Liberty Party Reportedly Under Intense Lobbying With CDC, UP Over Who to Support in Runoff
Monrovia – Fresh off its unsuccessful bid to press for a rerun of this year’s disputed presidential elections, the opposition Liberty Party in Liberia appears to be divided over which direction its standard bearer, Charles Walker Brumskine and the party should go in way of support for the two remaining candidates in the race for the Liberian presidency, football legend-turned politician, Senator George Manneh Weah and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
“I am sure when a decision is made party officials will inform the press” – Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Standard Bearer, Liberty Party
Senator Weah received 38 percent of votes in the first round on Oct. 10, while VP Boakai came second with 29 percent of ballots cast.
Several senior stalwarts in the party confided to FrontPageAfrica Sunday that negotiations are being concluded but that most of the partisans are said to be divided although some key members in the hierarchy appear to be leaning in the direction of Senator George Manneh Weah.
Contacted Sunday, Cllr. Brumskine could not confirm or deny the report, only telling FrontPageAfrica that the party will make an official announcement at the right time.
“I am sure when a decision is made, party officials will inform the press.”
FrontPageAfrica made several inquiries Sunday with mixed results. Multiple sources in both the LP and CDC confirm to FPA that discussions are taking place and an official announcement could come sometime this week.
“I can confirm the discussions. We had a meeting yesterday Saturday) and some (Liberty Party) are in disagreement,” said a senior staffer closed to Senator Weah.
Another source hinted to FPA that intense lobbying is ongoing with both Senator Weah and VP Boakai reaching out to Cllr. Brumskine for support.
Sources also tell FPA that due to the intensity of the negotiations, LP’s Chairman Benjamin Sanvee had to cut short a private visit to the US and was expected in Monrovia Sunday evening.
Talks were also said to be intensifying in Brumskine’s hometown, the port city of Buchanan Sunday with stalwarts of CDC in lengthy meeting with Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (LP, Grand Bassa) and other LP officials.
Cllr. Brumskine was an unlikely ally to VP Boakai in his recent quest for a rerun of this year’s presidential elections.
Speculations were rife during the early days of the campaign season that VP Boakai had rejected overtures to carry Cllr. Brumskine as his running mate.
However, it was Cllr. Brumskine who gave the UP standard bearer a lifeline when he mounted a strong challenge to the results from the first round, charging that the elections were marred by fraud after the electoral commission ruled that the first-round Oct. 10 vote was fair.
Cllr. Brumskine’s protest of the results pushed the elections into a state of uncertainty, delaying the first democratic transfer of power in over 70 years by weeks.
Last week, the high court ordered the National Elections Commission to proceed with organizing the final round of presidential elections that was initially scheduled Nov. 7 but ordered the commission to clean up the voters roll by removing multiple names of identification numbers and make sure that no unregistered person is allowed to vote, according to the judgment.
Cllr. Brumskine, who finished third, was joined by the Unity Party in his call for a rerun of the election, saying it was marred by fraud and irregularities.
The LP standard bearer also questioned the professionalism of Liberia’s electoral commission, demanding its commissioners be fired.
The high court however ruled that while irregularities did occur at some voting stations, the complainants didn’t prove that similar incidents took place throughout the country.
“For there to be such a massive turnaround in the entire electoral process, the appellants are under a legal obligation to show that these activities occurred not just at a few isolated centers, but that they occurred at most, or all of the polling places,” Associate Justice Philip Banks opined.
Cllr. Brumskine’s decision to sit on the fence following the 2005 presidential elections has been a thorny issue of lingering rift between his LP and Weah’s CDC over the past few years.
Political observers say, the decision was a key reason the pair failed to form what many considered a winning ticket in the 2011 presidential race after coming close to former a dream pairing.
VP Boakai has already won the endorsement of businessman Benoni Urey of the All-Liberian Party and Emmanuel Nuquay’s People’s Unification Party (PUP)while Weah has won endorsements from fellow Senator Prince Y. Johnson, from vote-rich Nimba, Cooper’s Liberia Restorative Party Standard, Mills Jones’s Movement for Economic Empowerment and Macdonald Wento’s Unity People’s Party.
As lobbying intensified throughout the weekend, Liberians were keenly awaiting the actual date of the runoff as NEC prepares to report back to the high court regarding the cleaning up of voter rolls.
The electoral process is also racing against time to avoid a possible constitutional crisis as the clock ticks on the incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who is expected to end her tenure on Jan. 18 after completing two six-year mandates.