– An analysis of their future political prospects

By: Jerromie S. Walters

The best, better, and most preferable space a lot of Liberians have envisioned for women at high levels of the body politics of Liberia might not be in the 2023 general elections, but this shall obviously come to actualization in future elections, as the sacrifices to pave the way for the victory ahead are expected to be made in the pending elections.

Interestingly, this can’t happen without the involvement of Liberia’s political godmother, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, a prolific Liberian female lawyer, and young politician Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine, who recently surfaced on the page but continues to display inclined qualities.

Nyonblee’s political future

Embattled Liberty Party (LP) political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence endorsed Liberia’s opposition leader, Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and Senator Jeremiah Koung’s presidential ticket on Sunday, May 14, 2023.

If Boakai is fortunate to win the pending presidential election, there’s a huge possibility that he might retire before he climaxes the six years.

If that happens, and if the UP lives up to its promise of making her the Senate pro tempore of the 55th national legislature, Senator Lawrence will automatically become the Vice President, following Boakai’s retirement.

Interestingly, this will place her in the best possible position to maintain her VP status till and after the 2029 general elections if the Unity Party (UP) performs well in its first six years.

Arguably, this will also pave the way for her to contest after 2029 as a presidential candidate, and this bid will be supported by the Unity Party (UP), the Liberty Party (LP), and the MDR if the current relationship continues.

Nyonblee’s UP endorsement

Nyonblee’s endorsement of the Boakai-Koung ticket on Sunday, May 14, 2023, came as a breakthrough for the former ruling Unity Party (UP), which had nearly lost major political allies since the former Liberian vice president picked his running mate on April 28.

“Therefore, in consideration of the selfless agenda that we brought to the table when we embarked on the journey with this astute statesman, I am pleased to announce that we wholeheartedly endorse the Boakai-Koung Ticket,” said Nyonblee.

The Grand Bassa Senator, Nyonblee, and her colleague, Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, were rumored to have nearly concluded an arrangement to switch their loyalties to Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) leader Alexander B. Cummings before they made a U-turn.

The two officials felt let down by Boakai’s decision to pick Mr. Koung instead of Senator Karnga-Lawrence as running mate.

She added that her decision followed two weeks of consultations with a broad spectrum of the membership of her party, stakeholders, and sympathizers at home and abroad.

Delivering her endorsement speech at the Fairground in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, Senator Karnga-Lawrence said her decision to endorse the Boakai-Koung ticket was to secure a better and more prosperous Liberia.

She wants a country where the plight and concerns of all Liberians can be protected and guaranteed.

Charlyne’s political future

Lately, there have been reports about Charlyne Brumskine, the daughter of fallen Liberty Party political leader Charles Walker Brumskine, being the possible running mate of the political leader of the CPP and the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings.

If it goes this way, it will undoubtedly pave the way for the young politician and make her a major contender in the 2029 presidential election.

Whether it goes well with the ANC after 2023 or not, Charlyne will be a profitable political commodity at the moment and in a suitable position to be picked as running mate by any other experienced candidate, a ticket that will have what it takes to secure a victory.

Moreover, it is a proven fact that if Cummings’ presidential quest doesn’t go well in October of this year, he will have a better chance in 2029 if he decides to contest, and this will require the involvement of people like Charlyne Brumskine, with whom he already has a very comfortable relationship.

Those with the possibility of winning the presidential seat in 2029 might be the likes of Cummings and Koung (if UP wins 2023), and with the two possible winners, Cummings will obviously carry Charlyne as his running mate while Koung will carry Nyonblee as his running mate because of their current relationships.

If this happens, it’s safe to say that women will be top priorities and among the hottest cakes in the political sphere in 2029 and the following elections.

However, with the case of Charlyne, it might have a different implication on her previous quest for the Representative seat of District #3, Grand Bassa County, if she agrees to contest as Cummings’ running mate in the pending elections, especially if they don’t win.

Many believe that Charlyne’s possibility of winning at the district level is much greater than it is in the case of running as a vice to Mr. Cummings, who’s not among the two favorite candidates.

Cummings’ interest in Charlyne

Charlyne Brumskine, a young, vibrant, and well-disciplined female lawyer and politician, is being considered for the country’s second highest office by the standard bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings.

Charlyne’s father, the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, was constantly in the top four during Liberia’s last three postwar elections and in the 1990s served as Senator for Grand Bassa County, which is the Liberty Party’s stronghold.

