

George Klay Kieh, Jr. inspired New Deal Movement, an "alternative" political party, was launched in Doraville, GA on June 5, l999.

With many disgruntled former members of the Liberian People's Party (LPP), serving as a backdrop, members of the New Deal Movement, buoyed with enthusiasm, declared to the world a little after eleven O'clock that morning the birth of their movement.

Reading the history and principles of the New Deal Movement - principles that sounded just like one taken out of the scrap books of George Klay Kieh's former party, LPP. A member of the organizing committee, Edgar Railey, told his partisan audience that their movement believes in, among other things, the "promotion of equality of the sexes, ensuring that both sexes enjoy equal rights, opportunities and privileges without discrimination."

The New Deal Movement is one of those political parties that actually could sweep anyone off his/her feet. It fact sheet is filled with not-so-new ideas, but promises that could spell relief for the dysfunctional country of ours if implemented.

Apparently, the movement fails to realize in one of its principles about equality, that without democracy there can never be equality of the sexes. Conversely, without unity among the political parties there can never be democracy in modern-day Liberia either.

So why will the New Deal Movement, an organization that comprised mainly of break-away members from the Liberian People's Party, which prides itself with a "commitment to help address ethnic, regional, religious, class and gender parochialism, especially as precipitous of conflicts," set the tone for conflict and disunity for the 2003 presidential elections?

The answer, some individuals say is naked ambition, and greed. In a previous article written in l997, after George Klay Kieh resigned from the Liberian People's Party. This writer quoted critics who contended that "naked ambition and greed" propelled Kieh's resignation from a political party he co-founded, and believed that Togba-Nah Tipoteh and Amos Claudius Sawyer stood in his way to the Executive Mansion.

In that article, this writer clearly stated that George Klay Kieh called an emergency meeting of LPP/USA members for them to consider breaking away from the parent party, but fell short of having his wishes endorsed at that meeting held at Atlanta's Morehouse College.

Many believed at that time, and even today, that Kieh's resignation from LPP was transparent. According to critics, Kieh wanted to "remotely control LPP/USA via his so-called think tank group, while dissociating himself from LPP's blunders."

So when Kieh's wishes for LPP/USA to break away from the parent party in Monrovia couldn't succeed, he resigned.

Those familiar with Kieh suggest that such conduct is not new, this is typical of Kieh's nature. Known for his organizational genius, his tireless ability and energy in organizing, Kieh's personal ambition often conflicts with his political vision. Kieh, one of the founders of the all Liberian Conference, abandoned the group which should have served as a rival organization to ULAA.

Not being able to catch fire, the "Campaign for Freedom"- the brain-child of Kieh's political marathon - underwent another metamorphosis: becoming a research and political think tank called National Forum for Policies and Democracy, NAFOPOD, with a mission for monitoring government policies and its impact on the citizenry. This organization remained short-lived without any track record of its programs and activities.

A source close to this paper have intimated that NAFOPOD real agenda remained hidden and private: the objective was to use research as a means of "raising funds and obtaining grants" from various funding foundation sources in order to obtain seed money to launch a new political party. The leap from a research think-tank to a political party leaves much to be desired. First, it was the "Campaign for Freedom" then it was NAFOPOD, now it is the "New Deal", a real holy trinity.

During an interview for an article in l997, George Klay Kieh remarked. "I have been talking to people here (USA), and Liberia in order to organize an alternative political movement for social change." The movement, "Campaign for Freedom" was launched immediately after the July l9, l997, presidential elections by Kieh and a handful of former LPP followers.

George Klay Kieh, like Amos Claudius Sawyer is too academic (paper tigers), and not practical to lead a nation.

While it is true that many academic individuals are quick to formulate grand ideas that are good on paper, but not implementable, many of them are also blinded by ego and arrogance. By virtue of their advanced academic credentials, preferably, in political science, history, education, economics, and even physical education, etc, these individuals believe that they indeed are god-sent to lead a nation.

George Klay Kieh has an image problem, so is Liberia. I am sure many will agree that with Liberia's many problems, the country needs a leader who will sincerely tackle its problems, and not one who will bring classroom into their living rooms.

The New Deal Movement could mean well, but, another political party? And at this crucial time too? Instead of organizing another political party, Kieh and others could channel their talents and energies into mobilizing and unifying what they already have. That, and that alone could have posed a formidable challenge to Charles Taylor and the insanity going on in Monrovia today.

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