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Liberia's Ruling Party Accuses the Main Opposition of Being an Ally of Russia

FILE - Liberian Vice-President Joseph Boakai and Presidential Candidate of the Unity Party, centre, arrives to cast his votes during a Presidential runoff election in Monrovia, Liberia, Tuesday Dec. 26, 2017.

MONROVIA — Liberia’s ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, CDC, is accusing the main opposition, Unity Party, of being an ally of Russia as the country’s Oct. 10 presidential election draws nearer. 

Since its foundation, Liberia has had the United States as a traditional ally. It has also had diplomatic relations with Russia dating back to 1956.

But Liberia-Russia relations began to sour in 2022, when Liberia joined the United States and other countries in a vote to suspend Russia from the United Nations Human Rights Council because of the Ukraine war.

As political parties crisscross the country campaigning for the Oct. 10 presidential elections, Liberia’s foreign policy is coming to the forefront.

The Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia, a pressure group turned political party, said recently that Liberia needs to cement its relations with Russia. The party is supporting the presidential bid of former Vice President Joseph Boakai of the Unity Party.

Jefferson Koijee, the secretary-general of the ruling CDC, has accused the main opposition Unity Party — and by extension its candidate Boakai — of soliciting the support of Moscow during the elections.

"Information in our possession," he said, "suggests the Unity party that there was a delegation that left Liberia to interact with some Russians, we have details."

"Former Vice President Joseph Boakai is out there desperately trying to find resources for this election and the Russians were one of his options he started a conversation with them. What we are opting to know is whether the current relationship with them has some security threat," Koijee said.

Mo Ali, campaign spokesman for the Unity Party, says Koijee’s allegations are fabricated, adding that Liberia as a sovereign nation needs to have relations with all countries.

"It is the CDC that has a connection with a Russian group," he asserted. "As a matter of fact, the CDC has run out of ideas on moving the country forward, and so they are running around here. The Unity Party is not going to engage in those kinds of politics. We have our ally that does not mean we will not have other relationships."

"Liberia is an underdeveloped country. We want to have relationships across the board with everybody. So nobody should think this politics we are running is about you having a relationship with countries," he said.

Rufus Neufville, a lawyer and former chief of protocol of Liberia who is running for a seat in the House of Representatives in Montserrado county District 8, said foreign policy "is always discussed when it is election time."

"Because whoever will be voted for as the president of the republic will be given the power as a mandate of the people under article 57 to conclude and conduct the foreign affairs of our country. I think we should take into consideration the historical foundation of our country."

Neufville says that means that everyone should recognize that Liberia and the U.S. have ties that are traditional and inseparable, despite whatever relations the government and political parties pursue with other countries.