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LIBERIA: Weah’s Rebound Dilemma – Ruling Party Racing Against Time to Recover from Election Losses

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Following the dismal performance in last week’s Montserrado County Senatorial By-Elections, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, according to party chair Mulbah Morlu is embarking on a three-months effort to develop a Strategic Framework toward Recovery. With the 2020 Mid-Term elections Already Creeping up and another By-Elections on the horizon in Grand Cape Mount County, following the death of Senator Edward Dagoseh, the party is racing against time to rebound against a wave of recent loses that has put the popularity of President George Manneh Weah to the test.


Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]


Monrovia – In less than two years in office, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change has suffered significant losses in a number of senatorial and representatives’ by-elections, dealing a wake-up call to President George Manneh Weah.


In the seat vacated by current Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, the party’s candidate Marvin Cole, a sitting representative lost to Dr. Henrique Tokpah in last August’s Bong County Senatorial by-elections while Edward Papay Flomo, Jr., a party outcast ran as an independent to defeat the party’s preferred candidate, John J. Weah.

The stark contradictions offer a rather complicated dilemma for President Weah and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change. What he does in the coming days, weeks and months could actually make the difference between success and failure – or survival and possible collapse of his presidency.

Although some die-hard partisans of the ruling party sought to play down the significance of the District 13 by-elections, passing off and claiming the outcast Flomo as one of their own, it was clear even then that something was amiss.

The reality was that for the first time in more than a decade, a candidate’s hand lifted by the iconic football legend and grassroots hero failed to win a major election in the party’s Montserrado County stronghold.

The build-up to two crucial races in last week’s Montserrado County Senatorial and District No. 15 representative elections, to fill seats left vacate by former Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff and Rep. Adolph Lawrence, was marred by intense trading of fireworks as President Weah staked his claim to Montserrado County and vowed to ensure his party would defeat both opposition candidates Abraham Darius Dillon and Telia Urey.

On the Ureys, President Weah declared while launching the candidacies of his party’s candidates in the just-ended elections: “This is a man that has never won anything”, the president said of Mr. Benoni Urey in June. “He supported his brother I defeated him, get ready tightened your belts, there is no way the Ureys can win election in Montserrado County because they are wicked people. We are cockroaches but they are killers, we are cockroaches, they are thieves.”

When the National Elections Commission announced the final tally of the Montserrado County senatorial elections last Friday, Weah and his ruling party were dealt yet another massive loss.

Dillon vs. Weah: 102,549 votes – 99,226 votes

Mr. Dillon, the four opposition parties-backed candidate, representing – Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and All Liberian Party cruised to an emphatic victory. In final numbers representing results from all 1, 790 polling places or 100 percent in the Montserrado County Senatorial elections, Mr. Dillon secured a total of 102,549 votes for 55.74 percent to Wie’s 63,971 votes for 34.77 percent.

In the 2014 Senatorial by-elections, Weah won 78% of the vote for the Montserrado county seat, accumulating 99,226 votes when he defeated Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took nearly 11%. The most striking comparison between the two elections is the fact that incoming Senator Dillon’s tally surpassed that of Mr. Weah -102,549 votes – to Weah’s 99,226 votes.


For many Liberians, critics and even supporters of the President, the results reflect a protest vote against the current government’s policies amid numerous reports of corruption and a perception that the government was struggling to provide the basics, including delays in salary payments and the dismal performance of the economy, for those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder, just one-year in.

Montserrado county is the most populous region of the country and home to approximately 33% of the nation’s total population of four million. This is why many see the results last week as a referendum on the Weah administration.

In the controversial District No. 15 race, the opposition backed Telia Urey leaped ahead of Mr. Abu Kamara of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change in the updated tally announced by NEC, securing 5,573 votes for 42.68 percent to Kamara’s 5,417 votes for 41.48 percent.

Cllr. Korkoyah announced that due to investigation into allegations of discrepancies brought on by the Urey campaign, the commission will announce the remaining twenty polling places upon completion of the investigation.

Said the NEC Chair: “For the District No. 15 representative elections, we will announce provisional results from 74 of the 94 polling places representing results from 78.72 percent of the polling places in that district. Consistent with our procedures, results from the remaining 20 polling places which constitutes 21.4 percent of polling places are currently quarantined and would not be announced today, pending the outcome of the investigation into the complaints currently being conducted.”

Partisans Meet to Discuss Way Forward

The close race in District No. 15 signals a paradigm shift for Weah and his ruling CDC.

Even amid the concerns within the party, many political and economic observers see the problems befalling the President beyond just the failure of providing jobs for all members of his party and more to do with his failure to grasp the realities of what is unfolding on the ground.

It is the reality, party Chairman Mulbah Morlu came to the conclusion shortly after Mr. Dillon was declared the winner of the senatorial race, that it is time for the party to take stock. “The verdict from our people in the just-ended polls in Montserrado is not only a wakeup call to action, but an insistence the party will not ignore to change course,” Mr. Morlu averred.

