Home Politics ‘Special Forces’ Commando Fear Dead …At NPP’s Chaotic Convention

‘Special Forces’ Commando Fear Dead …At NPP’s Chaotic Convention

by News Manager

By Our Staff Writer

MONROVIA: The 7th Biennial Convention of the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP), of former President Charles Ghankay Taylor was marred with chaos, that witnesses say, resulted into the sudden death of one of NPP’s strong partisans, Francis Mehnwon.

Mehnwon is said to be a former Frontline Commando of Charles Taylor’s erstwhile Special Forces, a unit of the erstwhile armed rebel group, National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). The NPP is the political offspring of NPFL.

Ex-Commando Mehnwon was promoted to the rank of Major General by the erstwhile Military High Command of the defunct NPFL in Gbarnga, Bong County, in the 1990s during the heat of Liberia’s decade-long, bloody and back-to-back civil war.

Although there has been no official pronouncement from Mehnwon’s family as it relates to the causes and factors relating to his death, eyewitnesses attributed the situation to a stampede that broke out in the edifice of the Paynesville Town Hall during NPP’s recent convention.

The eyewitnesses said the stampede broke out as a result of intense misunderstanding involving two rival groups of NPP, one loyal to Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor who is also ex-wife of former NPFL leader, Charles Taylor and others loyal to incumbent Maryland County Senator, James Biney.
According to eyewitnesses, Biney has been an executive of NPP Youth for Maryland County.

This paper has gathered that the late General Mehnwon, was with other NPFL former Generals including then Artillery Commander, Joe Tuah; and Roland Duo, when the confusion broke out at the Paynesville City Hall.

Sources familiar with the late Mehnwon informed this paper that since the end of the Liberian civil war, he has been suffering from hypotension and that he just returned from the Republic of Ghana where he has been undergoing advanced medical treatment.

Eyewitnesses who asked not to be named for security reason also indicated that former General Wehnwon and colleagues were in the main Hall when the place got over crowded, leading to a severe heat that raised his pressure. The situation, according to eyewitnesses left him unconscious, and helpless which later resulted into heart attack.

When the ex-general was rushed to a nearby clinic, witnesses say he was pronounced dead on arrival by medical personnel. It is not clear as which of the NPP faction Ex-general Mehnwon supported or sided with during the convention.

Reports say Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor on Monday visited the family of the late general in Paynesville.

Prior to the 2022 Convention, the party’s current National Chairman, Senator James Biney, and Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor, have been at loggerheads as it relates to control of the party.
Owing to the chaos that effectively characterized the party’s Biennial Convention, the proceedings ended unexpectedly but both rival groups claimed victory and resounding success for their respective factions in the convention.

It seems inevitable that the NPP of jailed former President Charles Ghankay Taylor is gearing up for what some political observers termed as “legal battle” aimed at defeating each other for control of the party prior to the much-awaited 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia.

Both rival groups are claiming victory in their respective quest to hold onto the leadership of the NPP after both groups conducted ‘separate conventions.’

Reports also had it that following the violence that led to the death of former General Mehnwon and the injuring of several others, 13 Counties chairpersons wrote and signed a petition, ousting Senator Biney on grounds that he (Biney’s) constitutional tenure expired this month as Chairman of the NPP.

However, the NPP’s Biennial Convention on Friday, October 7, 2022 was necessitated by the mandate of the Civil Law Court after a prolonged leadership crisis. It was geared towards electing a new corps of officials to run the day-to-day operations of the party.

But, contrary to what was ordered by the court, confusion broke out in the edifice of the Paynesville Town Hall when the two rival forces disagreed on the number of accredited delegates to participate in the convention.

The disagreement lasted for a protracted period without any remedy, a situation which intensified the melee, leading to several partisans and officials sustaining injuries and destruction of properties belonging to the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC).

Commenting on the situation, the Senator Biney led faction of the NPP leadership, in a press statement, issued on Sunday, October 9, 2022, disclosed that the agreed number of partisans accredited as delegates to the convention was 301 and not 638, as was claimed by the Jewel’s faction of the party.

Early signs of the convention experiencing some hitches became visible during the preparatory part of the event when the party membership and leaders could not raise money for the initial budget of US$100,000 meant to cater for 638 delegates from across the country.

This situation prompted the party to take a decision on September 4, 2022, at its national headquarters to reduce the number of persons on the list to 301 persons, the NPP statement added.

According to the NPP Press Statement from the Biney faction, the convention turned chaotic when on the instruction of NPP Secretary General, Andrew Peters, several persons who had been listed earlier as delegates from the 638 were denied gaining entrance to the convention hall.

The statement added that partisans who were denied from entering the convention hall, however, insisted on entering the hall, on grounds that the decision to comply with the reduced number of persons does not exist, and that the original list of 638 was binding on delegates.

But, after the commotion was quieted, both groups, had separate convention, wherein a leadership structure for each group was elected.

In the process, seems not being recognized by VP Howard-Taylor, Senator James Biney was elected as National Chairman, unopposed, after his key contender, Abraham Masseley, a former senator of Grand Cape Mount County, backed off from the electoral process.

Those who were elected along with Senator Biney are as follow: former Bong Representative, George S. Mulbah, Vice Chairman for Administration; Daoda Metzger, Vice Chairman for Operations; Charlyne A. Taylor, Vice Chair, Gender Affairs; John A. Siaway, Vice Chairman-Planning, Policy and Research; and Dopoe Menkarzon, Vice Chairman-Special Projects.

Others also elected to serve along with Chairman Biney include Thomas G. Goba, Vice Chairman Finance/Investment; Sylvia Z. Taylor, Vice Chairman, Social Services; J. Allison Barco, Vice Chairman, Governmental Affairs and Randolph C. J. Cooper, National Treasurer.

Also following the cessation of the hostilities at the Convention, Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor told journalists that “We gathered all county chairpersons who brought their delegates. And they have chosen their leader. There is a Resolution that is signed by 13 county chairpersons. So, when you have two-thirds of the delegates that have signed this Resolution for the new leadership, then it is legitimate. Where the leadership is, is where the party will sit.”

More than that, some individuals, believed to be supporters of the Vice President have been congratulating her for her re-election as NPP’s Standard Bearer. The commendations of VP Taylor was made on social media including Facebook.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), in consultation with the Governing Council and the National Executive Committee has designated a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) to mediate the disagreement in the NPP which resulted into chaotic that greeted the convention.

The ‘DRC’ or otherwise known as the NPP Special Meditation Committee has been mandated to conduct a full scale investigation relative to circumstances that led to the commotion during the NPP convention with recommendations submitted in a period of fourteen days.

According to a press release, issued under the signature of CDC National Chairman, Mulbah Morlu, the Dispute Resolution Committee is expected to submit its final report by Tuesday, October 25, 2022.

Those named to the committee include Labor Minister, Cllr. Charles Gibson, Chairman; Moses Y. Kollie, Co-Chairman; Henry Fahnbulleh, Secretary; Professor Wilson Tarpeh, Member; Former Senator Richard Devine, Member; Cllr. Edward K. Goba, Member; John T. Richardson, member; Lydia Nimely, Member; Jefferson T. Koijee, Member; Garbia V. Williams, member and Reginald Sokan-Teah, member.

The Press release advices members of the rival factions to desist from making any public comment on the matter that may have the propensity to undermine the integrity and credibility of the investigation.

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