Partisans of Liberia's ruling Unity Party (UP) are reported to have entered into a fist fight at the party headquarters in Congo Town during a protest that results from division within the party following the expulsion of standard bearer emeritus, outgoing President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf and some officials.
Some UP National Executive Committee members recently announced President Sirleaf and some officials' expulsion for allegedly undermining the existence of the party and violating rules requiring support for all party candidates in elections.
The controversial expulsion had been announced after UP's presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai lost a runoff poll to opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) candidate George Manneh Weah, who is due to take oath of office on Monday, 22 January to succeed President Sirleaf.
But the UP's headquarters in Congo Town, outside of Monrovia came under serious attack by some partisans insisting to hold a press conference on the premises to condemn the expulsion of standard bearer emeritus President Sirleaf, Senator Conmany Wesseh, Atty. Medina Wesseh, and UP National Secretary General Patrick Worzi.
It all started Thursday afternoon, 18 January when a member of the national executive committee, Nimba County Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah called a press conference to denounce and rubbish the expulsion of these party officials.
Upon the call of the press conference, some partisans believed to be loyal to UP Chairman Wilmot Paye and the defeated Standard Bearer, Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai locked the main entrance to the premises of the party headquarters.
They claim that Chairman Paye had instructed them to deny anyone who wants to use the premises for press conference. When the partisans in support of the President arrived at the entrance of the headquarters, they were violently prevented from entering.
The headquarters and its surroundings became charged with emotions characterized by insults and physical attacks. The two groups went into serious commotion, but those loyal to the President succeeded by violently making their way in.
Tension intensified among the partisans, and it took 22 officers of the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police, later joined by Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman and his Deputy Abraham Kromah to clam the tension.
Addressing the news conference on the porch of the party headquarters, the former Nimba County lawmaker Dunah termed the expulsion as illegal, arguing that it has no bearing on the reported expelled individuals.
According to him, the expulsion is illegal and there is no due process accorded the affected individuals. He adds that the decision taken does not reflect the full representation of the membership of the executive committee, which is the highest decision making body of the party.
The faction that recently announced the expulsion of the standard bearer emeritus and outgoing President Sirleaf, accuses her of withholding support from Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai during the 2017 elections in favor of Coalition for Democratic Change standard bearer, now President-elect, George Weah.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley