The Collaborating Political Parties (CPP): A Brand Fast Diminishing
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines collaboration as working with another person or group in order to achieve or do something. Let’s take a walk down memory lane. I need not tell you how attracted many Liberians are to sports, especially football. While this article may fall short of providing numerical data on the number of people attracted to sports in Liberia, you would no doubt agree with me that there is a huge and lively sports following in the country. This conclusion is established when one realizes the attention that football draws in the annual County Sports Meets and other sporting events as a case study.
By Ezekiel Allen, [email protected], Contributing Writer
The name George Weah is a household name in football not just in Liberia but also in the world principally as a result of his all-conquering footballing career coupled with his efforts in helping the disarmament process after the civil conflict. At the ballot box in 2005 and 2011, these achievements were not sufficient to get him the presidency and vice presidency, respectively.
Upon realizing that his fame, as well as his positive contributions made during the civil crisis, were insufficient to house him in the Executive Mansion, Mr. Weah and his party, the Congress for Democratic Change realized that collaborating with other political parties was the surest way of realizing his dreams of becoming president of Liberia. In 2017, the CDC merged with the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Madam Jewel Howard Taylor, the Liberia People’s Democratic Party (LPDP) of Alex J. Tyler, thus establishing the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) with George Weah as the standard-bearer and Jewel Howard Taylor the Vice Standard Bearer. The collaborative efforts of various parties making up the CDC saw the end to UP’s occupation of the Executive Mansion. The ascendency of Mr. Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change to the presidency on the back of collaborating with other political parties provided the framework to other candidates who intend to make Mr. Weah a one-term leader.
Establishing a Brand
As the next General and Presidential elections are fast approaching, like the NPP, LPDP, and CDC, the Unity Party of Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai, the Alternative National Congress of Mr. Alexander Cummings, the All Liberian Party of Mr. Benoni Urey, and the Liberty Party of Senator Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence initiated discussions aimed at forming a collaboration with the sole intent of defeating President Weah. Pursuant to the foregoing, in April 2020, these four opposition political parties formed a collaboration to take on Mr., Weah in the General and Presidential Elections slated for 2023.
During the conduct of the mid-term senatorial elections held in 2020, the Collaborating Political Party (CPP) won six counties. The victory for the CPP, especially in vote-rich counties such as Montserrrado, Lofa, Bong, and Grand Bassa cemented the need to keep the collaboration together and strong. It heralded the beginning of a new collaboration that some Liberians could trust and it gave a glimpse of hope to those whose intention is to democratically dethrone President Weah. From an observational point of view, the race for the presidency come 2023 was now between the CDC and the CPP. The results of the 2020 senatorial elections were a dress rehearsal of what to expect come 2023 considering that the collaboration is still together.
Did Nyonblee Kanrgar Lawrence fail as CPP Chairman?
On February 4, 2021, Senator Nyonblee Kanragr Lawrence was ushered in as the new chairperson of the CPP taking the mantle of authority from Mr. Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party. One can safely say that the CPP was united up to the point of Nyonblee’s chairmanship.
During the takeover ceremony, all four political institutions were vividly seen on the podium signaling unity within the CPP. In her speech during the ceremony, Nyonblee averred “I feel challenged to move the CPP a big step further in firming up our protocols and readying us for 2023, and again, a single CPP ticket, as agreed, for the victory of Liberia and our people… With only two years to 2023 Presidential and General Elections, and by the framework document, we must ensure that the CPP standard-bearer and the vice standard bearer single ticket is presented to the people of Liberia before the end of 2021. This is our goal. It is our commitment,”. It is important to state that the scope of Nyonblee’s promise exceeded her time in office.
It was during the tenure of Senator Lawrence as the Chairperson of CPP that the infamous alteration, or put bluntly by key talk show hosts and opinion leaders of the ALP, “Fingering” allegation of the framework document-a document guiding the establishment of the CPP, was levied against the ANC by the ALP. That letter written by the ALP to Chairperson Lawrence of the CPP marked the beginning of a doomy and acrimonious amongst “CPPians”-as they called themselves- diminishing the brand that they worked so hard to establish.
