Liberia: Crack within the Ruling Coalition More Severe than Portrayed



By every indication, the newly formed Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), which comprised the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), National Patriotic Party (NPP), and the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP), had a smooth ride in 2017 — cruising to an emphatic victory months after they consummated their political marriage. The CDC victory was also enabled by the eventual support of Senator Prince Y. Johnson, the political god-father of vote-rich Nimba County.

But while 2017 might have been a smooth ride for the coalition, 2023 appears to be an opposite, as the marriage, which needs a vow renewal ahead of the October 10, 2023 polls, is now hardly a peaceful one. All is not well within the CDC and this is no longer a secret, as recent happenings indicate.

While supporters and sympathizers of the ruling coalition turned out in their tens of thousands on February 4, 2023 to nominate President George Weah to seek a second term, that massive turnout was by no means a shield or cover for the reported severe crack that the coalition is currently experiencing.

“The coalition is fractured, and no level of pretense can make things look alright when they are not,” NPP Chairman and Maryland county Representative, James Biney, said recently.

“Majority members of the CDC, with the exception of the Weah faction, are not satisfied. We the NPP people are not happy and I’m also hearing that the LPDP are even angrier than us,” Biney said. “So how can this coalition hold? It is not possible.”

The friction within the ruling coalition has been ongoing for some time now, but became more evident months leading to the CDC’s “One Million-Man Rally”. Many thought that the NPP, which was in the throes of its own internal power struggle, had resolved its issues until days before the rally when, not just Biney, but majority of its stakeholders, called for the boycott of the event. 

The political leader of the LPDP, Alex Tyler was also conspicuously absent from the event.

Meanwhile the coalition Chairman, Mulbah Morlu, at the re-nomination ceremony at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS), presented President Weah a resolution that was purportedly signed by all three parties, as the official signing of the new coalition framework document took days to be done, though with some hiccups. 

Signed by the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), and the Jewel Howard-Taylor faction of the NPP, the consummation of the new framework agreement raises questions about the strength of the controversial political alliance ahead of the 2023 elections. The document was signed at the CDC party headquarters on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, by VP Taylor for the NPP and Mulbah Morlu for the original CDC.

VP Taylor signed the document despite calls from counties and district coordinators of the NPP for her not to do so. The disenchanted coordinators made the plea Days before the President's re-nomination ceremony. They also urged their standard bearer, and chairman Biney to boycott the event.

With Biney having heeded their call, evidenced by the absence of him and other senior members of the NPP, as well as the reported refusal of top officials of the LPDP to attend the ceremony, suggests that the ruling coalition may be facing difficulties. 

Alex J. Tyler, the political leader of the LPDP, has stated that his party is not currently in a coalition, as the process of reaching an agreement among party members has yet to be completed. It was subsequently reported that LPDP Chairman, Moses Y. Kollie also signed for his party.

The LPDP political leader, Tyler, had earlier told a recent Spoon-talk interview that he is not aware of his party being a part of any coalition, not since the one he signed unto in 2016 expired November last year.

“I’m yet to renew or sign the agreement or coalition document for the impending elections. The one we had expired November 2022. Up to the time before I left the country, we had not yet reached an agreement to sign or reach the resolution of our party.”

These unfavorable situations come amid dissatisfaction among senior members of the NPP and LPDP over the past 5 years, as the Weah’s faction of the coalition has dominated everything.

All of these point to the fact that the ruling coalition is currently overwhelmed with serious internal crises triggered by dissatisfaction among members about how the President has presided over both the country and that political arrangement, if not resolved, could dent its chances for reelection.

But to some Liberians and those dissatisfied coalition members, especially within the NPP and LPDP, what currently exists is a “Cow Dung Coalition” — a borrowed analogy from a famous African proverb about a friendship based on pretense. While everything seems just pristine on the surface, beneath is messy — a situation that could cause the coalition to fall short of achieving its lofty goals at the polls in October.

To Tyler, the tripartite coalition that contested the 2017 elections no longer exists. He expressed shock to learn that his party affixed a signature to the new framework document, which he said is not legal because he should have been the one to commit the party to such an arrangement.

“I have not done that,” he said. “I heard this evening that our party got the resolution. I want to inform the public that we do not have a coalition. It’s a whole process because members of the party can agree and now the leaders can go ahead to sign but this is yet to be done.”

But an adamant Tyler noted on the Spoon Talk-show that in order to have a coalition, there has to be a mini retreat of the parties wishing to join, in the presence of the National Elections Commission (NEC), but nothing like such has happened as well.

He said the NEC does not have any document currently in its possession to show that a coalition binds the CDC, NPP and LPDP or bringing them together for the 2023 elections. 

Tyler said if his party got the two-thirds of its membership, it still does not indicate that a coalition is formed until the leaders can meet and sign documents in the presence of NEC and a copy submitted to the NEC, completing the process.

The situation is being closely watched by citizens and political observers, who are eager to see how the coalition will address these issues and move forward in the lead up to the 2023 elections.