Standard-bearers of four opposition political parties have put pen to paper in a Memorandum of Understanding, pledging to step up efforts leading to the formation of a united front to challenge the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) at the Polls in 2023. The four parties include the Unity Party (UP), the All Liberian Party (ALP), the Liberty Party (LP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC). This is indeed a welcome development but…!
This development marks a very early start in what promises to be a challenging 2023 electoral period. That the Liberian people are sick and tired of divisive politics is plain and evidenced by the rather enthusiastic response of supporters who turned out to witness the signing ceremony.
But just whether the chest thumping and welter of pledges of goodwill and commitment to the formation of a united front will amount to anything more than the paper on which the MOU was signed, is the key question lingering on the minds of an anxious public.
It can be recalled that during the period leading to the 2017 elections, a number of political parties met in the northern Liberian city of Ganta and put pen to paper in similar fashion.
But no sooner than later the alliance fell apart, with each party going its separate way. This newspaper recalls that during the immediate period preceding the runoff elections, the UP, LP, ANC and the ALP came together in an unprecedented fashion to protest irregularities in the elections.
Their joint action had raised many hopes that those parties would have come together and declared their support for the UP candidate Joseph Boakai after it had become clear that he had secured a place in the runoff with the CDC candidate George Weah.
But rather than showing true leadership by calling on their supporters to vote for the UP candidate, they acted otherwise and the rest is history. Now, barely a year after, they are expressing alarm at the manner in which they say the country is being run under President Weah’s leadership.
And it does appear as though their actions, as welcoming as they may be to many, are being driven by fear and consternation of losing out at the polls come 2023.
Whatever the case, the issue, the real issue that is, whether the replacement of the Weah government by another duly elected government is sufficient in itself, especially if the replacing government continues to follow economic policy prescriptions which have over the years done little or nothing to address growing inequality and rising mass poverty.
What is required, in the opinion of this newspaper is a national dialogue on the economic direction the country is expected to take under the new leadership if elected into office. This would require a critical review of existing policies with the view to determining what would best work to suit our situation.
Prime on the list of topics of such a dialogue should be the issue of corruption and how it can be effectively addressed in order to help enhance the attainment of national development objectives including the critical need to address growing mass poverty.
This newspaper recalls that almost prior to the elections of this government, former Deputy Finance Minister Alvin Attah, speaking at a forum organized by the Governance Commission on economic issues likely to confront the incoming government, called for a paradigm shift in economic policy and decision making.
He only stopped short of calling for the scrapping of the “trickle-down” theory whose tenets, according to him, have long since undergirded the pursuit of national economic development objectives.
As can be discerned from the comments of the various political leaders as well as those from the public carried on the various media including radio talk shows, Liberians in general have and are expressing a burning need for justice which they maintain should form the basis for genuine reconciliation. Liberians are also expressing the urgent need to tackle corruption and impunity.
Aside from the mere declaration of intent to field a united front during the 2023 elections, political parties should begin to show leadership by raising the content and level of our national discourse to include especially discussions on the economy and how it can be fixed.
This is where the real challenge lies. However the step taken to form a united front must be commended. Prudence would suggest that the search for unity on ideas for economic transformation of our dear country should place high on the agenda going forward.
Political leaders should be reminded that much of the problems which confront the country today are rooted in what can be aptly termed as a failure of leadership by the country’s intellectual class.
They appear to have all placed their backs to the grinding wheels in desperate search of opportunities to fleece the nation. The Congo Town Declaration has again raised hopes but whether they will be dashed or realized, lies in the hands of our political class. And the Nation now waits with bated breaths.