29 May 2017

Liberia: Urey Left in the Cold?

Photo: FrontPage Africa
Benoni Urey, a former ally of ex-Liberian president Charles Taylor.

The All Liberian Party (ALP) is somehow looking like a 'body without shoulders' as its much-heralded three-party Coalition with the Liberia National Union (LINU) and Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) is falling apart in thin air.

LINU which is headed by defeated 2014 Senatorial candidate, Nathaniel Blama, at the weekend announced its withdrawal from the anticipated Coalition. With the departure of LINU and the inconsistent stance of the MDR's Prince Johnson, ALP's political leader Benoni Urey also seems to be wallowing in the depth of 'cold,' as he watches one of his biggest dreams crumbling.

The three parties had been locked in serious efforts to solidify and legitimize an envisioned strong coalition ahead of the impending October 10, 2017 legislative and presidential elections.

They signed what was known as declaration of intent for a merger on April 21, 2017 at the headquarters of the MDR in Congo Town. The deal was shrouded around a common understanding that the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) would work out modalities required for holding a national convention to nominate the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the coalition.

The anticipated Coalition was intended to form a united front against the ruling Unity Party, to stop its presumptive Standard-bearer, Vice President Joseph Boakai from becoming president.

Prince Y. Johnson Retorts:

However, few days after appending his signature to the document, MDR's Johnson began to retort, citing several concerns. The first crumbling of the coalition came a day after the signing of the merger's declaration. This was a day the Sen. Johnson insisted that he sees no reason why he should be the leader after going through all of the requirements by the National Elections Commission (NEC) for legalizing their coalition.

Considered controversial, he maintained that he must become the head of the coalition. "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?" Sen. Johnson stressed.

He took the stance why the Joint Technical Committee was working out modalities for the envisaged convention. Sen. Johnson argued: "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?"

"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 also emphasized that Mr. Urey must demonstrate love for country by agreeing to go be second to him. Political experts saw Johnson's stance as the beginning of the end of the envisaged Coalition which Mr. Urey and his ALP warmly embraced and cherished.

LINU adds insult to injury

While endeavoring to address Sen. Johnson's concerns and how to save the coalition, LINU has added 'insult to injury' by pulling out. Over the weekend, Mr. Blama announced LINU's pullout from Coalition talks Mr. Benoni Urey's ALP and the MDR.

LINU officially withdrawn from the proposed Coalition with the ALP and the MDR, Political Leader, Blama said, basing the decision on delay by the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) to formulate a document that should have been presented to the National Elections Commission.

Blama asserted that following weeks of no account by the JTC, his party deemed it necessary to quit the process. He told a local radio that the party's primary objective is to support candidates in the representative elections, adding "the act may jeopardize the party's objective."

He maintains that the Party remains open to working with other Political Parties.

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