Liberia: Opposition Collaboration Issues Far from Over Amid Accusations of Bribery, Blame Game
Monrovia – Without naming names, the leader of the All Liberia Party, Mr. Benoni Wilfred Urey is alleging that someone within the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) used money to manipulate and influence the results of the primary to elect the CPP’s candidate in the December 8 Senatorial Midterm elections for the vote-rich county.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]
Former Superintendent Madam Edith Gongloe Weh, backed by the Liberty Party(LP) was up against Mr. Taa Wongbe, backed by the Alternative National Congress. Both parties are members of the four-party collaboration.
“I have a party and a constituency in Liberia that I cater to. What happened is our right as a political party to decide who we will send as delegates. If people think they can go and bribe them and manipulate our delegates and we would accept it, I Benoni Urey will not accept it,” the AlP leader said Wednesday on a call in to the 50-50 morning talk show on 107.1 FM.
11th Hour Submission
At the eleventh hour of the primary process, Mr. Urey announced the indefinite suspension of his party’s entire Nimba County leadership which comprises over 20 persons.
The suspension letter to the leadership, a copy of which FrontPageAfrica has obtained stated the suspension was due to the level of poor leadership and coordination in the county leadership. The communication also stated that they have been involved with acts that have brought the party to public disrepute.
In that letter, the ALP national leadership also announced that there will be a comprehensive investigative restructuring exercise that will facilitate the reconfirming of the Nimba County’s branch to the vision, loyalty and goals of party.
The ALP further blamed the county leadership for poorly managing Radio Sletorwah which was established as a community radio station in the county for propagating the programs, vision, policies and aspiration of the ALP. “Unfortunately, your collective supervision and administration of the station leaves much to desire as evidenced by the fact that your leadership has failed and deliberately refused to carry out the mandate upon which the ALP established the radio station. To the contrary also, the station has been used against the party’s interest and goals,” the communication further alleged.
On Wednesday, Mr. Urey went beyond the original letter to state that the suspension was more than just about poor leadership, but rather, attempts to manipulate the results.
Asked whether he had any proof of who may have tried to bribe his delegates and influence the outcome of the primary, Mr. Urey declined to say, stating only: “People must stop trying to manipulate political situation to go in their favor. The Nimba people overwhelmingly have spoken. They want Edith Gongloe Weh. If you were to have a primary today, tomorrow or three other times, people of Nimba County will vote for Edith Gongloe Weh.”
Mr. Urey went on to acknowledge that his party, along with the Liberty Party and the Unity Party submitted the names of their delegates on the morning of the primary on Sunday. Our delegates were given on the morning of the primary. “Our delegates listing were given on the morning of the primary. Liberty Party gave her listing the same time Unity Party gave their listing. So, what is this thing about changing listing. Do they know about a list that we didn’t know? Because our official listing only came out on the Sunday morning of the primary. So, if they went around and bribed party officials and did whatever they did, we did not approve of any listings until Sunday morning.”
Reminders Sent Out
Ironically, on September 5, 2020, the day before the primary, Aloysius Toe, head of Secretariat of the CPP sent out reminder letters to the four parties regarding the deadline to submit the names of the delegates.
The Letter read:
Hon. Theodore Momoh, Chairman – ALP
Sen. Steve Zargo, Chairman – LP
Hon. Isaac Mannah – Chairman – UP
Dear Honorable Chairpersons of ALP, LP and UP:
2ND REMINDER AND FNAL REQUEST TO SUBMIT DELEGATE LISTING BEFORE 1PM ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2020
This letter serves as the second reminder and final request to the ALP, LP and UP to submit their delegate listings to the Nimba County Primaries on or before Saturday, September 5, 2020, at 1pm.
So far, only the ANC has complied and submitted delegate listings consistent with the September 3, 2020 at 5:00pm deadline. The ALP, LP and UP have failed to meet this deadline without providing any reasons. The Primaries Committee is gravely concerned about this delay as it is impeding the work and progress of the committee.
It is important that you submit your delegate listing on September 5, 2020 no later than 1:00pm to enable the Primary Committee conduct verifications and ID checks, prepare and post delegate listings for public view; and also allow candidates to interact and campaign among delegates. This practice is consistent with democratic traditions throughout world.
Parties flagrantly flouting these rules will have their delegates face penalties either by paying US$1,000 in fines before their delegates are allowed to vote, or will be disqualified from voting.
On Wednesday, Mr. Urey insisted that the decision of the ALP had the backing of the party’s Executive Committee. “The party made a decision through the executive committee and it was implemented. So, these people going around and getting a little bit money from people for their personal aggrandizement are trying to tarnish the good of the Liberian people. Liberia has been good to some people – and they must remember it and stop fueling problem in our country.”
“I have a party and a constituency in Liberia that I cater to. What happened is our right as a political party to decide who we will send as delegates. If people think they can go and bribe them and manipulate our delegates and we would accept it, I Benoni Urey will not accept it.”– Mr. Benoni W. Urey, All Liberia Party, former Chair, Collaborating Political Parties
CPP Condemns Violence
Mr. Urey’s allegations come as the CPP on Wednesday announced the launch of an investigation into the fracas in Sanniquellie last weekend.
