MONROVIA – After 12 unbroken years spent in the opposition wilderness, the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of former Senator George M. Weah, joined forces with Madam Jewel Howard-Taylor’s National Patriotic Party (NPP) and former House Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP) in 2016 to unseat the ruling Unity Party at the polls in December 2017. Five years down the line since leading the Coalition for Democratic Change as its topnotch political kingpin, the Congress for Democratic commemorated its 17th Anniversary on Saturday, June 18, 2022, in a massive jamboree that has left tongues wagging about the unbridled showcase of solidarity, strength and partisanship of CDCians at that ceremony.
Turning out in their multitude, CDCians stormed their beachfront headquarters in Congo Town to witness and participate in their party’s 17th anniversary celebration, as they chanted “George Weah – We are One” and other party slogans, while rocking in a trance-like manner to pro-CDC music blaring from gigantic speakers mounted within the perimeters of the headquarters. A combination of top-notch musicians took center stage to serenade the crowd as comedians and artists, including Liberia’s famed actor Samaguan, dazzled the audience with comedic respite.
Rising to the occasion, the Standard bearer of the CDC, President George Manneh Weah commenced his address by tracing the rigorous paths that the Congress for Democratic Change traversed over the years before tasting political power in 2017.
“This is a great day in the history of our Party, the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change!! It has been 17 years since we founded this dynamic organization as a movement of the people. Starting out in 2005 as the Liberia National Congress, we then became the Congress for Democratic Change, and which today now forms a part of the Great Coalition for Democratic Change!!!
“As your Standard Bearer and Political Leader, I want to give a hearty welcome to each and every one of you here today, and to extend my personal congratulations to all of you for conducting yourselves in the mature, peaceful, and orderly manner that has become characteristic of this great Party and its Partisans.
“It is these characteristics that have brought us from twelve years of disciplined struggle in the wilderness of opposition, to a clean victory that has now seen us through five years of leadership through our membership of the Grand Coalition that rules Liberia.
“Yes, it was not easy. The struggle for power is never easy. But from our humble beginnings in 2005, see how far we have come. We have come a very long way, Fellow Partisans. We have fought many battles, some of them unforeseen and unexpected. But we fought peacefully through the ballot, and never through violence or bullets. We have always been a Party of Peace.
“People tested our resolve, when twice they took from us what belonged to us. But we never resorted to violence, and accepted our fate peacefully and calmly, because of love of country. What people did not realize, is that we began our quest for leadership because of love of country. We could not touch Liberia’s peace, Liberia’s dignity, and Liberia’s honor, because we were hoping for this day to come, so that we would have the opportunity to lead this country to prosperity, and to bring hope for change,” President Weah stated, to rapturous applause from the teeming sea of blue-cladded partisans donning red or blue berets.
Further historicizing the origin of the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change, President said, as far back as 2005, many Liberians had asked him to participate in the 2005 elections. Weah said, based on the numerous petitions from the people, a five-member committee was constituted with every one of its members in an acting position, because the founding fathers of the party believed in the democratic principle that no one should hold a position unless elected by a convention.
“As we moved forward, we scouted young and dynamic brains, as well as older folks that would guide the process. We went to the United States, where we recruited our first founding Chairman of the party in Diaspora, Samuel Tweh.
“We then took our membership recruitment drive to other African countries. It was in Ghana, for example, that we recruited Mulbah Morlu, your current Chairman. And CDC began to be known not only in Liberia, but in the entire world.
“After we were fully formed and registered as a political party, we participated in our first elections, in 2005. According to published statistics, we won the first round with 28.22% of the vote, and went into the run-off as the leading party. But in the second round, we who were first, were told that we had come second. How that happened, only God one knows.
“But, being peace-loving people, we continued our quest for leadership. Now, it is the same God who has brought us here today, because He had a greater plan for us. What I see in this is our patriotism. We did not burn the country down. We kept the country peaceful.
“And so today, I want to say a big “Thank You!!” to all our founding members, and to all of our partisans across the world, wherever they are, CDCians, Weacians, Coalitians. Without you, we could not have reached this far, and it is because you kept the peace,” the Liberian leader stated.
Giving Due Flowers
Recognizing the efforts that past leadership of the Congress for Democratic Change played in getting the party to its present status, President Weah hailed past and current chairpersons of the CDC, thanking and appreciating them for their collective and successive efforts and leadership that brought the party from the periphery of opposition life to becoming a member of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.
