Monrovia-Liberia, BENONI UREY of the All-Liberia Party (ALP) must be patting himself on the back for his political manoeuvering and enjoying what he must think is a “boost” to his injured ego.
WHAT IS KNOWN
In Liberia, among international organizations and governments knowledgable of the country’s war past, especially the United States of America is that Urey holds numerous insecurities surrounding his lack of credibility, the obscure sources, and overstated size of his wealth along with his dark past dating back to the Liberian civil war – ( which he tried to cover-up in this 2017 interview with Forbes) all of which expose the weakness and impunity in Liberia politics and can easily be exploited by Liberia’s enemies both foreign and domestic.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Urey, finding himself in an excellent position to wreak the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has jumped at the freely allowed opportunity not just to diminish the CPP electoral confidence and trust but to also lay waste on Liberia political established order for revenge of Charles Taylor’s imprisonment and to light the matchstick that would turn to ashes the hard negotiated vision of the opposition political parties.
Mr. Urey falsely accused Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) of “tampering with the framework document of the CPP”, potentially dealing a direct but weak blow to Cummings’ position in the CPP which send waves across the Liberian political spectrum. This direct, surprise attack on Cummings greatly harmed Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai’s reputation and image, who at the time was to be preparing to take over the rotating chairmanship of the CPP. When the CPP committee appeared to have concluded without the full consent of their lawyers, that such “tampering did in fact occur” – Sen. Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence of the Liberty Party (LP) publicly accused Cummings of doing so (which he has strongly denied), it appeared as if Urey was getting away with a political win finally.
Front Page Africa reported that amid the allegation that he altered the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Framework Document and that he should own up to it, Mr. Alexander Cummings challenged the at the time out-going chairman of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence to refrain from the act of deception and submit the investigative findings and the ANC’s dissent to the CPP lawyers for validation as agreed in their leadership meeting.
According to the report, Mr. Cummings stated that “If the lawyers confirm that the provisions of the Framework document submitted by the ANC to NEC are materially and substantially different from the amendments made by the lawyers and approved by the parties, then I will apologize to the Liberian people and take full responsibility. However, if the lawyers find that what is filed at NEC is materially and substantially the same as the provisions in their Amendments, Benoni Urey and Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence must apologize, not only to me but also to the Liberian people for intentionally misleading them and threatening to destroy the CPP.”
As of the date of this reporting, the CPP leadership now headed by former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who is also the Unity Party’s standard-bearer has either not submitted the investigative findings and the ANC’s dissent to the CPP lawyers for validation or has but refused to subsequently release a full and honest publication of the Lawyers conclusion to the Liberian people for fear it would expose the collusion against Cummings and damage the trust in the collaboration.
Is following a dangerous political playbook Liberians have seen before. Urey has for years voiced conflicting support for Joseph N. Boakai of the Unity Party (UP) and his bid for the presidency in 2023 and Boakai accepted despite being fully aware of Urey’s two-face acts, UN-sanction record, and TRC rap sheet as a result of his participation in illegal gunrunning for the now-imprisoned former president Charles Taylor. Boakai has also been aware of the false accusation against Cummings which is if nothing else, an effort to demonstrate loyalty to Boakai while sowing distrust about Cummings within the CPP.
Accusing Cummings of manipulating the CPP framework documents was, if nothing else, an effort to demonstrate loyalty to Boakai while sowing distrust about Cummings within the CPP
WHAT IS MORE
Mr. Urey was surely aware that such accusations may just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and leads to the collapse of the CPP( which is now a “heightened possibility” if the CPP does not take careful, calculated next steps) – an already fragile coalition lacking political cohesion and featuring countless internal disagreements. One needs not look any further than the controversy over the handing over ceremony of the CPP’s leadership to Boakai which the ANC and elements of the LP boycotted.
