Remembering Counsellor Charles Walker Brumskine

first_imgCounsellor Charles Walker Brumskine and erstwhile political leader of the Liberty Party has finally succumbed to a protracted illness and has left the political scene of Liberia but, leaving behind a vibrant political institution with a capable female, Grand Bassa Senator, Nyonblee Karnga in charge.Prior to the outbreak of the civil war, Counsellor Charles Brumskine was fully engaged in legal practice in Monrovia, never ever having ventured into local politics. But that was to change following the outbreak of civil war in 1990.The civil war pitted Liberians against Liberians and led many to take sides in the conflict. From information available, Counsellor Brumskine cast his lot with the Charles Taylor led National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) although, he is reported to never have taken up residence in Gbarnga.However, it was during the transitional period in 1994 that he rose to the limelight as an ardent campaigner for a “Status of Forces Agreement” between the West African Peace Keeping Force, ECOMOG and the Liberian government which was a stance strongly supported by then rebel leader of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). Leading proponents of this stance, aside from Charles Brumskine included then Counsellor Varney Sherman and the late former Associate Supreme Court Justice, Clarence L. Simpson Jr.Supporters of the NPFL had coined the phrase: “Every Car Or Moving Object Gone” in derisive reference to the ECOWAS Peace Keeping Force, ECOMOG. They used this as a major strong point of their argument to drive home the point that the country was being looted by the Peace Keeping troops.When Charles Taylor finally became President following elections in 1997 under a proportional representation formula, one of his first acts was to get the Peace Keepers to leave, although it had a mandate from ECOWAS to restructure and retrain the national security forces. However barely two years later, in 1999, the nation had once again become engulfed with violent conflict.But prior to then and right after the 1997 elections that brought Taylor to power, Charles Brumskine was named as Senator representing Grand Bassa County and President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate. There, in the Senate, Brumskine began to flex his muscles. His first casualty was the tough talking Deputy Minister of Information Milton Teahjay, now Senator of Sinoe County, whose appearance before the senate he commanded to answer questions about some incident involving Teahjay and his boss, the late Joe Mulbah.Apart from tendering a verbal apology, Brumskine insisted on a written apology to be published in several leading newspapers. That development appeared to have raised Taylor’s antenna of suspicion about Brumskine’s possible presidential ambitions. After all, Teahjay, according to sources close to the presidency, was Taylor’s handpicked propagandist and Brumskine’s grilling of Teahjay was considered a personal affront to him (Charles Taylor).Taylor’s suspicions apparently heightened following the spat between House Speaker Nyudueh Monorkomna and Senate President Pro Tempore Charles Brumskine over the question of who the head of the Legislature was. Charles Brumskine had argued that each House was separate and had their own rules of procedure and, more besides, a senator represented an entire country as opposed to a representative who had a much smaller constituency. By then, conspiracy theories were all in the air and Taylor, faced with a growing insurgency in northwest Lofa County decided he had had enough.Before long, security vehicles including that of Taylor’s dreaded SSS Director Benjamin Yeaten began shadowing Brumskine’s Hotel Africa residence on a nightly basis. Fearing for his life and safety, Brumskine decided to leave the country but he was turned back at the Roberts International Airport and his passport seized by security authorities. After several days his passport was returned, and he was allowed to leave the country.But the insurgency intensified as LURD rebels began advancing on the nation’s capital. With elections due in 2003, a besieged Taylor, desperate for relief declared that elections will go ahead even if there was fighting on Broad Street.But the question was with nearly every opposition leader out of the country in exile, was whether such elections would be credible.Answer to that question was not long in coming with a surprise announcement by Charles Brumskine that he was returning to the country to challenge Taylor at the Polls.But Brumskine confounded and silenced his critics who had doubted that he would have returned to what was a virtual war zone. But Brumskine did return to a triumphant welcome by a teeming crowd. And surprisingly, not even a strand of his hair was touched by Taylor.By all accounts, at the time, it was to be a two-horse race with Brumskine clearly tipped to win.  But fate and the onslaught of the rebel advance on two fronts was to intervene and put paid to the elections for Taylor was forced to abdicate.Charles Brumskine was among those who gathered in Accra at the peace meeting brokered by ECOWAS. A peace formula calling for disarmament of the factions, the setting up of an interim government followed by elections two years later, was agreed. Charles Brumskine contested the elections in 2005 but lost, placing third. He contested again in 2011 but lost also.He was riled by the public on two separate occasions for not encouraging his supporters to support Ellen Sirleaf in the 2005 and 2011 run-off elections and Joseph Boakai in the 2017 runoff elections.But more than anything, it was the 2017 elections and its aftermath of legal challenges in the face of visible and gripping tension during which he made his mark, stepping forward fearlessly and brilliantly challenging at the Supreme Court, the integrity of those results while urging his supporters to remain calm, which undoubtedly earned him a place in history.At the time, the nation was on edge, poised on the brink of renewed civil conflict but he pulled back from the brink.Charles Brumskine’s sojourn on this terrestrial sphere has now ended but the tasks of building and strengthening Liberia’s democracy has not ended. This is the challenge to the Liberty Party.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

