Liberia: What Lessons Have the Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change Learned From Midterm Senatorial Election Results?

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THE RULING Coalition for Democratic Change is still in shock and reeling from its woeful performance in the last week’s Senatorial Midterm elections.

THE RESULTS indicate that the party renowned for its grassroots persona has lost its hold of several vote-rich counties including Montserrado, Bong, Lofa, Margibi and President George Manneh Weah’s own hometown, Grand Kru County.

FOR MONTHS, leading into last week, the theme of most contested race in Montserrado was Reclaim vs. Retain.

THE CDC showed grave determination in trying to reclaim the county in which it had previously enjoyed dominance as a leading opposition party over the last decade reign of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

MONTSERRADO, boasting a population of nearly two million is without a doubt, Liberia’s most populous county, serving as the nerve center of the rest of the country.

IT IS HERE THAT the rest the counties get their pulse.

MANY POLITICAL observers believe the CDC went into last week’s elections with the wrong mindsets, with the determination that Montserrado was theirs to reclaim.

THE SAD REALITY IS that wrong mindsets produced wrong attitudes and wrong attitudes produced the results that has put the party on its heels, drowning in a sea of what ifs.

THE TRUTH of the matter is Montserrado belongs to no one political party. What it has been in the last three elections, is an opposition territory.

AS ONE OF THE most vocal opposition voices, the CDC was a thorn in the flesh of former President Sirleaf.

JUST LIKE THE 1970s when the likes of Dr. Amos Sawyer, the late Gabriel Bacchus Matthews, Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh and the die-hard progressives rain on the parade of late President William R. Tolbert and the True Whig Party, the CDC proved to be a nagging presence and strong antagonist to the Sirleaf administration.

SAWYER BECAME the talking point for the last ill-fated mayoral elections leading to the coup that ended Liberia’s first republic. Running against Francis Chu-Chu Horton of the then ruling TWP, Sawyer, running an independent was seen as the people’s candidate putting his weight against the powerful political establishment of the day.

THE COUNTY WAS the setting that witness the rise of a vibrant and young Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf who was a force in the Liberian Action Party, surviving Doe’s wrath, political imprisonment and exile.

SIRLEAF WON an emphatic victory in the Senatorial elections of the November 1985 elections but declined to take the seat due to elections irregularities.

IN THE 1990s Charles Walker Brumskine’s highly-publicized feud with Charles Taylor dominated the political scene and the dawn of the 2000s gave rise to George Weah and his band of fiery soldiers Acarous Gray and Mulbah Morlu.

TODAY, THE ATTENTION has moved to the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) and a new breed of opposition stalwarts posing a serious challenged to the Weah administration.

THE NEW BREED of opposition have been relentless in trying to keep  government’s feet to the fire.

THIS TIME AROUND, it appears the driving forces of the opposition is being driven by not just by the characters or morals or backgrounds of the institution or individuals involved, but rather the course they are pushing against the establishment.

THE LIKES OF ABRAHAM DARIUS DILLON, riding on the shoulders of social media and his “Internet Citizens” have changed the game and the landscape and forcing the CDC back to the drawing board and finally awakening key party stalwarts to the unfolding realities some members of the opposition have been trying to inject over the past three years.

REP. ACAROUS MOSES GRAY, who has been in the trenches of the CDC for years acknowledges: “It’s a wakeup call to National Duty and be assured that we will not hold back in bringing the necessary pressure to bear on our officials including myself to do the right thing.”

REP. GRAY ADDS:  “The base must be properly taken care of and the incorporation of like minds and broader consultations are a must. Under-performers must quite or be quitted and the Presidency must be retained 2023 by our doubling up. Legislative election is not Presidential Election and let them make no mistake to think that they have won 2023. All we need to do now are amalgamation of forces and the execution of what we have promised the Liberian people.”

OTHERS LIKE MAMENSIE KABBA one of the party’s youthful leaders disagree with the approach amid some internal wrangling in the party regarding the direction it should go after a tidal wave of losses in last week’s elections.

SAYS KABBA: “When we won Montserrado repeatedly  during our days in opposition, the other people didn’t kill their leaders.  We must not allow unnecessary provocations to distract us. 
Liberia is a gullible society, if those who were believed to be insensitive to the plight of the people yesterday, or those who wined and dined with those believed to have been insensitive to the plight of the people yesterday, have now turned to Angels in the eyes of the same people, then my Country is indeed interesting.”

For the foreseeable future, the just-ended Midterm Senatorial election was not just a rejection of President George Manneh Weah and his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change government, but a pointed jab indicating that the Liberian people want to see a balance in the Senate and want the Government to keep working harder, not just for members of its own party, but for each and every Liberian. Thus, once again underscoring the need for unity, reconciliation and a united sense of purpose that would raise the hopes of Liberians and restore political and economic sanity, which for much of the past three years, have been on hiatus, to the detriment of Liberia’s post-war democratic survival.

AS THE PARTY contemplates its next move, Senator Dillon, is on his way to retaining his seat and in the process, winning the battle against the ruling CDC’s failed quest to reclaim Montserrado.

PRESIDENT WEAH AND HIS PARTY MUST realize what just went down in these Midterm elections and do what needs to be done in the remaining time it has in office.

MR. WEAH AND HIS GOVERNMENT must fight to change the narrative that will not only calm its base but put the right policies in place for all Liberia and Liberians.

EQUALLY SO, those who managed to secure victories cannot afford to wallow on their victories and forget why Liberians voted the way they did. Neither should it be about totting horns and carrying on.

THE ELECTION saw triumphs for the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP), Independent as well as the People’s Unification Party(PUP) of former Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay in Margibi.

ON-AND-OFF FRICTION amongst the leaders within the CPP has also turned a lot of voters off although the unity exhibited in the days leading to last week’s elections won some admiration.

AT THE WEEKEND, two of the feuding leaders, Alexander Cummings and Benoni Urey came made a rare public appearance at the Funeral of Mr. Urey’s brother, Calvin.

IN A COMPASSIONATE FACEBOOK post, Mr. Urey writes: “I understood the importance of unity today more than ever before. Today we laid my brother, Calvin Urey, to rest and I can’t even begin to explain the way I feel. Calvin was my best friend, confidant and older brother.  At a time I felt alone, I was humbled to have my brothers Honorable Joseph N. Boakai and Honorable Alexander B. Cummings by my side. Several members of the CPP and some longtime friends were also in attendance to help my family and I give my brother the proper homegoing. I would lastly like to thank you all for the kind words and well wishes as I go through the toughest time in my life.

 
FOR THE IMMEDIATE FUTURE, the results of last week is not a victory for any one political party but rather, a victory for Liberia and Liberians, who rose to the occasion when it mattered most, for once; when the backs were stacked against the wall of what many saw as bad governance, corruption and greed amid growing poverty among those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder.

FOR THE FORESEEABLE FUTURE, the just-ended election was not just a rejection about Mr. Weah and his government, but a pointed jab indicating that the Liberian people want to see a balance in the Senate and want the Government to keep working harder, not just for members of its own party, but for each and every Liberian. Thus, once again underscoring the need for unity, reconciliation and a united sense of purpose that would raise the hopes of Liberians and restore political and economic sanity, which for much of the past three years, have been on hiatus, to the detriment of Liberia’s post-war democratic survival.

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