MONROVIA – Two elite members of Liberia’s opposition bloc held talks on Thursday for the first time since the 2017 presidential election, in an apparent attempt to form a collaboration ahead of this year’s presidential election.
Joseph Boakai of Unity Party (UP) and the founding political leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), Senator Prince Johnson of Nimba County, met at Boakai’s residence in Monrovia.
Details of the meeting are still scanty but the UP in a press release Thursday said: “The two leaders discussed the current poor state of national governance by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-led government and the future of Liberia. They, however, agreed that at a later date, they will inform the public of the details to their discussions.”
“Both leaders, however, agreed that at a later date, they will inform the public of the details to their discussions. At the close of the meeting and on a warm handshake of brotherhood, both the the former vice president and Senator Johnson promised they will continue their healthy consultations periodically as political events unfold in the country.”
According to one source, Thursday’s meeting will be followed by similar meetings at least two to three more times. Our source also told this paper that there were series of consultations among women leaders of various opposition political parties Thursday.
“Consultations are ongoing, and the women folks of all opposition political parties are also embarking on the campaign for the united front after they all agreed that there is a dire need for an alliance,” the source added.
Boakai’s meeting with Senator Johnson comes a month after the Nimba senator said he was ending his political marriage with President Weah because the president failed to provide jobs for Nimbaians (residents of the county) in exchange for the support for Weah’s 2017 Presidential bid.
The senator said he is optimistic that the people of Nimba will not support Weah in October. “The people are not happy,’’ he said. In 2017, Weah promised to appoint Nimba citizens to top ministerial posts, managing directors and ambassador positions. The government is in its sixth year and President Weah has failed to live up to his promise.”
Senator Johnson called President a “Promise breaker.’’ He said the Liberian leader only appointed his people from the southeast, ignoring the vote-rich Nimba County.
The October presidential election, which will see incumbent President George Weah seeking a second term of office, will bring together what analysts say is a fragmented opposition, whose members have no option but to unite in order to pose a threat to Weah’s ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.
Boakai has insisted he would not rule out the possibility of an opposition alliance ahead of the forthcoming elections. “I did not hold it against any party leader for expressing his intention to contest the election under his party ticket, because I believe that they all formed parties in order to contest elections,” he said.
The UP standard bearer, however, said there exists the possibility of an opposition alliance. Boakai, who returned from the United States of America recently, told Liberians that even a month in politics could shape the whole destiny of a people, if the right decisions and actions are taken.
“The subject of establishing a united front is not a new idea. We started our campaign for a united front years ago.
According to Boakai, the reason the UP subscribe to a united front is because of their realization that the results of the 2017 elections reveal that voter apathy has gripped the Liberian electorate.
Thursday’s meeting between Boakai and Sen. Johnson appears to have given hope to some members of the opposition of a possible collaboration ahead of the October presidential election.
Terrance Ferguson, a member of UP, posted on Facebook, saying: “This meeting opens the door for another meeting between the two leaders and that meeting will further close the distance between them.”
Jerry Forkpah, another UP partisan, said: “It’s not fair for people to expect that one meeting will solve all problems,” he said, adding that all sides agreed knows the importance of an opposition collaboration.
Meanwhile, some members of CDC dubbed the meeting between Boakai and Sen. Johnson as a “photo opportunity”, alleging both leaders don’t trust each.