Liberia: LIROI Meets Cummings, Boakai in Accra over CPP Differences

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MONROVIA – The formation of a collaborative opposition bloc with the sole purpose of solidifying forces to unseat the George Weah-led administration was, perhaps, a bad omen for the opposition political parties. Now, everything is amiss. Mitigations have failed, and mitigations are still on-going.

Early this week, there were unconfirmed reports of the Unity Party – the biggest constituent party in the Collaborating Political Parties – was pulling out of the collaboration. When contacted for confirmation or comments on the speculation on the UP break up, the party’s National Secretary General, Mo Ali told FrontPageAfrica, “I can’t tell”.

This speculation of the UP breakaway from the CPP came out soon after the Liberty Party, another constituent member, announced at its recent controversial convention the endorsement Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) as their preferred candidate for the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) ticket come 2023.

The Liberty Party’s convention which was held in Ganta, Nimba County last weekend was held shortly after the suspension of key members including Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, Senator Steve Zargo, Daniel Sando, amongst others.

They were suspended for their failure to pay party dues. The party’s contested constitution, but recognized by the National Elections Commission (NEC), provides for delinquent due payers to be suspended.

But the suspended LP members have taken exception to the suspension and also declared the chairman, Musa H. Bility, as a persona non-grata in the party. He was replaced with Sen. Zargo who was asked to act.

However, the National Elections Commission is yet to recognize the Steve Zargo leadership while Bility continues to perform and recognize by some partisans and top hierarchy of the party as the legitimate chairman.

It is widely believed in the opposition community that had Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and her cohorts had not been suspended from their positions in the party, the LP would have swayed Unity Party’s Joseph Boakai’s way.

Over the past few months, Boakai and Cummings, the two forerunners of the CPP, have not gotten along. Their differences which have also put ordinary members of the various CPP constituent members at loggerheads, cut across allegations of tampering to the CPP Framework Document to allegations of violating the CPP Framework Document.

The underlining factor of their differences is that both feel more suitable to head the CPP ticket. None is willing to backdown. Yet, they have both professed to supporting the other should they not be selected by the delegates at the CPP convention before 2023.

While this assurance may be sincere, what remains the point of contention is the political maneuverings by some constituent parties to influence the process. This debacle has remained a long haul.

But the Liberia Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI), is hoping to make a difference by mediating between the two political leaders.

LIROI, upon its establishment mid 2021 expressed its desire to promote and enhance the tenets of democracy in Liberia, especially through working the CPP.

In early October, LIROI issued a statement indicating, “The LIROI is committed to working with the opposition, particularly in the CPP, in promoting its objective of democratically unseating the CDC-led Government at the polls in 2023.”

“However, our continued support is premised on the assumption that the CPP will embrace the consolidation of democracy and the promotion of economic transformation and sustainable development in line with our core values and objectives.”

The group, which is said to have hired Dr. Alan White and Jeffrey Birrell as lobbyists in Washington in an US$180,000 deal, had cautioned the CPP that the collaboration can only be strong as its constituent members.

LIROI further cautioned that the CPP must set good example and present itself as a mature alternative to re-focus the country on the priority tasks of relieving the Liberian people from the “current quagmire” in 2023.

“In this light, we particularly call on the Leadership of the CPP to quickly resolve all outstanding conflicts and disputes that have the propensity to undermine the cohesiveness of the collaboration and dash the hopes and aspirations of the vast majority of Liberians that have reposed confidence in it,” the release said.

However, three months down the line, LIROI is still struggling to the issues within the CPP, especially between Boakai and Cummings settled.

A recent attempt was in the city of Accra, Ghana’s capital, where separate talks were held with both leaders, with the hope of settling the dusts.

In a statement released by LOROI on Wednesday, the group disclosed that while they were in Ghana attending to matters relating to their operation, they took advantage of the presence of Boakai and Cummings who were also there on separate businesses.

“In touch with staff of both Leaders, LIROI was aware of their presence in Accra, and used the opportunity of the presence of its partners, the BW Global Group (BWGG), on a fieldtrip in the region, to meet separately with the two leaders. The two meetings centered around LIROI interests in realizing the aspiration of the Liberian people for a united opposition through the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) for which LIROI was subsequently informed the two leaders separately reaffirmed their commitment to a united CPP,” the group stated.

It added, “The two meetings also solicited the views of the two leaders on additional ways and means by which LIROI could be more supportive of the CPP. The LIROI and its partners were pleased with the cordial atmosphere surrounding the separate discussions and the expressions of both leaders to resolve all outstanding issues within the CPP, particularly the conflict within the Liberty Party, and promote democratic ideals as they go about the processes leading to the selection of candidates of the CPP for the ensuring 2023 Presidential and General elections.    The LIROI will continue to explore and engage all the key stakeholders of the CPP in public and private to advance the objectives of LIROI in its support of a united CPP.”

While the LIROI-Accra meetings could have served as a fertile soil for both Cummings and Boakai to face off and settle on a common proposition, LIROI was keen to disclose that its meeting with the two political leaders did not bring them under one roof, though they separately agreed to resolve the internal conflicts in the CPP.

“LIROI clarifies that at no time did it or any of its partners meet jointly with both leaders neither did it facilitate negation by both leaders on the leadership question of the CPP. While LIROI would welcome such meeting as positive, were it to have taken place between both leaders, we are cognizant that such exercise must be voluntary and ought to grow out of the willingness of the parties and their leaders to do so,” LIROI disclosed.

This disclosure has also raised questions about the true willingness of both Boakai and Cummings to bury their hatchets and find a common ground for the salvaging and solidifying of the opposition bloc.

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