Liberia: Collaboration of Political Parties Set to Seal Pact on Agreement Over ‘Sticky’ Issues

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Monrovia – One year after the historic attempt at unity that brought four opposition political parties – the former ruling Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and all Liberian Party (ALP) to the table under the banner of the Collaboration of Political Parties(CPP), a breakthrough has reportedly been reached over some nagging issues which threatened to derail the opposition’s quest to take on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) government.

The main sticking point surrounds a suggestion from the ANC regarding a Voter Perception Survey which would gauge prospective voters’ perceptions on preferred candidates for the upcoming senatorial by-elections versus a primary election process in which the best candidate is selected to represent the CPP.

 The ANC reportedly wanted to make the VPS part of the selection process, a move which was rejected by the other parties on the grounds that the main process prescribed by law is the primary.

FrontPageAfrica has learned that the issue drew a divide amongst the CPP which dragged the finalization of the framework to put the collaboration into motion.

A source within the CPP hierarchy speaking on condition of anonymity because they have not been authorized to speak publicly on the matter, said an announcement on the framework will be made in the coming days. “The CPP will hopefully finalize its collaboration framework any time next week. While we await the signing of the document, there are two seats clear off negotiations. No negotiation for the Bassa seat and no peace talk for Montserrado,” the source said.

Although the VPS was rejected, it was agreed that the survey will be used to help parties and candidates drive their messages in the various counties.

The main sticking point surrounds a suggestion from the ANC regarding a Voter Perception Survey which would gauge prospective voters’ perceptions on prefered candidates for the upcoming senatorial by-elections versus a primary elections process in which the best candidate is selected to represent the CPP.

Another issue was also a concern for the selection of presidential candidates.  Again, while some parties had argued in favor of Consensus, Voter Perception Survey (VPS) and Convention, others argued that VPS should not be a determinant for selecting a candidate. “So, we all agreed that VPS will not be used as one of the determining factors. We will use consensus and if that doesn’t work, we do primary. However, VPS will be done to inform the process and also help to carve out messaging,” the source added.

In the end, FPA has learned, it has been agreed that all three suggestions on the table would be used in the election of a presidential candidate for the CPP.

The goal, FPA has learned is to have a standard-bearer in place by December 31st 2021. “The goal is to give whoever is elected enough time to go through the rigors of potential controversy and scrutiny and ample time, atleast one or two years to deal with whatever fallout.”

All along, FPA has been informed, the election of senatorial has not been the sticky issue but rather, the presidential. “The presidency has always been problematic. But I can tell you that it has been agreed that if there is no consensus after the consensus and convention, then we go to perception survey. Because this survey has never been used before as standard-bearers are usually selected by primary, for the presidential, we have decided to use all three: Consensus, Primary and Voters Perception Survey. The survey will be used as a guide and not a determining factor.

Additionally, FPA has learned the field for the presidential candidate will be opened for other interested parties to participate.

The breakthrough comes after a year of a lull in the activities of the CPP and public spats between the leader of the ANC Alexander Cummings and the ALP’s Benoni Urey.

The four parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) last February, to begin a nascent political collaborative for future elections, especially the ensuing 2020 senatorial elections across the country and the 2023 presidential and general elections, with the goal of unifying parties and geared toward unseating the ruling CDC at the ballot box.

The Collaboration agreement signed in 2019 was initially greeted and hailed as perhaps the biggest strategic “collaboration” in Liberia’s history.

The key for survival, political observers say, will all come down to how the CPP hold together. Despite obvious governance lapses by the ruling Weah-led government, the opposition’s inability to hold under previous regimes have left the window open for caution as many still unsure how long this latest attempt at an opposition collaboration will hold.

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