“I would now like to recognize and give thanks and appreciation to all of our previous Party Chairmen, whose collective and successive efforts and leadership have brought us to where we are today, from “out-cumbency” to “incumbency”! All those who are present in this gathering should please stand as your name is called, and receive a rousing round of applause in acknowledgment of the great job that you have done,” Weah intoned as he hailed L. Orishall Gould, 2004-2005; J Cole Bangalu, 2005; Joshua Sackie, 2005-2008; the late Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, 2008-2011; Adama Sambola, 2011-12; George G. Solo, 2012-2014; Nathaniel F. McGill, 2015-2018, and Mulbah K. Morlu, 2018 to present.
Eulogizing Fallen Comrades
President Weah used the occasion to pay homage to deceased CDCian who could not be around to be a part of the party’s 17th anniversary.
“Today is a day of celebration. But it is also a day that calls for deep reflection. Because there are so many of our dear members who have been with us in the struggle that would have wanted to be here on this day, but have gone to a better place in the Great Beyond.
“What I can tell you is that they did not struggle in vain. The Liberia that they wanted to see beautiful, this is the Liberia today. The Liberia where they wanted to see free education, this is the Liberia today. The Liberia where they wanted to see development, this is the Liberia today. The Liberia where they wanted to see that the economy was stabilized, this is the Liberia today. The Liberia that they wanted to see peaceful, this is the Liberia today. The Liberia where they wanted to see true democracy, this is the Liberia today.
“These noble Partisans laid down their lives in the struggle for freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and all of these freedoms are now enjoyed in Liberia today.
“To all of these partisans who made the sacrifice in our struggle, this is now the country that you wanted, where all Liberians can participate equally, despite our political, religious, or ethnic differences, and where there are no political prisoners, or prisoners of thought or conscience.
“Although these Partisans are no longer with us, this is what they envisioned. So, we must continue to fulfill their dreams and ideals, through the leadership that you have entrusted to us.
“Today is our anniversary, but we must be aware that the struggle to develop our country continues. The struggle to build our economy continues. The struggle for an educated and healthy population continues. The struggle for democratic processes continues. The struggle for growth and development continues. And the struggle for peace and prosperity continues.
“So let us now give a standing ovation for all the members that we lost. They are our fallen heroes. May their souls rest in perfect peace, and may Light Perpetual shine upon them,” President Weah said solemnly.
Acknowledging new CDCians
The highlight of the anniversary celebration was captured when President Weah introduced high profile politicians who had conscientiously joined the CDC to push his government’s development agenda.
“I was pleased to learn a few days ago that a prominent member of the Honorable House of Representatives of the Republic of Liberia, Hon. Nathaniel Zoe Bahway, representing Grand Kru County, has decided to join the CDC.
“It was with great joy that I also learned that two of our illustrious and eminent Senators, in person of Senator Simeon B. Taylor, representing Grand Cape Mount County, and Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown, representing Maryland County, have also decided to join the mighty CDC.
We have all witnessed today their very impressive Declarations of Membership, which will continue to strengthen us as we consolidate our political gains and prepare to move forward to the next level.
“Senator Taylor, Senator Brown, and Hon. Bahway, on behalf of the CDC, let me give you a warm and hearty welcome. We are glad to have you join forces with us for the good of this country. By joining the CDC, you are making the right decision. You have made a Decision for development. You have made a Decision for Prosperity. You have made a Decision for Great Transformative Leadership. You have made a Decision for Inclusion. You have made a Decision for Peace and Progress.
“We welcome you with open arms for the decision that you have taken to join us, which demonstrates your wisdom, your foresight, and your love of country.
“Other persons and parties that have not yet joined, should join our ranks. And for those that are undecided and on the sidelines, this is a clarion call. You are invited to join us to build our country. Our arms are open, and you will be warmly welcomed. It is not too late to make this decision. As they say, it is better late than never. We look forward to seeing you very soon in our midst.
“And to those that left CDC, I want you to know that you still have a chance to come back. This is the Government that you fought for. Come back to your Party. Those that you didn’t like, those that didn’t like you, let us put it all behind us. Let us put our differences aside, and build our Party,” President Weah averred.
Recognizing Petitions, Pledges of Support
The Liberian leader and CDC standard bearer was also grateful to organizations that pledged to support his second term bid in 2023 in order to continue his government’s development agenda.
