Among the nearly two dozen presidential candidates vying for the Liberian presidency in 2017, the most critical critics of the ruling Unity Party are those candidates who either worked in the Unity Party government, embraced corrupt individuals in the Unity Party government or have publicly endorsed the Unity Party when it was most convenient for them. As the Liberian 2017 presidential campaign unfolds, one of those candidates leading the charge to, as they put it, “deny the Unity Party” a third term, is Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party. It may be record, on November 1, 2011, Mr. Brumskine, declared in a statement that his Liberty Party was endorsing the Unity Party or UP, over the Congress for Democratic Change or CDC in the second round of 2011 presidential campaign. Brumskine began to explain in the statement his reason for choosing UP by saying “I announce today that Liberty Party is supporting the Unity Party during the second round of voting.” He then went further and added, Both Ellen and Winston are friends of mine, each of whom I have a great deal of respect for. But at this point in time and with all things considered, we have concluded that the UP team has an edge over the CDC team in terms of moving our country forward.”
This was the second campaign endorsement of the Unity Party by Brumskine and his Liberty Party in two 2nd rounds voting in Liberian elections. The first was in the 2005 2nd round voting of the presidential campaign. In others words, Brumskine’s current barrage of attacks on the Unity Party are all empty talks overwhelmed by election time posturing to win by all costs. As an old saying goes, “fool me first, shame on you. Fool me second, shame on me.” The wisdom in this saying is that after being fooled two times you must now develop a resistance to prevent being fooled for the third time, or else you are beyond redemption psychologically. Since a third-time fool may lead to a disaster, and even death.
Then comes another saying that goes like this, “I told you so” coming from family members and friends. Whatsoever Brumskine is saying now was said before against the Unity Party, however, when that moment of decision making comes where Mr. Brumskine supposed to show some kind of leadership, twice Brumskine sided with the Unity Party and tell the Liberians people, especially, his supporters, to give the Unity Party a pass. Brumskine by all accounts and purposes, is a major political figure by Liberia’s standards whose political decisions cannot be ignored by the Liberians, whether you are his supporter or not. Those following Liberian political leaders, especially, presidential candidates, will conclude that all major political decisions Brumskine ever made were always anti-people and always in favor of the establishment. Take for example, while a member of the NPFL-National Patriotic Party-NPP, serving not only as senator but also as President Pro Temp of the Liberian senate during the mis-rule period of the Charles Taylor regime, when he Brumskine was one of the most powerful men in the country. Brumskine negotiated what was known as the “Status of Forces” Agreement with ECOMOG, the west African peacekeeping force, then stationed in Liberia to protect the Liberian people.
The agreement was so lopsided in favor of the Taylor regime that it forced the pre-matured departure of ECOMOG from Liberia to Sierra Leone. The peace agreement under which the 1997 special election was held that brought Charles Taylor to power stated that all Liberian security forces should be ethnically balanced with former fighters of all the warring factions being integrated in all the security forces. With the peacekeeping forces out of the Liberia the Liberian people were at the mercy of the Taylor regime security forces, like the ATU, SOD, Executive Mansion Guard, SSS, all comprised of former NPFL rebels and commanders, who had a combined vision of eliminating all perceived enemies of the Taylor regime. It was only when he Brumskine was personally threatened by the Taylor regime and escaped he began his brief opposition against Taylor. Even after that, in 2005, Brumskine said in an interview with the Washington post that he considered Charles Taylor his political mentor. Recently, when the Sirleaf-Boakai government announced that there was no money to hold a national referendum, that included a proposition for the decentralization of the Liberian government, Brumskine came out with a convoluted position that in part said he supported the decentralization process only up to the election of city majors, but rejected the idea of election for counties superintendents, the crust of the decentralization proposal where the people will benefit the most. Many Liberians believed a decentralization system will increase accountability and economic activities simultaneously across the country with no county waiting for a July 26 celebration to get a little development. Based on what some would say, “Fuzzy’ math, Mr. Brumskine concluded that it would be too costly to elect counties superintendents.
