“I am mostly concerned about saving Liberia by keeping the CPP together,” Cummings said, endorsing Edith Gongloe Weh’s Nimba Senatorial Bid.
It is no secret that the violence that ensued from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) primary on September 6, 2020 and the reported attending flaws that characterized the process emitted a sense of utter dysfunction in the opposition conglomeration. What should have been a moment of celebration for for the biggest opposition bloc to produce a strong female candidate in the vote-rich county ended up in a bitter war of words that many described as downright distasteful. After much venting and weeks of standstill with no sign of a compromise, the Alternative National Congress, whose prized candidate, Taa Wongbe, was bested by the Liberty Party’s Edith Gongloe Weh, has conceded to let the lady lead the CPP’s effort in Nimba in the December 8 Senatorial polls.
“I, Alexander B. Cummings, have agreed to let Edith Gongloe-Weh represent the CPP in Nimba. This will ensure that we have candidates in each of our 15 counties in the upcoming elections, that the CPP and especially ANC is committed to women empowerment and increase of female representation,” Mr. Cummings said in a release on Saturday.
He noted that his candidate, Taa Wongbe, has agreed to subordinate his ambition to that of the Liberian people and the CPP as the ANC joins the other three constituent parties, UP, LP and ALP to carry the former Nimba County superintendent on the ticket of the coalition.
The ANC political leader had initially rejected the outcome of the Nimba primary, noting that it was characterized by frauds and violence. He described the situation as “disheartening” in his initial response to the violence and the winning result achieved by Madam Gongloe-Weh.
“We, as the CPP, cannot claim to be different and act the same. Violence is never the solution and will not be the solution in the CPP. We cannot conduct ourselves in such a manner and expect to win the confidence of the Liberian people. We must do things differently,” he said in a social media post. He added, “As I consistently say and quote, ‘we can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.’ What happened in Nimba reflects exactly that – doing the same old things the same old ways and expecting different results.
Mr. Cummings stated that everyone deserved to be given a chance to participate in the primary process in a safe, free, and fair environment — a chance he believed was not accorded the ANC candidate, Wongbe.
Call it what you want — clear-hearted or costive — the endorsement of Madam Weh by Mr. Cummings, who is also the chairman of the CPP, aims to restore hope in the opposition movement. His decision to endorse the Liberty Party candidate, he explains, comes out of the desire to save Liberia and keep the CPP on a unified front for more meaningful and realistic ventures.
“As Political Leader of the both the CPP and the ANC, I am mostly concerned about saving Liberia by keeping the CPP together and redirecting our energies toward our real challenge — the corrupt and inept leadership of our Country, while being mindful of the special political interest of the ANC,” he said. “There comes a time when leaders must make sacrifices, devoid of selfish political motives, for the common good of a country and people. I recognize that this is not an ideal situation and is tough.”
He said stakeholders must be willing to make compromises to keep the CPP together and strong. “I am therefore grateful that Taa Wongbe of the ANC has agreed with me and consented to put Liberia above ourselves and make the sacrifice while he makes decisions on his next steps. Under this circumstance, I, Alexander B. Cummings, have agreed to let Edith Gongloe-Weh represent the CPP in Nimba. This will ensure that we have candidates in each of our 15 counties in the upcoming elections, that the CPP and especially ANC is committed to women empowerment and increase of female representation.”
He warned members of the other constituent parties of the CPP that the ANC’s numerous compromises on many occasions within the coalition should not be construed as a sign of weakness, but a determination to keep Liberia’s opposition together, despite attempts to break it apart.
“We are committed to redeeming Liberia through a united fight against the CDC. To our partisans in the ANC, we have made several compromises in the interest of keeping the CPP together, and in many instances hurt the ANC. But let us remember that Liberia is greater than us all. We assure you that Liberia will win and the ANC and CPP will triumph,” he noted.
The action from the CPP chairman might have brought some level of relief in the opposition community that is now focused on ensuring that most of its candidates, if not all, get overwhelming victories at the polls in December.
Prior to being announced as winner of the contested primary on September 6, 2020, Madam Weh had earlier won the CPP Primary Voters Perception Survey (VPS).
On the back of the Sanniquellie violent incident, the CPP constituted a committee to probe what might have gone wrong. The investigation declared the primary as a ‘violent and fraudulent,’ process that fell short of meeting the requirements of the National Elections Commission (NEC) for a free and fair primary.
Findings of the committee, which was headed by Liberia’s former head of mission to the United Nations, Amb. Lewis G. Browne and former LNP deputy inspector general for operations, Abraham Kromah, said the process failed to meet the minimum requirements for a free, fair and transparent process, rendering the process and outcome as unacceptable.
The committee, impeccable sources noted, even called for a rerun of the entire process. However, many were of the conviction that the Nimba primary was very crucial to the opposition bloc, as it presented itself as the first test for the solidification of collaboration since the pact was consummated — it however had exposed the latent divisions in the collaboration. Now that LP’s Gongloe Weh has been picked to represent the CPP, she is expected to face the incumbent Thomas Grupee, former Senator Saye-Tayor Adolphus Dolo, former Superintendent David Dorr Cooper, former Representative Garrison Yealue and Representative Jeremiah Koung on December 8.
The ‘golden carpet’
The palaver has ended, or so it appears. But the road from bitter accusations of fraud against an “in-house opponent” to finally conceding defeat to them — especially politically — is no easy trek. There are bruised personal and institutional egos that may need to be nursed. Yet, more than anything else at stake is the cohesive integrity of the CPP to effectively challenge the current political status quo.
Usually, a reciprocal concession must be offered in order to facilitate the aforesaid concession of defeat. Negotiators call this a golden carpet on which to retreat.
It is believed that in view of the ANC relinquishing the Nimba slot to the LP, the other constituent parties have resolved to give the ANC carte Blanche in River Gee and Sinoe County. Top sources are also informing the Daily Observer that similar favor will be given Cummings’ party in the Montserrado County district #9 representative by election.
“The ANC has made a lot of sacrifices and concessions in this collaboration and we think it is just good we recognize that and act similarly,” a top LP official told this reporter.
Many had fear that the hope of millions of Liberians who trust and believe in the major opposition bloc were at the verge of being dashed as every stakeholder, ANC and LP, holding firmly unto their stance. There were even whispers of the two candidates going solo in the event that CPP would not have featured either candidate in that County. Coming out of the melee at the Nimba primary, voters who are banking on the the opposition movement are still contemplating: Was this the beginning of the end for the CPP? Or, was it a test of the CPP’s focus and resolve to stay the course, come what may?