Liberia: ‘UP Does Not Regret Leaving CPP’

Unity Party is headed by former Vice President Joseph Boakai picture here.  

The Secretary General of the opposition Unity Party (UP), Mo Ali, has said that his party does not regret leaving the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).

“We don’t regret leaving the CPP, it was a conscious decision we took,” Ali said during a radio interview on Sky FM. “We made a conscious decision and UP does not regret leaving CPP. There were already serious fights within the opposition bloc and there should be no issue since the Unity Party left.”

Ali's comment comes as many people in the opposition community amplify calls for the rekindling of the shattered bond that previously existed between the four parties that comprised the CPP. This call was made in the aftermath of the UP losing Lofa County, its stronghold, to Cllr. Joseph Jallah, a proxy candidate of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).  The UP candidate, Garlakpai Kortimai, lost the election with less than 800 votes.

But, for Ali, the scenario does not indicate that they should regret leaving the CPP — a marriage that achieved significant electoral battleground victory during the 2020 senatorial elections, including the popular Montserrado County, which has long been a bastion of the CDC.  The CPP won six of the 15 counties at the time, compared to the ruling CDC's two seats; the other seats were won by independent candidates.

Until its disintegration, many Liberians saw the CPP as a light of hope that would seize power from President George Weah and his party come 2023, which has been accused of failing the Liberian people.

However, political infighting among the leaders of the four parties that originally comprised the partnership resulted in a split, with three of its members — the Liberty Party (LP), the All Liberian Party, and the Unity Party — quitting the alliance, leaving it with the Alternative National Congress.

The breakaway, according to Martin Kollah, the Secretary-General of the Liberty Party loyal to its Chairman Musa Bility, would be responsible for the devastating defeat in Lofa.  The LP is divided between its political leader Senator Nyonblee Kargar-Lawrence and its chairman Bility.  The UP, before the June 28 by-elections, won Lofa County during the 2020 senatorial elections. 

But its candidate, former Defense Minister Brownie Samukai, could not take his seat due to his criminal conviction of misapplying more than US$1 million from a private pension fund for soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

Since losing power in 2017, it has not won any elections that it has contested alone. The first was with Josephine George Francis during the Montserrado County by-election won by Saah Joseph; the second was the Montserrado County District #13 by-election won by Edward Flomo against Cornelia Kruah Togba. 

Then comes the Grand Cape Mount County election with Debah Varpilah — an election that Victor Watson, who is now not a senator, won.  This record, according to Kollah, should have served as a reminder to the UP that it cannot do it alone, rather it needs the support of other opposition parties.

He added, while on Sky FM with Ali, that the former ruling party lost grips on its stronghold through the senatorial by-election due to the party's departure from the CPP.

“Though officials and members of the Unity Party described it as the biggest opposition political party that has the numbers to win the presidency, the UP is yet to win any election in the country as a unit, and as such, there was no need to have left the collaboration. The Lofa County Senatorial by-election is the fourth by-elections the Unity Party has lost and it shows that the party singlehandedly cannot win elections in Liberia,” Kollah added. 

The LP secretary said over the last 40 years in Liberia, no ruling party has lost elections and come back to win, an argument many of the show participants agreed with. Kollah noted that the CPP “is the only name the Liberia people are prepared to vote for, especially to defeat President George M. Weah in the 2023 General elections.”

However, Ali disagreed and said that there was no way his party could have stayed in the CPP due to the undesirable political climate that existed at the time. 

“We had people within the opposition joining the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the CPP in particular that think and even said the Unity Party did nothing for 12 years. How are you in such a marriage or collaboration?” he asked rhetorically.

Ali however noted that the UP did not lose the June 28 Lofa County Senatorial by-elections as declared by the National Elections Commission (NEC). Instead, he attributed what appears the party’s apparent defeat to what he described as “NEC blunders”. 

“Now we don't have confidence in the elections commission. If the things done in the just-ended election were done in presidential elections, you would create trouble or problems in our country,” Ali noted.

He added that, with the advice of its lawyers, the Unity Party is meeting to determine whether to go to court based on the things that happened. Ali indicated that the Unity Party is not worried about Lofa County and the elections in general as the party will win the 2023 elections.