However, it is unclear whether she would agree since she has already announced her ambition to contest for a legislative seat in Grand Bassa.

But if she agrees, she would be one of the very few females to contest for the country’s vice presidency on the ticket of a major opposition party.

Consistent with her astuteness, Charlyne secured the highest mark on last year’s Supreme Court bar exam — a sign of her preparedness to carry on the professional legacy of the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine. Her potential candidacy as running mate to Cummings could set her up to exceed what her father tried to do for many years but fell short of.

As disclosed by internal sources, the pronouncement of Charlyne as Cummings’ running mate should have taken place at the just-ended CPP convention in Ganta, Nimba County, but it didn’t go as planned because the constitution of the Alternative National Congress, a constituent party within the CPP, requires that the naming of a running mate be done in the person’s county of origin.

So, this means that the ceremony would now take place in Brumskine’s home county if she accepts Cummings’ request to contest as his running mate in the October 10, 2023 elections.

Charlyne and Nyonblee’s struggle over Bassa if she accepts Cummings’ request

Grand Bassa County Senator announced that decision on Sunday evening, after collaborative talks with Cummings broke down, especially after what she termed as attempts by the CPP presidential candidate team to blackmail her into accepting their proposal as a precondition to regaining control of the Liberty Party from its chairman, Musa H. Bility, after a long internal conflict.

Senator Lawrence’s support for the Boakai-Koung ticket, however, has been met with a strong reaction from the Chairman of the Liberty Party, Musa Bility, who has vowed to take legal action against her if she continues to act in the name of the Liberty Party.

With this and a few others, there’s a possibility that Charlyne will become the next political leader of the Liberty Party (LP) if she agrees to Cummings’ offer, as the current political leader, Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, was expelled, and the Party is now in control of Musa Bility, who’s vigorously supporting the presidential bid of Mr. Cummings.

If Charlyne agrees to Cummings’ request and becomes the Liberty Party’s political leader, it’s easy to believe that the people of Grand Bassa County will prefer supporting Charlyne in her vice presidential bid through the CPP, which is the legal fraction of the Liberty Party (LP).

However, this won’t be really easy, as Nyonblee has built a very strong relationship with the people of Grand Bassa County, which they won’t easily ignore.

Liberty Party (LP) Conflict 

The Liberty Party, whose founding political leader Charles Brumskine is Charlyne’s late father, has been enmeshed in a long-standing legal and political battle that has seen the Supreme Court rule in Musa Bility’s favor as the legitimate chairman of the party despite attempts by Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence to have him expelled.

Bility argued that the Supreme Court’s ruling, which has given him the authority to lead the affairs of the party, remains in effect, and, therefore, the senator has no right to claim the role of a standard bearer while making her political moves.

In the wake of the Wednesday, April 12, 2023, Supreme Court final opinion that recognized the leadership of the Liberty Party National Executive Committee under the aegis of National Chairman Musa Hassan Bility as the only body authorized to manage the day-to-day affairs of the party, Chairman Bility issued a stern external memo to the National Elections Commission (NEC), political parties, and the international community warning against doing business with Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence as she is no longer the Political Leader of the Liberty Party.

According to April 16, 2023, Memo, Mr. Bility’s clarion call is predicated on the recent Supreme Court ruling, which explicitly declared the LP National Executive Committee as the only authority clothed with managing the party’s affairs, especially against the background of Senator Lawrence having been expelled from the position of Political Leader in March 2022, for which she appealed to the Court to invalidate the expulsion on the basis that the LP National Executive Committee did not have the authority to expel her.

“The recent SC ruling explicitly addresses this matter by declaring the LP National Executive Committee is the body clothed with the authority to manage the affairs of the Party. “In addition, her tenure as political leader has expired since October 2022,” the Bility External Memo stated.

The memo comes in the wake of the Supreme Court handing down its final ruling in the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari in the case Musa Hassan Bility and others of the Liberty Party (Appellees) v. National Elections Commission, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, and Emmanuel Azango (Respondents), declaring the Liberty Party (LP) Constitution filed at the National Election Commission (NEC) and the LP leadership duly elected and inducted at the January 2021 LP Special National Convention in Gbarnga.

“We kindly inform you that Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence is no longer the Political Leader of the Liberty Party (LP). Sen. Karnga-Lawrence was expelled from the position of Political Leader in March 2022 and appealed to the Court to invalidate the expulsion on the basis that the LP National Executive Committee did not have the authority to expel her because the LP 2021 Special National Convention that voted the National Executive Committee into leadership and the Constitution that came out of that Special National Convention were both illegitimate.

