The political leader of the newly certificated All Liberian Party (ALP) has excerpted to report of violence at the party’s headquarters, saying there was no violence during the certification celebration as reported in the media.
Mr. Benoni Urey, speaking to this paper on Monday,10 August, however, confirmed there were tussles over foods and drinks, but that should not be equated to outright violence during the celebration that could warrants calling in the police.
The National Elections Commission or NEC certificated the All Liberian Party as a legally registered political party on Friday, 7 August thus, qualifying it to participate in all political activities in the country. Referencing the comments of his party’s chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Lomax in earlier publication of violence characterizing the colorful ceremony; Mr. Urey said Lomax himself was not at the program.
Chairman Lomax had earlier dismissed the violence as an isolated case. “The crowd we put up during the certification ceremony even President Barracks Obama may not have controlled the crowd. This is the first of its kind for just certification ceremony to see such huge turnout,” he said.
According to him, the coming together of such huge crowd even protocol teams of the White House could not have controlled them in a peaceful manner especially, with the issue of food. “When people are gathered together in huge number these things happen. But I think this is not news because these things always happen at political rallies and political parties’ related programs. Our concern is huge turnout, for me that’s strange in the Liberian political terrain,” Lomax explained.
The reported violence at the ALP’s first merry-making came after it had just been certificated by authorities of the National Elections Commission, having met requirements set by the regulatory body ahead of the 2017 Presidential elections.
But Mr. Urey admitted that there may have been bitter exchanges during the distribution of foods and drinks, but to equate that to violence, is unfair to the party and its partisans, who turned out to celebrate the certification ceremony.
Meanwhile, the ALP is the 18th political party so far certificated here last week by the National Elections Commission or NEC, as Liberia moves toward the pending 2017 general and presidential elections. The NEC chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya said the ALP “is like a heavy one,” judging from the crowd that had assembled to celebrate Mr. Urey’s party certification.
A multitude of supporters gathered outside the NEC office in Sinkor, Monrovia last weekend, while others were seated in the hall to witness the official certification ceremony of the ALP. The crowd was later driven at the ALP’s office on the Old Road in several buses.
Mr. Urey, who is the founding political leader of the ALP and former Maritime Commissioner of former President Charles Ghankay Taylor, was present at the NEC Headquarters for the certification ceremony. ALP organizing chair Emmanuel Lomax, argued that the formation of more political parties ensures that the citizenry have the time and chance for free [alignment].
“I want to use this medium to disabuse the minds of the people that have problem with the multiplicity of parties in our land. This is not actually the true threat to democracy; for what it does, it creates a space for free competition,” he argued.
Mr. Lomax believes that the real threat is when a government wins an election and decides to marginalize majority of the people, neglecting the interest of disadvantaged groups, which results to an unorthodox faction that clings onto conflict.
He assured that the ALP will use its experience to bring all of the people together, vowing that by the time Liberia gets to 2017, there might be just about four or five political parties in the entire country. After receiving the certificate for the ALP, at the NEC Headquarters on 9th Street, Sinkor, he made a public proposal to his party’s executive committee that at their first executive meeting, they should set up a committee responsible to get out there and collaborate with other political parties to harmonize their respective platforms.
Cllr. Korkoya reminded the ALP that as a registered political party, should become a key stakeholder in the political process. He said there are responsibilities that the ALP has, and that the NEC expects that the party will live within the rules of the elections process in Liberia and those set up at the NEC to guide political parties.
“As a political party, your only responsibility is not to win election; you have the responsibility to help the National Elections Commission to protect the integrity of our electoral process. And that is important. Not many political parties do that here,” Cllr. Korkoya told the ALP.
He said the NEC expects cooperation from the ALP in its effort to foster the conflict prevention and management process in the commission to address electoral disputes. He said most of the claims made from the 2014 elections were not meritorious, saying most of such claims come as a result of ignorance of many people with respect to rules that govern the process.
Cllr. Korkoya finally urged the ALP that its politics should not only be practiced in Monrovia, saying there are lots of people who do not understand why they even vote. As such, he said it was the responsibility of the party to go out there to educate the people as Liberia approaches 2017.
“Being a political party is not just to be critical of the government and other constituted authority; we expect you to offer constructive alternatives when you criticize,” he challenged. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor &Winston W. Parley -Editing by Jonathan Browne