Let’s Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt The weekend of Saturday, September 17, 2016 may be a great andrewarding history in Liberia, depending on the final outcome of thegathering of more than a dozen Liberian opposition political partiesin the northern commercial city of Ganta in Nimba.
If and only if these political parties, meeting in Ganta at thehighest level of leadership, mean well for themselves and theirrespective institutions in the supreme interest of the nation, it
would just be a matter of short time to achieve their primarypolitical goal of a ‘coalition and its political leadership’ for nextyear’s Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia.
And if anyone would suggest that last Saturday’s Ganta PoliticalMeeting failed because it did not produce a ‘coalition, as well as itsPresidential and Vice Presidential candidates’, it would also be veryunfair to our major opposition political leaders.
We do agree that many political stakeholders and observers had thoughtthe gathering in Ganta would have set the stage for parings -Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. Earnestly, in our mind, it was too soon for such a major decision atthe initial stage, without detailing any plan of action.
But the fact that they met, discussed and issued a signed communiquéin pursuance of their primary objective(s), such first initiative iscommendable and must be encouraged. While we do sincerely share the cautiousness and apprehension of someLiberians about the talks in Ganta – perhaps owing to past politicalinteractions/relations between and among the opposition, they mustequally be given another opportunity through the Joint Technical Committee – springing out of the Ganta meeting, comprising tworepresentatives from each political party to work out the details andmodalities for approval by the National Executive committee of each ofthe political parties represented at the talks.
Perhaps, with the necessary benchmark to work out the technicaldetails of whatever intent the opposition political parties have forthe 2017 elections in the battle against the ruling Unity Party, theneed to give them an opportunity for technical details of theirpolitical desire cannot be over-emphasized.
To the extent that opposition political parties not signatories to theGanta Communiqué were also discussed at the talks and welcomed to forma part of such collaborative effort, provided they write a letter tothe Joint Technical Committee, we think the opposition may be heading somewhere.
While Liberians and international onlookers would rather a drasticreduction in the number of political parties as a means of avoidingconfusion in decision-making among voters during the elections, suchreduction – in the form of coalition or merger of political parties,must not be hastily done.
If attempts by Liberian opposition political leaders toward merger orcoalition miserably failed in 1997 and 2011 to produce a single listof candidates, it doesn’t necessarily mean it cannot work this timearound. We must all constructively engage these opposition leaders toput aside their person political egos to foster our democracy.
While we join other Liberians in cautiously welcoming last Saturday’sGanta meeting of Liberian opposition political leaders, let’s wait andgive them the benefit of the doubt for redemption.