For Morlu, the party’s officials in both the Legislature and the Executive will now have to live in accordance with the party’s Pro-Poor Agenda or vacate the government and party. “We have reached the point where we will separate party actions from the actions of some officials of government, where necessary; the period for honeymoon is over. The jobs we gave to you is to help our President succeed and, not to undermine our hard-earned gains.”

Last Saturday, partisans assembled at the party’s headquarters to embark on a series of programs and generate opinions on the way forward and look at some of the many missteps of governance that led to recent defeats and now to correct them.

According to Mr. Morlu, the initiative will in the next few weeks extend to the districts, counties and chapters overseas in hopes of laying out a strategic framework to recovery.

Most partisans in attendance at Saturday’s first meeting, according to Mr. Morlu expressed concerns and made pointed suggestions to the President, demanding government to empower partisans and remove those within the government undermining the party’s pro poor agenda.

Some of those seated in the spontaneous assembly of partisans at the headquarters were reportedly hurt and unbroken, resolved & relentless in ironclad commitment to the CDC while venting their anger at the way the government’s first months have turned out.

Feeling Betrayed

In a post-by elections meeting held at the headquarters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change Saturday, partisans reportedly raised a number of concerns about the sudden appearance of some figures they view as outsiders after President Weah’s inauguration last January as a key reason for voting against the CDC’s candidates in the recent elections. “Frankly the people still love the President very much, but they were angry that they were not considered in their own government from the start. They started hearing names like Emmanuel Shaw, Charles Bright, Archie Bernard, etc, so, they vented their frustration at the ballot box,” said a source who was in attendance at the meeting Saturday.

A key reason for the party’s problems, some say, boils down to Mr. Weah’s failure to open learning and training opportunities for many within the party; instead settling for the appointments of partisans to critical positions without the requisite experience.

Complicating the debacle even further is the fact that a large number of partisans are still without jobs. “We own a government that’s still run by strangers of our struggle, and Unity Party people; this must change,” one partisan told FrontPageAfrica Sunday. “Frankly the people still love the President very much, but they were angry that they were not considered in their own government from the start. They started hearing names like Emmanuel Shaw, Charles Bright, Archie Bernard, etc, so, they vented their frustration at the ballot box,” said a source who was in attendance at the meeting Saturday.

The partisans’ concerns come amid growing sentiments against many in government accused of lacking strong ties to the party but serving in government positions.

Just last week, a purported black list making the rounds on social media targeted several of those deemed to be outside of the party’s realm and undeserving of serving their country.

One of those, Mr. Gregory Coleman, the former Inspector General of the Liberian National Police and one of a few holdovers from the former administration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, currently the head of the National Bureau of Concessions, was at the center of a major storm which escalated into a physical altercation with two of his deputies, who are said to be die-hard members of the ruling party.

The NBC boss had to be smuggled out of his office through the backdoor by way of a rarely-used gate of the compound of the Bureau as the main entrance and exit had been blocked to avoid the attack from his two deputies — Daddy Gibson, Deputy Director General for Administration (DDGA) and Nathaniel Bracewell, Deputy Director General for Concession (DDGC) on the bureau’s 19th street office.

Although President Weah suspended the two deputies, many of those on the list are said to be living in fear.

It is a complication posing a serious dilemma for President Weah, in desperate need of qualified Liberians to help resuscitate the struggling economy – and improve government’s performance, while coming under fire from his own partisans to deliver more jobs and empower those who have been the so-called visionaries of the party’s struggle from its days in the opposition.

Morlu: ‘I Take Responsibility’

In a bid to appease the partisans Mr. Morlu acknowledged to FrontPageAfrica Sunday that he made it clear to them that despite the fact that the party never campaigned as hard as we did during the by election, the party lost because the government did not listen to the cries of its own partisans. “I accepted responsibility and promised it won’t happen again, assuring them that we will take the fight for them to another level, ensuring the right thing is done.”

At Saturday’s meeting, partisans also raised concerns that a lot of officials are making things difficult for the President and the government. The partisans, while giving the president credit for building roads, suggested that the road construction must go hand in hand with improving the broken economy and making those at the bottom feel the impact of the government’s agenda.

The partisans also reportedly accused some members of the opposition in technical capacities, of leaking information about governance and calling for those involved to be dismissed. It is a dilemma the government has been struggling with since it took office last January: How to separate love of party from love of country.

In a bid to appease the partisans Mr. Morlu acknowledged to FrontPageAfrica Sunday that he made it clear to them that despite the fact that the party never campaigned as hard as we did during the by election, the party lost because the government did not listen to the cries of its own partisans. “I accepted responsibility and promised it won’t happen again, assuring them that we will take the fight for them to another level, ensuring the right thing is done.”

Mr. Morlu says he also told his partisans that they will continue to hold dialogue with the president on all issues, but will also be prepared to confront the viruses in government in a public and fearless way.”
Additionally, many partisans, like most Liberians remain concerned about US exchange rate which continues to rise and the failure of the administration to stabilized the economy and curb high prices of basic commodities.

Said a partisan present in Saturday’s meeting: “Prices must be dropped to make life easier for ordinary people and our people did not show up to vote because they’re angry that they worked while others are reaping who did not labor; our defeat is a protest by our people that they too, have interests to protect. They have families and their children and brothers and sisters also need scholarship to prepare for the future; we can no longer ignore these concerns.”

