True Whig Party Chairman Seeks Interim Presidency
--As Parties Divided Over Who Succeeds Taylor

By: Wellington Geevon-Smith
Accra, Ghana

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

July 16, 2003

As negotiations at the ongoing peace conference on Liberia reach a crucial point this week in Accra, Ghana, the Chairman of Liberia's oldest political party, yesterday declared his intention to seek the interim presidency.

Counsellor Rudolph E. Sherman said his decision to join the race for the interim leadership lately stemmed from what he called the "forces of revengefulness, greed and ethnicity or class" that are becoming the underlying basis for people eyeing the transition.

"We are about to enter a healing period and we need somebody to unify the battered society", Cllr. Sherman said but noticed that presently amongst his peers, "people are playing games that have the capacity to again polarize the society."

He told this writer that today's Liberia needs somebody who can "cool the tempers" and believes the achievement largely depends on the person at the top.

The TWP's Chairman, in 1997, entered an alliance of convenience with Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party after the failure of the Alliance of Seven Political Parties to put forward a single candidate. He supported Mrs. Sirleaf but relationship between the two politicians became sour after the process due to what a close associate considered "policy differences."

Cllr. Sherman's decision brings to nearly five politicians who are seeking the interim presidency. The others include Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh, Mr. Wesley Momo Johnson and a woman rights advocate, Ms. Tereasa Leigh-Sherman.

Also, Cllr. Sherman's True Whig Party on Tuesday July 15 issued a joint statement with the All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) and the Progressive People's Party (PPP)stating that Vice President Moses Gblah should finish the 'constitutional' term of the ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP).

The statement countered a position of 13 political parties calling for the interim government that is to be formed to take over the country immediately upon the departure of Mr. Charles Taylor. But the joint TWP, ALCOP and PPP's statement described the position as a "coup d'etat in a non military faction."

There appears to be a crack in the rank and file of the PPP on the current position of the negotiating parties. PPP's Standard Bearer, Cllr. Chea Cheapo disagrees with his party's Chairman for VP Gblah to continue. "The decision was unilateral because it did not conform with the decision making procedures of our party", Cllr. Cheapo said.

He disclosed that the PPP is facing serious problem but blamed it on his absence from the country "during which people had the opportunity to manipulate the party".

Meanwhile, an insider hinted this writer yesterday that Mediators at the conference had given the political parties, government and warring factions up to today [Wednesday] to decide or "they will be helped to make decision."