-Unifying for a common purpose
By Gloria T. Tamba and William Q. Harmon
What could be considered as a historic political collaboration in the life of Liberian politics was consummated in Monrovia yesterday as four of the top five political parties, which emerged out of the 2017 presidential and representative elections, came together and forged a common front.
The former ruling Unity Party (UP), which emerged runners-up in the last presidential elections, Liberty Party (LP), Alternative National Congress (ANC) and all Liberian Party (ALP) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to begin a nascent political collaborative for future elections, especially the ensuing 2020 senatorial elections across the country and the 2023 presidential and general elections. All these efforts, according to officials of the unifying parties, are geared towards unseating the ruling CDC, which they think has no solution for the numerous problems that the country faces.
These opposition leaders and many other Liberians are unhappy with the manner in which the CDC-led government is running the country as they believe that there is no sign of relief from the current economic hardship in the country, precipitated by the ever-rising prices of basic commodities and high inflation; unemployment, especially among the youth, is at its highest; there is no sign of a major foreign direct investment to boost the economy.
These unfortunate situations, with a year having already elapsed under the new government, are causes for concern and have prompted major political actors in the opposition community to begin their collaboration, which is aimed at being not just an alternative for future governance but a critical voice that would checkmate the ruling establishment.
The MOU, dubbed by the collaborators as “Statement of Commitment,” was signed at the headquarters of the Unity Party and is the first step to ensure that the country moves forward as a functional democratic state.
The opposition political leaders and standard bearers of their respective parties included Alexander B. Cummings (ANC), former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai (UP), Benoni Urey (ALP) and Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine (LP); each signed on behalf of their respective political institutions. They pledged to uphold the MOU, putting aside personal political ambitions, and ensure that the will of the Liberian people, especially partisans of the parties, are adhered to.
ALP’s political leader and standard bearer Urey was declared the first rotating chairman. According to the agreement, the four leaders are convinced that a fair, transparent and competitive democratic process is vital to Liberia’s long-term prosperity and security, recognizing the role of political parties as indispensable partners in national development as well as strengthening Liberia’s young democracy.
Urey, in a statement, termed the signing of the MOU as a historic moment for Liberia. The venue of the signing ceremony, Unity Party’s headquarters, the chairman noted, signified the first sign of unity by the four political leaders, noting that they have decided to put the country first and their respective political ambitions aside in the interest of the Liberian masses.
“Today, we are signing a document that begins the process of the unity we have been craving for years. We have decided to put Liberia first and to attune our political agenda in the interest of Liberia and the Liberian people, and above our individual and partisan ambitions. We are taking the bold and concrete step which we hope will never be reversed or undone,” Urey said.
With the signing of the document, he said, history was being made and Liberians would reap the impending fruits.
“Today Liberia is once again making history. Over the years we have heard the clarion call from Liberians both at home and abroad and also the call from our international partners of the need for the opposition to unite.”
The historic signing ceremony, he added, indicates that the parties are moving from strength to strength, which is increasing, and must not be allowed to wither.
The tough-talking ALP leader urged his colleagues to commit to the process to liberate the Liberian people from bad governance and under-representation. “We are soliciting the help of our people by their insistence of our continuation of this collaboration. We as a people must ensure that our political leaders put the interest of the country and people paramount to theirs,” he said.
He said the new arrangement must be prepared to sacrifice whatever it takes to implant and sustain this democracy and beyond, “to save our common patrimony, Liberia. We all have made mistakes and missteps in the past. This has led us to where we are today. Fortunately, for us as a people, we have been given a new lease on life to correct our dark past,” he said.
As part of the MOU, the four leaders expressed awareness of the weight and strength of the political leaders’ collaborative and collective opinions on matters of national leadership, the rule of law, and accountability, which are pillars of good governance.
“This collaboration is a further affirmation of our commitment to democracy, and it must be seen in a positive light by all Liberians and those looking from the outside,” he indicated.
However, the four leaders could not tolerate the recent accusations by President George Manneh Weah, CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu, and other ruling party zealots that opposition leaders want to assassinate the president. Each of them took turns to dismiss what they described as “imbecile assertions.”
“As we set out on this incline along our sojourn to democracy, we want to attract the parody and rants of apprehensive and hypocritical hordes hurling their aspersions of, to name a few, ‘enemies of the state’, ‘assassins,’” Urey said.
He added that even though worst things have been said about the opposition community, “we will be inured to those antics and enjoin them to come with us to broaden and deepen our democracy, and not to destroy or bury it. We would rather be engaged in the constructive exercise of nation-building and alleviating the burdens from our people.”
The ceremony was graced by scores of partisans from the four parties, several lawmakers from the collaborating parties and some independent representatives, and members of the Diplomatic Corps. Some of the lawmakers at the event were senators Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of Grand Bassa County; Steve Zargo of Lofa, Oscar Cooper of Margibi and Sando Dazo Johnson of Bomi County. Representatives were Yekeh Kolubah (Montserrado #10), Hanson Kiazolu (Montserrado #17), David Barshell (Montserrado #3), Lawrence Morris (Montserrado #1), Francis Nyumalin (Lofa #3) and several others.
Also in attendance was renowned human rights activist Samuel K. Woods, Rufus Neufville and the spokesman for the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) Emmanuel Gonquoi.