>Source: All Africa
Following more than three years of futile efforts to merge the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) with mainstream political parties and replace its founder and standard-bearer emeritus, soccer legend Amb. George Manneh Weah, partisans have finally managed to pull a partial success. If the verdict of the party’s last week Kakata Convention is not otherwise overturned, CDC is going to the presidential polls later this year with a non-partisan at the helm! The Analyst’s J. Edwood N. Dennis, reports.
After three days of grueling contentions and maneuvering, partisans of CDC have decided to go to the presidential polls later this year, hooting LINU’s standard-bearer Winston Tubman as presidential candidate and George Weah as vice presidential candidate.
The more than 250 certified CDC convention delegates drawn from across the country made the decision during the party’s national convention held over the weekend in Kakata, Margibi County.
CDC’s Tubman-Weah ticket, delegates are convinced, will present a formidable challenge to the reelection bid of President Johnson-Sirleaf.
But the decision was not as easy to come as it sounds plausible to some partisans and observers who believe that institutional merger or coalitions would help reduce the number of presidential candidates and cut down the possibility of runoff, which election officials say is likely to consume more than 60% of the nation’s 2011 election budget.
How it happened
Following hours of debate over the admission of Mr. Tubman as partisan and on a CDC ticket, given that he was not a partisan, the moment finally came for democracy and majority rule to take precedence over sentiment.
Montserrado County delegate, C. Max Doryen, hooted several crowd-rousing battle cries and moved to nominate Cllr. Tubman for standard-bearer.
No sooner had Doryen taken his seat and his supporter quieted down than long-time Weah for president diehard, CDC General Secretary, Acarious Gray, took to the podium to nominate Weah, appealing to delegates’ sense of party loyalty, commitment to continuity, gratefulness to Weah’s sacrifice, and the sanctity of CDC constitution.
Weah’s nomination was embraced with resounding applauses, accompanied by strings of battle cries that reminded delegates of Weah’s days in 2005 as the lone ranger who rocked the political machinery of UP and sent fear down the spines of mainstream politicians and their international backers at the time.
But if political battle cries are known to translate into votes, the CDC convention did not uphold that; rather, it taught a lesson that this year’s eligible voters for the presidential and legislative elections will do well to learn: it is eligible votes cast, not battle cries and the size or rowdiness of campaign turnouts that do the trick.
But that was before Weah let the cat out of the bag, telling delegates that what they were about to witness was predetermined.
Mounting the podium and looking over the audience, the Liberian soccer legend turned politician, acknowledged speculations that the upcoming voting process was “stage-managed”. He declared that he had voluntarily decided to relinquish the post of standard-bearer of CDC.
The CDC standard-bearer emeritus told partisans that it was with a heavy heart that he was addressing the occasion
“It is with a heavy heart that I address you all today, but also one of enthusiasm and hope. Heavy because we have bonded and built emotional ties along the way with me as your leader, which is hard to envision changing but portion of hope and enthusiasm is bigger because it gives us a chance to evolve our relationship,” Weah said.
He said CDC was larger than any one partisan, including himself, and that therefore its existence, rather than the political obsession of its leaders, should be the concern of every partisan.
The CDC founding chairman then promised to work with CDC partisans here and abroad to bring success and promote it to nobler heights, which befit the dreams and aspirations the people of Liberia.
As he spoke, the otherwise lively crowd sank into grieve. Even tough-talking Acarious Gray, was seen breaking down in tears, clutching party chairperson, Madam Geraldine Doe- Sherif, who sat next to him.
By then, Weah’s tune has become unsteady and incoherent as tear welled up his eyes, tried as he did to put up a brave face, while he pledged to uphold the rule and laws of the party to his death.
Following the speech of the CDC political marksman, voting got underway with no doubt left in any delegate that it was about endowing Tubman with the gavel of CDC on silver platter than about putting majority rule to work – about the power of caucus over majority rule.
When the result of the vote was finally tallied and presented to the delegates, 118 delegates wanted Tubman to lead their party to the poll while 111 chose Weah.
Prior to the commencement of the nomination process, CDC delegates voted overwhelmingly through a special committee to repel and amend a portion of the party’s constitution that required a three or more year’s partisanship for anyone vying for party leadership. The amendment qualified Cllr. Tubman to contest and hold the standard-bearer position of CDC.
An exhilarated Tubman assured delegates after the election that he was ready to lead the party to victory and beyond that, meet the challenges facing the nation.
He hailed Amb. Weah for taking steps that would be difficult for any Liberian politician to take, stressing that his acceptance of competition as well as defeat affirmed him a true patriot and unifier in Liberia.
For her part, CDC chairperson Sherif told partisans and Cllr. Tubman that the day was dawn in the CDC, especially as Liberians were awaiting the 2011 elections with eagle eyes.
She noted that the party would work with him as it did with Mr. Weah to ensure victory in the 2011 elections