In his interview with James Butty of Voice of America, or VOA, Brumskine said, “If you have superintendents elected, you have to have 15 county legislatures to whom the superintendents will have to report. We may not be able to afford that economically, at least for now,” he added. Mr. Brumskine did not say when will Liberia be ready economically, whether it will be during his term if he wins the presidency or after that. He is not willing to make such promises to the Liberian people.
In addition to all this zi-zag or up and down maneuvering and election times posturing by Mr. Charles Brumskine, many of those who are following Liberian politics said the Liberty Party, as an institution, founded by a group of Liberian Christian pastors, raised many eyebrows, when some of those pastors came out shortly after the 2005 election and described Brumskine’s lost in the presidential race to mean that someone “tempered” with the will of God. That became a turn-off point for many Liberians, not only towards Mr. Brumskine, but also towards the Liberty Party. To make such religious characterization of Brumskine’s lost, even though, the Liberty Party and Brumskine endorsed the Unity Party in the 2nd round of the 2005 election means under a Liberty Party government, opposition against the president will be considered acting against the will of God.
An idea that mimics the “Devine Right Of Kings” doctrine that was introduced and espoused by King James 1 of England, the man who is credited for translating the Christian Holy Bible into English. Under this doctrine, the King was above men, and only answer to God. No person is allowed to question the King’s decision. Everything the king said was law and gospel. Those who dared to question his decision went their early graves.
The Liberty Party, without a clear position on this idea about a Christian State Liberia, tried to reach out to the Liberian Mandingo tribe by Brumskine hinting of having a member of the Mandingo tribe as his vice presidential running mate. which is fine. However, the Mandingo man around whose name the rumors of being Brumskine’s vice president running mate is swirling is Musa Bility. Bility to put it simple but bluntly was indicted for corruption in Liberia. Bility, we are told, is not just a member of the Liberty Party, but a prominent member, and you know what that means. There are audio recordings and court records attesting to the fact that Bility is a very colorful character with a long-wrapped sheet of illegal activities in Liberia under the Sirleaf-Boakai regime. Bility was rejected internationally, that he lacks the moral credentials to even be a candidate for the international soccer governing body FIFA. Imagine, Musa Bility, being Liberia’s vice president, what will the international community will think about Liberia? Like the way, Liberians are imagining Jewel Howard Taylor being Liberia’s vice president. Now here is the hypocrisy on the part of Mr. Brumskine and his Christian-inspired pastors founded Liberty Party. On one hand Brumskine entire campaign message is driven by how corrupt the Unity Party government is and is citing that as a reason for the people to vote for him, while at the same time Brumskine is embracing one of the most corrupt figures emerging from the Unity Party government, Musa Bility. Bility who is a former member of the Unity Party and official of the Sirleaf government, is building an oil storage facility, if finished, will be the largest oil refinery in Liberia, passed the government-owned LPRC.
The point we are trying to make here is that Mr. Brumskine is not a good decision maker and has a behavior of siding with the establishment over the Liberian people’s interests when he thinks it will benefit him. Brumskine cannot considered himself a serious person for the Liberian presidency at this time by keep asking the people in every election to vote against the Unity Party and then turn around and endorse the Unity Party. Brumskine is too compromised to draw a line between tolerating corruption on one hand and fighting against corruption on the other hand. It is candidates like Brumskine the Liberian people are trying to get away from in 2017. To broadly condemn corruption in publicly while specifically embracing corrupt individuals is a too tired political strategic that has not helped Liberia and continues to fail the Liberian people by denying them basic services. Liberia cannot have an individual as president who speaks on both sides of his/her mouth when it comes to corruption. Our next president of Liberia should be a person who is not too compromised to condemn corruption in the past, condemn corruption in the present, and have the capacity to fight corruption in the future….JUST A THOUGHT!
—-P Nimely-Sie Tuon