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Liberia: Broken Ties, Broken Image: What Next for Morlu and the CDC?

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By Festus Poquie

Post-election recovery for the main opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) remains daunting as the foundation of its leadership tumbles in limbo.

Mulbah Morlu, one of the party’s towering figures for nearly two decades, has vacated the position of national chairman, revealing underlying challenges in internal governance and missteps that seemingly contributed to the loss of state power to rival Unity Party in 2023.

The once powerful politician, who became the first critic of his own government, questioning then-President George Weah and his cabinet over bad governance and unexplained wrongdoing, is now looking to play a civil society role following his six years in the CDC’s hot seat.

“Now that I am no longer Chairman, I have newfound freedom to advocate for social justice and champion the interests of marginalized communities, irrespective of political affiliations,” Morlu said in a resignation letter penned to Weah on Feb. 28.

“In the coming months, I intend to engage in consultations with relevant stakeholders both within and beyond the CDC, aiming to rally passionate individuals to safeguard democracy, promote good governance, and uphold the rule of law.

“While I trust that the CDC will continue its efforts to address injustices and hold the Unity Party-led government accountable, I am committed to contributing from a civil society perspective, advocating for peace, good governance, human rights, the rule of law, and socioeconomic equality for all Liberians.”

Repairing a Broken Image

After six years at the helm of the West African nation’s political leadership, the CDC now sits in opposition, powerless and disabled.

The biting United States financial and visa sanctions imposed on more than half a dozen influential members and associates of the former ruling Coalition for Democratic Change have seemingly left the party decapitated.

In the aftermath of the sanctions and the 2023 misfortune at the ballot box, the political organization, which prides itself as a grassroots movement representing the masses, is now on a path to rebranding.

After resigning over policy disagreements with Party leader George Weah, Morlu is advising the CDC to improve its international reputation, dispel misperceptions with global powers, and position itself for a comeback in 2029.

“I would like to offer one final piece of advice, Mr. Standard-bearer, which I have previously communicated to you in a briefing note. It is crucial to assemble a proficient team of foreign policy experts to engage with key Western capitals, such as Washington, Brussels, Number 10 Downing Street, and others.

These engagements should involve discussions regarding international decisions made during our tenure, aiming to rebuild confidence and provide assurances to our international partners.

“As we endeavor to revitalize the CDC’s domestic and global political standing, I stress the importance of prioritizing the enhancement of relations with Washington and its invaluable allies. Neglecting to capitalize on our historical ties with the U.S. would be a missed opportunity, especially considering Liberia’s strategic significance within the United States’ sphere of influence. Therefore, strengthening ties with the U.S. and its European counterparts is a good step forward, even for a major opposition party.”

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