Thousands of Liberians gathered at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS) on Wednesday, November 4, to attend the launch of businessman Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party’s (ALP) membership drive.
“ALP, although one of the newest and might be one of the strongest political parties, is looking at the number of human beings who braved the scorching sun to attend the party’s membership drive,” a political commentator told the Daily Observer.
Led by their first partisan, Benoni Urey, the day was full of festivities and culminated in an address by their leader, who is likely to be their 2017 presidential nominee.
While addressing the crowd, Benoni Urey was constantly interrupted by endless applauses from his supporters and well wishers, who covered every inch of the ATS playing pitch.
Though the party is relatively new, some political observers believe Mr. Urey’s ALP is probably the only effective opposition that could figure out the winning combination to snatch power from the ruling Unity Party-led government, which has now ruled the country from more than a decade.
Mr. Urey told Liberians that the party was established to unite citizens behind one purpose, which, according to him, is “to build a nation for all Liberians.”
“This party welcomes partisans from any ethnic and religious origin to collaborate for the betterment of the country,” said Urey.
Mr. Urey, a renowned Liberian businessman turned politician, reached out to all citizens in the country and promised that the rights of all Liberians will be protected during his presidency, if he’s elected in 2017.
He stated that under the leadership of the ALP, Liberia will move forward and the livelihood of the citizenry will improve.
Mr. Urey, who has a share in the Lonestar Cell GSM company, lamented that only one percent of Liberians have access to pipe-borne water, saying that this was “intolerable.”
He said his first priority would be the health of Liberians, and that the ALP had already received pledges from Liberian medical professionals from around the world who are willing to come home to improve Liberia’s healthcare sector.
Mr. Urey also used the occasion to praise the US government for all the support it provided Liberia over the years, including that country’s efforts during the post-war dispensation.
“US support to Liberia has been an indispensable part of the country’s rebuilding efforts,” he said, adding that he would continue to seek closer collaboration with the US and its allies in promoting regional peace and global economic advancement.
Although the Unity Party has won two elections, which some opposition politicians termed ‘controversial’, the last 12 months have seen cracks in the rank and file of the ruling party as leading figures have resigned to join other political parties.
Speaker Alex Tyler resigned recently and took with him some of his key allies including Representative Moses Kollie of Lofa County and former Senator Richard Devine of Bomi. When Mr. Devine resigned, over 10 grass-root partisans of the UP followed their former Senator.
Former Foreign Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan shocked most of his fellow Unity partisans when he resigned from the UP government. Although he is still a member of the party, he has not ruled out resigning from the party. He announced his resignation on October 2 while attending the UN General Assembly in New York.
With all the falling away from the UP, opposition political parties such as the ALP, are hoping that those leaving will add to their numbers.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Unity Party have not announced their support for Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, who is the only Unity Partisan to have openly declared his intention to contest for the presidency in 2017.
Accordingly, the scramble for the presidency is on and the launching of the ALP, which appears to be a formidable political force, should make the elections an electrifying period. Observers say the ALP’s show of strength puts it in the first tier of political parties poised to make a great impact on the country’s political landscape in 2017.