As we move forward towards the 2017 National Elections in October, I find it imperative to carry out a critical evaluation on the strengths and political works of the main opposition parties in Liberia.
I also find it extremely difficult if not impossible, for some of the Liberian opposition parties to tolerate any genuine coalition since greed and selfishness seem to have overshadowed national interest.
The undemocratic coalition between the NPP, CDC and LPDP was not only staged but also a deliberate attempt by the parties to mislead the people of Liberia into thinking that they are for the people and ready to elect a presidential candidate who would be progressive, knowledgeable and have the capability to bring about any significant change, which is much needed in Liberia, as with many other African nations.
In the current circumstances, the Liberian people cannot expect any meaningful change since the coalition that we witnessed was the Congress of Democratic Change bringing together two already feeble political parties, which in turn makes them weaker, allowing the CDC to become the head of the household.
Obviously, the phrase "For Democratic Change" is not taken seriously by the CDC or its leadership since its birth. The exclusion of the All Liberian Party, ALP during the final formation of the so-called coalition is a clear indication of the fact that the ALP stands as a strong opposition to the CDC, NPP, and the LPDP, and that the ALP would not accept the political dowry being given by the CDC, which has the only well-structured party with sufficient human and financial resources to sweep the coming general elections.
Apart from that, the conglomeration of patriotic sons and daughters who are passionate and have the integrity to lead the party that puts the interest of Liberia first is something that the CDC would clearly be intimidated with, which is the reason that it decided to play hits pathetic political game so close to the elections.
Since the birth of the multi-party system in Liberia, some of the opposition political parties have also been self-seeking and not discussing the in-depth issues affecting the lives of the ordinary people.
The question remains, how effective and democratic are some of these opposition parties to form a coalition for a decisive victory as it recently happened in Ghana and Gambia. During the 2005 presidential elections, the greed and lust for political power were exhibited amongst political parties ascending the Unity Party to power.
Similarly, in 1997, our political leaders demonstrated political intolerance towards each other which paved the way for Charles Taylor's landslide victory, making him the post-war president.
I also recall back in 1985 when the Late Baccus Matthews' UPP had a meeting at the then Rosaline's Restaurant on Carey Street with opposition leaders and suggested of the formation of a coalition to challenge the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL).
At the time, it was 11 proposed political parties, out of which five parties survived the strangulation of the Emmet Harman's Election Commission.
It was the Liberian Action Party (LAP), Liberian Unification Party (LUP) Unity Party (UP), United People's Party (UPP), and National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL). Notwithstanding, NDPL went through the registration process without any form of strangulation.
The Liberian People's Party (LPP) did not survive the commission's strangulation and therefore, was denied the completion of its registration. Notwithstanding, the UPP was soon banned by the Interim National Assembly.
Yet, the opposition parties could not agree to form a coalition against the NDPL. As a result, four political parties participated in the 1985 presidential election, and the NDPL was declared the winner, making Samuel K. Doe the President of Liberia.
It was after the general election's results were announced that the UP, LAP and LUP decided to organize the so-called grand coalition. But, it was too late! UPP refused to be a part, but remained a loyal opposition to maintain peace and stability in the country.
Today, with the formation of over 20 political parties by individuals who automatically become either first partisan or standard bearer, the agreement about who should be the head of a genuine and cohesive coalition has become a decision that has been riddled in mystery by the so-called political leaders because, parties are organized around individual personalities.
Unfortunately for the voters, the first partisans or standard bearers of these political institutions are interested in becoming the President of Liberia. Some without the proper resources to campaign throughout the country will be unable to explain their party's platform to the electorate.
In fact, all opposition leaders are sporting the same political message; "We will fight corruption." But, the fact remains that ordinary Liberians endured untold suffering because of the high level of corruption existing in all three branches of government.
Quite embarrassingly, the Unity Party is in no position to campaign on corruption because the party has now become the embodiment of corruption and therefore, cannot win the 2017 election.
