Liberia: “I Will Run”

Former Vice President Joseph Boakai. 

.... Boakai Fires Back at ANC, Bility 

The political leader of the Unity Party has slammed the Alternative National Congress and the faction of the Liberty Party loyal to its chair, Musa Bility, for attempting to stop him and his party from contesting next year’s presidential elections.

Former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who is eying a potential rematch with President George Weah for the Presidency in 2023, warned Bility and the ANC’s Alexander Cummings that their request to the National Elections Commission (NEC), to stop him from contesting 2023 elections will not hold, as he will be on the ballot.

The ANC and the Musa Bility-faction of the LP, had on March 21 written NEC to invoke Section 8.5 (2) CPP framework document as a means of rejecting and denying “any application from the ALP and UP to field candidates in their own names in any election until the expiry of the 2023 elections, including up to six (6) months thereafter, same being the agreed contractual life of the CPP.”

“Section 8.5 (2) of the CPP framework document states that: Constituent Party desiring to withdraw from the CPP shall first exhaust the dispute resolution mechanism stipulated in the framework document,” the letter disclosed.  “If the Constituent Party which has satisfied the dispute resolution mechanism is not satisfied with the outcome, it shall file a resolution to withdraw from the CPP signed and duly executed by two-thirds (2/3) of the membership of the National Executive Committee, it is being understood, however, that a party withdrawing from the alliance prior to the next presidential, legislative and local elections shall not field candidates in its name.”

The letter in question was signed by Bility and Martin Kollah, Secretary-General of Bility’s Liberty Party faction, and Daniel Naatehn and Aloysius Toe, Chairman and Secretary-General of the ANC respectively.

But Boakai, while speaking to a gathering of the UP’s National Youth during the weekend, disclosed that he will not be stopped from being a presidential candidate in the upcoming 2023 presidential and general elections in Liberia and that his party will also participate in the upcoming Lofa County Senatorial election.

“As I have stated before, let me reassure not just UP Partisans but also my supporters all over Liberia and in the Diaspora, which I, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, will contest in the 2023 Presidential Elections in Liberia.”

“Let the word go forth that the Unity Party and the People of Lofa have had enough and will not continue to be insulted, disrespected, and disenfranchised by the CDC government of President Weah,” the UP leader said in a statement to his opposition colleagues who he considered as distractors. 

The Lofa County Senatorial seat became vacant as a result of Senator-Elect Brownie Samukai’s inability to be seated after being convicted, along with two co-defendants, for theft of property, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money, and money laundering over US$1 million and sentenced to two years in prison, and ordered to restore the money. 

The ANC’s and Bility’s complaints come as Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence's faction of the Liberty Party, Unity Party, and the All Liberian Party withdraw from the Collaborating Political Party, leaving the collaboration in the hands of the ANC.  

The withdrawal of the Liberty Party, which is also split between factions loyal to the party’s political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and its Chairman Musa Bility, respectively, now leaves the Alternative National Congress as the sole major party in the coalition.

Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s withdrawal is a big blow as she controls the party's largest voting block, Grand Bassa County — leaving Bility’s faction, which remains a member of the CPP, holding apparent legal title to the party, as recognized by the National Elections Commission.

And following the playbook of the All Liberian Party, the Unity Party, and Senator Nyonblee faction accused the ANC of illegally altering the CPP Framework Document. The ANC Political Leader, Alexander B. Cummings, has vehemently denied the allegation and says it is untrue. 

The CPP, during its heyday, attracted a broad base of coalition voters during the 2020 senatorial election, resulting in decisive victories for most of their candidates including Montserrado County for Abraham Darius Dillon. Prior to that election, Montserrado County was a no-go zone for other political parties as it was the stronghold of the CDC. The CPP won Montserrado County with 354,898 votes (40.27%) and the CDC, which previously held the seat, got 246,908 votes (28.02 %).

That win came on the backdrop of unity among the four leaders but, once the election was over, signs of internal wrangling broke the focus of the coalition. The political leader of the ALP, Benoni Urey, alleged that the CPP framework document was nefariously tampered with during the tenure of Cummings, who was at the time chairman of the CPP. This allegation Cummings has consistently denied.

And after much public argument, the ALP, which is wholly owned by businessman Urey, in January filed a lawsuit against his opposition compatriot to the government for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering of the CPP framework agreement, which allegedly happened while Cummings was serving as chairman. 

The ALP, which is a strong political ally of former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and his Unity Party (UP), undertook the lawsuit to seek legal action for an “unlawful attachment” of their leader’s signature to the CPP framework document. It is an open secret that Urey has opposed Cummings’s Presidential ambition — creating an air of bad blood among them.

However, this is something the ANC and Bility have not taken as they complained that the withdrawal of the UP and the ALP has paralyzed the workings of the CPP – claiming the withdrawal disrupted the effectiveness of the body, including its national chairmanship, rotational headquarters, rotational leadership of its various organs, including the secretariat, and meetings to determine and evolve positions on national questions.

“This is because, at the time of the so-called withdrawal, the CPP rotational chair happened to have been the Unity Party,” the statement maintained.