Liberia: ‘Some Opposition Leaders Lack Courage to Speak’
Cummings, surrounded by his supporters as they march to the Samuel K. Doe Sports Complex, where the ‘We Tiyah Suffering’ rally was held on December 17, 2022.
The Collaborating Political Parties has thrown jibes at some opposition leaders, saying the silence of those who want to lead this country at the very difficult time is worrisome.
This came as former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, two of the country’s leading opposition figures, refused to support the CPP’s ‘We Tiyah Suffering’ protest (rally), which was the first opposition-led protest against President George Weah’s government in nearly three years.
Support from Boakai and Gongloe would have given the December 17 protest a unified opposition identity, while presenting a unified position of underlying ideological affinity or shared consensus. However, that clout was lacking, making the protest, which was held to criticize the Weah administration for the extreme hardship and poor governance in the nation, solely a CPP initiative.
It also revealed a significant ideological gap between the country’s leading opposition figures on how best to hold Weah accountable in the wake of the 2023 elections.
“The silence of those who want to lead this country at this very difficult time in the history of our country would tell you how far they are prepared to go to be your leader,” said Musa Bility, as he joined Lewis Brown, a former Minister of Information, to throw jibes at his colleagues in opposition for not supporting support or gracing the protest (rally).
The CPP Chair complained to hundreds of supporters, who had gathered at the SKD Complex for the protest about the lack of opposition leaders’ support, saying they “are defining themselves ahead of the 2023 polls.”
The CPP, ahead of the protest, expressed surprise at certain members of the opposition community criticizing their choice to hold “a peaceful protest, which the CPP has claimed is in the interest of the public on the grounds that the CPP does not have the moral rectitude to do so,”, especially with Brown as a leader.
And so when Bility had the chance to speak to hundreds of party supporters, he did not mince his words while expressing frustration about the lack of opposition ownership of the protest.
“The nation is in a challenging time, but it is up to you Liberians to choose the type of leadership you desire. All we have done is identify the individuals most qualified to forge a new future. The CPP has provided the platform, but it is your decision that will give us the authority to do so,” Bility told the protesters.
However, despite CPP’s complaints, only two smaller parties — People’s Liberation Party (PLP) and the United People’s Party (UPP) endorsed the protest. However, getting the backing of some larger parties including the former ruling Unity Party was met with stiff rejection.
The support from the PLP and UPP, while smaller parties, gives the CPP protest some opposition credibility. But it did not alter the public’s perception that it was solely a CPP initiative. The protest, while peaceful, did not draw as large a crowd as planned. It started with a walk from the CPP headquarters at Catholic Junction to the SKD Sports Complex.
Alexander Cummings, the Standard Bearer of the CPP, was part of the walk. He was joined by his wife Theresa, the protest chief organizer Lewis Brown, and other leading figures within the party.
While walking, no placards were visible, however, the CPP supporters were singing and dancing to songs critical of the current administration, with the majority of them chanting, “Liberians are suffering, and now is the time for a change.”
The police provided unrestricted access to those who had gathered at the protest ground from other locations in Montserrado County. The protest, which the CPP promised would be a peaceful rally, ended on a peaceful note.
Meanwhile, the Liberian National Police has disclosed that a man was arrested for possessing a firearm iIllegally, which he had with him at the “CPP Rally.” The police name the alleged suspect as Justin Zigbuo.”
“Suspect Zigbuo is currently detained at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police, undergoing investigation,” the police said in a statement.
Speaking later on, Cummings, in his pitch to a few hundred potential voters, touting what is to come when he becomes president, made promises to uphold rule of law, job creation and good governance.
Cummings added that people are suffering in Liberia but, with him as President, the country will be better with numerous opportunities created, saying he will give no excuse for failing to live up to the expectations of the electorate and all others residing in the country.
“I want to make a few promises to you today and I want this to be recorded,” he said. “When we take over the leadership of our country, we will restore good governance to our country. We will restore the rule of law. We will restore economic growth and prosperity to the Liberian people.”
“We will create a Liberia where every Liberian will have the same opportunity; where we will get rid of the ‘big shots business’ (people getting unfair advantage over others). We will create a Liberia where everyone will have access to equal opportunities and that the choice will be for anyone to decide what he or she does with the opportunity given him or her.”
Cummings noted that his vision is for a Liberia where stealing will no longer be the other of the day, so that opportunities are created for everyone, which is key in ending poverty.
The former Coca-Cola executive then released a caveat that nobody should support to become president simply because they want to be someone with influence.
“If you want for us to come and work together, sacrifice so we can change our country for the benefit of every Liberian, please come and support,” he beckoned, stressing that 2023 will be a time ripe enough to make President Weah a one term President. “President Weah has miserably failed the country within five years of Governance as such, he should not be given another chance in the 2023 elections.”
Cummings, however, did not fail to realize that the decision is vested in the voters and that they are the only ones who can make the decision of electing, reelecting or not electing or reelecting anyone.
Meanwhile, Brown, who is a senior advisor to Cummings, in his remarks chastised non-participating opposition leaders, saying they lack the courage to speak for the Liberian people.
According to Brown, voters should see that only Cummings cares for their plight and is always around speaking against ills in society while seeking the public interest.
“There are opposition leaders who lack the courage to speak for the Liberian people and, as such, voters should be aware of them and remember that Cummings is always around and speaking against ills in society,” Brown said.
He however accused the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of creating fear and intimidation tactics in an effort to see to it that the rally did not meet its purpose, “but the government failed.”