Disappointingly, the Charles Brumskine's Liberty Party no longer accuses the government of any corruption.
From all indications, the Liberty Party has now become a political prostitute, receiving financial support and resources from the ruling Unity Party to fit within the political environment.
As political events unfold in Liberia, we recently witnessed the Unity Party deliberately and recklessly violating their own code of conduct during the party’s convention in Bong County. But what’s even more surprising is that none of the opposition parties had the guts to challenge the violations through the court.
We understand that it would not be easy to file a petition against the Unity Party-led government for their riskless behavior, but it is the opposition’s duty to do so regardless of how difficult it may be.
The fact that no concerns were raised by the opposition is a clear indication that all of the political parties that function under the Liberian flag have strayed from their initial promises and party ideology.
Speaker Alex Tyler was harassed by the anti-bloc and made Tyler involuntarily rescue himself and his unconstitutional removal as Speaker designed by the Executive, is another unforeseen event the people of Liberia witnessed.
A subsequent election was held for a new speaker, denying Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue to succeed Speaker Tyler. This act on the part of the House of Representative was another blatant violation of the Liberian constitution.
Every attempt Speaker Tyler made to the Supreme Court to seek some form of redress was denied because of the Executive Branch’s interest to his removal. When Representative Melvin Snow energetically severed as the Chief Lieutenant to ostracize Tyler, his wife was sitting as an associate justice who denied Tyler of his legal rights after he had filed a petition.
Surprisingly, our so-called politicians, who in the past, advocated for justice and democracy in Liberia are yet to speak out about that issue. William R, Tolbert and Samuel K. Doe received political beatings from the same people who are mute today about their attackers.
The people that I am referring to here are Dr. Amos Sawyer, Togba Nah Tipoti, and Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh. I can only wish Baccus Matthews was alive (may his soul rest in peace). The only outspoken voice we are now hearing is that of Mr. Henry Costa, who is fearlessly speaking the truth, without any fear for his own life.
What I see in Liberia, is a political system that has been characterized by greed and self-interest, and therefore no known politician has come up to consistently criticize the ruling Unity Party for its poor governance over the past 11 years.
This type of proliferation of so many political parties clearly demonstrates the greed for power amongst the so-called political parties, with no vision to improve the quality of life for the ordinary citizens of Liberia.
Instead, those individuals who had previously claimed to represent the interest of the ordinary people seem to be in the constant habit of manipulating the system to enrich themselves.
It is a clear and present danger whenever the opposition political party members serving in the Liberian House of Representative and senate refuse to advocate for democracy and social justice, and instead engages in unscrupulous activities that undermines the very democracy which we all are obligated to uphold, and the political parties even more so.
The truth is that ordinary Liberians have not benefited from the opposition political parties since the introduction of the multi-party system in the country. None of them are good at creating awareness about an issue as important as corruption, and exercising public opinion. For God sake!
There are unscrupulous bills being signed into law, and concession agreements being signed without soliciting the input of the people even when the people are in clear disagreement.
Moreover, because of the high level of corruption, the president would rather bribe members of the legislature into agreeing with her on any issue, than taking her concerns to the citizens of the 73 electorate districts, and asking them to appeal to their legislators to support the executive order. The 2017 election is going to be extremely important for the Liberians, both at home and abroad.
A free and fair election is vital to keeping the country from descending into a civil disturbance and further chaos. Therefore, the government must allow opposition parties to have access to the government, the media and the use of any government facility in all 15 counties without any hindrance.
Furthermore, the Minister of Internal Affairs must officially inform all government appointed superintendents not to deny any political party the usage of government facilities when requested.
In addition, all opposition parties need to have access to Freedom of Information from all government-run institutions to enhance its ability to meaningfully understand the policies of the Unity Party-led government so that they are able to make more informed statements on certain policies.
To this end, we ask the Real Opposition Party to become more involved and to stand alongside ordinary Liberians to fight against corruption and play a pivotal role in the upcoming elections.
Charles Russell, Philadelphia