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Liberian President’s Party Members Demand Jobs

  • James Butty

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, February 16, 2012.

Liberia's President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, February 16, 2012.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told members of her ruling Unity Party not to be used by those within the party who, she said, wish to advance their own political interests.

Some party members have called on Sirleaf to resign from the party because she has not done enough to provide jobs to party members.

They reportedly want her to provide 2,000 scholarships and 300 jobs to members of the ruling party.

Jerolinmek Piah, Sirleaf press secretary, said, when it comes to jobs, the president believes in equal opportunity, irrespective of political affiliation.

“I know that the issue of jobs was among the concerns. But, realistically, jobs are not just about Unity partisans. This president, yes, was elected on the ticket and platform of the Unity Party, but we need to remember that she is the president of the Republic of Liberia. So, she has [an] obligation to all of our citizens, and our law provides that, on the issue of jobs, we should seek that all of our citizens have equal opportunity,” he said.

Some party members have also called on Sirleaf to take jobs away from opposition members and give to fellow party members who, they say struggled to elect her to the presidency.

The revolt within ruling party was said to have been masterminded by Maryland County senior Senator John Ballout to further his own political ambition of one day becoming president of Liberia.

But, Ballout said, while he agrees with the issues raised by the aggrieved partisans, his main concern is to make sure that the Unity Party survives after Sirleaf leaves power.

“Let’s put it this way. A group of partisans planned a sit-in action to make clear their position on strengthening the party, making sure the party remains relevant, making sure the partisans have access to jobs and opportunities within the party. I share the concerns raised and I support those points. I do not share the view of giving [an] ultimatum to the president to resign from the party,” he said.

Ballout said the real threat to Liberia’s fledgling democracy is weak political parties that are centered on individuals.

He said he intends to seek the party’s nomination for the 2017 presidential election.

“It is the right of every citizen of this country to ascribe for that high position. If you have something to offer your country, and you believe you can deliver, stand up for it. And I say to people there is no maybe about it. I’m a senior senator representing Maryland County who believes in the future of this country and who determinedly wants to work towards securing that future. And the first opportunity I will have through a democratically recognized process, I will participate in that process,” Ballout said.

Piah said Sirleaf is not worried about who within the ruling party would want to be the next standard bearer. He said the president only wants to fulfill her campaign promises to the Liberian people.

“What the president said is that ‘I am not interested in who wants to be standard bearer and who wants to be what. What I am interested in now is to deliver to the Liberian people.’ The president is saying this is what she is interested in doing,” Piah said.

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