The fighting within the CPP was rightly put into context by Dr. Ibrahim Nyei in one of his posts on Facebook. Dr. Nyei intimated that “The fight within the CPP is not about policies, it is about access to power and resources. It’s a personality clash motivated by ego, greed, arrogance, and desperation. Remember that the CPP is not a homogenous party with infighting, it is a combination of parties that have not first agreed on how to organize together and contest an election, let alone determine the direction of their proposed government”.
To date, a clear-cut verdict has not been rendered on the claims made by the All Liberian Party of Mr. Benoni Urey. What is even more interesting is that even though the allegation was made by the ALP, the back and forth bickering, trading of insults and all sorts of derogatory comments were predominantly between members of the Unity Party and the Alternative National Congress. The crisis reached a point where the Alternative National Congress (the party accused of “fingering”) walked out of an executive committee meeting as well as not attending the turnover ceremony where Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence ceded the chairmanship of the CPP to Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai. The crisis has degenerated into the Liberty Party where the Chairman of the Party and the Political Leader are at loggerheads.
I think the trend of events that happened while Senator Lawrence was heading the CPP demonstrated a lack of leadership on her part in amicably resolving the conflict between the ALP and ANC. Interestingly, the allegation of tampering (fingering) of the framework document made by the ALP is yet to be substantiated. The lawyers whom many thought would have explicitly laid this matter to rest advised the CPP to settle their bickering because the claims and counterclaims made by both political parties were fast diminishing the brand of the CPP.
Take Away from the just ended by-elections
Partisans and Sympathizers of the CPP used the results of the 2020 Senatorial elections as an indicator of their growing strength and acceptance of their ideology by the vast majority of the Liberian people. While some members of the CPP are dismissive of the results of the by-elections in Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Bomi, it was the results of similar elections that led the CPP into believing that they were a strong contender for the presidency. I think it is fair for us to use the results of these four by-elections to conclude that the popularity of the CPP has dwindled significantly. The quality of the candidates fielded by the CPP is an argument for another day, but the infighting amongst their members may be one of the major reasons for the massive defeat.
The Silver Lining in the Sky
The Coalition for Democratic Change, the governing political was equally defeated in all four counties as well. While the CPP continues on the path leading to the destruction of its brand, the CDC doesn’t seem to be benefiting either from these in-house fights happening within the CPP. Even though there are reports of some of the candidates having ties with the CDC, this can’t be a victory the CDC can claim.
The important question that members of the CPP especially the ALP should ask themselves is what was the overarching benefit of the allegations levied against another constituent party? In whose interest was the tampering done? In all of these, a definite verdict has not been rendered as to the specific portions of the framework document that was altered by the ANC accompanied by its accruing benefits. While this bickering continues, the CPP as a brand is fast losing its relevance and is diminishing rapidly. The hopes of many who saw the CPP as a viable alternative are fast becoming an illusion than reality as a result of the continuous fights. The Nyonblee’s chairmanship promised to have a ticket at the end of 2021, a promise that seems farfetched from reality considering the level at which the crisis has reached. The CPP has a mountain to climb if we must see a ticket of the CPP before the end of 2021. The silver lining for the CPP giving to the outcome of the results of the recent by-elections in Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, and Grand Cape Mount Counties is that their major contender who happens to be the governing CDC was massively flogged as well. It shows that the CDC is not taking its chances while the CPP is failing.
As part of his ongoing tour of the United States of America, Ambassador Joseph Nyumah Boakai promised to bring to an end the internal conflicts hampering the chances of a united CPP contesting the elections in 2023 upon his return to the country. While it is not too late to resolve the crisis and put on a united front, the dream of defeating President Weah is fading by the day. Contesting the General and Presidential elections as collaboration and defeating the incumbent seems to be more of an illusion than a reality.