Source: The Analyst Liberia
While yet politically wet behind the ears, the standard-bearer emeritus of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Amb. George Weah, stunned the world and political analysts in Liberia when came first ahead of a pack of 22 contenders in the first round of the 2005 presidential race.
Yesterday’s trump becomes obstacle to patriotism
Thanks to his soccer legacy. He lost to candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in the runoff, but not before his CDC swept the parliamentary race and inundated the Legislature with green, mostly unpopular lackeys.
Now Weah wants to earn a political rave review by helping to streamline the opposition and keep Liberia’s democratic experiment alive. But he has happened upon a barricade, a barricade set by the weaklings he has promoted. “Can he overcome it, or will he yield?” is the question observers are asking.
The Analyst, reports.
CDC’s George Weah seems unlikely to realize his dream of joining the ranks of Liberia’s political trailblazing martyrs unless he abandoned his guidance angle role within CDC and concentrate on the party’s future and the political demands of the moment, The Analyst has discovered.
As there result of recent consultations he held with Diaspora CDC partisans in the US and elsewhere ahead of the 2011 presidential and general elections, Weah issued a statement, which shifted his previous position about political mergers, surprising political observers.
He announced that CDC would consider an electoral coalition with the Liberty Party (LP) of Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine and that more than that he was putting all options on the table regarding who heads the emerging political arrangement.
Two weeks later, Weah met Brumskine in Accra to make good on his promise to merge with LP – no strings attached.
But no sooner had Weah and Brumskine signed a communiqué committing themselves to the deal and vowing to use their personal charismas to bring other opposition parties on board than the CDC partisans began a rat race for Weah’s attention and support.
That attempt to form an electoral coalition with LP last week – with the high possibility of Weah becoming vice standard-bearer – has left him between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea.
A CDC insider, who preferred anonymity, said the party has literally split down the middle with one group threatening to leave the party if Weah went ahead to merge with Brumskine as his deputy.
The second group though believes that the merger is a political necessity because the nation counts on Weah’s willingness to sacrifice personal presidential ambition to help solve problems posed by the messy political playing field.
They believe that by doing this he will win political accolades and broaden his chances for the presidency in the future.
The insider said what is frightening is not that the party has split down the middle, as it had done so many times on so many issues, but that the resulting posturing, the timing, and the vehemence with which hidden manipulators within the CDC Executive Committee were competing for control of the grassroots was incomprehensible.
But just how polarized is the party along these lines?
Views from the “No Merger” divide
For the “No Merger” wing of the CDC merger ruckus, Weah was committing suicide by joining forces with Charles Brumskine, especially as second in political command.
Mwansloh Weah of New Kru Town summarized the feelings of this camp this way: “Weah can’t join Brumskine for two reasons. One, his party is bigger and more popular than Brumskine. Two, acting alone, he won the 2005 election before the people took it from him; we believe this time around he can win. He does not need Brumskine or anyone.”
Ms. Weah said they would have accepted the CDC-LP merger had Brumskine considered running as vice presidential candidate to Weah.
“How can a man who was tested and came out No. 1 amongst 22 candidates come second to a man who has never been tested at the poll before? Joining LP is like leaving certain for uncertain,” Ms. Weah told our reporter this week during a sampling of the opinions of CDC partisans on the merger question.
Another partisan, Aloysius J. Vohn of Sinkor said CDC joining LP would be the biggest mistake the party’s executive committee would make at the time when the party was at the point of winning the presidency.
“Weah does not have to run as vice presidential candidate to Brumskine in order to reduce the number of political parties. If Weah wants to take credit for harmonizing and reducing the size of the opposition to increase the chances of winning, all he needs to do is call a convention of all opposition parties and talk them into forming a single party with him as standard-bearer,” Vohn said.
Vohn, who did not only see how difficult a feat to achieve that would be, also failed to see Weah’s limitation in this regard, believed that was the easiest path for CDC to pursue compared with subordinating itself to parties that had not been tested politically.
Like Vohn, some grass rooters believe the LP-CDC merger was a plot designed by enemies of CDC to reduce Weah’s popularity to political prostitution.
They recalled that the scheme did not start with the recent Accra meeting but that the Accra meeting was the third and last straw that broke the camel’s back.
According to them, the first and second attempts to merge CDC with other parties without consulting the grassroots partisans was the Winston Tubman-orchestrated CDC-LINU merger attempt in Accra a year ago and the Brumskine-Brown engineered CDC-DA merger – DA being the fledgling political conglomeration, the Democratic Alliance of Liberia.
