The 2017 Election Pains: Coalition Suffers Another Resignation, As Key Member Quits

Amb. Nathaniel Banes

The Coalition Democratic Congress of Senators George Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor has again been hit by a thunderous storm of political lightning with the resignation of one of its founding members, Ambassador Nathaniel formerly of the National Patriotic Party (NPP).

Former Liberian Ambassador to the United States, Nathaniel Barnes of the NPP who was also a key player in the formation of the coalition Wednesday tendered his resignation from the Coalition.

“It has been an honor and pleasure to serve along with other patriots of the Coalition for Democratic Change to effectuate positive change in Liberia. My decision is driven purely by my personal motivations that may not be in consonance with the direction in which I see the Coalition is headed. ”

“I believe that the Coalition possesses the potential and the prospective constituency to win the 2017 Presidential and General Elections. However, in my humble opinion, given the current state of affairs of our republic, we as dedicated patriots, need to look beyond winning with focus on governance, justice, fairness and prosperity for all Liberians,” Barnes stated in his resignation letter.

Barnes contended in his resignation letter that his decision on leaving the Coalition is without prejudice to any individual or group of people as he attended and participated in all deliberations and strategy session.

“Thus I see a philosophical divergence that I do not feel can be reconciled within the limited time before elections,” he noted.

The former U.S. envoy is not the only member of the Coalition who has raised concerns over the veering from the original philosophy on which the Coalition was formed. He, however, did not state specifically how the Coalition has veered.

The standard bearer of the NPP, Senator Jewel Howard-Taylor and ex-wife of former president Taylor in response to Barnes’ resignation told the Liberia National Television Wednesday morning that it was not strange for partisans to leave their parties in Liberia.

According to her, unlike the American democracy, there is no loyalty to political processes and the political parties to which they belong.

But Barnes is not the only resigned member of the Coalition who has observed ‘sudden disregard’ to principles which they stood for.

In his resignation which took effect April 30 2017, the former Chairman of CDC USA, Jerry Gbardy, wrote:

“A few years ago, I made a conscious decision and signed up to be member of CDC because I subscribed to its core values, beliefs and principles which make it a grass root political party. I supported all its programs and projects financially and morally, firmly believing that it was the right thing to do.

Even though I cannot claim to be perfect, I try my hardest to let my utterances and interactions be guided by principles and integrity, the attributes I take with me to any organization that I am member of and CDC is no exception.

However, of late, I am seeing that the party is rapidly deviating from its core values and principles — one of which is emancipation of the downtrodden Liberian masses from poverty to prosperity — and becoming an elitist political party with a pay to play tag attached to it.

That label, along with institutional sycophancy, is stubbornly standing in the way of building the CDC as a strong and vibrant political institution.”

Gbardy’s resignation came in shortly after the Coalition announced the registration for the district primaries for partisans wanting to contest as Representatives in the October elections.

The “party of the masses” is charging US$1,250 as registration fees for the primaries.

The announcement of the ‘exorbitant’ fees came amid doubts on whether or not the party was going to hold the primaries, with speculations that certain district seats were already sold out to some splurging incumbents who want to ride on the party’s popularity in Montserrado County.

“Application fee for the primaries is US$1,250. Please deposit all fees in the Coalition for Democratic Change account at UBA Account: US$-53030310002029, LD$-53030310002010,” the announcement stated.

In addition to what some within the party term as “unreasonably high fees”, some partisans fear that the primaries would end up being another fiasco, alleging that some districts have already been betrothed to some aspirants – some of which are incumbents – that the party’s political leader George Weah feels indebted to.

A high placed source within the party informed FrontPage Africa that some of these individuals who have already engaged some districts financially and materially supported Weah during the 2014 senatorial election and now one good in turn deserves another.

But as the debate over the application fees is still ongoing, the party’s secretary general says the party does not see amount as unreasonably high as being claimed.

“I don’t believe this amount is high because we discussed it at all levels.”

