Recent multiple defections by top stalwarts from the ruling Unity Party (UP) at a crucial elections season seem not to be demanding unity among the remnants, judging from another bitter divide between UP loyalists of immediate past standard bearer President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf and immediate past party chair Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman.
The NewDawn is informed that these two alleged UP factions are being led by former Foreign Minister, now UP National Campaign Manager Mr. Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan who is seen to be dancing the song of the president, while current UP Chair Wilmont Paye allegedly leads the chorus for the faction loyal to Sen. Sherman.
The ruling party’s divide began with the resignation of key executive members including Musa Hassan Bility, Harrison Karnwea, Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, and lately Secretary General Lenn Eugene Nagbe, who the party elected as chief scribe while still working in the Sirleaf government as Information Minister.
What is claimed to be a key factor that is now derailing the ruling UP’s campaign activities is that the party is divided between President Sirleaf and Sen. Sherman, with the Sherman camp being headed by Chairman Paye while the Sirleaf side is reportedly headed by Ngafuan.
Mr. Ngafuan and Mr. Paye it is alleged are not on speaking terms either or are they working closely to secure the party’s third term victory. The UP officials are said to be at each other’s throat, with each refusing to share notes with the other.
There are suggestions that the former Finance and Foreign Minister, Mr. Ngafuan who in 2005 served as campaign spokesman when Mrs. Sirleaf won her first presidential election, is insisting that he has wealth of experience when it comes to political campaigning.
Considering his role in politics here, Mr. Ngafuan maintains that the UP chairman Mr. Paye should play his role as chairman and leave him (Ngafuan) to play his role as UP campaign manager.
But Chairman Paye is on the other hand counter - arguing that he heads the party and therefore he deserves to be consulted on every step along the way regarding the party to get his input before it reaches the public.
The differing positions held by these UP officials are said to be creating wide gap between them, and substantially dividing the partisans in what appears to be two factions within the ruling establishment.
Attempt to contact the UP Chairman for a comment proved futile Tuesday, as Paye’s mobile phone rang endlessly. However, UP Press and Public Affairs Director Mr. Mo Ali denied the information when he was contacted, claiming that it is mere gossip that lacks the basis of truth.
Mr. Ali says the two officials are having great working relationship, arguing that it was Paye who recommended Ngafuan for the UP campaign manager post.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley