The history of multiparty democracy in Liberia can never be recounted without mentioning the meaningful role that opposition political parties played in bridging the disconnect between the so-called masses and the governors. Since 1876 when the Republican Party was dissolved, Liberian politics was always dominated by the True Whig Party until the emergence of the opposition Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) in 1979, amidst a cataclysmic chain of events that broke the yoke of one party rule in Liberia. Today, 41 years down the road, while more than three dozens political parties have mushroomed in the country, pundits contend that the opposition bloc has never been truly formidable until the emergence of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) few months ahead of the December 8 midterm senatorial elections. As The Analyst reports, the sterling performance of the CPP in these elections, especially under the chairmanship of ANC political leader Alexander B. Cummings, has given the opposition bloc a new lease on life, causing pundits to suggest that a sleeping giant has awakened.
Liberian politicians seriously started tinkering with the idea of forming a formidable collaboration in September 2016, ahead of the crucial 2017 presidential and general elections. The leaders of twelve political parties gathered in Ganta, Nimba and signed a communique to work together and wrestle power from the ruling Unity Party at the time. The meeting brought together Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty (LP), George Weah of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP), among others. The twelve leaders were gunning to unseat the ruling Unity Party, whose Vice President Joseph Nyemah Boakai, had thrown his hat in the race for the presidency at the time.
Although the collaborative effort died in Ganta, a few of the individual parties would come together to form a Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that would later dislodge the Unity Party’s bid to seek a third successive run. Since 2017, it appears as if the idea of forming a collaboration has left a sour taste in the mouths of the opposition bloc, but not until recently when the Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party concretized their collaborative effort into a political institution, certified and accredited by the NEC few months to the conduct of the December 8 midterm senatorial and referendum elections.
Under a rotational chairmanship framework that allows each political leader of the four political parties to lead the CPP for eight months, the opposition bloc witnessed its initial single biggest achievement in 2019 when under the stewardship of CPP Chairman Benoni Urey, Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon won the Montserrado County senate seat from underneath the ruling CDC candidate Paulita Wie. On December 8, 2020 Senator Dillon retained his seat by walloping the ruling CDC party candidate Thomas P. Fallah with a 206,368 to 120,405 vote margin.
The CPP also fared well in Grand Bassa County where incumbent Senator Nyonblee Karnga dragged the ruling CDC candidate Gbehzohngar Findlay by 22,476 to 20,346 votes.
In vote rich Bong County, CPP candidate Prince Moye defeated CDC candidate incumbent Senator Henry Yallah with 39,337 to 25,247 votes; while in Grand Cape Mount and River Gee, CPP candidates Simeon Taylor and Jonathan Sogbie defeated CDC candidates Victor Watson and Charles Bardyl massively.
With the CPP having won six out of 15 counties, and expecting to win in Gbarpolu and Grand Kru Counties, pundits believe that the CPP is truly reinvigorated under Chairman Alexander Cummings, who is seen as a hands-on manager.
It can be recalled, Mr. Cummings traversed all parts of the country campaigning intensely for CPP candidates.
“I can put my neck on chopping board, if CPP continues to hold together and perform as he did in these elections, they will give the CDC a good run for their money in 2023. I just don’t see how CDC can defeat a solid CPP once they pull together and pick the right person that will take them to elections,” Edwin Sambola, self-styled Political Analyst of Bushrod Island told this paper.
“Of course, a sleeping giant is now awake. This is what we expected a real opposition to be like. The performance of CPP was monumental. The voters want someone who can deliver, not the same people that have been fooling us for rock of ages,” says Nyan Duo of Gardnersville.
“If I was in a position to make critical decisions for the CPP, I will strongly recommend that the political leaders extend Mr. Cummings’ chairmanship by another eight months so he can give the CDC more heartache,” Mr. Duo continued.