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

The Coming Together Of Opposition Parties: “Crabs In The Bucket” Scenario Again?

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

One of the areas I developed interest in as a young reporter was politics. That is, reporting on the activities of political parties and politicians, something for which I befriended many politicians, including the late Political Maradona, Gabriel Baccus Matthews of the then Progressive People’s Party (PPP), growing out of the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) that is credited for multi-party democracy in today’s Liberia.

This contact for news was accentuated or heightened when I was assigned at the Capitol Building and the Executive Mansion during the regime of the late Samuel K. Doe.

This desire and drive for political reporting even continued, as a senior person, during the reign of former President Charles G. Taylor and former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who bestowed upon me one of the country’s highest national honors, thus making me the youngest media practitioner to receive such distinction.

Last Wednesday, this paper reported that as a means of plan to defeat the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in the 2023 Presidential and Representative Elections, four opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) on Tuesday consolidated their alliance with the signing of a ‘Framework Document, with Mr. Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) elected to serve as chairman for the CPP for the next six-months. The parties are the Alternative National Congress (ANC), All Liberian Political Party (ALP), Liberty Party (LP) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP).

The signing ceremony was held at the Farmington Hotel in Margibi County. It was witnessed by the presence of several opposition political leaders of those parties.

Prior to signing the pact, the four defeated political parties in the just ended 2017 election ranging from the ANC, ALP, LP and UP joined forces named and styled the”Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) as a means of holding the Weah-Taylor led administration accountable in order to live up to its campaign promises made during the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections.

Signing the document, the CPP outgoing chairman and the political leader of the ALP, Benoni Urey said that though there were many mere saying about their collaboration, they succeeded in achieving what the citizenry wanted them to achieve during the past six-months, and stressed that it had been somehow difficult to get four different political parties with different political ambitions to join together for the common good of the country.

According to the ALP political leader, the demise of the late Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine who he said was very instrumental in ensuring that the four political parties join forces sometimes last year was a big blow to their collaboration, and added that the country’s former Vice President, Amb. Joseph Boakai had been very committed in rendering some pieces of advice and wisdom to get them where they are.

Mr. Urey then praised the ANC political leader, Alexander Cummings for his level of leadership exhibited during his chairmanship for the CPP – stating that Mr. Cumming always made himself available as well as willing to accept correction and make a change especially when they had some disagreements in the interest of the entire citizenry and the country at large.

The ALP Stander Bearer then urged the members of the four collaborating political parties and the entire citizenry to join hands in building the country – saying that it’s time for their generation to join ranks to fix what they have spoiled, while at the same time lauded the entire CPP team for their level of work done so far for the forward match of the country.

In remarks, the incoming chairman and the political leader of the opposition ANC, Alexander Cummings lauded the team for their resilient effort in ensuring that the signing of the “Frame Work Document” becomes a reality – noting that it is just the beginning of their journey in ensuring to assume the country’s leadership.

He noted that those things as listed in the document are all mere words on paper – emphasizing it will require their collective actions to ensure it works, as it is not about them but the country and the common good of the Liberia people.

He said the journey is just beginning; the work is before them; there will be some challenges along the way as it will not be a smooth road to heaven but assured the citizenry that in the end they will collectively prevail and be successful – alluding that that his chairmanship will be collaborative as well as build consensus in order to hold the government accountable to the Liberian people, and said that because the government is very inept and incompetent to deliver the citizenry from poverty.

For his part, the Unity Party political leader, Amb. Joseph Boakai said that the frame work document is the manifestation of their commitment to ensuring that they unseat the government in the 2020 Senatorial Election and the 2023 Presidential Election, and stressed, “Government is not play-play but play acting, as I quote a phrase that says “never send a boy to do a man’s job.”

Also yesterday, some other political party leaders engaged in similar exercise like that of the four parties, with the signing of a document known as the “RAINBOW ALLIANCE,” for the purpose of working together during the pending elections, thereby avoiding a crowded field of political parties during the process.

