On 27 May, Alexander Cummings, the standard bearer of the CPP announced Charlyne Brumskine as his running mate. His choice cements the partnership between his party, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the Liberty party (LP) who both make up the CPP.
Despite being new to politics, Brumskine, a lawyer and professor, enjoys considerable political goodwill as she is the daughter of the late lawyer and politician Charles Brumskine. The elder Brumskine, who was very popular, ran for the presidency in 2017, coming in third in the first round.
While the CPP with its inaugural four members saw significant success, alleged disagreements over the process of choosing who will head the CPP ticket led to the Unity party and All Liberia People party leaving the coalition.
Like the ANC, the Unity party also entered a new alliance last month when its standard bearer, former vice president Joseph Boakai, selected Senator Jeremiah Koung as his running mate.
Koung is a senator and former representative from the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR) party. The MDR party, which has its foothold in the vote-rich Nimba – the second most populous county in Liberia – was founded by former warlord-turned-politician Prince Johnson who still has considerable influence in the party.
MDR was formerly in a six-year alliance with the ruling party – Coalition of Democratic Change – when they supported president Weah in the second round of the 2017 elections. However, in recent times, Johnson has fallen out with the CDC over rumored insufficient allocation of jobs to his partisans.
Although Taiwon Gongloe of the Liberia Peoples Party has not announced a running mate yet, sources say his team is in talks with Clarence Moniba of the Liberia National Union (LINU) party for a possible coalition in the upcoming elections.
The choice of running mates from across political party lines highlight the importance of coalitions and alliances within Liberia’s political sphere. Since 2006, no party has attained the legally required 50 percent +1 to win the presidency outright in the first round. As a result, parties have either had to form coalitions, merge, or align in the second round in other to stand a better chance of winning.
With the multiplicity of parties, those who form smart and broad-based coalitions are likely to win huge shares of the vote
The ruling party, CDC, is itself a coalition between three parties. Both the CDC and the Unity party needed the support of the MDR in the second round of elections to win the presidency in 2005, 2011 and 2017 respectively.
“Coalitions and alliances are very important in contemporary Liberian politics. With the multiplicity of parties, those who form smart and broad-based coalitions are likely to win huge shares of the vote,” says Ibrahim Nyei, a Liberian researcher and political analyst at the Ducor Institute for Social and Economic Research in Liberia.
“The coalitions come in many forms – they range from party, and social networks to ethnic and regional. A mix of these elements most often determine[s] the winner of the presidential election,” he tells The Africa Report.
Changes and challenges
With elections set for October, all parties will be looking to increase their alliances. In March, six opposition parties signed a resolution to join the ruling CDC. The parties included the following:
- People’s Liberation Party (PLP),
- Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE),
- Union of Liberian Democrats (ULD),
- United People’s Party (UPP),
- Redemption Democratic Congress (RDC) and
- Change Democratic Action (CDA).
The opposition is also expected to enlarge their alliances in the coming weeks.
Alliances have come with their own challenges as well. While the Liberty party is currently part of the CPP alliance, a breakaway faction has endorsed Joseph Boakai. The faction includes sitting lawmakers led by former political leader Nyonblee Kangar Lawrence.
The National Executive Committee of the opposition Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) recommended the expulsion of three senior partisans including Wildfred Bangura, the deputy minister of commerce.
Bangura and two others had endorsed the ruling party.
President George Weah also dismissed Cooper Kruah as minister of post and telecommunications because he attended a rally organised by the opposition Unity Party. Kruah is the chairman of the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR).
“While the coalitions have made the different opposition groups stronger, President Weah remains the frontrunner. This is due to the strength of his own coalition, the power of incumbency and the fact that the four main opposition parties are split between two opposition coalitions,” Joshua Kulah, a lawyer and political science lecturer at United Methodist University in Monrovia, tells The Africa Report.
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