"In light of the violations in procedures and content change, it is reasonable enough that Mr. Cummings summons the courage to take ownership of all that has transpired and the crisis thereof."
Delivered by the political leader of the Liberty Party Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and CPP Chair.
Fellow citizens and members of the press, this press conference is herewith called to submit to you all findings of the reports on the complaint regarding the altering of the CPP Framework document filed at the National Election Commission (NEC).
We wish to state for the record that the National Advisory Council of the CPP in its October 6, 2020 meeting agreed that no Executive and prominent member of the constituent political parties would make any public comment(s) in the media (Social, Print, and Electronic) on the report until the lawyers can review the report. In violation of this agreement, prominent members and executive committee members of some parties of the CPP have made verbal and written comments in the social and traditional media in clear violation of what was agreed at the NAC meeting yesterday.
As a leader of the CPP I have tried to use internal processes to solve issues. And sometimes that can seem slow but it is a proven way to reach resolutions. Unfortunately, when others fail to work the process internally and instead choose to use the media to paint an untrue picture, then I have to make clarifications.
Members of the press, on May 19, 2020 Chairpersons and Political Leaders of four political parties; the All Liberian Party (ALP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Liberty Party (LP) and the Unity Party (UP), signed Framework Agreement (FA) thereby establishing the Collaborating Political Parties, CPP. The FA signed on May 19, 2020 via zoom went through all of the rigorous legal and fundamental procedures ranging from validation to review and ratification by the respective Executive Committees of the four parties. On the same day of signing the FA, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings and the ANC, in line with the CPP rotational leadership proportional tenure took over the leadership of the CPP. Five copies of the FA were signed and given to the leadership of the CPP to be notarized and each party served a copy. We like to note for the record that up till today’s date, no party has received a copy of the document signed on May 19, 2020.
On August 18, 2021 the ALP through its Political Leader, Hon. Benoni W. Urey, filed a complaint with the leadership of the CPP that the FA was tampered with before submission to the NEC.
Fellow Liberians, on October 6, 2021 the National Advisory Council (NAC) of the CPP received from the committee established to investigate the claims made by Hon. Urey a 28-page report. Following a detail presentation of the report which thoroughly analyzed three separate framework documents (FA signed on May 19, 2020; Amended FA dated April 25, 2020 named Lawyers’ version and the FA filed with the NEC), the CPP hereby presents to her partisans, supporters and the Liberian people findings from the report. Let me on behalf of the leadership of the CPP extend our profound gratitude to the 5-member committee for the professional and impartial investigation they conducted and the balanced and credible report they have produced.
We also want to extend our thanks and appreciation to Mr. Benoni W. Urey for flagging and bringing to the attention of the CPP leadership and the Liberian people at large, the altering of the CPP’s Framework Document, both in written and verbal notification.
We should also state for the records, however, that all the infractions, procedural transgressions and fraudulent inclines as captured in the investigative findings transpired under and during the leadership of Mr. Cummings and the ANC who had the mandate and obligation to ensure that the procedures and other legal proceedings thereto leading to the filing of the CPP’s Framework Document with the NEC were done.
The findings from the investigative report were put under two categories: 1. Procedures leading to the submission of the FA to the NEC, and, 2. Content change in the various FAs. The investigation finds that there were significant procedural lapses leading to the submission of the Framework Document with the NEC under the leadership of Mr. Cummings.
Below are the findings on the procedural lapses:
- The proper procedures for amending or changing of provisions within the Original FD as prescribed in Article 12 was not followed.
- On June 17, 2020 the lawyers presented their recommendations containing 10 issues (See Appendix …) to the National Advisory Council at the Headquarters of the LP The Amended Framework Collaborative Document as named by the lawyers and dated April 25, 2020 was posted in the National Advisory Council WhatsApp Chatroom on June 18, 2020 for review and ratification by the Executive Committees of the constituent political parties. There is no documentation to prove that the parties reviewed and ratified the lawyers’ version of the FD.
- After the Amended Copy and the recommendations shall have been accepted and approved by the Executive Committees of the four constituent political parties of the CPP; five copies should have been printed in color and submitted to the parties for signing and marked with the new date of signing. After the signing, the 5 original copies of the amended version should have been notarized and each party serves a copy. The 5th copy should have been the one submitted to the NEC requesting for Certification of the CPP. This procedure was not followed. Instead, the signature page from the FA signed on May 19, 2020 was extracted and attached to the Amended version of the FA which is significantly different both in content and structure to the original copy signed on May 19, 2020 and did not go through the prescribed procedures of amendment.
- In the Lawyers Review Note (Issue #5), it was clearly stated that they (the lawyers) drafted a letter, seeking the NEC to confirm its understanding of the Election’s Law and Regulation on the point in time wherein a member party of a collaboration will not be allowed to feed candidates in elections while the agreement is still valid. There is no available document to prove if the draft letter by the lawyers was sent to the NEC and response made by the NEC. The provision on WITHDRAWAL was however included in the Amended Copy of the FA and the Copy filed with the NEC. There is no available documentation to show who particularly included the Withdrawal Clause in the FA.