“Let me acknowledge with heartfelt appreciation, the support and honoring statement of the Liberia Marketing Association which was presented here today, thanking me for my prioritization of market construction during my tenure. As everyone knows by now, you, the hardworking members of the Marketing Association are very close to my heart. I will always do all that I can to make you comfortable, safe, and efficient, and sufficient as you go about your daily tasks of providing your fellow citizens with their basic needs. Market Men and Market Women!!!! I want to assure you that the best is yet to come.
“I also wish to acknowledge the Petition which I have just received from the National Islamic Organization. I have always been close to the Islamic Community, since the days of my youth when I attended the Muslim Congress High School. And as my political career advanced, they have always been there with strong support for me.
“As-salamu alaykum to you all!! I want to say that I have heard you. My ears are wide open and I have heard what you said. Rest assured that you will get an answer from me. You will get one very soon. inshAllah. Alhamdulillah. Shukran.
“I also want to say thank you for the Declaration of Support for my re-election bid which we have just received from the following six political parties including the Union of Liberia Democrats (ULD), the United People’s Party (UPP), the Redemption Democratic Congress (RDC), the Change Democratic Action (CDA), the Liberia Transformation Party (LTP), and the Liberia National Union (LINU).
“I want to extend my personal greetings to all of your members who are present here today. You may not be as large as some other parties, but there is strength in your collective numbers. Your support is also symbolically relevant to the political momentum of inclusion which we are endeavoring to build. We are grateful for your association with us and your affiliation to our re-election bid at this program, President Weah stated.
On sanctions and nationalism
President Weah also used the occasion to voice his concerns about Liberians who are advocating for sanctions against his government.
“There is a matter that is concerning to me, which I would like to share with all of you today, wherever you are under the sound of my voice, and that is the issue of sanctions. It has come to my knowledge that there are people who want to be leaders of this country who are calling for sanctions against Liberia. In my view, you cannot have the interests of the country that you want to lead at heart and still be calling for sanctions against it.
“We need peace in our country, not sanctions. We need genuinely sincere leadership in our country. Any would-be leader that is going to tell the world that they should place sanctions on this country, are by definition insincere and unpatriotic. They are not ready to lead this country.
“I was in opposition for 12 years, and during all that time, I never called for sanctions on Liberia. I did not ask for any Liberian, or the country itself, to be sanctioned. Instead, what did I do? I worked with the incumbent Government to promote peace and unity in our country. I suggest that all persons who aspire to leadership in this country should refrain from such unpatriotic actions and put Liberia first,” President Weah cautioned.
Continuing, President Weah called on all CDCians to continue ensuring his government succeeds in creating hope for change.
“We must now all be aware that to continue to be successful, we must solidify that hope for change, through casting our ballot once again through the ballot box, in the democratic space, and in a democratic manner, freely, fairly, transparently, and successfully. We, as a Party and as a Coalition, must remain united, because in union strong, success is sure. We will not fail.
“And so, in closing, let me wish all CDCians, all Weahcians, and all Coalitians a Happy 17th Anniversary. Enjoy yourselves this weekend, but don’t overdo it, because Monday morning you have to be ready to continue the work that will ensure your future success,” President Weah said, amidst thunderous applause from the multitude.
Why I am joining CDC: Senator Brown
In a sideline interview with the media during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the CDC Vocational Institute at the party headquarters, Senator Gbleh-bo Brown explained why he felt compelled to join the Coalition for Democratic Change.
“Most of my supporters including House Speaker Chambers have been telling me to join the CDC so that the votes from Maryland can’t be divided. We started talking and then we decided to come join the CDC. If the president’s agenda in this country will succeed, then we the legislative caucus need to be one. I have a support base, and I think CDC is going to benefit from me. Although I am a senator for Maryland County, I have a district that believes in me, no matter what. We believe in a united caucus. In the past, the county had suffered because of the division,” Senator Brown stated.
Partisans of the CDC who later spoke with our reporter said they willingly printed their own t-shirts and other party materials for the 17th anniversary celebration.
“I live as far as Po River in District 17. I bought my t-shirt, and sewed my own beret. I am happy that my party is coming back to life. I can assure you that 2023 won’t be like 2019 or 2020. We are ready!” enthused Tata Fahnbulleh of D-17.
Continuing, Ms. Fahnbulleh hailed Senator Simeon Taylor and other politicians for joining her party. “It is only a matter of time. All of the opposition will join us. They are already shaking,” she stated confidently.