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Liberian Opposition Party Expels Leader

  • James Butty

Senator Prince Johnson says he will not dignify his alleged expulsion because the matter is before the elections commission of Liberia

The Executive Committee of the Liberian opposition National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) party announced it has expelled Senator Prince Y. Johnson as the political leader and member of the party.

Johnson is accused, among other things, of unilaterally declaring his support for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the runoff of the 2011 presidential election without the consent of the party’s National Executive Committee.

Gbawou Kowou, chairman of the National Union for Democratic Progress Party, said the party views some of Johnson’s actions as criminal.

“When you summarize all of things that the accuser had against Senator Johnson, they include, and [are] not limited to having an arrangement with another political party without the consent of the National Executive Committee, soliciting funds on behalf of the party without the consent of the NEC of the party, threatening the leadership of the party, terroristic threats, embezzlement, among other things, that we thought would be criminal,” he said.

Kowou said Johnson was expelled immediately following the first round of Liberia’s 2011 presidential election.

“Senator Johnson openly gave his support to the Unity Party [of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] without prior arrangement with the National Executive Committee of the NUDP and, under the by-laws and constitution, before such an arrangement is done, there must be an approval by the National Executive Committee,” Kowou said.

Johnson is a senior senator from Nimba County in north-central Liberia, but Kowou said whether Johnson remains a senator or not rests with the Nimba people.

He said the NUDP National Executive Committee wants to make sure that a political party is not built around one individual.

“It does not, in any way affect, him as senator of Nimba County, but what we are doing this time around is to have an independent political movement in this country and make sure that political parties are guided by ideology and philosophy, not by individuals and personalities,” Kowou said.

Johnson said he remains the political leader and chief financier of the party. He said he will have more to say after Liberia’s National Election Commission rules on the matter.

“Very frankly, I am the standard bearer of the party still. I am the chief financier and the founder of the party. Now, they have allegedly expelled me. I have not received any document to that affect. However, I received a letter from the Elections Commission that they have referred the matter to the elections commission, and the elections commission has set up date for the hearing. Therefore, I cannot speak before the commission hearing,” Johnson said.

Johnson said he would not give credence to what he describes as fiasco allegations that he received money to give the party’s support to Sirleaf.

“It’s an allegation that cannot be proven, and I don’t know if they were there when Madam Sirleaf began counting money to give me. However, they have complained to the Elections Commission, and the National Elections Commission has set up a date to look into this matter. And so, I will advise them to take all of their claims to the elections commission,” Johnson said.