A critical look at unfolding developments
For the past few weeks the focus of the local media, it appears, has been on unfolding developments within the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
Feuding amongst constituent member parties has reached a mark higher, thus creating serious doubts in the minds of the public about the viability of the CPP up to elections in 2023. Most recently Alternative National Congress (ANC) leader Alexander Cummings walked out of a meeting convened among leaders of political parties intended to resolve outstanding contentious issues. His reason for doing so, according to media reports, was the lack of an agenda.
Previously, Cummings had made it clear that he would not play second fiddle to the leader of the Unity Party (UP), former Vice President Joseph Boakai nor to anyone else for that matter. For his part, the former Vice President has declared he is best suited to lead the CPP to victory at the 2023 polls. Urey, Boakai’s staunchest supporter, maintains that ANC leader Alexander Cummings, who has spent most of his adult years away from the country, does not have a grasp of the nation’s problems, other than his stint in the corporate world in which he exercised no independent authority.
Recently he (Urey) levied accusations aimed at no particular individual or group, declaring the framework document of the CPP had been surreptitiously altered; but by whom he did not say. Political observers however believe that Urey’s accusations were directed at Cummings and some elements within the Liberty Party.
On the other hand is the Liberty Party, whose leadership appears to be not too sold out on the Boakai factor. According to informed sources, some influential elements within and without the Liberty Party are goading its Chairman Musa Bility into a fight with political leader Nyonblee Karnga for the benefit of Cummings.
According to a known political activist (name withheld), this can probably explain why Mr. Cummings has raised such strong opposition to the decision of the UP to unanimously select its Standard Bearer Joseph Boakai to contest the CPP primaries.
He (Cummings) contends that the UP’s decision to select Joseph Boakai as its candidate is undemocratic because the UP did not hold a convention to do so. But analysts contend that Cummings’ argument does not hold water because the CPP arrangement is not a merger and, more besides, it does not strip any constituent member of the CPP to manage its own processes.
In view of this, according to a veteran politician (name withheld), Mr. Cummings’ recent walkout of the CPP leaders’ meeting on grounds that it lacked an agenda strongly suggests that he lacked the courage to sit with his colleagues to develop and adopt an agenda. Moreover, according to the veteran politician, it also suggests that Cummings is bent on having his way and is ultimately prepared to go it alone. But whether he has amassed the requisite political support from across the spectrum to enable him to win at the 2023 polls is highly doubtful.
Such internecine feuding amongst the parties has given rise to public fears that the CPP appears more likely than not to fall apart and may not survive up to 2023. Should such a scenario unfold, CPP constituent parties may more likely than not emerge very bruised and weakened from their internal squabbles.
Analysts maintain that in such a case, the possibility of the emergence of a dark horse that will clinch victory cannot be ruled out. While support for Boakai appears very solid in Lofa County, it remains unclear how solid that support is in other areas.
As for Cummings, he will more likely than not draw support from Montserrado County/Monrovia, which the ruling Coalition claims as its stronghold. Since the Liberty Party and the All Liberian Party may not be fielding presidential candidates, both Boakai and Cummings will be hoping to woo their support.
Meanwhile, there are new entrants. The Reverend Daniel Cassell has been on a spending spree and a media surge, intended to showcase his self-acclaimed good intent and what he can do for Liberia. Hailing from Kolahun District in Lofa where he admits he has visited twice since he left at age eight and then later, when grown, made his way to the US as a stowaway, Cassell claims he came to liberate the Liberian people through his People's Liberation Party (PLP).
But whether such will prove sufficient to outgun or undermine support for Boaka in Lofa remains to be seen. From a traditional perspective, the Kissis (Boakai’s ethnic group) are uncles to the Gbandis, from which Cassell hails. Moreover, being far more advanced in age than Cassell, it appears unlikely that Cassell can overturn support for Boakai in Lofa.
Another prospective entrant, perhaps not the last, is the President of the Liberian National Bar Association (LNBA), Human Rights lawyer and longtime political activist, Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, a member of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) who hails from the vote-rich Nimba county.
Recently he was petitioned by several youth groups to contest the 2023 presidential polls. So far he has made no public declaration of intent to do so, although it appears more likely than not he may eventually do.
In that case, he will find himself up against Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, whose support for the George Weah-led ruling coalition is well recognized. Senator Johnson, a self-declared godfather of Nimba, has openly chastised Gongloe for his active support for the establishment of a war and economic crimes court for Liberia. There is no doubt that he will vigorously oppose Gongloe.
But popular support for Gongloe appears to be spread across the country and is growing. According to reports, over two thousand citizens in the Kokoya District a week ago converged on the District capital, Botota, to welcome Gongloe based on rumors that he was visiting the area. Just how things are going to play out, in the final analysis, remains to be seen. It also remains to be seen whether Gongloe is indeed the dark horse in this race.