The political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, and Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), have pledged to work out modalities that would eventually lead to the forming of a merger for the upcoming October 10 representative and presidential elections.
Also part of this political collaboration is the Liberian National Union (LINU), whose political leader, Nathaniel Blamah, sees Urey and Johnson as the perfect team to take state power in October.
The agreement seems to be in the spirit of the Ganta Declaration where over 14 political parties converged to collectively resolve to defeat the ruling Unity Party. The leaders of the three parties said at the signing ceremony over the weekend that the collaboration is the only hope of reversing the dangerous path on which Liberia has been led for the past 11 years by the Unity Party government.
“Our country has been set on a course, a perpetuation which, if not averted, leads to a mirror image of our ugly past and its domineering one party political system, which is a duplication of the same order.
“We, the above-mentioned political parties acting upon the functionary spirit and intent of the September 17, 2016 Ganta Declaration, do hereby reaffirm to further foster our commitments to said Declaration.
The MOU indicates that only a genuine and united opposition coalition and building on the achievement of the Ganta Declaration can we achieve the objective of redeeming Liberia from bad governance, and provide a credible national leadership for the upcoming 2017 representative and presidential elections.
“Individual opposition political figures pursuing their own objectives and ambitions have never served the opposition community well and as such it is hard time to collaborate. “Seeking our personal ambitions while the Liberian people continue to endure the failed, inhumane policies and corrupt practices of the Unity Party Administration, we have decided that now is the time to embark upon a new course of action for the opposition community and the people of Liberia to usher in a new political order,” according to the MOU.
The MOU, however, authorized a Joint Technical Committee (JTC), with its membership drawn from each political party, to formulate a comprehensive and winnable strategy within a week of the signing of the joint declaration for endorsement by the Joint National Executive Committee of the three parties.
The JTC is also charged with the mandate to work out modalities to hold a national convention to nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and the national leadership of the coalition upon the approval by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
The sticky issue of the eventual merger of the above parties will be who to head the ticket as its standard bearer because Senator Johnson has said that he is the most experienced when it comes to contesting elections; and as such, he may want to be the standard bearer. He has, on several occasions, described Urey as a newcomer who will be experiencing the political heat for the first time.
PYJ finished 3rd in the 2011 presidential election, and is still a major player wielding significant influence in his vote-rich home-county, Nimba. However, recent reports suggest that, despite his apparent king-making influence, some Nimbaians no longer see his own presidential ambition as a viable endeavor.
Senator Johnson initially denied during an interview with the Voice of America that such a meeting was in the making. He indicated that he could not form a merger with a ‘Congo man,’ a product of a social secment he believes have kept the country backward through bad governance. On several occasions, Johnson also vowed to never collaborate with someone with a ‘settler’s’ background in the upcoming elections.
However, the sealing of this collaboration further reinforces the long and famously held perception that politics makes strange bedfellows, as it brings dissimilar characters together to forge a political front.