Ganta, Nimba County – The road to 2017 may not be bumpy as the opposition seems to be getting her acts together.
On the weekend, twelve opposition political parties gathered in Ganta, Nimba County for a merger talk.
Political parties in attendance include Senator Prince Johnson (organizer of the meeting) of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Liberty Party's Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party ALP and Alexander Cummings of Alternative National Congress (ANC).
Other parties include the former ruling National Patriotic Parties (NPP), Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), Movement for Progressive Change, All Liberia Coalition Party, Victory for Change Party, New Liberia Party, Vision for Liberia Transformation, Union of Liberian Democrats and Liberian Nation Union (LINU).
Under the aegis Opposition Political Parties Collaboration Summit, the Ganta meeting has claimed the attention of thousands of locals who began converging at the venue of the meeting hours before kick-off time.
Many of them, interviewed by Front page Africa, petitioned their leaders to come out with a 'single voice' to defeat the ruling Unity Party in 2017.
And aware of the citizens' demands, all of the political leaders who made remarks at the start of the meeting called for a cohesive opposition in 2017.
"Today, our being here is simply to work in concert for the purpose of finding a lasting solution to Liberia's mountain problems which, being fully aware of, we need not enumerate," Senator Johnson said, continuing:
"Despite our diversity of political ideologies, there is still a possibility of placing all of our respective problems and views.
What can opposition political parties do to rebuild and restructure the entire fabrics of the nation?"
Opposition political Parties who gathered in Ganta over the weekend signed a Communiqué which, among many things, will see the building of a stronger collaboration as they approach the pending 2017 Presidential and general elections.
In consideration of the aforementioned opposition political parties constitute a joint Technical committee comprising two representatives from each political party to work out the details and modalities for approval by the National Executive committee of their respective political parties.
Opposition political parties not signatories to this document are encouraged and welcome to form a part of this collaborative initiative by a letter to the joint technical committee.
Opposition political parties that are signatories to this declaration hereby make a seldom pledged not to castigate or denigrate each other in any manner and form. In the event of disagreement among or between political parties the matter shall be refer to the joint technical committee for resolution.
The joint Technical committee shall report in sixty days as of the signing of this declaration given under our hands and part seal on this 17 day of September 2017 in the city of Ganta, Nimba County Republic of Liberia.
Earlier, Senator Johnson declared that the gathering was aimed at working toward a concerted effort for the purpose of finding a lasting solution to Liberia's mountain problems.
"Despite our diversity of political ideologies, there is still a possibility of placing all of our respective problems and views. What can opposition political parties do to rebuild and restructure the entire fabrics of the nation?"
For his part, Senator George Weah of the CDC called on opposition leaders to put aside their ego and personal aggrandizement if they are serious about collaborating.
“When we are on such discussion, it’s good to listen to avoid sounding redundant.
We all say the same thing but in different tones. We have been in this for more than 10 years, speaking of the ills in society and the reason why it continues is because we refused to come together [due to] our self-ego and personal aggrandizement.
“If we have the interest of the Liberian people why are we all running? I believe in team work and I think with a better team one idea and one vision we can liberate our people.
We can make our people happy. Let’s rethink our past decisions. We come here and reach an agreement and at the end of the day we go our separate ways.
“We must be friends; we must protect each other, work with each other. If you want to work with me I got to be your friend.
It’s important that we work together. What we say here and do here when we leave we must ask our party officials and supporters to go into their meeting to understand why we are here. And if they give their opinion we must listen.
“We must work to consolidate, and make sure that our people rejoice and see the change they yarned for,” he said.
Cllr. Brumskine of the Liberty Party said it was important that the opposition bloc understands that they are against the ruling party, despite their diversity.
“Some may believe in small government while others believe in big government. Some believe that government is the solution for all human problems and there are some who believe that government is the problem,” he said.
“There are some who believe trickle down economy, there are some who believe in capitalism but with a human heart.
There are those of us who believe that reconciliation is the corner stone of the future of our country.”
Cllr. Brumskine said he is of the opinion that opposition politicians care about Liberia and put the country’s interest first before theirs.
“In my political career I have had the benefit of experiencing a lot. I remember I was called unpatriotic.
Today my party and I are referred to as ‘regime collaborators’ because we will not insult a lady who happens to be President of Liberia. By upbringing, it’s different.
“I will not denigrate the office of the presidency to which I aspire.
The Liberty Party and myself have criticized the policy of the Sirleaf-Boakai administration longer and more than another opposition political party.”
He expressed optimism that the Ganta meeting will end up to be a win-win situation.
“I say today that everything thing is on the table. We all stand to lose if none of us around this table win. Let none of us leave this room being tasked as a regime collaborator…”
Cummings said he believes it is important that people aspiring to lead Liberia to have ongoing dialogue because at the end of the day it is about Liberia and how they can work together for the betterment of the country.
“This meeting potentially can yield some fruitful results if we can come out with basic principles to govern ourselves as we go into the elections. It is not a bad thing.
And even if we don’t agree just getting to know each other and talking with each other is important.
“I am not adverse to the fact that there will be some financial consideration. I don’t think money should be the sole drivers.
If I am selected as the best person to lead this country, it should not be based on merit and talent and not money but what I can bring to the table.
“I intend to offer solution, where we can all form an inclusive government and that after day one of the election we do not go into opposition,” Cummings said.
For Mr. Benoni Urey of the All Liberia Party (ALP), the meeting in Ganta was history coming full circle, referencing the 1959 meeting of African leaders in Sanniquellie, Nimba County to form the Organization of African Unity (OAU) now African Union (AU).
“It’s time to get serious, our people are dying, and they are hungry. This country is basically running itself and we are not afraid as we care about no favor. We will say what it is in black and white because we believe we owe it to the Liberian people.
“I believe you all have seen what I have seen—the increased death rate, the arrest of people, even journalists for something that happen [far] in another country.
The cracking down on press freedom, corruption, nepotism, favouritism these are the ills that continue to kill our people.”
He said a year is a long time and if Liberians do not speak against societal ills, they wouldn’t be able to do so before election.
“If we have the interest of the Liberian people and real opposition there are things that we must do,” he said.
“We must speak against corruption; speak against the excessive use of force by this government.
We must talk about the interference in one branch of the government by the other. We must talk about the plight of our people that is what true opposition is.”