Residents, who phoned-in on the popular radio talk show, “the Costa Show,” yesterday, January 10, 2019, could not wait to express their desire for a unified opposition bloc which will work not only to seize leadership but to hold the current government accountable, in order to fulfill its promise to the Liberian people.
The callers, who raised concerns mainly about the state of the economy, corruption in government, waste, and constitutional violations on the part of the President, registered their concerns on the Costa Show when its host, Henry P. Costa, interviewed the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings, on January 10, 2019.
According to the callers, they will not hesitate to support the ruling party for another term if opposition political parties refuse – on the basis of selfishness – to unite and produce candidates of good reputation and integrity to lead and restore the country from its present social and economic malaise.
Most of the callers, including the host of the show, were blunt in expressing their opinions that it is about time for people to subordinate their personal interests and seek the interest of the state by not just wishing for the highest seat (presidency) of the land but collaborating as a unit in order to bring up any person(s) who will lead – with the support of the rest – to lift the country out of the dust.
Collaboration of political parties was a dynamic that began to take effect in the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, ushering into power the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) headed by George Weah. Two other parties to the CDC are the National Patriotic Party (NPP) of convicted former President Charles Taylor and the People’s Unification Party (PUP) of former House Speaker J. Alex Tyler.
These political parties were able to form a coalition that has been branded as “Coalition for Democratic Change”. The CDC has produced George Weah as President and Jewel Howard Taylor (ex-wife of former President Taylor) as Vice President.
During the disputed 2017 election which led Liberty Party (LP) political leader Charles Walker Brumskine to proceed to the Supreme Court with a complaint, the four contesting parties, including the Unity Party (UP), the Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP), came together under one principle in order to battle a dispute on suspected fraud during the first round of the election.
Since the runoff election on December 26, 2017, the four collaborating parties have been together, keeping watch on the ruling party and working in-house to compete with the CDC in the upcoming 2020 mid-term election for Senators as well as the 2023 presidential and legislative elections.
Prior to that time, political parties had always contested elections independently, thus confusing voters as to which party to support in an election, given the large number of political parties that were formed.
Forming multiple political parties is an unrestricted right provided by the Liberian Constitution. Article 77(a) of the Constitution states: “Since the essence of democracy is free competition of ideas expressed by political parties and political groups as well as by individuals, parties may freely be established to advocate the political opinions of the people. Laws, regulations, decrees or measures which might have the effect of creating a one-party state shall be declared unconstitutional.”
This constitutional right and its effect on political decision in the country were spotlighted in the 2014 Constitution Review process, and many Liberians suggested a referendum restriction of parties into four or less; but the Liberian government, mainly the legislature, is yet to complete the referendum process.
A stalwart of LP, Darius Dillon, had said earlier that the only way the opposition can succeed in its quest to seize power from the CDC is to form a strong coalition which will combine supporters that constitute about 63 percent or more of the votes that went to opposition political parties in the past election.
In response to concerns during the Costa Show, ANC political leader Alexander Cummings said the four collaborating parties are working in-house to agree on principles and issues, and will come out with a consensus gradually as they move towards election in 2020 and 2023.
It has earlier been reported that he would not contest for a senatorial position but would remain a candidate to contest the presidency which would allow him to serve all Liberians, rather than a segment of the population.
This ambition sets the belief in many people – supporters and opponents of Cummings – that the collaboration would not hold, because all leaders of those opposition parties would want to contest the presidency.
When confronted by supporters of the ruling party on this issue, Mr. Cummings said they are in discussions and are planning to cement the collaboration step by step, reaching agreements on principles one at a time, to consolidate their status before presenting candidates in elections to come.
Cummings said Liberia needs emancipation from theft in government, waste, insincerity and dishonesty, corruption, and insensitivity to the plight of the people due to selfish ambition as demonstrated in the missing of billions of printed banknotes, purchasing and building of personal properties, and flying of private jets at the expense of the state, etc.
Earlier, the chairman of the Unity Party, Wilmot Paye, alluded that they are working to unite and that he is optimistic that the collaboration will end up in a cohesive coalition for success in the political competition ahead.