Liberia: Colliding Egos Have Opposition Looking to Unseat George Weah on the Ropes
IT’S BEEN THREE YEARS since four political parties – the All Liberian Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and the former ruling Unity Party put pen to paper on a political alliance dubbed, the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP).
THE ALLIANCE WAS RECENTLY officially recognized by the National Elections Commission with NEC’s Chairperson Cllr. Davidetta Brown Lansanah declaring that the proposed Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) had met the requirements of Article 79 0f the Constitution of Liberia and Chapter 8.5 of the 1986 New Elections Law, which speak of the registration of alliance and coalition in Liberia…”
THE ELECTION LAW STATES: “…Registered political parties may be allowed to form alliances and coalitions as provided by this by provided by this Section. (1) Procedure Registered political parties wishing to form an alliance or coalition shall each pass a resolution consenting to the alliance or coalition signed by an absolute majority (50% of the votes plus one vote) of the members of the executive committee. (2) Plan of alliance or coalition The Executive Committee of each registered political party proposed to participate in the alliance or coalition shall approve a plan of alliance or coalition setting forth: (a) The name of each constituent registered political party (b) Terms and conditions of the proposed alliance or coalition, including the intended duration of the alliance or coalition. (3) Filing of plan of alliance or coalition…”
INDIVIDUALLY AND SEPARATELY, the leaders of all four political parties have spoken of their desire to make the incumbent President Weah a one-term president.
THEY HAVE ALL been saying the right things and trumpeting separate agendas while pointing out the flaws in the Weah government . “If you look at President Weah’s past experience – he had never run anything substantially, whether it be a business or an NGO. When our president was a senator, he never proposed any bills, never co-sponsored anything; he was silent. I’ve said this publicly: there’s ineptitude and incompetence. I don’t think our president still understands fundamentally what his job entails,” Mr. Cummings told the Africa Report recently.
DURING A RECENT program held to commemorate his endorsement as the Unity Party’s preferred choice to head the CPP, Mr. Boakai, looked forward to taking on Weah again, declaring that given what Liberians have gone through in the past three years under President Weah, the CPP must reclaim Liberia and free Liberians from the shackles of corruption, impunity, and economic misery by electing him (Boakai) as President.
SAID MR. BOAKAI: “You will agree with me that the vital democratic institutions from our economy to the Rule of Law, have all hit an all-time low due to mismanagement of the nation’s resources, both natural and financial. They have shown complete disregard for the cries of the people. It therefore has become clear that the responsibility to change the course is desperately needed.”
EQUALLY, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, recently charged that Liberia was experiencing a serious leadership deficit, which needs to be corrected.
THE GRAND BASSA COUNTY Senator pointed told a gathering of partisans in June: “Liberia is in dire need of leadership and the only way we can redeem this country is to work together. You are whole heartedly welcomed,” she told the new partisans. “We believe that together, we can do it. Today we are glad to have you here to join this vision that I know you read and believe in. your being here means you share our ideology. We are glad to welcome you. This is not the end. Our arms and doors are opened to welcome on board new members.”
WHEN THE FOUR parties announced their intent to collaborate in February 2018, everyone sang the same song, signaling a willingness to turn a new page, marking a new beginning. At the time, Mr. Urey, mindful of the failed attempts at previous alliances, declared: “We have been craving for years. We have decided to put Liberia first and to attune our political agenda in the interest of Liberia and the Liberian people, and above our individual and partisan ambitions. We are taking the bold and concrete step which we hope will never be reversed or undone.”
AHEAD OF THE 2023 Presidential and legislative elections, the opposition CPP finds itself grappling with a leadership crisis of its own amid recurring public spats amongst its leaders over the controversy surrounding the selection of the best person suited to take on Weah in the 2023 Presidential elections.
RESOLVING THE ONGOING discord appears far from becoming a reality. The CPP framework states that the constituent parties must all agree on the coalition’s presidential candidate and running mate latest by December 1, 2021. However, if a this consensus is not reached by the deadline, the rules call for a publicly-organized voter perception survey to determine the most popular candidates and finally hold a primary election to conclude the process.
FOR NOW, ALL FOUR candidates appear divided amid flying accusations over the framework and bloc voting.
SADLY, WHAT was once a popular consensus to bond in hopes of unseating the Weah-led government at the polls has suddenly become a rugged dogfight to determine who heads the CPP ticket.
MEMORIES ARE STILL VIVID OF THE election of 1985 which saw Head of State Samuel Doe transition from a military ruler to a civilian President and the election of 1997 when the opposition again failed to put up a united front against Charles Taylor and his National Patriotic Party.
THE FAILURE OF the CPP to learn from the experience of history is no doubt a recipe for failure.
THE FAILURE OF the leaders of the CPP to put their surrogates and supporters in check speaks volume. It also suggest that a disjointed opposition alliance would stand no chance against the incumbent Weah looking to secure a second term.
FOR NOW, there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel in the wake of mounting distrusts within the CPP and whether whoever secures the nomination has the ability to unite the body.
AS MR. UREY’S DAUGHTER Telia pointed out during a call-in to Spoon Talk at the weekend, the tension is real. “I am of the belief that there’s certain elements in CPP that continue to cause all of this tension. You see insults going left and right, then you see a certain posture by some elements in the CPP that make it very, very difficult to work with them. It is not a one-way thing, there’s a lot of tension. Things need to calm down and we all need to look at and accepting whether if Cummings get the CPP nomination, are we able to rally around him? Are his supporters able to be open enough to have people that didn’t support Cummings join them. The same goes for Joseph Boakai. Is his camp willing to be open enough to bring in people from Cummings’ side. Will Cummings’ supporters also support Joseph Boakai if he were to win the CPP nomination. So, there’s a lot of tension there. The infighting is real.”
IN ORDER to achieve unity, the CPP must first put its house in order, acknowledge the problems and adopt a stern position on correcting the flaws that has drawn the opposition alliance into disarray.
DURING A RECENT VOA DAYBREAK AFRICA interview, Mr. Cummings played down the concerns over ongoing spat amongst the parties making up the CPP. “I think we need to run the process. If we followed the process we have agreed and the outcome is that somebody else, if it is former Vice President Joe Boakai wins the domination, I will support. I will not go and start another and break away. I will not do that because this is about the country. It’s not about myself. But I want to run the process and will live with the outcome of that decision, whatever decision is made by the partisans of he CPP…”
LEADERS OF THE CPP must be willing to set aside their egos if they have any hopes of unseating the incumbent George Weah government. As bad as things may seem, disenchanted voters, frustrated with the recent turn of events may just decide to stick with the devil they know, rather than putting their trust in a disorganized bunch of political lightweights still trying to find their way.
THE SAD REALITY is that it requires 50% plus 1 vote to win the presidency according to the constitution of Liberia. It may be difficult for a political party including CDC to get this percentage of votes during the first round. The presidential elections in recent years in Liberia have shown that no political party obtained 50% plus 1 in the first round. It will be in the interest of the current ruling CDC to form alliance with some parties to exceed the 50% plus 1 or for the CPP to hold to defeat the ruling party. As it stands now within the CPP, it is possible that the CPP could give CDC another six years come 2023 if the parties that formed the CPP do not put their acts together.
IN HIS FAMOUS house divided speech delivered in Springfield Illinois on June 15, 1858, US President Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The CPP should remember that a divided CPP cannot easily win a presidential election; therefore, the political leaders of the parties that make up the CPP must work out an amicable solution to their internal problem.