Liberia: Political Egos Left Swimming In Sea of What Ifs


Monrovia – Two political parties are through to the run-off round of this year’s Presidential elections in Liberia.

Report by Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]

What if all eighteen had put aside their egos and form a united front against the ruling establishment of the past twelve years?

The outcome could have resulted in the likelihood that a united front could have garnered more than 30 percent that could have ousted one of the two top parties, the ruling Unity Party or the Coalition from Democratic Change from the run-off and a united front in. 

But it is the other eighteen that are left scratching their heads in disbelief about what ifs?

What if they had all put their eggs in one basket? What would the outcome have been?

Long before the National Elections Commission began announcing results of the just-ended first round of voting, it was clear to many that despite assurances and pledges from those eyeing the presidency and guaranteeing first round victory, the outlook as bleak at best and unrealistic at worst.

What if all eighteen had put aside their egos and form a united front against the ruling establishment of the past twelve years?

The outcome could have resulted in the likelihood that a united front could have garnered more than 30 percent that could have ousted one of the two top parties, the ruling Unity Party or the Coalition from Democratic Change from the run-off and a united front in.

As the quarterbacking lingers, many political observers are hopeful that lessons learned from the 2017 catastrophe will impact thinking for the next election in 2023 and beyond – or maybe not.

The silver lining of the catastrophic opposition conundrum lies in Liberia’s new election law amended in 2014.

The law which is yet to be implemented was approved September 17, 2017 but will likely come into effect in 2023, automatically reducing the number of political parties that have in the next two elections define the multiplicity tone of Liberia’s post-war democratic sojourn.

Fifteen of the 20 political parties and independent candidates who took part in the October 10 elections are likely to be barred from taking part in two subsequent elections, because they fall below the 2% votes the threshold required, according to

In 2005, some 22 candidates threw their caps into the ring for the Presidential play.

Chapter 5(a) 1 of the new law states: “A political party or independent candidate shall be suspended if the candidate/s nominated in an election for the presidency or a seat in the Legislature receives insufficient support in that election thereby resulting into: a. none of the party’s candidate is elected, and b. the total of all valid votes cast for all candidates in the constituencies in which the party contested, the Commission shall suspend the party’s right to nominate candidate for the next two elections for the same office.”

Under this equation, 15 of the 20 political parties that participated in the current elections will not be eligible to contest the next elections.

They include: The All Liberian Party, whose candidate Benoni W. Urey only managed 24,246 votes for 1.6 percent; J. Mills Jones, the former governor of the Central Bank of Liberia who only managed 12,854 votes for 0.8 percent as the standard bearer of the Movement for Economic Empowerment; former Super Model Macdella Cooper of the Liberia Restoration Party, who only managed 11,645 votes for 0.7 percent.

Others: Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh of the Liberia People’s Party who managed 11,560 votes for 0.7 percent; Senator Oscar Cooper, running as an independent managed to accumulate 10,381 votes for 0.7 percent; Macdonald Wento of the United People’s Party managed 8,968 votes for 0.6 percent; Simeon Freeman of the Movement for Progressive Change secured 6,682 votes for 0.4 percent; Isaac Wiles of the Democratic Justice Party secured 6,379 votes for 0.4 percent; Pastor Aloysious Kpadeh, an Independent, received 5,922 votes for 0.4 percent; Rev. Kennedy Sandy of the Liberia Transformation Party received 5,343 votes for 0.3 percent; George Dweh of the Redemption Democratic Party secured 4,935 votes for 0.3 percent; William Tuider of the New Liberia Party managed 4,920 votes for 0.3 percent; Jeremiah Z. Whapoe of the Vision for Liberia Transformation managed 3, 946 votes for 0.3 percent; Yarkpajuwur N. Mator, an Independent candidate secured 1,940 votes for 0.1 percent and Wendell Mcintosh, Change Democratic Action managed 1,646 votes for 0.1 percent.

Entering the 2023 elections as it stands today, only George Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change who managed 596,037 votes for 38.4 percent; Vice President Joseph Boakai for the ruling Unity Party who managed 446,716 votes for 28.8 percent; Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party who managed 149,495 votes for 9.6 percent; Prince Johnson of the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction who received 127, 666 votes for 8.2 percent and Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress who received 112, 067 votes for 7.2 percent would be allowed to participate in the next elections.

Nevertheless, as recent political upheavals have seen, the law is likely to be challenged in the event one of the parties under the two percent threshold decides to pursue their interests further.

Under Paragraph 5 A (1), the new law “does not apply to a political party that, at the time of the election had a member continue to hold office as President or as a member of the Legislature.”

A provision in the law also allows for a political party or candidate to contest a decision to suspend them by appealing to the Supreme Court which found itself engulfed in a sea of lawsuits related to this year’s elections, particularly involving the controversial code of conduct.

The saga surfaced in the wake of a binding stipulation in the 1986 constitution, Article 90 (C) in particular, which authorized the Legislature to prescribe a Code of Conduct for all public officials and employees; for, among other things: “stipulating the acts which constitute conflict of interest or are against public policy and punishment for violation thereof.” Pursuant to this constitutional provision, a Code of Conduct was enacted into law.

Despite the law, many officials in the current administration paraded before the court to challenge the law.

The court, on March 3, 2017, in a landmark majority decision, 3 for and 2 against, the Supreme Court of Liberia pronounced the Code of Conduct legal, binding and compliant with the Liberian Constitution. And although the chair of the National Elections Commission on March 6, 2017, in a press statement, said that NEC would strictly enforce the Code, stating:

“What the NEC will be doing is to comply strictly with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Code of Conduct…whatever the Supreme Court says will be followed to the letter,” the court went on the revert on its original ruling, drawing ire from legal and constitutionalists including Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe who charged: “The Supreme Court itself said that desire and intent are not valid arguments when it comes to compliance.

So, I was surprised in the end when the courts said once you resign you are in suspended compliance. So, with that opinion, I don’t see anyone, except for those who are still in position and are still employed and all those who the public were speculating that the code of conduct will hold will be eligible to run.”

Political observers say, while many are now raising questions about the multitude of political parties, future elections, starting with 2023 are unlikely to see political parties mending fences and more of the same from the election of 2005 and 2011 which featured scores of candidates.

Some critics say, the National Elections Commission bolstered by legislative backing should begin thinking of ways to raise the bar in hopes of preventing the multitude of parties and candidates in a limited political field.

Most candidates lacking resources and limited by the bad roads of a brutal campaign season were forced to keep their campaign activities to Monrovia and the votes total for many of those who contested the Presidential elections fell short of the total number of votes of those who contested the legislative races.

The sad reality for many is that Liberia, a country of a little over four million inhabitants saw a disappointing 2.1 million voters registered in this year’s elections, just shy of half of the total population. More importantly, only 1.6 million of the total registered voters actually showed up to vote or clocked as ballots cast.

The upcoming runoff is likely to see more declines adding more fuel to the recurring debate regarding the fielding of too many candidates for a single presidency.

As the remaining eighteen candidate jockey for positions and gamble between the two runoff opponents for jobs, critics are frowning on the consensus that many of those with less than two percent candidates enter the Presidential race in hopes of attaining bargaining chips for jobs, a practice likely see those below the two percent threshold, barred from future elections reinventing their political parties with different names in hopes of have an outside chance of securing a job or a shot at the seat of political establishment.