New setback for automakers

first_imgBrendan Bell, a Washington representative for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said Sessions’ swift rejection of their arguments could lead judges considering similar disputes in California and Rhode Island to dismiss the cases. One of the plaintiffs, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Co. and others, has not said whether it will appeal the Vermont decision. Sessions’ ruling built upon the momentum for stronger emissions requirements created by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in April that said the EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas pollution. As a result, the EPA now has dozens of scientists and researchers developing new regulations that are slated to be released by the end of the year. The rules are expected to incorporate President Bush’s “20 in 10” proposal to reduce gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017. Bell said the decision was “one more turn of the crank putting pressure” on the EPA as it develops the rules. “It sets the bar,” Bell said. “What California is proposing is technologically feasible and is the floor.” EPA spokeswoman Jennifer Wood said the agency was “in the process of taking the first regulatory step in addressing greenhouse gas emissions from new cars” and would issue a proposal by the end of the year. The Vermont case will also be part of the backdrop in the negotiations expected to begin this fall on an energy bill. The Senate approved tougher fuel economy regulations in June that would require automakers to reach 35 mpg by 2020. A similar House bill was silent on the issue and lawmakers from both chambers will need to resolve the differences. The industry has tried to build support for an alternative that would seek more moderate increases in the standards for cars and trucks, up to 32 to 35 mpg by 2022. Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a nonprofit environmental group, said the ruling would help House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., build consensus around the Senate version. “The Senate provisions look quite tame compared to California, they look very modest and moderate so it gives Pelosi a very strong argument,” O’Donnell said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WASHINGTON – A ruling by a Vermont judge this week against the auto industry over tough rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions could have national ramifications, from government agencies developing new regulations to the halls of Congress. The decision, the latest setback for the auto industry, could stifle similar litigation pursued by carmakers while placing more pressure on Congress to implement strict fuel economy rules in an energy bill expected to be negotiated this fall. Environmental groups said Judge William Sessions III’s decision on Wednesday bolstered the attempt by California and its allies to receive a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set up more stringent vehicle anti-pollution standards than those used by the federal government. “This, I think, turns up the heat on the EPA on the question of the waiver which is the key step here,” said Phil Sharp, a former Indiana congressman who serves as president of Resources for the Future, an environmental group. The EPA has said it will decide on the waiver by the end of the year. Under the Clean Air Act, California has permission to implement its own pollution rules if it receives a federal waiver. Vermont is among a dozen states that have adopted California’s standards. In Vermont, automakers challenged the limits developed by California that would require a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from cars and trucks by 2016. The industry said that would require average fuel economy standards to surpass 43 miles per gallon, well above the current requirement of 27.5 mpg for passenger cars. Those standards are unattainable, the industry said during the April trial, arguing that it would create a patchwork of regulations across the nation and cause financial hardships for the manufacturers. But Sessions was unconvinced, writing that “history suggests that the ingenuity of the industry, once put in gear, responds admirably to most technological challenges.” The judge reached his decision after listening to hours of expert testimony and analysis put forth by the auto industry during the 16-day trial. last_img read more