Liberia: Opposition Political Parties Split over Planned Protest against Weah-led Government
MONROVIA – The opposition political parties in Liberia are divided over plans to stage a protest against the Coalition for Democratic Change-led government of President George Manneh Weah over bad governance, corruption, wasteful spending, and other vices ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections in the country.
Recently, the CPP announced that it will stage a peaceful rally under the banner “We’re Tired Suffering” to call President Weah and his government’s attention to the growing wave of suffering, extreme hardship, societal ills and bad governance vast majority of the citizens are encountering.
By: Obediah Johnson, [email protected]
According to the organizers, the event is a plea for President George Manneh Weah’s “failed, wasteful and disappointing administration to care for the Liberian people and care about how ordinary Liberians are living, going through, and feeling every day.”
Since the rally was announced, no opposition political party, including the former ruling Unity Party (UP), has openly endorsed the rally. But addressing a news conference in Monrovia on Monday, December 12, CPP Senior Advisor Ambassador Lewis Brown admitted that some opposition political parties are showing lack of interest and cooperation towards its planned December 17 peaceful rally by elevating their “selfish interest and electoral chances”, falling short to stand up and act on behalf of the Liberian people.
He said the current attitude being exhibited by these opposition political parties and their leaders, amounts to aiding and abetting the government in imposing hardship and sufferings on the Liberian people.
He, however, fell short of disclosing the name of a particular political party or opposition leader who is not supportive of the rally.
Ambassador Brown added that though the rally is in the interest of the Liberian people, some opposition politicians are bent on castigating the CPP and misconstruing the true intent of the pronounced event.
He maintained that some of these opposition politicians believe that the call for the rally for citizens to speak out is good, but such call is being trumpeted by a “bad messenger.”
He emphasized that these opposition politicians hold the conviction that attempt by them to join or endorse the rally will “operate to the political best interest” of CPP Standard Bearer Mr. Alexander B. Cummings.
Over the last few days since we made this announcement, we heard many including from the opposition community, condemn, challenge, castigate and call us all types of names. Even opposition people are saying that “if they join the rally it will operate to the political interest of our opponent.” Shame on you for not having the true courage to stand up for a good cause for the people. You should not let them slander your voice. You should not give up or be scared when you know your cause is just.-Lewis Brown-
“Over the last few days since we made this announcement, we heard many including from the opposition community, condemn, challenge, castigate and call us all types of names. Even opposition people are saying that “if they join the rally it will operate to the political interest of our opponent.” Shame on you for not having the true courage to stand up for a good cause for the people. You should not let them slander your voice. You should not give up or be scared when you know your cause is just.”
“There are only two sides to what we face in this country. On one side is the government which is responsible for the suffering of our people and don’t want this rally to happen. No child who does well gets afraid of going home. If you are an opposition figure and you say the cause is right but you are not standing with the people, you are actually standing with the government.”
Ambassador Brown observed that the selfish motive of some opposition politicians in the country compelled them to misconstrue the true intent of the ensuing rally.
He said by abandoning or showing no cooperation to join the rally, these opposition politicians are protecting and prioritizing their own interests at the detriment of those whom they intend to lead in the future.
Brown: “The rally is not about Mr. Cummings or me. None of us want this to be about us. But some are so selfish; they are looking to their electoral chances at the expense of the suffering people of this country. You say the people are suffering and the cause is good, but you scarce to stand for them and stand with them. Woe unto you and your conscious.
“You don’t seek power at the expense of the people. But when it comes the time to stand up for the people, some of you look for unimaginable reasons to hide yourself.”
Ambassador Brown emphasized that despite the lack of cooperation and willingness of some opposition political parties to form part of the rally, the CPP and its supporters as well as disenchanted members of the ruling party, among others will not remain silent “as if we are dead before our own times.”
He observed that Liberia’s democracy will be threatened and its citizens will continue to suffer if Liberians do not desist from living in fear by standing up for a just cause.
He stressed that opposition politicians should bear in mind that they also have a duty to protect the democracy of the nation.
Ambassador Brown noted that citizens should guarantee their own security by standing up and speaking truth to their government to act on their behalf.
“Our country has suffered. It’s not because we don’t know what is right or we don’t have good laws. It is because too often, we have not shown enough courage to do the right things the right ways. It is dangerous for our country if we suffer in silence, and we will force our children to also suffer in silence and other conditions. Liberian people, you have chance to stand up,” he said.
