Liberia: CPP Primary Violence Could Have Been Avoided, Says Opposition LP Chair

Senator Steven Zargo, Chair of the Liberty Party, one of four parties making up the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) is Cautioning Collaborating Politial Parties(CPP) to accept the result of Sunday’s controversial primary in Sanniquellie, Nimba County, but says if a re-run is recommended LP will still contest 

 Monrovia – The chairman of the opposition Liberty Party, one of four parties making up the Collaborating Political Parties, says the violence which marred Sunday’s primary in Nimba County could have been avoided.

Senator Steve Zargo, speaking to FrontPageAfrica Monday blamed the violence on exuberant   partisans who had high expectations and hopes of their individual candidates would emerge victorious. 

Senator Zargo says he believes that the violence also erupted because state security forces were not adequate enough to match the rival groups causing problems.

Chairman Zargo, who chairs the Senate Defence and Security Committee, further noted that the result from the primary between Mr. Taa Wongbe and Edith Gongloe Weh could not have been what it is had the organizers been on time and maintained the previous venue for the conduct of the primary.

Said Chair Zargo said he hopes the that the Alternative National Congress accepts the result under the spirit of the CPP and the voter perception survey that informed the engagement. “Had that altercation not occurred probably the results would not have been the way it is,” Mr. Zargo said.

Nevertheless, the ANC says it will not accept the results. “This decision is based on the fact that its candidate, Mr. Taa Wongbe was maliciously and abruptly prevented from participating by supporters of Madam Edith Gongloe with the eruption of violence, led and orchestrated by the ALP,” the ANC said Monday, in a statement signed by its chair, Daniel Naathen. “This unfortunate situation was preceded by series of blatant violations of the process, which when ultimately failed to frustrate Taa, led to premeditated attacks on him, our delegates and officials. The refusal of Madam Gongloe’s team to allow ANC’s candidate to enter the stage was avoidable and should not have happened. Also notable is that while Taa attended to his injured partisans, an inconspicuous regrouping of the other parties without notice to our candidate took place to announce LP’s candidate, Edith Gongloe Weh as the CPP’s candidate. The ANC will not support the outcome of any process it was prevented from being a part of as a member of the CPP.”

For Senator Zargo, the uneasiness over the change of location and date may have been a factor.  “Maybe if we had done it earlier or in Ganta as was planned, the result would have been different; but Edith would have eventually won. We would think that this result should be accepted because it grew out a voter perception survey. For the liberty Party, it is a fair result because we had gone there to win and base on the voter perception survey.”

Mr. Zargo expressed the hope that the CPP lives up to its true meaning and the Voter Perception Survey. “We should uphold the result but how be it, in the wisdom of the leaders where they think there is a need for a re-run it doesn’t matter, Edith will still win. I say this because of the survey.

I have no fear that a re-run will still favor Edith but that decision is with the political leaders, the Liberty party will be prepare to.”

If the results hold, the Liberty Party will have five county slots allocated to them.

As part of the arrangement for the December 8 elections, the four-parties alliance was broken down as follows: The ANC was assigned Cape Mount, Maryland and Sinoe; the LP was assigned Bassa, Montserrado, Grand Kru  and Rivercess, UP was assigned UP, Bong, Lofa, Margibi while the ALP was assigned Gbarpolu, Bomi and Grand Gedeh.

Both Nimba and RiverGee are up for contestation. 

RiverGee County primary is still pending but is being ontested by UP, ALP and ANC.

As per the rules, no one party should have more than four counties. LP, already with four counties, actively advocated for Edith Gongloe Weh as its choice for Nimba and its political leader, Karnga-Lawrence was quick to endorse the controversial results of Sundays primary in Sanniquelliie. 

Mr. Zargo’s comments come as his party’s political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (CPP, Grand Bassa) expressed regrets over acts of violence following Sunday’s chaotic end to primary held in Sanniquellie.

Senator Karnga-Lawrence said: “The CPP is a response to the call of the Liberian people to heal and unite not just the opposition community but also the country. We know we will face difficulties along the way but our determination to succeed for the Liberian people should never be underestimated. Therefore, we join in the condemnation of the violence, and look to address same to avoid a recurrence after investigations and consultations with the leadership.”