Sulunteh Offers Explanation for Resignation From UP

MONROVIA, Montserrado – Former Liberian ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico, Jeremiah Sulunteh, says his resignation from the ruling Unity Party was triggered by his disappointment in a lack of focus on youth development.

Sulunteh resigned from UP in January following the end of his tenure as ambassador to the United States, Canada, and Mexico. He served as the party’s senior national vice chair after being elected at the 2010 convention held in Ganta, Nimba.

Recently appearing as a guest on the Liberia Broadcasting Corporation’s Bumper Show, Sulunteh explained that in 2015, he had toured seven out of the 15 counties in Liberia and submitted an eight-count recommendation on ways to rebrand the party for the 2017 elections, with a specific focus on youth development.

Though Sulunteh did not outline the details of his recommendations, he said they emphasized educating the youths, who did the bulk of the campaigning work for the apart. “All the youth wanted was some hope and that hope was to go back to school,” he said.

However, the former ambassador said his recommendations fell on deaf ears: “I thought my recommendation was a good piece that would be pivotal for the party in the upcoming October 2017 elections, but frustratingly, nobody captured those recommendations.”

He added that it is individuals that bring value to the party and not necessarily the party that makes the individuals.

“If my eight-count recommendations to the party were not given any attention, what else could I have done?” Sulunteh said.

Mohammed Ali, Unity Party’s assistant national secretary general for press, publicity, and outreach, said it was unfortunate that the party’s former vice chair would make such claims.

According to Ali, Sulunteh’s comments suggest that the former ambassador should have better lobbied with other members of the party’s executive committee to ensure that his recommendations were implemented. He said after Sulunteh was appointed as ambassador, he likely did not follow up on his recommendations.

Mohammed Ali, Unity Party’s assistant national secretary general for press, publicity, and outreach. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Mohammed Ali, Unity Party’s assistant national secretary general for press, publicity, and outreach. Photo: Zeze Ballah

“Sulunteh, being Liberia’s former ambassador, should understand the power of lobbying,” Ali said.

Ali further accused Sulunteh of being out of touch with the party during his tenure as ambassador and said the former ambassador “did not know how the party was being run in his absence.”

Ali said he could not confirm nor deny whether Sulunteh did submit his recommendation to the party, although he said the party’s former secretary-general and current chairman Wilmot J. Paye “is also not aware and wonders who actually [Sulunteh] submitted his recommendations to.”

Rather than his resignation being related to his supposed ignored recommendations, Ali said he believed Sulunteh’s resignation stemmed from his desire to become a vice standard bearer to Joseph Boakai. Sulunteh preemptively resigned from the party because he may have believed that he would not be selected as Boakai’s running mate, Ali surmised.

Boakai, who is UP’s standard bearer, has not given any clue on whom he will select as a running mate for the 2017 elections.

UP’s spokesperson said Sulunteh also undermined the party while serving as senior vice chair, accusing Sulunteh of sponsoring the formation of the People Unification Party with the intent of resigning his ambassadorial position and becoming its standard bearer.

Sulunteh denied rumors of his affiliation with PUP, which he described as part of an agenda meant to create a rift between him and Henrique Tokpah, the current internal affairs minister who hails from Bong, as does Sulunteh.

An executive of PUP and speaker of the House of Representatives, Emmanuel Nuquay, called during Sulunteh’s segment on the Bumper Show to dispute the former ambassador’s account about his involvement with PUP.

Nuquay said Sulunteh, while serving as ambassador to the United States, had wanted to secure his place within PUP so that he could come back home and lead the party.

“If Sulunteh ever thought that he was doing the UP any harm, his resignation has rather done the party even more good,” Ali added.

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

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