Monrovia – What was supposed to be a meeting of minds aimed at ending simmering tension within the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change failed to achieve its objectives Tuesday as efforts to bring President George Manneh Weah, party chairman Mulbah Morlu and Representative Acarous Moses Gray to the mediation table collapsed without finding common ground.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, firstname.lastname@example.org
The tension escalated in the aftermath of a recent scathing indictment of President Weah’s leadership by Chairman Morlu, who suggested at a news conference that the party was losing its way with the grassroots electorate on whose backs it rose to power.
Issue No. 1: Problem with Meeting Venue
Said Mr. Morlu: “It is embarrassing and shameful for the socio-economic disparity to continue to widen between the haves and have-nots, while we are expected to remain silent. The CDC cannot and will not remain silent if the problems it stood against yesterday begin to resurface in the governance corridors of today. We cannot forget so soon that the existence of this government is a product of the many years of sacrifice, commitment and selfless resilience of millions of ordinary Liberians who simply desire good governance and a departure from the political excesses of the past. Amidst the plethora of challenges across the country, our people still remain hopeful that we will rise to seize the moment and make the difference for our people and country; let us not let the people down.”
Since Mr. Morlu’s rants against the President, murmurs have been floating in the air that President Weah was unhappy. Some party stalwarts, led by Professor Wilson Tarpeh, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and presidential aides agreed that a meeting to clear the air was necessary. However, there were according to sources, issues regarding the venue of the meeting.
Both Morlu and Rep. Gray reportedly advised against the meeting being held at the President’s Jamaica resort versus the party’s headquarters.
The pair had reportedly agreed that it was a wrong idea to hold the meeting at the President’s resort since, under the party’s guidelines, all official meetings of the executive committee always takes place at the party’s headquarters.
Additionally, the disgruntled pair had reservations about attending. Mediators, led by Professor Tarpeh, seeking a resolution of the disagreement, reportedly prevailed on the pair – Messrs. Morlu and Gray and persuaded them to attend, encouraging them to attend because it was the president making the call. “Don’t disrespect the president by being absent, we beg you,” the mediators reportedly told the pair.
Issue No. 2: Agreement in Principle
The pair while appreciating the efforts of Professor Tarpeh to call a meeting made some conditions clear.
Among them, the pair said, in view of the recommendations enshrined in a statement of the party’s Executive Commission, they were eager to attend any meeting that will elevate a platform to discuss the interests of the partisans and people of Liberia, including good governance & accountability, They were however, concerned about a few things:
The pair complained that Minister of State McGill lacked the authority to cite the executive committee as he has been doing; that, if it’s the standard-bearer calling the meeting, the pair would attend only if it would be attended by NEC & Governing Council members; that the Secretariat should subsequently send citation ahead of the meeting; that Minister of State McGill desist from undermine the NEC, while pretending to want a dialogue; that Minister McGill should desist trying to incite various party structures, spreading misinformation against party officials and threatening to remove the entire party leadership for a new leadership that will protect government officials.
Except for reasons explained by Professor Tarpeh, the pair suggested the meeting be held at the CDC national headquarters. The pair also requested that as the gathering was a NEC meeting, they expected that only NEC/GC members would be in attendance – and no one else. Lastly, the pair said, it’s expected that the agenda of the meeting would be communicated in the citation to be sent by the Secretariat
Professor Tarpeh, according to the source expressed appreciation to the pair for their willingness to meet and discuss the concerns raised in the interest of the party and the country. Professor Tarpeh reportedly noted the concerns and recommendations about the meetings and assured them that there would be no objection to the creation of an enabling environment for a fruitful discussion.
The pair, according to multiple sources again prevailed on Professor Tarpeh that the Jamaica Resort was not the best setting for such a meeting and urge him to limit the participants to only Executive Committee members and no outsiders.
Professor Tarpeh reportedly sought to convince the pair that the meeting had not called by Minister McGill but rather, Cllr. Charles Gibson and himself, who requested the President to meet with his Party executives upon which the request was granted.
“Rep. Acarous Gray was ridiculed, humiliated and disrespected, to which he fought back and told Janga Kowo his searing and the seating of the meeting was illegal. President Weah also ensured those supportive of recent statements made by Chairman Morlu were thrown out of the meeting. He was very very clear that he would not support Morlu because his statement went against him and the government.”
