The All Liberian Party (ALP) has accused the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of disrupting the Collaborating Political Parties’ (CPP) primary in Nimba County “to save its candidate, Taa Wongbe, from a humiliating defeat.”
The ALP, led by businessman Benoni Urey, in a press release further accused the ANC of inciting its partisans and supporters to not just verbal attacks the party, but also physical violence as it happened in during the CPP primary in Nimba in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.
“We must state further that ANC orchestrated the violent disruption of the primary to save its candidate, Taa Wongbe from a humiliating defeat, which was prophesied by ANC’s opinionated voter’s perception survey that was conducted in Nimba County, which placed Edith Gongloe-Weh as favorite of the people,” said ALP in a press release under the signatory of its National Chairman, J. S. B. Theodore Momo, Jr.
The party added that it does not have any fish to fry in the violence that occurred in Nimba County, during the primary that was meant to elect a candidate for the CPP to contest for the county’s senatorial seat in the upcoming December 8, 2020, senatorial mid-term election.
According to the ALP, the action by the ANC to cover its own pitfall by using the other party as scape-goats over actions it initiated and executed, is “unfortunate and shows dishonesty and a betrayal of the trust and confidence of the CPP membership.
“It was clear therefore that ANC had incited its partisans and supporters against the ALP by their (ANC) verbal violent attacks which eventually were demonstrated by their physical violence witnessed in Sanniquellie, Nimba County on September 6, 2020,” said ALP.
The ALP, whose standard-bearer is the immediate past chairman of the CPP has called for the CPP national advisory committee to launch an in-depth investigation into the ANC’s verbal and abusive attacks on the ALP leadership and for its role in the Sanniquellie violence to ensure that the perpetrators are exposed and punished.
“Therefore, we wish to call on ANC to apologize to the Liberian people and to partisans and supporters of the CPP for denigrating the good image of the Collaborating Political Parties, which we have labored so hard for.
How did the Violence start?
The violence started when supporters of the two candidates, Madam Edith Gongloe Weh and Mr. Taa Wongbe clashed when the two were called on the stage by the election committee to witness voters’ roll call.
Madam Gongloe-Weh, who was first called in received loud applause from supporters, followed by Mr. Taa Wongbe whose applause, however, could not be as heavy as that of Gongloe-Weh.
As he mounted the stage with his supporters, the two groups mixed and the entire process turned violent with stones flying from various ends.
The stampede led two elderly persons to sustaining injuries as well as some women sustaining minor injuries.
What ANC Say?
Though the ANC has not released any statement in response to ALP accusation, the party immediately rejected the outcome of the primary, which was decided in favor of Madam Gongloe-Weh.
The ANC’s said it is rejecting the primary results due to the fact that the primary was conducted in the absence of its candidate, who was attending to his injured partisans after the previous gathering had turned bloody.
“This unfortunate situation was preceded by a series of blatant violations of the process which, when ultimately failed to frustrate Taa, led to premeditated attacks on him, our delegates and officials.” the ANC explained in a statement endorsed by its chairman, Sen. Daniel F. Naatehn.
It then described the primary as a “kangaroo process, which was not held in accordance with our collaboration and electoral laws.”
“The ANC will not support the outcome of any process it was prevented from being a part of as a member of the CPP, “ANC said. This decision is based on the fact that its candidate, Mr. Taa Wongbe was maliciously and abruptly prevented from participating by supporters of Madam Edith Gongloe with the eruption of violence, led and orchestrated by the ALP. This unfortunate situation was preceded by a series of blatant violations of the process which, when ultimately failed to frustrate Taa, led to premeditated attacks on him, our delegates, and officials.”
The bad blood between ALP and ANC has been long in the making. Long before the primary, Businessman Urey and his party once said CPP’s current Chair and political leader of the ANC, Alexander B. Cummings, “was not fit to be President”, so he does not deserve the CPP standard bearer position.
“People usually elect people who have worked in government. You don’t elect people who just come from a country and come to another country and want to be president,” Urey said in a jab at Cummings in 2019.
In response to Urey at the time, Cummings criticized his colleague’s assertion, declaring it as being far from the truth.
So, when his party felt cheated over the weekend in Nimba, Cummings made no mistake by taking aim at fellow CPP executives, including Urey.
Referring to the melee in Nimba Primary, Cummings warned that the CPP cannot claim to be different while at the same time acting like other parties.
“The situation in Nimba yesterday was truly disheartening. We, as the CPP cannot claim to be different and act the same way. As Political Leader of the ANC and current Chair of the CPP, it is unacceptable to have had an executive of the ANC or any constituent party badly injured as a result of the violence,” Cummings said.
“We must do things differently and everyone deserves a chance to participate in the primary process in a safe, free, and fair environment. That did not happen,” Cummings said.
ALP defends suspending county leadership
Meanwhile, the ALP has defended its action to suspend the entire membership of its Nimba chapter at the eleventh hour before the primary, on allegations that they did not seek the party’s interest and continuously brought the party to public disrepute.
The move by the ALP came as a major blow to Taa Wongbe who was apparently relying on members of the Nimba chapter to improve his chances in the primary.
According to the aggrieved ALP Nimba chapter members, the central leadership of the party manipulated the process by appointing new delegates who cast their vote along the party line instead of them.
However, for the ALP, none of the above issues was the central factor for its decision to reprimand its Nimba chapter members. Instead, the party said it took action on the basics of disloyalty, dishonesty, theft of party property, lack of leadership and coordination, undermining, and “other acts that have the propensity to bring the Party’s image to public disrepute, amongst others.
“At the end of the investigation, the ALP’s National Leadership endorsed its Grievance and Ethics Committee’s recommendation to suspend the Nimba County Leadership and to undertake a comprehensive investigative restructuring of the Leadership at the county level.
“This administrative action by the ALP is consistent with its constitution and had nothing to do with the CPP primary in Nimba County,” added ALP.
The party further added that at no point in time did it change the listing of its delegates to the Sanniquellie primary, even though it had the right at any given time to make decisions on its delegates when there was a necessity.
“The ALP list of delegates was presented to the primary committee just about the same time the Liberty Party and the Unity Party presented their separate listings.
“The ALP was therefore taken aback when the Secretary-General of the ANC, Aloysius Toe, published widely on social media the letter of suspension served on the Chairman of the Nimba County ALP Chapter, Bob Yini. Thereafter, Secretary-General Toe and other ANC officials launched vicious verbal violent attacks on ALP and its Political Leader, describing the internal administrative decision of the ALP to suspend its county leadership in Nimba, as “criminal deception,” the release said.
As ANC rejects the result, the political leader of the Liberty Party and an executive of the CPP, Senator Nyomblee Karnga-Lawrence, has congratulated her candidate Gongloe-Weh for the victory in the controversial primary.
“Edith we have done a lot together and will win this time together! Congrats on the VPS (voters perception survey) victory and The Liberty Party is in Nimba with the mandate to ensure the LP primary victory,” Sen. Lawrence said in a Facebook post on Sunday.
However, her party chair, Senator Steve Zargo, emphatically expressed his disappointment in the ANC for the disruption and said it is incumbent upon all to respect the guidelines of the primary.
In an interview with a local daily, Sen. Zargo called on the ANC to accept the primary results under the spirit of the CPP and the voter perception survey that informed the engagement.