Key political figures, amongst them Senators Prince Johnson, George Weah, House Speaker Alex Taylor, and Senate Pro-tempt Armah Jallah, have begun holding secret meetings for a possible merger ahead of the 2017 elections.
The men who come from three of the leading political parties here-the ruling Unity Party, Congress for Democratic Change or CDC, the National Patriotic Party of jailed ex-President Charles Taylor and an independent met at a local hotel in Gbarnga, Bong County over the weekend accompanied by several law makers to kick start the merger talks.
The law makers present at the meeting Friday include: Deputy House Speaker Hans Barchue, Representatives Emmanuel Nuquoi , Bill Twehway, Acarous Gray, and Adolph Lawrence.
Others present were Representatives James Biney, George Mulbah , Senator Henry Yallah, People Unification Party or PUP, Mariama Fofana and Dr. Arthur Karnuah of the “Friends of Johnson.”
The four men leading the forum all have their eyes set on the country’s top job come 2017, with only two being heavy weighs-Sen. Johnson and Sen. Weah. But their meeting over the weekend in which our reporter was present is aimed at identifying a single front for 2017.
However, this is not the first time that key political figures here have met in such a forum to begin merger talks. Recent examples of failed merger talks include that of 2011 Cllr. Charles Brumskine and CDC Deorge Weah. Weah pulled out even before the marriage could be consummated amid a barrage of gossips and accusations.
In the same 2011, another group headed by Prof. Dew Mason and current Information Minister Lewis Brown felt apart days after it was made public.
In 1997, few weeks before the election in which Taylor transitioned from warlord to president was held, key political figures here mainly comprising of the “age old progressives” nearly ended up in fist fight, again abandoning their merger plans giving the warlord then a clean sheet.
Apparent thinking of such recent merger talks failure, Speaker Tyler, one of the leading architects of the forum said the interest of the country was their primary concern rather than individual interest.
Tyler is charged with the responsibility to work with a team under the banner: “Stakeholders and Opinion leaders’ forum”.
Part of the group’s strategy is to appraise the convergence of ‘Key national figures as signals of a momentous daybreak of rainbow coalition’ building that would ultimately quench the peoples’ thirst for democratic victory in elections, especially 2017.
But it is yet unclear whether or not the four politicians can really work together in identifying a single and common approach to the Liberian Presidency.
Neither of the two key personalities (Senators George Weah and Prince Yormie Johnson), who both had contested for the Presidency in two recent elections, spoke to the press. But the last time they came together in a united front, the marriage broke up in the final stage when Senator Johnson, then standard bearer of the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP), who came third and Kingmaker in the 2011 Presidential poll, backed off on the heels of the run-off and gave his support to Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s second term bid, citing “lesser of two evils.”
However, speaking to this paper Saturday, the national Chairman of the CDC, Nathaniel McGill, said the meeting, which was organized by his party has a single agenda item – ‘work together towards forging a common political front’ into the 2017 General and Presidential elections.
He further explains that achieve this, a technical working group has been constituted and empowered to develop a strategic framework necessary for the continuity and expansion of the shared approach.
He said the group has also been mandated to lead an outreach efforts to encourage like-minded institutions and individuals to join the initiative.
The CDC Chair heads the group as with Representative Emmanuel Nuquoi, as Co-chair, while Dr. Arthur Karnuah of the ‘Friends of Johnson’, among others to work closely for the formation of the team.
The hint of finding likeminded individuals from the various political parties appears to signal a one party state.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Edited by Othello B. Garblah and Jonathan Brown