GANTA – Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee has resigned from the former ruling Unity Party (UP) with immediate effect, saying the action to suspend him earlier was “unfair and a breach of the norms” of the party.
This comes days after the UP leadership announced an indefinite suspension of Grupee and seven other of its senators.
The party accused them of joining the ranks of other lawmakers who voted to oust ex-Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh from the Supreme Court bench on one of four impeachable offenses, a fortnight ago.
The UP had opposed the impeachment trial, calling it “unconstitutional”, but Grupee said “it’s unfortunate the party would try to compel me to vote illegally.”
The associate justice was removed from office at the end of March on the count of granting a Writ of Prohibition petitioned by petroleum dealers in the country to stop the collection of levy or taxes of US$0.30 “Road Fund” imposed on the pump price of petroleum products when he served as Justice-in-Chambers.
However, with the 2020 midterm senatorial vote in the corner, Grupee’s next political destination is yet unknown but there’s speculation he’s headed to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
Some, if not all, of the suspended senators have cast doubt over the decision of their party to relax their membership, arguing that there was no proof of how senators voted in a secret ballot.
In the same manner, one of Unity Party’s collaborators, Liberty Party, suspended its partisan, Senator Jonathan Kaipay of Grand Bassa County, but the lawmaker has yet to officially respond to said action.
Meanwhile, Sen. Grupee told the Liberia News Agency in Nimba County that the “hasty decision” by UP was simply based on perception or ordinary sentiments.
“There’s nowhere in our Constitution or bylaws that calls for a legislator to take instructions or consult party executives before voting on any legislative issue,” he argues, adding: “The party expected us not to vote for the truth or our individual consciences but for what would please the party – even if our action would injure the country.”
“If there is an issue at the Legislature and the party has a position, that issue should have first been communicated to the leadership of the party’s Legislative Caucus who’ would then inform the rest of us about the party’s decision on a specific matter,” Grupee stated.
As one of his fellow senators and partisan Alphonso Gaye of Grand Gedeh County, Grupee said he was astonished when he heard and read the news of his suspension in the media without being officially notified by the party.
Senator Grupee is the second lawmaker from Nimba County to exit the UP in eight days.
On April 1, Nimba District Number 8 Representative also left to join the Alternative National Congress (ANC) party, a move which many have criticized because the two parties, plus Liberty Party, recently signed a communiqué to collaborate in future political activities, including elections.