Bursting Out of the Bubble

For the immediate future, the road to political and economic recovery could prove difficult for the President, even as he appears to be on the verge of a rather rude awakening from the inner walls of his own party, still believing the recent result at the polls is a blip that may soon go away.

Even amid the concerns within the party, many political and economic observers see the problems befalling the President beyond just the failure of providing jobs for all members of his party and more to do with his failure to grasp the realities of what is unfolding on the ground.

Businessman and blogger, Henrique Caine rambling on his Facebook page at the weekend lamented that the President is to blame for his own shortcomings because his inner circle continues to shield him from the realities. “All Presidents have shortcomings, as we all do as human beings.

However, President Weah will continue to struggle, as will the country unfortunately, partly because of the immature self-serving mindset of many of the persons around him, coupled with his own decisions. I have always maintained that the problems of this President with all his imperfections, whatever they may be; are seriously compounded partly by those in his orbit who absolutely refuse to face the realities of life in today’s Liberia pretending that things are in an upward trajectory. Thereby they fail to properly render sensible, honest, strategic advice and sincere counsel to a leader who so clearly needs that.”

Caine asserts that after last week’s crucial election loss, with one remaining contest clearly heading toward a legal dispute claiming potential election fraud, some of the President’s aides and supporters are still belittling the election as insignificant, just as the day the by-elections in Bong County and District No. 13 last year. “This is the epitome of absolute political immaturity— quite sickening to be precise. One would think that this would be a period of reflection, reassessment of priorities, re-evaluation of strategies and fine-tuning messaging. But instead we have officials spewing rhetoric on social media that the newly elected Senator is a 12-month senator, and daring to see it repeated and that he “will never” win re-election. Seriously? Wow! How childish! This behavior is shaming, shameful and shameless!”

Lawless culture

President Weah also continues to be dragged into misdeeds of some of his appointed officials, undermining his government and staining Liberia’s image while making the political and economic environment unfavorable to potential investors.

The attack, in only a week on Concessions bureau chief, Coleman and the Deputy Inspector General of Police for Operations, Marvin Sackor, preceded by a riling speech by the party’s youth chair and Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee, has brought the government into disrepute. Sackor was allegedly beaten by CDCians based on his intervention that CDC partisans should remain in the premises of the party to avoid a clash with partisans of the Liberty Party who had gone to celebrate the victory of Mr. Dillon in the recent Montserrado County Senatorial By-Elections.

The Ministry of Justice has ordered an investigation; but it has before, without any repercussions for those instigating such attacks.

A case in point was a similar incident last November when clashes led to several being wounded when supporters of Cornelia Kruah-Togba, representing the tripartite arrangement between Unity Party, Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress in the District No. 13 By-Elections came under attack from supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change led by Koijee. Kruah was contesting the District 13 electoral seat on the Liberty Party ticket. She’s the daughter of Liberia’s Post and Telecommunication Minister, Cooper Kruah.

During that melee, Koijee, Representative Solomon George and a team of militants who were to launch the campaign of the CDC candidate, John J. Weah, in Iron Factory, reportedly invaded the camp of Cornelia in Gardnersville where she was also having her campaign activities ongoing, thereby causing commotion. Ms. Kruah filed a complaint to the LNP and an investigation was reportedly ordered but nothing has been heard of since.

Weeding Bad Seeds

For President Weah to succeed, many political observers say it would require him swallowing the bitter pill for his own good and weeding his government of inept and indiscipline forces raining havoc on his presidency, a tough challenge for a leader who has so far proven slow to act on such crucial issues while allowing his presidency to lose momentum and steam, leading to the rejection at the polls last week.

President Weah also continues to be dragged into misdeeds of some of his appointed officials, undermining his government and staining Liberia’s image while making the political and economic environment unfavorable to potential investors.

For the foreseeable future, the impact of last week’s dismal performance in the Montserrado County Senatorial By-Elections could prove pivotal to how the party and President Weah rebound from the major loss and referendum on his reign so far.

This is why many are looking to see how Chairman Morlu’s initiative to embark on a three-month effort to develop a strategic framework toward recovery plays out.

With the 2020 mid-term elections already creeping up and other by-elections on the horizon in Grand Cape Mount County, following the death of Senator Edward Dagoseh, the ruling party is racing against time to rebound against a tidal wave of recent loses in Bong and Montserrado counties that have put the popularity of Mr. Weah to the test.

For the immediate future, the road to political and economic recovery could prove difficult for the President, even as he appears to be on the verge of a rather rude awakening from the inner walls of his own party, still believing the recent result at the polls is a blip that may soon go away. “Our President is a popular person with a good heart for all Liberians. We all have to help our leader deliver for the people of Liberia. This election doesn’t mean that our government is unpopular with the people of Liberia.

What it means is that our partisans and the people of Liberia in general need us most at this critical juncture in our national political journey,” says Chairman Morlu.

The stark contradictions offer a rather complicated dilemma for President Weah and his party. What he does in the coming days, weeks and months could actually make the difference between success and failure – or a possible collapse of his presidency.

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