MONROVIA: The competition between and amongst political parties in gathering crowds and racing through villages, towns and cities for votes which marked the beginning of the 2023 elections has now given way to lobby and endorsements, which has currently overwhelmed the electoral atmosphere. The two runoff contestants – the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and the former ruling now opposition Unity Party – have both in lobby contestation with various democratic and political groupings for endorsements. And the whole country has been ablaze with the frenzy of endorsement, and a new debate as to which of the runoff competitors has received the largest and most frequent endorsements. The Analyst reports.
While many pundits had expected fast movements and penetrations by the last two presidential contestants and parties into the of Liberia’s rural and urban populations owing to the fact they have just 14 years to remake their political cases to the people, things appear veered towards sporadic lobbies and endorsements in the nation’s capital, Liberia.
Not a day has come to pass in the last one week without seeing and hearing endorsement ceremonies being held here and there—ceremonies that are actually an outcome of intensive lobby with various groups of electorate by the Coalition for Democratic Change and the Unity Party.
The endorsement and lobby euphoria prevailing in the country has taken over the political atmosphere and has nearly dwarfed the crisscrossing of the country in grueling campaigns to solicit votes as was the case during the first round elections.
Towards the November 14, 2023 round off, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the opposition Unity Party(UP) appear to have changed tactics in getting to the people; the tactic is lobbying political parties and other heavy political weights to seek their endorsements which they perhaps believe could brighten their chances of getting elected on the final day of the election.
The CDC and UP were among the other 18 political parties that fielded candidates in the presidential elections, though none of could obtain 50% plus one threshold for an outright first round victory.
The two traditional political archrivals made it to the run-off having garnered a little over 43% each in the first round.
Though there were 19 opposition political parties and independent candidates that contested in a bid to eject the CDC from power, and with the UP being in the runoff, the rest of 18 parties are left to grab since they are more ambivalent in their stances about remaining opposition or converting to the ruling party.
The situation created by these opposition establishments have left the Liberian political space charged with a tense competition of lobby between the two parties.
As the rest of the parties make a determination on which way they opt to follow, lavish ceremonies are arranged hastily by the victor and the catch comes out to pour out their guts explaining why they to follow the ruling CDC or the opposition UP.
Unsurprisingly the intensity of the lobby has resulted into the cracking or splitting of some political parties, with some tilting towards the ruling CDC while others find their way to the opposition UP.
As of yesterday, Thursday, November 2, 2023, UP, a former ruling party now opposition, brandished with a couple of endorsements that came the Liberia People’s Party (LPP) of Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe, the Liberia First Movement (LFM) of Sheikh Kouyateh, the All Liberia Coalition Party (ALCOP) led by one time Minister of Finance, Lusene Kamara, and the National Democratic Alliance, among others.
A number of some defeated legislative candidates who contested the 2023 general elections also got in the kitty of UP. They include Senator J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County, Senatorial candidate Nya Twan of Nimba County, among who others publicly endorsed Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the UP.
For its part, the ruling CDC has been particularly swarmed by an endless streams of endorsements. These include from the All Liberia Party (ALP) of Businessman Benoni Wilfred Urey, the National Democratic Party of Musa Sheriff, the Liberia Rebuilder Movement, and a breakaway of the ALCOP, called Independent Gurus of ALCOP, among others.
Besides the endorsements from political parties, CDC received more endorsements from institutions and notable individuals ahead of the runoff more than the UP, according to pundits closely following the political power plays.
Some of the notable politicians, especially those who won seats in the National Legislature, that endorsed the CDC included the Vice Standard Bearer of ALCOP, Mathew Darblow, Senator elect of Grand Bassa County, Gbehzongar Milton Findley, Representative Thomas Goshua of Grand Bassa County, Representative-elect Luther Collins, Representative Larry Younquoi of Nimba county.
Also, a number of defeated female representative candidates in Montserrado County, the publisher of the Woman Voices Newspaper Madam Helen Nah-Sammie, among others, also endorsed the president’s reelection bid.
The ruling party was also able to enlist the endorsements from the Fula Community in Liberia, Urban Women Movement, the Liberia Matter Movement, the National First Time Voters Association, Diligent Muslim Women, several branches of the Liberia Marketing Association, etc.
The party also entered into negotiation and awaiting responses from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) of Alexander B. Cummings, the Grassroots Democratic Movement (GDM) of Edward Appleton Jr. and several other political parties and institutions.
Underpinnings of the endorsements, according to pundits, are offers made by the competing political parties and regional and sectional orientations.
“It is what you can offer either instantly in the form of cash or what you can offer in the near future upon winning,” said a pundit is familiar with the deals.
He added: “But the party making the offers must be very sure because there is no way they could take action if the party after won decides to reneges. Forget about all the other conditions; it is what they can get at once or immediately later.”
What has come to be an issue of concern is the level of bickering and outright disagreements and rejections of some of the endorsements, as some other persons who feel that the leaders must have made some grave errors while taking some decisions.
Some specific cases included the endorsement of Boakai by Theodore Momo, national chairman of ALP and some members of his party which was overturned by Mr. Urey when he nullified the decision and endorsed Weah at an elaborate program last Sunday at the National Headquarters of ALP on the Old road.
Another one was the opposing view of a group called the Independent ALCOP who endorsed Weah ahead of Boakai who was also endorsed by some members of the national executive committee led by its Presidential candidate Lusene Kamara.
Meanwhile, the CDC and UP strategists are reportedly resource-starved and are unlikely to undertake massive nationwide campaign as was seen during the first round of elections.