“Hosting primaries are expensive and we are going to host primaries in every district. It is not a small thing organizing primaries in the district,” Kowo said.

“I haven’t heard anyone complaining that the amount is exorbitant, if they had problem they would have told us,” he added.

Kowo also debunked allegations that the CDC has already received money from some incumbents for specific seats as reported by various media outlets.

“This is a political process; if you’re contesting in a district where the incumbent is also contesting you need to be strong.”

“We have our own internal democratic process which everyone is subjected to, but this is politics, you need to be strong and prepared to go through it.”

“Those who think the primaries would be a fiasco should give us the benefit of the doubt. Why can’t they wait until we’re done with the primaries before they query us?”

According to him, contesting on CDC’s ticket is a halfway victory assurance; therefore, one would do anything to ensure that they appear on the party’s ticket.

“That’s what makes it politics, people would do whatever possible to make sure they appear on the ticket, but we have our own internal democratic process which everyone must abide by,” Kowo said.

The party’s strength is arguably reducing in Montserrado with the series of resignations of many youthful and overzealous partisans from the CDC in recent time.

The party has been rocked by series of resignations over the last two months. Political pundits believe this is a bad omen for a party which has emerged second in two consecutive presidential elections.

The resignations started with that of Grand Kru Senator Peter Coleman who, in his resignation letter, claimed that the CDC has gradually departed from its initial principles on which it was founded.

The Grand Kru lawmaker claimed that he finds it difficult to comprehend the decisions reached by the Executive Committee of the CDC and have found himself at loggerheads with the leadership.

“The most recent decision regarding the direction of the Party as it relates to the ensuing General and Presidential Elections has brought me at complete variance with the CDC,” he wrote.

“Mr. Chairman and members of the Executive Committee, it is in this light with profound regrets, I am officially resigning from the Congress for Democratic Change. I wish you, members of the Executive Committee and partisans of the CDC all the best in your future engagement.”

Senator Coleman joined the CDC in 2005. According to him, his membership was because he wholeheartedly embraced the principles, objectives, and goals of the Party.

The resignation of the party’s USA Secretary General was also a blow to the CDC. Laraamand S. Nyonton resigned from the party. He later announced his membership with the All Liberian Party.

Nyonton, who some members within the party see to being overly ambitious, indicated in his resignation letter that he was leaving the party because “unjustifiable consensus on certain party’s legislative seats for all current CDC lawmakers and non-partisan lawmakers who supported Ambassador Weah’s 2014 senatorial bid.”

CDC’s firebrand intellectual, Kanio Bai Gbala, about three weeks ago, also parted company with the coalition. He officially joined the Liberty Party – one of the opposition parties gaining momentum of late.

Kanio did not come clear with reasons leading to his resignation, but report has it that his departure was due to Weah’s preference of some non-partisans on the party’s ticket for the representative elections over long-time party members.

Like Kanio, Artoe Gkornea also exited the CDC. He served the party as the CDC-USA Chairman for the State of Arizona.

He also served the party in the capacities of CDC-USA National Executive Committee Member, Senior Strategist of the Global Fundraising Committee and Co-Chair of Planning and Strategy.

He wrote in his letter of resignation: “Even as I leave the Mighty Congress for Democratic Change, it remains a fact that this institution serves as the bastion of hope for thousands of impoverish Liberians. In fact, this was one of the reasons why I joined the CDC.

“However, I no longer see the CDC as the best alternative instrument for the genuine transformation of Liberia at this crucial moment in our nation’s history,” he stated in his resignation letter.

“As a citizen, I owe this decision to my country, and as a father, I owe it to my 2 years-old daughter.”

“Tomorrow, I want to look in the face of my beautiful daughter, Harriet, and proudly say ‘I did what I believed was the right thing to do’,” the resignation letter added.

Archie Sannor who was vibrant within the CDC last week joined the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), noting that he chose character over money.

“We have chosen character over money if we wanted to choose money then long time we would have joined some of these political parties that are engaging us to join them for car or money,” he stated.


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About Cholo Brooks 16156 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.