In Liberia, seven opposition political parties have announced they are forming a Grand Coalition to challenge the ruling Unity Party of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in next year’s election.
The seven parties include the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of football legend George Weah, and two former ruling parties – the True Whig Party and the National Democratic Party of Liberia of former President Samuel Doe.
Winston Tubman, leader of the opposition Liberia National Union (LINU), one of the seven parties in the new Grand Coalition, said the aim of the coalition is to form a common front to unseat the ruling Unity Party.
“In about a year ago, CDC and LINU signed a communiqué in Accra (Ghana) and the aim of that was to bring other opposition parties together aiming at coming up with a united ticket in the election of 2011. Now we have expanded it, and we have seven parties, and we hope, by the time we get to the election, we will have as many of the opposition together because, in our view, the best chance of prevailing in the election is by bringing the opposition together as much as possible,” he said.
In 1985, three opposition parties formed an alliance to challenge then President Samuel Doe, but they claimed at the time that Doe rigged the election.
Another attempt at coalition building was made prior to the election of 2005.
Tubman hoped this time around the coalition of seven parties would have an impact on the 2011 election.
He said the new coalition has not decided yet who would be its standard bearer.
“We don’t know now, but the aim is that we will have a continuation of this effort, and, in the end, we will have a ticket, a presidential candidate and a vice presidential candidate will emerge from this effort,” Tubman said.
The new coalition of seven parties being proposed does not include Liberty Party leader Charles Brumskine, who came third in the 2005 presidential election.
Tubman said the coalition would welcome any other opposition party, including that of Mr. Brumskine.
“The aim is to bring as many opposition parties together and Mr. Brumskine’s Liberty Party is the first party that we will seek to get on board as well,” he said.
One of the tough political questions likely to confront any party hoping to contest next year’s election is what would be that party’s position on the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
“Speaking for myself and speaking for LINU, we would like to see those recommendations coming from the TRC implemented. By the time we get to the election, all the parties remaining and forming part of the Grand Coalition will be speaking with one voice on the various issues that will be put before the Liberian people in the election,” Tubman said.
Progressive Democratic Party (PRODEM) of former rebel leader Sekou Damate Konneh is one of the seven parties forming new the Grand Coalition.
The TRC final report recommends all warring faction leaders be prosecuted because of the atrocities that they or their groups allegedly committed during Liberia’s civil war.
Tubman said Liberians want to move forward from the war.
“Lots of people were involved in lots of things in the past. But, if we want to move away from the past to a more united future, we are taking all the Liberian parties that are here, we’re to bring as many of them on board as possible,” Tubman said.