10/15/2010 – Rodney D. Sieh
Source: FrontPage Africa
|George Weah and Charles Brumskine|
A pairing which could dramatically shakeup the dynamics of the 2011 presidential elections in Liberia was signed, sealed and delivered in New York, late Thursday night landing football legend George Manneh Weah of the grassroots Congress for Democratic Change and Charles Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party on a potential “Dream Ticket” looking to challenge a self-proclaimed “formidable” incumbent President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
The mutual agreement, sources privy to the discussions say, comes on the eve of the CDC- USA convention in Pennsylvania, the U.S. A. and after four weeks of intense negotiations, sometimes across the Atlantic. Israel Akinsanya, Chairman of the Liberty Party signed on behalf of his party while Lenn Eugene Nagbe signed for the CDC in the presence of Weah, who reportedly has finally consented to a pairing which months ago appeared impossible.
‘We Must Defeat up’, Weah Says
FrontPageAfrica has learned that Weah will make the deal official during a speech at the party’s convention in Philadelphia this weekend. A copy of Weah’s statement agreeing to the deal, in possession of FrontPageAfrica reads:
October 14, 2010) Fellow Liberians, members of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), I have worked all my life for the success and viability of the Liberian nation. Both in my professional life and now in my political career, the welfare of the Liberian people have always been paramount to my own.
While I believe that a CDC government under my leadership is the best course to bring lasting and sustainable peace, security and prosperity to Liberia, I am not unmindful that even this great venture may be only achievable in small steps.
I remain convinced that the unity of the entire opposition is the best course to reversing the slide into elitism that I believe is leading to the reversal of any gains that has been made in our country.
We must defeat the current Unity Party government if we are to reverse the dangerous course upon which our country has been set; the course which leads to a mirror image of our ugly past and its domineering one-party political system. I believe that only a united opposition can achieve this national imperative.
Each of us who are leaders in the opposition community must be prepared to sacrifice personal ambitions to achieve a single slate of candidates – a more responsible, united and credible alternative for the 2011 elections. Enough time has been spent by each of us pursuing our personal ambitions and objectives while the Liberian people have endured the failed leadership of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It is time to embark upon a new course for the opposition community and for the country.
Therefore, in order to unite the opposition, I am prepared to work with Cllr. Charles Brumskine to achieve a single slate of candidates for the 2011 elections and may consider all options for a united opposition ticket. I have today, authorized a representative CDC exploratory committee led by our dynamic Chairman Geraldine Doe-Sheriff to begin immediate consultation with the Liberty Party as to how best we can bring the entire opposition parties together for victory in 2011. Nevertheless, whatever path we choose must meet the full and unconditional approval of the CDC executive committee and all of those who have believed and supported my effort in these many years.
To preserve democracy, to prevent the present regime’s subtle and overt attempts to create a one-party state and perpetuate itself into power, I call on all members of the CDC, Liberty Party and other opposition parties to join this effort and save our common patrimony, Liberia.
Fellow partisans, I cannot fulfill our mission alone. I want to empower you, to unite you, to share your desire for growth and positive change. We can make it happen together. MUYAN, MUYAN, CDC MUYAN ! ! ! !.
Ambassador George Manneh Weah, Sr
Congress for Democratic Change, CDC
Pair flirted for years
Once rivals in the 2005 presidential elections, the pair flirted with the idea in the early days of the political season but failed to share the stage.
Brumskine rose to political prominence in the 1990s as an ally of Charles Taylor. When Taylor became President in 1997, Brumskine became President Pro Temp of the Senate. By 1999, however, they began feuding, and Brumskine fled the country after being threatened by Taylor’s supporters. He returned to Liberia in 2003 with plans to run in the scheduled 2003 presidential election. However, Taylor’s resignation that year and the installment of a two-year transitional government led to the elections being cancelled.
Brumskine received nearly 14% of the vote, 6% less than the second-place candidate, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and therefore was not able to participate in the runoff. He contested the results of the elections, becoming the only candidate to do so. Brumskine did not endorse Sirleaf or her opponent, Weah, in the runoff. In 2010, he announced his plans to challenge Sirleaf in the 2011 presidential elections.
Weah, in the 2005 elections obtained a plurality of votes in the first round of voting, garnering 28.3% of the vote and qualifying him to compete in a run-off election against Sirleaf, the second placed candidate. Weah, however, lost the run-off to Sirleaf on November 8, garnering only 40.6% to 59.4% for Sirleaf. Weah alleged that the election had been rigged through voter intimidation and ballot tampering, and many of his supporters protested the results in the streets of Monrovia. However, after assurances that the vote was fair several prominent African leaders called on Weah’s supporters to accept the result with grace and dignity, and Sirleaf became President.
In 2005, Weah was highly critical of those in the educated elite who say he is not fit to govern. “With all their education and experience, they have governed this nation for hundreds of years. They have never done anything for the nation.” However, after his lack of education hindered his political chances, Weah has since been pursuing a degree in Business Administration at DeVry University in Miami.
With the deal now appear to be secured both men with unsuccessful quest for the Liberian presidency have an opportunity to share a ticket many are predicting will present serious problems for the incumbent government, already bracing for a fight in Nimba County where former warlord Prince Johnson is gaining momentum.
Akinsanya in U.S. to seal deal
FrontPageAfrica has gathered that the Liberty Party Chairman Akinsanya flew in from Monrovia for last minute details on a deal that has been in the works for weeks. Under the deal, according to a copy of the agreement in FrontPageAfrica possession, Mr. Brumskine will become standard bearer and Mr. Weah his Vice. The coalition will likely take a nomenclature like CDC, retaining a brand name that is the number one political brand in the country. The two parties will invite the other opposition party at a round table to conclude a power sharing arrangement that will include all of the major opposition leaders and their lieutenants controlling the state for 6 years after the elections. The deal includes room at the table of the fledgling Democratic Alliance, of which Liberty is a member and Coalition for Democratic Change, a CDC bloc.
The agreement signed a year to next year’s voting follows a series of recent merger and coalition pairings by various political groupings in the post-war nation.
Weah, last year signed a communiqué with another 2005 Presidential rival Winston Tubman in which the pair agreed to work together to build a viable coalition. Tubman, who ran on the ticket of the National Democratic Party of Liberia was recently the political leader of the Liberian National Union(LINU). But Tubman’s political fortunes have since turned south. LINU recently gave the ambassador an ultimatum to resign from the party. The ultimatum expired Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010.
With much at stake in next year’s crucial elections, political observers and pundits will no doubt be looking to see whether Weah’s latest attempt at merger holds water. What most analysts agree, is that the potential of Brumskine-Weah would be appetizing political matchup for the incumbent Unity Party government. Although some still believe that the incumbent remains the candidate to beat, a Weah-Brumskine pairing could dominate voting play in vote-rich Montserrado and Grand Bassa County and the entire southeast and offer the opposition a chance to raise the political stakes, capital and financial support to counter a “formidable” force waiting in the wings.