Fifteen of Liberia’s 22 registered political parties have met in Ganta,Nimba County on the need to collaborate in forging a common front in the 2017 Presidential and Representatives elections against the governing Unity Party candidate, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.
The parties converged over the weekend in Ganta City with at least five presidential hopefuls, including Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, businessman Benoni Urey, Senators George Weah and Prince Johnson, Alexander Cummings, as well as chairpersons and other high-level officials in attendance to discuss the need to collaborate in order to reduce the proliferation of political parties ahead of the elections.
The conference did not reach a definite decision on the very crucial issue of whom should head such united front as is being envisaged, but what is clear is that all political leaders present expressed great interest and documented the ideal of standing up in a united front against Vice President Boakai and the governing UP that is seeking another two terms from the Liberian people. The document titled: “Ganta Declaration” brought together the political leaders of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Senator Prince Y. Johnson, Mr. Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Liberty Party’s Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC’s) Senator George Weah and the Alternative National Congress (ANC’s) Alexander Cummings.
The party leaders expressed willingness to work towards collaboration, ahead of the 2017 presidential race. According to the declaration, opposition political parties expressly agreed to collaborate and work together for victory in the ensuring 2017 Presidential and Representatives elections.
The document indicated the opposition bloc resolved to constitute a Joint Technical Committee or JTC, comprising two representatives from each political party to work out details and modalities for approval by the National Executive Committee of their respective political parties.
The parties also resolved that signatories to the declaration pledged not to castigate or denigrate one another in any manner and form, and that in the event of disagreement between and among the opposition bloc, the matter should be referred to the Joint Technical Committee for resolution, and the Joint Technical Committee shall report within 60 days as of the signing of the declaration.
They also encouraged other opposition parties that are not yet signatories to the document, to come onboard. It may recalled that last Friday, 16 September under the invitation of the MDR leader Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, about 21 heads of legally registered political parties headed for Ganta to discuss the need join forces ahead of 2017.
The discussions have been ongoing behind the scene over the past few months with various political players jockeying for pairings that could lead them to victory. A lot of those talk, however, appeared to have broken down with each political figure rather preferring an open field for all, as it were in 2005 in their quest to clinch the presidency.
In 2005 and 2011 – in spite of the large pool of presidential candidates, Liberians could not determine what made each candidate different, as they all seem to have the same policy and programs.
After contesting the presidency in the last two elections and failing, LP’s Charles Brumskine will be hoping that that 2017 makes him a third-time charmer. Brumskine who has been vocally expressive about the importance of having a strong opposition to challenge the ruling Unity Party, made some inroads in recent weeks with football legend George Weah of the CDC.
Bad blood between both the Liberty Party and the Congress for Democratic Change heightened after Brumskine failed to endorse both Weah and Sirleaf in the second round of the 2005 elections.
He also refused to endorse the CDC in 2011and instead, endorsed President Sirleaf in the runoff. CDC has not forgiven Brumskine, but the two political figures (Brumskine and Weah) have in recent weeks become, not the best of buddies, but according to aides, fairly good friends.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne