- Threat of election-related violence and protests attracting 100-1,000 people will be elevated in months leading up to October elections
- Protests will increase threat to personnel and assets of firms and will disrupt travel and business operations, mainly in Monrovia
- Despite growing unpopularity, Weah’s prospects for re-election will be bolstered by opposition disunity
- President George Weah says at a rally in Monrovia that he has accepted the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party’s nomination to stand for a second term in office in the 10 October elections. This comes five days after he told parliament he would run for re-election. (4 February)
Weah’s nomination will trigger more protests from the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) coalition in the coming months. So far, the CPP has not issued formal calls for demonstrations due to ongoing discussions regarding elections tactics and strategy, but is likely to do so in the coming weeks.
Regular, and occasionally violent, protests are common in Monrovia due to diminishing trust in Weah’s leadership. Demonstrations began in 2019 and have attracted crowds of up to 3,000 protesters. Weah was elected in 2017 on an anti-corruption platform and a promise to revive the economy. However, his tenure has been marred by corruption scandals, economic underperformance, and high unemployment.
Weah’s nomination indicates he still yields significant influence in the coalition government, despite growing calls for his resignation by some sections of the CDC. The relationship between Weah’s CDC and its coalition partners, the National Patriotic Party and the Liberia People’s Democratic Party (LPDP), is strained due to dissatisfaction among members who feel Weah did not fully implement the 2017 coalition agreement. While LPDP leader Alex Taylor has refused to commit to a new alliance agreement, Weah has convinced Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor and coalition chairman Mulbah Morlu to sign a new agreement on 7 February.
Despite internal CDC disputes, Weah’s re-election prospects will be strengthened by the divisions within the CPP. The alliance is wracked by factionalism and power struggles, preventing leaders from forming common policy positions regarding the election. Moreover, there continues to be disagreement as to who will serve as the bloc’s presidential nominee, preventing the opposition from starting campaigning.
Implications for Business
Unrest: The threat of election-related violence and anti-government protests will be elevated in the months ahead of the general election. The opposition will organise demonstrations, attracting between 100 to 1,000 people, particularly in Monrovia and opposition strongholds like Gbarnga. Demonstrations will increase in frequency and size in the coming weeks, with a possibility of clashes between rival supporters.
These clashes will intensify in July when campaigning formally begins. At this point, electoral violence will become more prevalent, especially given security forces’ tendency to use heavy-handed tactics, including tear gas and water cannons, to suppress demonstrations. This will pose a threat to participants and bystanders around the Capital Building, Executive Mansion, and other government buildings in Monrovia.
Supply Chains: Clashes between political party supporters and the police will increase threats to personnel and assets, and will disrupt travel along roads heading towards the Freeport of Monrovia, Liberia’s main port for international trade. Protests will also block the movement of goods along the Liberia-Côte d’Ivoire highway, which connects Monrovia to the Côte d’Ivoire border. These demonstrations will be sporadic, lasting only a few days. However, the authorities will take a few weeks to clear people and debris from the main routes.