The parties are Liberia Restoration Party (LRP), Change Democratic Action (CDA), Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), Democratic Justice Party (DJP) and Victory for Change Party (VCP).

Others are, Grassroots Democratic Party of Liberia (GDPL); Redemption Democratic Congress (RDC); People’s Unification Party (PUP); Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT); New Liberia Party (NLP) and the True Whig Party (TWP).

For me, these latest alliances are a welcoming news for the pending elections because it would help to reduce the number of political parties expected to participate in the process. Many times electorates complained of the number of political parties in the process, something they believe always led to confusion in making decision.

Nevertheless, this latest news, in my estimations would send a positive sign to the general public. Specifically, I have always advocated for few in the race through coalition, alliances and collaborations.

However, it must be noted, as the other group Chairman Cummings said that this is just the “beginning of the journey” based on what I believe is from past experience.

Undisputedly it has been observed over the years that it is very easy for political parties to come together to participate in an electoral process by featuring one candidate; but the challenge has always been with the selection or election of a candidate to represent such group.

Unquestionably, this has led to the disintegration or fragmentation of these once amalgamated or united opposition parties.

A recent example of this is the former Alliance of Political Parties that brought some of the parties, including individuals considered “THE PROGRESSIVES.“ At the end of their collaboration and the formation of the alliance, former Pro-temp, then of the Liberian Action Party (LAP), commonly known as the ROOSTER, Mr. Cletus Wotorson was elected to stand as Standard Bearer.

But this was short-lived as some of the parties failed to honor the arrangement as they went solo.

Sadly to note, it was claimed that this disintegration was the result of the money allegedly given by Charles Taylor to discourage a strong challenge. Let’s take for granted that this is true, if these parties’ leaders were committed and focused on achieving their goal of a united front, the issue of money or not would not have undermined their objective. For me, this claim, is amorphous and unpersuasive.

Today, it is public knowledge that because of this disintegration, the citizens, on venting their anger paraded some areas of the city, chanting, “You killed my mom, you killed my pa, I will vote for you.”
This was in apparent response to calls by some political leaders for people not to vote for
Charles Taylor for the killing of voters’ mothers and fathers during the civil conflict.

As a student of communication, the message I gathered from this protest was that if those (politicians) the people look up to provide leadership were disunited, it was better to have elected someone else rather than these politicians . At the end of the process, Mr. Taylor, then former leader of the defunct rebel group- National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), who ran on the ticket of the NPP, emerged victorious.

Another example of this is the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) which is a combination of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Weah, National Patriotic Party (NPP) of former President Charles Taylor and the Liberian People’s Democratic Party (LPDP) of former Speaker Alex Tyler, is said to be heading for disunity over the Senatorial seat in Bomi County for the pending election this year.

It is said that former Speaker Tyler, who once served as Representative for Bomi and present Senator Sando Johnson, who are all part of the Coalition are eyeing the Senatorial seat for the county. However, unlike the others, the CDC achieved its goal by electing President Weah, the principal goal or objective for which the CDC was formed.

It is said that former Speaker Tyler, who once served as Representative for Bomi and present Senator Sando Johnson, who are all part of the Coalition are eyeing the Senatorial seat for the county. However, unlike the others, the CDC achieved its goal by electing President Weah, the principal goal or objective for which the CDC was formed.

I recall when the Alliance of Political Parties was launched, the keynote speaker former Interim President Dr. Amos C. Sawyer, in his philosophical address, challenged the organizers not to behave like “crabs in the bucket,” an idiomatic expression which depicts a situation where no one wants to give another a chance to ascend or where the issue of leadership would remain a quagmire.

Once again, I support this amalgamation of many into one, but the challenge rests with the leaders of these parties as to whether or not they would abide by these objectives and goals.

Sometimes this issue of disintegration of alliances, coalitions or mergers is the result of the insatiable greed for power by some individuals; that is, “If it is not me, it should be no one else.”

Now, it rests with these political leaders to prove their cynics and skeptics wrong on this amalgamation that would make a difference.
We Are Watching With An Eagle’s Eye.

I Rest My Case.

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