The recent SC ruling has explicitly addressed both matters by declaring that both the LP 2021 Special National Convention and the resulting Constitution are legitimate and that the LP National Executive Committee is, constitutionally, clothed with the authority to manage the affairs of the Party.

“In addition, as per the LP Constitution, her tenure as Political Leader has expired in October 2022,” the memo furthered.

The issuance of the External Memo also followed a Saturday, April 15, 2023, press statement from the Liberty Party National Chairman informing the public of the SC ruling and reiterating the party’s call for reconciliation and charting the way forward together, while urging all members, both home and abroad, to refrain from making public statements and holding events in the name of LP without the authorization of the National Executive Committee, as this would not only be illegal but would only serve to further the divide and render reconciliation futile.

However, subsequent to the issuance of the Saturday press statement, the Liberty Party, in an updated press statement issued Sunday, April 16, 2023, said it had learned that Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, former political leader of the LP, held a public meeting in the name of the LP in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, on April 15, 2023, and informed the attendees that the LP battle was not over.

Both Mr. Bility and Senator Lawrence have been in court up to the point of a Supreme Court ruling that seemed to disadvantage Sen. Lawrence and gave the upper hand to Bility on the management of the affairs of the party.

This conflict has seen the Liberty Party factionalized, with Senator Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County and Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon supporting the presidential ambition of the standard bearer of the Unity Party, Joseph Boakai, while Bility, on the other hand, is supporting the presidential ambition of the standard bearer of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, who was nominated as the standard bearer of the CPP.

It has been left to see which side of the divide Charlyne chooses to contest ahead of 2023, most likely she will be the running mate to Cummings.

 Who’s Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence?

With just two female senators (Senators Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence of Grand Bassa County and Botoe Kanneh of Gbarpolu County) in a male-dominated senate, Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, who’s the Chair of the Women Legislative Caucus, has proven good in the various spectrums of her duty through constant advocacy at the Senate for her county and at the national level.

Prior to the passage of the drug law, she was one of the most ardent advocates for its passage. She made a compelling argument that the offense should be a non-bailable offense for importers, distributors, custodians, and local producers, but that end users should be able to post bail for the offense. On the Senate floor, where important topics, including those impacting women, are being discussed, her presence is definitely felt.

Additionally, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, who’s also the Chair on Rules, Orders, and Administration, runs the Nyonblee Cares Foundation, which has provided school programs since 2016 and has persistently been engaged in advocacy against sexual and gender-based violence, and she has been very vocal on several national issues. She frequently visits and interacts with her constituents.

Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, in her role as Chairperson of the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia, has pushed for a number of initiatives for women, such as the recent two-day workshop for female lawmakers and women who want to run for office in Liberia. She has also put up a serious challenge at the level of her political party.

Who’s Charlyne Brumskine?

Cllr. Charlyne M. Brumskine hails from Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, and YekEPA, Nimba County.

Her legal expertise is unmatched, having founded and managed the rapidly growing CMB Law Group in Liberia for 20 years.

She holds a Juris Doctor degree from Howard University School of Law in Washington, D.C., and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Barnard College in New York.

But Cllr. Brumskine is much more than just a legal luminary; she’s also a generous philanthropist, dedicating 15% of her annual income to educating children from kindergarten to university.

She is a major donor to education in Grand Bassa County and Liberia through the Brumskine Family Foundation and has contributed over 500,000 LRD to Liberian government hospitals.

Cllr. Brumskine is a champion of gender rights, supports women’s sports, and advocates against gender-based violence and abuse.

She is also a sponsor and supporter of sports at both the county and national levels in Liberia.

Her compassion extends to the disadvantaged and vulnerable in society.

She provides loans for small businesses, distributes food and medication to elderly and disabled homes during holidays, and has helped reintegrate disadvantaged youth into society.

Cllr. Brumskine is a shining example of what it means to be a true leader and humanitarian.

For the past 3 presidential elections, only a single woman (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf) has emerged as a winner at the level of the presidency, and also a single woman (Jewel Howard Taylor) at the level of the vice presidency.

If Charlyne accepts Cummings’ offer, she will be the only female candidate in the presidential election.

Presently, there are 11 (eighteen) female lawmakers at the National Legislature, and considering their performances, some have done extremely well in representation, lawmaking, and oversight, while others are still struggling with lawmaking, representation, and oversight.

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