Even though all the attempts fell on the rocks because Weah insisted on being the standard-bearer of any configuration, the situation has now changed with Weah now conceding to the possibility of yielding to another political leader of lesser charisma.
“What really our standard bearer wants; to kill this party? We cannot go under any political party. We suffered for this party”, vowed another ‘no merger’ proponent.
A year ago, Weah would have responded to the question of keeping CDC alive with the avowal to march to the 2011 polls as a lone ranger, but he sees things from a more nationalistic perspective now, according to sources close to him.
Now that he has flown higher than his fellow partisans have, it remains to be seeing how he will handle the opposition to his political agenda, which political observers and some members of the international community say is within the direction of Liberia’s democratization formula.
Views from the “Merger” divide
“We trust Weah’s ability to win the presidency acting alone, but he cannot do so ignoring the problems facing the electoral process,” said secondary schoolteacher Mansfield Kwijay of Gardnersville.
He said greater than the interest of any one politician today in Liberia, including Weah, was the question of how to reduce the political parties in order to avoid runoffs, and even take the amendment of the absolute majority requirement for elective office off the referendum chart.
“Weah is a true son of this soil, and he is playing his cards well. He does not deserve the frustration those political weaklings calling themselves lawmakers are bringing to him. He has no choice, he must go ahead with the merger with LP,” Kwijay said.
He said it was high time those, who benefited from Weah’s popularity, stood on their own political two feet and spare him the extra burden of playing political guidance angel forever.
“If CDC merges with LP, there will be mutual benefits. LP will benefit from CDC’s popularity while CDC will benefit from the experience and expertise of the LP leadership. Together, they can draw other smaller parties to their camp,” he said.
Billy Williamson of the Omega Tower Community in Paynesville agreed, “We love Weah, but times have changed. So many things have happened since 2005 and no one is sure of the political chemistry anymore. Therefore, no one should overlook merger. If the leaders of LUP, LAP, and UP can forget their personal ambitions that went back so many years and passed through too many trials, why CDC cannot make the sacrifice? It is worth it – mainly for Weah’s political future and democratic future of Liberia.”
Williamson said those pushing the ‘no merger’ idea may claim to be doing so in the interest of the party, but that they were actually doing so to protect their own interests at the expense of Weah and CDC to the ultimate detriment of the nation.
“Those who are manipulating the grassroots partisans to oppose the merger are some CDC Executive Committee members currently in parliament who do not see their way through the elections without Weah,” claimed one insider who refused to name names.
He recalled the 2009 senatorial by-election during which CDC candidate Geraldine Doe-Sheriff quivered before UP’s Clemenceau Urey before winning the Montserrado County seat at the saving grace of Mr. Weah’s charisma.
“You know the people who are afraid of merger are those within the party that are counting on Mr. Weah’s popularity to win legislative seats, while Mr. Weah is left with nothing. In the absence of Weah campaigning with CDC legislative candidates, most of them will lose; so they need Weah,” he claimed.
He said the weaklings’ posturing was advised by fears that as vice presidential candidate in a CDC-LP coalition, Weah would have very little or no time to boost their campaigns for reelection.
But he said they would not succeed in their opposition to the merger because it was CDC and Weah’s ultimate challenge of the moment as a front-runner opposition party.
“He has come to the realization that politics requires experience based in governance skills, skills obtained not through textbooks and escapism politics. The time has come that some politicians in CDC who have nothing to offer will not be allowed to use the ambassador’s popularity for their personal interests,” CDC-diehard partisan Williamson, 50, said.
It would not take a genius to expose the hollowness in the standpoint of the “No Merger” group, but CDC insiders say before that happened, Weah needs to reassure of reelection – not recommit to having them reelected – those he brought to political eminence on the bandwagon of his popularity.
Unless Weah committed himself to nationalism and left alone those who are preoccupied with self-aggrandizement to row their own canoes, in the insiders’ view, CDC was unlikely to stand up to be counted amongst mature opposition political institutions in the country.
Standing up to be counted amongst mature opposition political institutions, in the view of some CDC partisans, means reaching out to other parties to solve problems posed to the smooth conduct of the 2011 elections.
Key amongst these problems, which they say are actually obstacles to the democratization of postwar Liberia, is the messy political playing field and price tag that comes with it.
In order to maintain its populist posture, observers say, CDC has no option but to go with the rest of the political trailblazers in reducing the number of opposition parties in order to save Liberia from a future minority rule.
But for now whether CDC joins the trailblazer pack or go alone will depend, to a larger extent, on how Weah handles the emerging divide by quickly preventing yesterday’s trump card from becoming today’s obstacle to patriotism.