Aggrieved Aspirants Join Small Parties; Going Independent -Varney Sherman, Rep. Zarzar, Galakpai Kortimai, Hans Barchue top list
MONROVIA: As disappointments, intrigues, betrayals and sheer greed continue to characterize the ongoing nomination process within the various political parties in the country, several aggrieved aspirants contesting for legislative seats who could not realize their ambition to contest on the tickets of their respective parties have been approaching smaller political parties, some of whom were recently registered by the National Elections Commission (NEC), to go through the process on their tickets, while others have decided to contest as independent candidates.
Our reporter who has been observing the nomination process at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex for some days since it started said some of the politicians were seen in the company of officials of some of the smaller parties collecting forms and returning the same after filling in the documents.
Others who have opted to contest as independent candidates were seen turning out at the venue with some coming in with a couple of supporters singing and hailing them as they made their way inside the premises to attend official businesses with staff of NEC.
Our reporter said most of the aggrieved aspirants are from the bigger parties including the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), the Unity Party, and the Alternative National Congress (ANC). Others are from either of the factions of the Liberty Party who could not be accommodated under the arrangements for sharing of slots with other political institutions that the factions reached with other parties.
“I left my party because of the injustice meted against me. Clearly, I knew that they were not concerned about presenting a credible candidate but extorting money from people that they could use and dump at the end of the day after enriching themselves.
“I am above that kind of charade; and the good thing is I am still in the race and we will meet at the ballot box with whoever they pick as their candidate. I am not retreating on this course”, one of the aspirants told The Analyst.
Most of the aspirants who spoke to The Analyst berated the various political parties, especially those with larger members and followers for disrespecting the practice of internal democracy and disrupting the process that will lead the people to freely choose their own leaders. They lamented that there was no law to protect members or aspirants from being robbed of chances to exercise their full rights in contesting for any position as guaranteed under the laws of Liberia.
“At this time of our nascent democracy, we need laws to protect members of political parties who intend to contest for positions and should not be obstructed. Our own parties are using all kinds of tricks to deny us from contesting, and sadly, there are no law to stop these kinds of anti-democratic tendencies”, an aspirant for the House of Representatives said.
A sitting lawmaker who is seeking re-election said since 2021, he was promised a white ballot by his party because of his “immense contribution to my party” and the promise was well on course until during the “last hours” when some party stalwarts were induced with large sums of money which he said came from a “friend of the big shots in the party” to change all the previous agreements.
He said he had initially agreed to go through the primary with the “anointed aspirant” but the optics were high against him as everything was done to frustrate him in the process.
“I was praised and honored several times by the party for my role played to bring the party to where it is today, and as a way of reciprocating for the gesture, the party told me I will be given a white ballot to contest for re-election during the 2023 legislative election.
“Everything was going on fine until the last hours when some free money came from someone who is very close to the big shots in the party, and I was told I will have to go through the primary process. I accepted to do so but I later found out that they have perfected plans to rig me out of the process; and so, I have to pick the nomination forms today, fill them in and return the same to contest as an independent candidate”, he said.
Several other aspirants who said they were sacrificed by their parties due to their alliance or collaboration with other parties disclosed that the allocation of slots under the arrangement was lopsided and did not take into consideration whether those who were allowed to contest under such arrangement were electable and acceptable by the people. They contended that political parties should have considered the strength of each aspirant in the collaboration and work towards picking someone who will deliver votes for the party.
“From all indications, I am the leading aspirant in our constituency but my party is in an alliance with other parties; and so, I was told that for this district, the slot is going to the other party, and ours is in the other district where I will not contest.
“It was not a fair decision and so as not to confront my people, I decided to go to another party that has just gone through the registration process. They are not fielding any presidential candidate but are keen to win some seats in the national legislature and then prepare for the 2029 election”, an aspirant who referred to himself as “The Emancipator” told The Analyst.
Further checks on those who have decided to dump their original parties to contest as either an independent or as an aspirant on the platform of the smaller parties revealed that several big names are involved and were corroborated by publications in several newspapers giving listings of petitioners who have signed on to back the candidature of the politicians.
Some of the big names are Representative Mathew Zarzar of Sinoe County (CDC) who is contesting for the senate; Galakpa Kortimai (UP) who is running for the senatorial seat in Lofa; Senator Varney Sherman of UP who is re-contesting for his senatorial seat in Grand Cape Mount County; Representative Hans Barchue (LP) who is re-contesting as an independent in Grand Bassa County; Representative Jimmy Smith (CDC) who is re-contesting as an independent in District #2, Montserrado County; Representative Tibelrosa Tarpoweh (CDC), District #1, Margibi County, among others.
The candidate nomination process which started on June 14, 2023 is expected to end July 14, 2023.