A year ago, Winston Tubman was the main opposition leader challenging the president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Now, four months after Liberia’s presidential election, he is completely removed from that country’s political landscape.
Tubman announced his retirement from politics, just days after his political party, the Congress for Democratic Change, announced that he was being expelled from its ranks.
Acarous Gray, the national secretary general of the party, said that Tubman’s expulsion was a reflection of an agreement under which the one-time presidential candidate promised to step down as head of the party within 20 days of last November’s election.
“The partisans and leadership of the mighty Congress for Democratic Change expected this to have happened,” Gray said, explaining that it was understood that “after the election he was going to step down as standard bearer. So at this point in time for him to retire from politics is not a surprise to members of the CDC.”
In addition, party officials said that Tubman had been expelled because of his involvement in “organized factional activity.”
For his part, Tubman, who came in second place in the initial balloting in the country’s presidential election, said that he was stepping down in order to create a clear path to leadership within the party. Specifically, he said he wanted to assist the political prospects for George Weah, the former Liberian soccer star who ran for vice president on the ticket with Tubman.
Furthermore, Tubman said he was removing himself from the country’s political life because he said it would avoid “devastating divisions” with his political party.
Sirleaf, who was the first woman elected head of state in Africa, was inaugurated earlier this year for a second six-year term.
Winston Tubman is the nephew of Liberia’s longest serving president, William V.S. Tubman, who ran the country for 26 years. He was educated at Harvard and Cambridge and worked under Samuel Doe as justice minister in the 1980s.
President Sirleaf first came to office after Liberia had emerged from a brutal 14-year civil conflict that decimated the nation. The first round of balloting in last year’s presidential campaign went relatively smoothly, with international observers saying that the voting was conducted fairly.
However, the runoff election produced some violent clashes as Tubman withdrew from the contest and claimed that the earlier results were corrupted by fraud. Leading up to the runoff election, supporters of Tubman as well as others skirmished with police in conflicts in which at least one person was killed.
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(Photo: FINBARR O'REILLY/Reuters /Landov)