Opposition skeptical about President’s proposed forum; terms move as mere photo-op

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Monrovia- Since the inauguration of President George Weah, the opposition has been keeping the government on its heels at every opportunity they get; criticizing almost every move of the CDC-led government, which in essence is their constitutional right. 

Dubbed the most sophisticated opposition in Liberia’s history, members of the opposition have been propounding several points against the a national forum proposed by President Weah between the Government of Liberia and the Opposition. Many partisans of the new political collaboration which comprise of the Unity Party, Alternative National Congress and the Liberty Party have penned many points since the Executive Mansion made the announcement. Abe Darius Dillon of the Liberty Party was quick to point out past criticism from the CDC when Liberty Party honored requests from President Sirleaf regime for cooperation between her administration and the opposition.

His Excellency, George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia

Mr. Dillon said, several times when President Sirleaf asked the opposition to meet for the purpose of seeking ideas on fostering peace and reconciliation, the CDC boycotted on grounds that the former President wanted a photo album. The Liberty Party stalwart said, he is wondering why the same CDC who called them “regime collaborators” are the ones inviting the opposition to a forum.

Joseph k. Vallai of the Unity Party, in a sarcastic tone asked , “With whom are we going to sit? Those who labeled us enemies of the state”?, the last sentence referring to statement made by some members of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.

Boakai Jaleiba, another stalwart of the Unity Party labeled the moved as a photo-op aimed at creating a photo gallery at the Executive Mansion for the purpose presenting a picture of reconciliation and varying views. Mr. Jaleiba, a former official of the Ministry of Youth and Sports under President Sirleaf’s regime said, the government’s developmental plan has already been penned and whatever plan they have developed, will be used as the benchmark of the its operation for the next 5-years. He added, “There is no guarantee that suggestions made in that meeting will be used to inform the development plan”. The former student leader however recommended a list of preconditions for the oppositions to present to the government before attending the forum. The list of preconditions include, public release of the president and vice president asset declaration, reinstatement of dismissed officials at LEITI in accordance with the LEITI ACT, re-issuance of media licenses specifically punch FM, among others.

Mr. Boakai Jaleiba, a stalwart of the opposition Unity Party

In the meantime, the President’s invitation to opposition for a one day forum has been met with mixed reaction from Liberians. Some Liberians from the opposition block who spoke to The Liberian Billboard has termed the proposed meeting as a facade and agreed with Mr. Boakai Jaleiba’s  assertion that the meeting will only be a photo opportunity for the Government of Liberia. They said, if the President truly values opposition input, he should have invited them when he first took office. On the other hand, Liberians who support the President and the ruling party said, the President move should be welcomed by all Liberians as it presents a true spirit of reconciliation. They said, the opposition have been sounding drums of criticism, and the President inviting them to a round-table discussion is an indication that he respects their views and is willing to listen to all Liberians despite their political affiliation.

With the barrage of criticisms and preconditions being put forward by the opposition, many political observers say, the forum might be far from happening. They told the Liberian Billboard that if the opposition considers the preconditions put forward by Mr. Jaleiba, they don’t see the government agreeing to any the terms listed, and as such, we can kiss the President’s forum goodbye.

Up to press time, there was no confirmation about official invitations being sent out to political parties. In the meantime, The Liberian Billboard will keep you updated on developments.