Monrovia — The controversial merger has been consummated - signed by all three parties, but the big question remains: "Who will lead the coalition, Urey or Prince Johnson, or, perhaps, Nathaniel Blama?"
The declaration of intent for a merger was signed by the three parties - Benoni Urey's All Liberian Party (ALP), Senator Prince Y. Johnson's Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR) and Nathaniel Blama's Liberia National Union (LINU) - last Friday, April 21, 2017 at the headquarters of the MDR in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
The deal was sealed with a common understanding that the Joint Technical Committee would work out modalities required for holding a national convention to nominate the Presidential and vice Presidential of the anticipated coalition.
The coalition needs to meet the certification of the National Elections Commission and the Joint Technical Committee is yet to commence its work, but Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson says there is no reason why he mustn't head the coalition.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica in a telephone interview over the weekend, Senator Johnson said, "I must go first. Mr. Urey has no political experience, so I can't go under him. I have contested elections. I contested the senatorial elections twice and won.
"I came third in the Presidential elections in 2011. I am a member of the ECOWAS Parliament. How can I go second to Urey?" - Senator Prince Y. Johnson."
Two days before signing the declaration of intent, Sen. Johnson told FrontPageAfrica he had no idea of any plan to merge with the ALP as he, being a native, could not subject himself to a non-native like Urey.
He told FPA earlier: "I've been receiving calls that I have agreed to go under Benoni Urey to be his running mate; for god sake, I am one of the key indigenous sons and continues to preach indigenous leadership as opposed to minority leadership. For one hundred and some years, we have always cooperated with them.
"They are in leadership and they're always taking country boys to be VP to them.
"But I think it is about time we compromise, we politically reconcile so that they can be seen under a country boy, then I would know that Liberia is moving on the right trajectory," he said.
However, his somersaulting and initial stance on the merger with Urey, Sen. Johnson said the other parties in the coalition took the "document" to him and after he reviewed the document, he agreed with the vision and decided to affix his signature.
"I am the father of the coalition. I was the one that brought 12 political parties together in Ganta for the purpose of coalition. So I'm ready to form coalition with any opposition political party," he said.
He, however, said even as the Joint Technical Committee is working out modalities for the convention, he must be first on the ticket.
"I have the numbers. Mr. Urey may have money, but I have the numbers. If he means well for this country then he must act like Jewel Howard Taylor.
She's more educated than Weah, she's more experienced than Weah, but she humbled herself to go under Weah.
"Mr. Weah and I are the two most popular people in this country so how do you expect me to go under somebody?"
Senator Johnson emphasized that Mr. Urey must demonstrate love for country by agreeing to go as running mate to him in the coalition.
The Declaration of Intent
The three parties in their declaration of intent noted that the coalition was necessary primarily because opposition political figures kept pursuing their individual objectives and ambitions while Liberians continued to "endure the failed, inhumane policies and corrupt practices of the Unity Party Administration we have decided that now is the time to embark upon a new course of action for the Opposition Community and the suffering People of Liberia."
"in this regard, we, the above listed Political Parties putting our differences aside, in pursuance of the supreme national interest of our Nation, do hereby, today, authorize the Joint Technical Committee (JTC), with its membership from each Political Parties, to embark on formulating a final comprehensive and winnable strategy and bring forward this said plan to the Joint National Executive Committee of the All Liberian Party (ALP), the Liberian National Union (LINU) and the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) for endorsement on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 at the National Headquarters of the MDR at the hour of 2:00pm.
"Understandably, said Technical Committee is also charged with the mandate to work out modalities required for the holding of a National Convention to nominate the Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates of the anticipated coalition as soon as it is approved by the National Elections Commission (NEC) in the soonest possible time frame."
The First Attempt Failed
In September 2016, Prince Johnson led an array of 12 political parties to Ganta to discuss what should have become Liberia's biggest coalition of opposition political parties in the October elections.
The meeting arose hopes that the opposition parties were ready to galvanize their material and financial resources collaboratively to ensure that the ruling establishment is unseated.
However, the formulation of the coalition did not come to fruition after the talks.
The deal died within 48 hours after a cease fire agreement was breached by Charles Brumskine's Liberty Party and Urey's ALP with supporters of both parties throwing jibes at each other.