In a statement Wednesday, jointly released by the four political leaders after hours of deliberations Tuesday morning, the parties described the violence as unacceptable and counterproductive to achieving the objectives of the unity of the CPP for the benefit of the people of Liberia.
The statement read: “Following a meeting held between the Political Leaders of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Unity Party (UP), the Liberty Party (LP) and the All Liberian Party (ALP), the CPP has decided to constitute a four (4) member Independent Review Panel to investigate the conduct of the Nimba County Senatorial Primary. Reputable and credible citizens who are not members of the constituent parties of the CPP will serve on the Independent Review Panel and recommend a way forward to the leadership of the CPP. The IRP will begin work no later than September 9, 2020 and will conclude its work and report to the CPP leadership no later than September 15, 2020.”
In a bid to allay concerns emanating from last Sunday’s fracas, the leaders pledge to always strive to seek useful compromises to ensure the CPP wins together, and in the interests of all of its constituent members. “This is evident by the fact that the CPP has successfully completed the selection of its candidates for fourteen (14) counties as follow, pending the resolution of Nimba County.”
The breakdown is as follows: All Liberian Party (ALP) has been allocated Gbarpolu, Bomi and Grand Gedeh. Alternative National Congress (ANC) was allocated Maryland, Cape Mount, Rivergee and Sinoe; Liberty Party – Montserrado, Grand Bassa, Rivercess and Grand Kru while Unity Party has been allocated Bong, Lofa, and Margibi
At Tuesday’s meeting, the joint leaders’ statement said, the Unity Party and All Liberian Party officially withdrew their respective candidates from the Rivergee primary, and has given their support to the ANC’s candidate while UP officially withdrew its candidate from Grand Gedeh for the ALP’s candidate.
Meanwhile the four (4) political leaders are calling on all partisans of their parties and well-wishers to desist and avoid public expressions intended to further enflame the situation. “They wish to reassure the Liberian people that as difficult as the challenge of coming together is, the CPP remains determined to achieve it for the Liberian people. The CPP can only grow stronger because of these experiences which test the character of our collective leaderships and shared commitments to the Liberian people – a test we will not fail.”
Despite the consensus reached in the joint statement, the issue in Nimba is still in the balance. Gongloe-Weh was declared the winner despite the controversy surrounding the climax to the primary. FrontPageAfrica has learned that the committee set up to look into the fracas is expected to make recommendations on the way forward although no timeline has been set. However, multiple sources within the CPP acknowledged Wednesday that the four parities are still deeply divided on whether to accept the results as it stand or call for a rerun.
Liberty Party has already embraced the results owing to its support of Gongloe-Weh.
Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence who had earlier congratulate Gongloe-Weh for her victory, later condemned the violence. “As a leader of the CPP, I express deep and heartfelt regrets for the acts of violence which obtained at the CPP Primary in Nimba County,” the Senator said in a statement Monday.
Steve Zargo, chair of the LP told FrontPageAfrica Monday that the results should stand while ALP’s Urey also said Monday that Gongloe-Weh would emerge the winner no matter how many times the primary is conducted.
ALP Blames ANC for Violence
Despite the joint statement the problems within the CPP appears to be far from over.
Late Wednesday, Urey’s ALP issued a stinging indictment of the ANC and laid the blame squarely on the party for instigating the violence.
The ALP while condemning the September 6 violence, said the ANC was at fault.
Said the ALP’s statement: “It was clear therefore that ANC had incited tis partisans and supporters against the ALP by their ANC verbal attacks which eventually were demonstrated by their physical violence witnessed in Sanniquellie, Nimba County on Sunday, September 6, 2020. We wish to make it absolutely clear that the act of using ALP and LP as scapegoats for an action initiated and perpetuated by the Alternative National Congress is unfortunate and shows definitely and a betrayal of the trust and confidence of the CPP membership. Therefore, we wish to call on the ANC to apologize to the Liberian people to partisans and supporters of the CPP for denigrating the good image of the Collaborating Political Parties which we have labored so hard for.”
The ALP statement further stated that the ANC orchestrated the violent disruption of the primary to save its candidate Taa Wongbe from a humiliating defeat which was prophesized by ANC opinionated Voters Perception Survey(VPS) that was conducted in Nimba County, which placed Madame Edith Gongloe Weh as favorite of the people. “With the findings of the VPS, ALP wonders why it, UP and LP would have opted to disrupt the primary and mitigate violence.”
The ALP reiterated that it is a party of peace and discipline and would l never be involved in perpetrating violence for any reason. “We further call on the Liberia National Police to fully investigate the Sanniquellie violence and make its findings public. Going forward, the National Advisory Committee needs to launch an in-depth investigation into the ANC’s verbal and abusive attacks on the ALP Leadership and the Sanniquellie violence and ensure that the perpetrators are exposed and punished. We also call on all members of the ALP to remain calm as the party seeks redress.”