Liberia: Renowned Human Rights Activist Tiawan Gongloe Testing Waters for 2023 Presidential Bid
MONROVIA – Amid internal wrangling and state of uncertainty within the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), a product of vote-rich Nimba looks set to offer another alternative to challenge the incumbent George M. Weah.
Of recent, there have been chatters from some quarters of the public that one of Liberia’s legal luminaries, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe is planning to run for president in the 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections.
Adding more fuel to these rumors was the launch of a political movement to convince Cllr. Gongloe, who currently serves as the President of the Liberia National Bar Association (LNBA) to throw his hat into the upcoming race.
At the official launch on Friday, the group, called ‘Team Gongloe’, which comprises of Liberians at home and the diaspora, said they are convinced with Cllr. Gongloe as President, a better Liberia is possible. They called on Liberians to join the movement.
Cllr. Gongloe, as President of the LNBA, has been one of the leading voices behind the called for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to try individuals who bear the greater responsibilities of the Liberian civil war which claimed the lives of an estimated 250,000 people.
In a statement delivered by ‘Team Gongloe’s national chairman, Cllr. Jimmy Saah Bombo, he said they are convinced that under a Cllr. Gongloe’s presidency, there will be strict and uncompromising adherence to the rule of law, and a Liberia in which the Judiciary is fully independent and administer Justice without fear or favor.
Chairman Bombo said Team Gongloe also envisions a Liberia where citizens are equal before the law, and a Liberia in which the Legislature makes laws that benefit the Liberian people.
He furthered that under a Gongloe’s administration, the struggle for justice, equitable distribution of the country’s wealth, economic emancipation and equal participation of the people in the decision-making and the governance of the Liberian State will be actualized.
He also noted that Liberians are dying in abject poverty amidst the enormous resources in the country because their leaders are ‘tricksters and unpatriotic’.
“It is against this background that we have formed ourselves into an organization named and styled “Team Gongloe”, with the aim of persuading Cllr. Gongloe to contest the presidency of the Republic of Liberia in 2023. ‘Team Gongloe’ sincerely hopes that the learned Counselor will respond positively to the call to serve the people of Liberia, Chairman Boombo said.
Speaking further, he said they envision to see “A Liberia in which corruption is a capital crime, a Liberia in which public officials are public servants and not rulers of the people; a Liberia in which the citizens are prime movers and shakers of the nation’s economy, not bystanders, while others (foreigners) call the shots.”
“Liberia will go back to the soil to take its previous role in the agriculture industry, adding a “A Liberia in which the citizens eat what they grow and grow what they eat.”
He revealed the team is a conglomeration of several political groups, including the ‘Movement to Ensure Liberia’s Transformation (MELT), Volunteers for Change (VOICE), Liberians for Integrity (LFI) and Information Hub Gongloe (IHG), among others.
What Happens If He Agrees?
Many pundits believe that Cllr. Gongloe’s participation in the 2023 will not only serve as major blow to Liberia’s biggest opposition bloc, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), but the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).
The CPP’s Headache
The CPP’s main aimed during its formation was to lead the process of forming a united opposition that will easily unseat President George Weah and his CDC.
However, the scramble for the coalition’s standard bearer position has left it more polarized. And with some opposition political parties like the People Unification Party (PUP) of former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay, now Senator of Margibi County and the Movement for One Liberia (MOL) of former presidential candidate Macdella Cooper still holding their independence, couple with the emergence of the fast growing People’s Liberia Party (PLP) of humanitarian-cum-politician, Dr. Daniel Cassell, the formation of a new political party by a popular figure from a popular county, may further dampen the CPP’s chances of winning the 2023 presidential race, even if the collaboration holds.
Fear Factor for the CDC?
For the ruling establishment, the emergence of another popular figure from vote-rich Nimba is not a good news its stalwarts including President Weah would want to hear. Although the party enjoys the support of the county’s favorite son, Senator Prince Y. Johnson, pundits believe it could still face a stiff competition from Cllr. Gongloe, a popular figure who is brother of another icon of the county, former Superintendent Edith Gongloe Weh.
Although, she has failed in three consecutive bids in her quest to be Senator, Madam Gongloe-Weh still enjoys the support of a huge chunk of the population from the county, evidence is her strong showings in the hotly contested 2020 Special Senatorial Election, coming second behind Senator Jeremiah Koung. It took the intervention of the Supreme Court following a prolong legal wrangling to declared Koung the winner of the polls.
In addition, Cllr. Gongloe, born August 6, 1956 is no stranger to the Liberian political landscape. A founding member of the Liberia people’s party (LPP), he served in two top positions during the administration of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- Solicitor General and Minister of Labor. He parted ways with ex-president Sirleaf over policy differences.
His record of public service can be traced as far back as 1990 when he served as an Executive assistant to Dr. Amos Claudius Sawyer, then President of the Interim Government of National Unity.
He has earned the respect and admiration for his works as a lawyer, activist and politician.
Taking into consideration his stance on corruption and human rights, plus the internal wrangling in the CPP, many political observers are of the opinion that Cllr. Gongloe’s entry into the race for the nation’s top seat comes 2023 could be the new fear factor for the ruling establishment.