MANY LIBERIANS NOW WONDER whose political playbook Urey has gravitated toward, to not only set ablaze the CPP but also damage the Liberia political order in revenge for Charles Taylor’s imprisonment. A few months ago, many Liberians thought Urey’s actions were in support of Joseph N. Boakai but political analysts in recent days have begun to speculate that the threads of Benoni’s actions and motives do not support that premise anymore.
WHAT HISTORY SAYS
It’s not the first time political actors have come head to head with Urey’s playbook and its effects on the structured unity and vision of major political collaboration. In 2017 as in 2021, talks of alliances and collaboration to take on the incumbent ruling Unity Party (UP), headed at the time by the same standard-bearer Joseph N. Boakai dominated the political landscape, culminating in a document known as The Ganta Declaration; in which Political parties agreed to collaborate honestly and work together, toward victory. The formation, the brainchild of Warlord Prince Y. Johnson and US sanctioned Senator of Nimba County. The declaration was signed in September 2016 and brought together about 20 opposition political parties who signed a communiqué to form a common political collaborative front ahead of the October 2017 presidential elections.
The Collaborating parties, led by the late Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party, George Weah (now president of Liberia) and his Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the newcomer Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress, Senator Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), and Mr. Benoni Urey of the All-Liberia Party (ALP), at the time, appeared to be a strong statement of intent to challenge the ruling UP establishment.
In only a matter of weeks, the Ganta Declaration was dead.
The sticking point according to political analysts in Liberia was centered around the fact that all of the four political parties were angling to pitch the idea of either one of them heading the ticket with George Weah serving as the vice president.
In trying to configure a ticket, ALP’s Urey harshly alleged that the idea of the collaboration was being centered around Charles Brumskine and George Weah, which in the end proved false, like in the case of the “tempering of Framework document.”
Most importantly, Mr. Urey according to sources, felt that formulating a collaboration just to put George Weah and Charles Brumskine together was unjustified. This seed of doubt and disruption sowed by Urey in the collaboration led to the belief and subsequent suggestion that the entire collaboration was a setup, upending the brainchild of Prince Y. Johnson. Urey raised a lot of roadblocks and was engaged in a near-fistfight with the late Brumskine in the home of Senator Johnson.
Political analysts in Liberia have hinted that Urey’s playbook tactics were specifically against Charles Brunskine and Prince Y. Johnson in revenge for Charles Taylor’s dethronement and imprisonment.
Believe that Urey’s present disruption effort and sowing seed of disruption and distrust in the CPP is simply to eliminate Alexander Cumming, a strong candidate, weaken Boakai and anyone who has a committed belief and actionable support for the advocacy of War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia out of political possibilities.
Other analysts believe there is a deeper, sinister reason for Urey’s behavior, especially now that the United States Government is closing in on negotiation, the establishment of the court, and prosecution of TRC indicted individuals.
THE REAL BENEFICIARY
Is none other than the current occupant in the Executive Mansion, who might be shocked at his good fortune. Weah and the CDC are watching, negotiating, and collaborating as its biggest threat in 2023 engages in self-destruction – a process propagated by Mr. Benoni Urey. It’s almost too perfect, like the House of Cards political thriller.
Like Donald Trump with whom he has favorably compared himself, loves to feel that he is winning at all cost. Unfortunately for the CPP, Urey is the gift to George Weah that keeps on giving. There’s no mistake here – Boakai and Cummings are getting played and it’s just now they are beginning to realize it.
THE ROAD TO PRESIDENCY QUESTION
Who benefits from Urey throwing dangerous open-air tantrums and damaging accusations on an opposition coalition already full of mutual disagreements? Who will benefit from the collapse of the CPP?
It is definitely not Benoni Urey, who finds himself in the awkward position of wanting to be seen as “supporting” Joseph N. Boakai and at the same time doing all he can do to pour verbal sulfuric acid on the political stability of the CPP; which Boakai so desperately needs if he is to have a shot at the presidency in 2023.
Will a strongly reconciled and strategically cohesive CPP be capable of winning in 2023 despite Urey’s recent-second disruption?
Urey is the gift to George Weah that keeps on giving