Liberia’s Fragile and Divided Opposition Might Lead to the Re-election of President Weah

  President George Weah left, Alexander Cummings of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties, center, and  Joseph Boakai, Standard Bearer of the former ruling Unity Party are the frontrunners for the October 10 polls.

..... The tragedy of Liberia’s opposition is that after struggling for years to forge a common strategy it finally came together and learned how to win elections, only to have infighting and lawsuits among themselves.

Ahead of the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for the 10th of October, nearly 20 opposition parties are trying to topple the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), which has been a powerful opposition almost without interruption for 12 years during Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's presidency and has been the ruling party for the past five plus years. 

The Liberian people were hoping for a united opposition; the same united opposition under the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) that facilitated the landslide victory of Darius Dillion into the Liberian Senate. Regrettably, the fractured, bickering main opposition parties – the Unity Party (UP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) failed to put up a viable united candidate for the presidency, thus leaving some Liberians to conclude that the opposition parties are hopeless now, heading into the October general elections.

Less than two months heading into the general elections, the opposition appeared to be inaudible, while the President is effectively and wisely going after what he wants. If campaigns are often the main way to interact with the Liberian people to effectively get a political party’s message out to voters, then President George M. Weah and the CDC are doing an excellent job, while some members of the opposition are grumbling why a sitting president is campaigning more than the entire opposition and putting out so many billboards. This is Political Campaigning 101 and certainly NOT a sign of failure. 

Perhaps, the opposite failed to understand that the road to the Executive Mansion is long, expensive, and exhausting. The hypothesis has long been established that a candidate for public office is only the beginning of the election process. Successful candidates must effectively persuade voters that they deserve their individual votes on the day of election.

President George M Weah is wisely doing the right thing because he and his people clearly understand that persuading voters is the essence of a political campaign. Advertising, theme songs, stump speeches, and even negative campaigning have been around since our country began, and each advance in technology since then has offered new opportunities for candidates to persuade voters. I must admit, the opposition and non-registered voters in the diaspora are doing an excellent job on social media, especially on Facebook. 

Perhaps, those who’re accusing the President of disproportionate campaigning weren’t in Liberia when former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party was seeking re-election. Approximately 12 years ago, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf campaigned under the rain, in the mud and hot blazing sun in the open to ask the Liberian people to give her additional six more years to complete the job she started. She worked extremely hard campaigning from village to village, town to town, city to city, to effectively persuade the Liberian people. All her hard work paid off and she was successfully reelected.

In April of this year, President Joe Biden formally announced he’s running for reelection in 2024 – and we know the US elections aren't until next year November. The US President is wisely asking the American voters to give him more time to “finish this job” he began when he was sworn into office. I certainly didn't hear any Republican saying he's campaigning too early or more than them.

The tragedy of Liberia’s opposition is that after struggling for years to forge a common strategy it finally came together and learned how to win elections, only to have infighting and lawsuits among themselves.  Under these conditions, one would expect the CDC to win the upcoming 2023 presidential elections easily, as voters will punish the opposition. Yes, ordinary Liberians are extremely angry and saying that the failure of the Opposition to find a common ground to launch a united campaign against the ruling CDC will unquestionably lead to the re-election of President George M. Weah. 

If we want to be successful in any walk of life, hard work is a necessity. It was clearly exhibited when former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was seeking re-election. Hard work is extremely hard, and we can’t build a great nation or get anywhere without working hard. When I was overwhelmingly elected as President of the Liberian Community of Northern California, I didn’t stay at home and expect the people to vote for me. I worked tremendously hard, visiting homes, having meals with families, and articulating my vision for the community. 

Mr. President, continue your effective campaigning and in the end, your hard work will be rewarded.

With God above Our rights to prove We will o’er all prevail..