He stressed that Liberians should make sacrifices toward a genuine change in society.
Said Brown: “If you want to stay away from this rally because you are scarce, you helping this government to make people scared. If you disagree with us and you don’t want to show up, that’s your democratic right. But if you agree with us and you are scared to show up because you think something will happen to you, you are helping this government to mislead our people.”
“If you are worried that if the rally succeeds Liberian people will vote for you or Mr. Cummings, you are selfish. You are not running for the people, you are running for yourself because, anybody who runs for the people will stand up for the people when the people need you to stand up for them. Stop your excuses. You want to be a man for the people, this is the time. Liberians have suffered too much. Say no to any attempt to threaten and frighten you.”
He, however, recalled that President Weah came to power after he was overwhelmingly elected by the people and took an oath of office at the Samuel Kanyan Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville, outside Monrovia and as such, Liberians will return en masse to similar space on December 17 to remind him to fulfill his promises made during his inauguration.
He said the government, through its security apparatus, is under obligation to protect citizens who will turn out for the rally.
Ambassador Brown said the CPP will not tolerate its peaceful rally to turn chaotic like the protest which led to bloodshed and humiliation on between students of the University of Liberia and some supporters of the ruling party on July 26.
For his part, the Chairman of the CPP “We Tired Suffering” rally Martin Kollah, warned against calculated ploys and infiltration to destabilize the peaceful rally.
He said anyone instigating violence or caught fueling chaotic acts will bear the consequences of their actions
He disclosed that the party will push for sanctions on public officials or anyone who orchestrates or institute acts of violence to disrupt the rally.
“Anybody who will try to do something contrary will bear the consequence. The good news is our big brother who can normally sanction us is still around. And so, when I hear one Mayor, party Chairman, or minister in government talking, intimidating or threatening the Liberian people, I can be laughing because sanctions is still around. Some of us will support sanctions for individuals. We will pray and call for sanctions on them.”
He encouraged Liberians to turn out and have their t-shirts printed at various areas in Monrovia and its environs for the rally.
“This is not about us or any individual benefits. It’s about changing our country and the way things are going around here which are in contrast to fulfilling the needs of our people.”
LPP to protest
Barely after the CPP announced its rally, the Liberian People Party (LPP) also vowed to stage a three-day peaceful protest against the Weah led-government beginning December 14.
Counselor Tiawan Gongloe is the Political Leader of the LPP.
The pronouncement clearly shows a high level of disunity among opposition political parties in the country.
According to the LPP’s Chairman Mr. J. Yanqui Zayzay, the protest named and styled “Mass People’s Action to Rescue the State,” is intended to call the attention of the local and international community to alleged constitutional crisis and high corruption in the country.
He emphasized that the protest is also against the alleged failure of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to sensitize Liberians on the voting process, the wasteful spending on President George Manneh Weah and his entourage 48-day stay out of the country, and the controversial National Housing and Population Census (NPHS) currently being carried out by the government, a looming constitutional crisis and the growing wave of economic constraints and hardship Liberians are presenting experiencing.
Recognizing and failing to act
With barely 10 months to the holding of the much-anticipated 2023 elections, opposition politicians in Liberia continue to vow to make President Weah a “one-term President.”
The general and presidential elections are expected to take place on October 10, 2023, according to a timetable released by the NEC.
Though these opposition actors have individually recognized that President Weah and the ruling CDC cannot be defeated without forming a merger, alliance or collaboration among them, they have failed to put aside their personal egos and cement their relationship.
They normally meet at inter-party consultative meetings to waste time, effort and resources without signing or committing to documents to bind them together.
At the end of those meetings, photos and press releases take over social media, portraying the opposition community to be serious-minded. However, those pleasantries are short-lived, making them go back to their normal routine of seeking their personal interests and downplaying the ambition of the citizenry, who are yielding to a change in national leadership.
At times, these political leaders engage in acts that fuel internal wrangling and confusion within their various institutions, making things difficult and hopeless for Liberians.
The possibility of these opposition parties supporting either of their kind during a probable runoff with the CDC cannot be guaranteed after the first round of voting as evidenced by their failure to initially hold together and prioritize the interest of the nation and its people far above their personal greed or aggrandizement.