The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Presidential Election Goes Into Extra Time …As Opposition Remains Divided

By Bill W. Cooper

With over 99 percent of the total votes tallied so far, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) obtained 43.84 percent, compared to Boakai’s 43.44 percent, thus resulting to a runoff intended to decide who leads Liberia for the next six years.

The just ended elections witnessed 20 candidates go into ninety minutes of play for the Presidential seat, and with the process now in extra time, those who did not make it to the finish line will have to go either way, because no one person who participated in the just ended elections was neutral, least to speak of presidential candidates.

With the two leading parties carrying out consultations ahead of the campaign opening pronouncement, several political parties are also holding internal meetings as to where to throw their weight, even those with 0.00 percent. Among those seeking partisans’ approval for endorsements in the coming days is the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) of Alexander B. Cummings, which is by now 4th in line, in terms of the progressive results gathered so far from the National Elections Commission (NEC).

This paper learnt that the CPP, through its standard bearer Cummings, over the weekend concluded a meeting geared towards informing his executive members on which way to go during the pending runoff and the party’s decision, but apparently, that meeting ended in a deadlock.

Cummings, who came 3rd during the 2017 elections, performed dismally this time around, claiming about 1.62 percent of the total votes tallied, leaving him to settle for spot four, behind Edward Appleton who got over 2.20 percent of the votes.

Prior to the conduct of the October 10 polls, Cumming in September, while campaigning in New Kru Town, vowed to support an opposition candidate if he did not win the election in October or make it to the runoff.

True to his words, sources close to Cummings revealed that the CPP leader reminded his party officials of his commitment to an opposition support during the runoff, on grounds that President Weah is unfit to lead Liberia.

Our source disclosed that several Executives of the CPP vehemently rejected Cummings’s obligation, suggesting that he must remain neutral in the process, but Cummings countered, on grounds that he has principles.

Key amongst the Executives opposing Cummings’s decision were Chairman Musa Bility, running mate Charlyne Brumskine, and Secretary General Martin Kollah, among others.

Billity, in one of his podcasts, vowed that he will not support any decision to turn the country’s Presidency into the hands of Boakai of the UP, and in a Facebook video that went live, he reiterated, “I Musa Hassan Billity will not support or form part of any decision that will turn over Liberia into the hands of Joseph Boakai of the UP, never!”

According to our source, Cummings further reminded his CPP executives that it would be a slap in their own faces and total contradiction, were he or any other member of the CPP to support Weah or the CDC, after criticizing them for five years over bad governance and rampant corruption.

Our source said the CPP Standard Bearer then said, “We as a political institution owe it to this country and Liberians, and all of us still have our own political future to protect and safeguard, especially so, there is still hope for the CPP in 2029.”

Cummings continued, “In as much as the elections results went the other way, I’m still optimistic that we won these elections. Liberians still believe in us and we, as a party or collaboration, cannot and will never trade the trust of the Liberian people for anything.”

“I Alexander B. Cummings believe in change and still hold the view that Weah and his CDC officials do not deserve a second term, and as such, I will support Boakai, who I believe can restore the lost image of our beloved country,” our source added.

The opposition CPP came into being following consultations between the All Liberian Party (ALP), UP, LP, and Alternative National Congress (ANC), after the 2017 Presidential runoff election, with the sole aim of holding President Weah’s government’s feet to the fire.

But that collaboration soon dissolved after the ALP standard bearer, Benoni Urey, accused Cummings of the ANC, of tampering with the CPP’s framework document, an allegation that subsequently landed in court.

As Liberia approaches the runoff elections, the alliance between Boakai and Cummings, if it holds, is poised to pose a major challenge to President Weah and his CDC, as it is this collaboration that thousands of Liberians have long yearned for.

Their joint campaign would likely convince Liberians to vote Boakai over Weah, with their shared vision of addressing the pressing issues faced by the country, such as economic volatility, unemployment, corruption, and social inequality.

Moreover, the support of Cummings might somehow bring potential financial resources and strategic capabilities to Boakai’s campaign, which could bolster their chances against President Weah, who still retains a strong support base.

While the Liberian People’s Party of Tiawan Gongloe, who came 3rd in Nimba and 6th overall, seems to be in a tight spot because during his campaign, he said he will not support any corrupt regime, and he had always referred to the ruling CDC; but again, he also stands against his kinsman, Prince Y. Johnson, whom he describes as a human rights abuser.

Gongloe has advocated for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court, a decision he is convinced about since he led the National Bar Association leadership and a mantra on which he stood in his quest of becoming Liberia’s leader.

Many also draw Gongloe’s uneasiness from the 2020 mid-term election that witnessed Jeremiah Koung, now UP’s running mate, leap to the Senate against his sister, Edith Gongloe Weh, thereby creating a rift between the Gios and Manos.

It is rumored that Gongloe has informed his supporters that he will be neutral, as they are allowed to make public their support in the runoff or be private, as he is going to be. 

In the coming days, it is expected that the Grassroots Democratic Movement of Wade Edward Appleton, who took 3rd place surprisingly, as well as the All Liberians Coalition Party of Lusinee Kamara, who is in a seesaw for fourth place with Cummings in some counties, but is stable at 5th place, will make their sides known.

The NEC has set November 7, 2023 as the date for the presidential runoff, because neither candidate, Weah or Boakai, could obtain majority of the votes during the first round held on October 10, 2023, in the presidential and legislative elections.

During the 2017 runoff, President Weah defeated Boakai by amassing 61.5 percent of the total votes, winning 14 of the 15 counties across Liberia.

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