– A Source Privy to Meeting at President Weah’s Jamaica Resort Tuesday
Issue No. 3: Morlu vs. McGill – Presiding Saga
The pair, according to multiple sources reluctantly agreed to attend the meeting Tuesday, However, upon arriving at the resort, both men, had reservations about some of those included in the meeting – against the concerns raised to Professor Tarpeh. “In the end, President Weah flooded the meeting with non-executives of the CDC and was determined to manipulate it to the end,” one source, privy to the discussions, confided to FPA.
President Weah, according to the source refused to recognized Morlu as chairman of the CDC, insisting that Mr. Morlu was only acting. The source explained that Mr. Morlu swiftly disagreed and reminded the President that he(Morlu) had ascended to the chairmanship to complete the tenure of Nathaniel McGill, who became Minister of State for Presidential Affairs after President Weah took office.
When President Weah remained adamant about the Morlu issue, the source said, things began to spill out of control as the President insisted on Minister McGill presiding over the meeting and not Mr. Morlu.
Mr. Morlu, the source further explained, respectfully disagreed, given that the CDC constitution calls for the chairman of the party to preside whenever the National Executive Committee convenes.
This fact the source said was clearly indicated enshrined in a text message sent by the party’s secretary general Janga Kowo.
Minister McGill, enjoying the President’s backing, remained defiant and said he would preside but after protest from both Morlu and Gray, decided to instruct Secretary General Kowo to preside over the meeting.
Mr. Morlu reportedly insisted that he could not be present in a meeting presided over by Kowo because it was simply not part of the party’s rules and regulations. But the President insisted that since Minister McGill had delegated Kowo to preside, then the Secretary General should.
Issue No. 4: Morlu, Gray Ousted from Jamaica Resort
The President, according to the source then ordered Rep. Gray thrown out of the meeting. “Gray was ridiculed, humiliated and disrespected, to which he fought back and told Janga his searing and the seating of the meeting was illegal. President Weah also ensured those who were supportive of the recent statement against his presidency, be thrown out of the meeting. He was very, very clear that he would not support Mr. Morlu because of his statement against him and the government.”
The source said both Morlu and Gray were denied the chance to speak during the meeting. Despite several attempts to make an input, they were constantly denied.
Embarrassed by the disrespect shown them, both Mr. Morlu and Mr. Gray decided to leave the President’s Jamaica resort. However, upon reaching the gates, they were prevented from leaving the resort by armed security forces of the president.
The pair was reportedly delayed for almost thirty minutes.
Ironically, FPA has learned that most of the officers preventing the pair from leaving the premises of the resort were recommended for the jobs by Morlu and Gray. “They weren’t happy about the way the two guys were being treated, to be honest. Some people were in tears yesterday at the way Morlu and Gray were being mishandled by a man they served for 15 years,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
FrontPageAfrica has learned that plans are afoot to remove Mr. Morlu as chairman of the party and replace him with Kowo as acting chairman. One source said House Speaker Bhofal Chambers intervened, making a case to the President that such a move would be untimely and would backfire.
While it is unclear what the next step would be for the ruling party, it does resurrect echoes from the era of late President Samuel Doe, who fell out with most, if not all of the original members of the People’s Redemption Council which ended decades of Americo-Liberian rule in Liberia.
Issue No. 5: A Page from History
The saga is also reminiscent of more recent disagreement in the former ruling Unity Party between President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the party’s chair Wilmot Paye.
Political observers say, the feud was largely responsible for the former ruling party losing state power in the 2017 presidential elections.
Sirleaf, who has been seen in recent days to be making amends with her former Vice President Joseph Boakai, said recently that there is a strong need for the party to be transformed. “There is no two ways about it, I am not talking about the standard-bearer but there got to be. You cannot go forward in a new day with the old ones, some of you may not like it, but it’s a statement of fact. There is a need for a change of order, a change of major commitment, and a change of ideas so that you can be able to claim the leadership in the collaboration.”
Mr. Paye, in response, said the change in the leadership of the party would happen at the rightful time. “We cannot make party decision that would affect a whole nation on sentiments; when we get to 2022, we will discuss the need for change.”
Like the UP, the current ruling CDC finds itself in a rather complicated but avoidable dilemma, some say could make or break the party and President Weah’s immediate political future.
As Rep. Gray pointed out Thursday, in a Facebook post: “We will fearlessly stand for the truism of our conscious and the Weah that we voted for must act and act now.”
It is no secret that both Morlu and Gray stood in the vanguard of Mr. Weah’s presidential quest. With time running out and the ruling party lingering in state of uncertainty, the window of opportunity may be closing in on President Weah to make amends with two influential figures regarded as the heart and soul of the CDC grassroots identity.