Latest Liberia Coalition Draws Strange Bedfellows: CDC. TWP NDPL FDP Join Forces
05/7/2010 – FPA STAFF REPORT
Two former ruling parties and a grassroots movement riding on the shoulders of a football legend are among a new force of political opposition in Liberia coming together to challenge the ruling Unity Party in next year’s general elections.
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that extensive consultative talks are underway among several Liberian Opposition Political parties aimed at forming a Grand Coalition to contest the pending 2011 General and Presidential Elections.
The parties consist of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the Liberia National Union(LINU), the Alliance for Peace and Democracy(APD), the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL), the Progressive Democratic Party(PRODEM), the Free Democratic Party of Liberia(FDP) and the True Whig Party(TWP).
In a joint signed statement released Thursday announcing their plans to contest the 2011 elections under the banner of a Grand Coalition, the initial seven opposition, the parties will hold further talks after the submission of a report from the steering committee that will make recommendations for a roadmap that will lead to the formation of a coalition of opposition parties.
A senior executive of one of the parties involved in the coalition could not confirmed to FrontPageAfrica Thursday who the standard bearer of the party would be in 2011 only that the individual would be chosen at a convention. It is also not clear whether members of the coalition would be willing to run under CDC’s George Weah who has said he will not run second to anyone or political institution. It is also not clear how far Tubman, who has previously said he would not support or merge with anyone who had blood on their hands, is willing to go. The PRODEM party is the political arm of Sekou Damateh, a former rebel leader.
The statement said the seven political parties were represented during the talks by top Executive to include, CDC’s Ambassador George Weah, LINU’s Ambassador Winston Tubman, PRODEM’s Sekou Damate Konneh and Party Chairman Garbla V. Williams. Other present were Richard Panton and party stalwart Prof Wilson Tarpeh. The FDP was represented by its national Chairman Michael Nayou and Secretary General Peter Senneh.
The parties are also extending what they call a carte blanche invitation to all other opposition political parties to join their ranks in these consultative talks for the single goal of forming a common front in unseating through the ballot box, the ruling Unity Party.
It is not clear what the formation of the coalition does for recent attempts by the 2005 standard bearer of the Congress for Democratic Change George Weah and the party’s secretary general Lenn Eugene Nagbe to join forces with ruling party.
The coalition appears to be reuniting Winston Tubman with his former party, the National Democratic Party of Liberia.
The NDPL was formed in August 1984 by supporters of Samuel Doe, who came to power in a 1980 military coup. The party contested the 15 October 1985 elections with Doe as its presidential candidate. Doe won 50.93% of the vote in an election marred by allegations of extensive irregularities and electoral. The NDPL dominated both chambers of the legislature winning 21 of 26 seats in the Senate and 51 of 64 in the House of Representatives. In late 1989, a civil war broke out in the country and Doe was killed in 1990.
The party made a comeback in the first post war elections, conducted on July 19, 1997. George Boley, a former minister in the Doe administration, was the party’s presidential candidate. He won only 1.26% of the vote, while the party failed to win any House or Senate seats.
Following yet another civil war, elections were held on October 11, 2005. The NDPL’s presidential candidate, Tubman, placed fourth and won 9.2% of the vote. In concurrent legislative elections, the party won 2 seats in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives.
Like the NDPL, the The True Whig Party, also known as Liberian Whig Party, is also a former ruling party and was the only legal political party in Liberia for over 100 years, from 1878 to the coup of 1980.
The party lost power after Tubman’s successor, William Tolbllert, was killed in an April 1980 coup by forces opposed to his clampdown on the political opposition and tolerance of corruption. It was then the opposition’s turn to clamp down on the True Whig Party. The vast majority of its members and supporters left the party, but it struggled on as a minor party. The party participated in the 2005 elections as part of the coalition for the Transformation of Liberia.