- There were five copies of the Framework document printed in color/original format to depict the actual colors and logos of the constituent party members; the copy that was filed at the National Elections Commissions is not Color as it was signed originally neither spiral bind. The five copies should have been notarized and copies be distributed
- There were significant structural and content differences of the Original FA to the copy filed at the NEC. Articles, Sections and Subsections were significantly rearranged in both the Amended and Filed Copies of the FA. There are also structural changes between the Amended Copy from the lawyers to that Filed with NEC.
- There are changes to the meaning of key words and clauses as treasured in the Original Framework to the one filed with the NEC. Example:
- The original FA, Section 10.5.3 defines primary as the process by which delegates nominated by the alliance members can indicate their preference to the alliance’s candidate in an upcoming general elections, local election or by-election; while the amended and filed copies define primary as an assembly of delegates convened to elect/select CPP/Alliances’ Candidates for upcoming Presidential, legislative and local elections or by elections (section 1.14)
- The Governance structure of the of the original FA under National Assembly 6.1.1 talks about the endorsement of candidates and not elections of candidate as is placed in the amended and filed copies of the Framework document (section 9.2,( a); section 9.3(a), (b) and (c); the original Framework document says that the National Executive Committee of the CPP shall be the administrative organ (Section 6.6.3) of the Party while the amended copy and filed copy says it differently (Executive organ); the NEC of the CPP shall serve as the executive organ of the collaboration (Section 9.4 , 2); under leadership of the ANEC of the Amended copy and filed copy of the Framework, section 9.4 (iii), says that the ANEC chair shall be the Executive Officer of the CPP. This clause was never mentioned in the original Framework governance structure; the narratives under the governance structure of the amended and filed copies; section 9.4, meetings (IV), is not cited in the CPP original framework document.
- The word Alliance was used at the beginning constantly in the document of the amended copy in naming organization to refer to the governance structure; the Alliance National Assembly (ANA), the Alliance National Advisory Council (ANAC), the Alliance National Executive Committee (ANEC), the Alliance National Secretariat (ANS). On the contrary, the Original Framework Document and the filed Copy did not use the Alliance as was done in the case stated above.
- The Dispute Resolutions and Grievances section in the original FA was totally changed from the broad mechanism agreed on in the original framework (Sections 7.5 to 7.5.3). A more rigorous procedure to be followed, including more procedures that will boutique a member exit from the CPP. (Considering the Framework document calls for a party to ‘’exhaust all dispute resolution mechanisms’’ before they leave the CPP (Section 12.1 to 12.3) of both the filed copy and the amended copy
- Definitions that were removed from the original document leaves a lot of ambiguity in the candidate eligibility and selection process. An example is the clause on Health (section 10.1.10). While the clause in the definitions ‘’Good State of Health” was included in both documents (amended version & Filed copy) as to means, a state of physical and mental capacity that enables a person to effectively discharge the responsibilities of an elected office. (Article 1.10)
- It is being observed that the Original FD has December 1, 2021, Wednesday as the date to reach a consensus in selecting both the presidential and vice presidential ticket. And in the event no consensus is reached, the nomination process must be determined at the primaries, while the Amended and Filed copy of the framework 11.4 talks about Consensus dates of September 30th and November 2021.
- The clause calling for establishment of permanent location of the headquarters through resolution signed by absolute majority of the EC members was not included in the original Framework document (Article 3, section 3.1 & 3.2); but one of the dispositions made by the lawyers in their submission to the NAC (Issue #1). The amended copy and the filed copy section 5.1. The section loss of membership (section 5.5) of the Original Framework document was completely changed from its original passage to the inclusion of subtitle, Decertification, withdrawal and suspension in the amended copy & the filed copy (section 8.5). And under withdrawal, the narrative was never mentioned in the original Framework; more importantly the Lawyers in their review submission did not conclude on the issue. This issue was actually addressed by the lawyers under issue #5 as drafting a letter to the election commission to seek understanding of the Election’s Law and Regulation on the point in time wherein a member party of the collaboration will not be allowed to feed candidates in elections while the agreement is still valid. The filed copy of the Framework document is the same as the amended copy (section 8.5)
- Section 6.3 as preserved in the Original framework allows for continuous term by unanimous consent of constituent parties in cases of incapacitation (However, a chairperson of the serving political party may serve a continuous term by unanimous consent of the constituent political party in the case of incapacitation caused by death, illness, etc. of the succeeding chair). The copy labeled April 25th Amended Copy was definite on the leadership tenure of the CPP..eight months (8); but maintained under section 9.3 sub title Leadership ( c & d ) of the amended copy and the filed copy that which was stated in the original Framework about decision making authority, that chairpersons of the constituent political parties shall sit on the Advisory council as facilitators Only; they shall have no decision making authority on the National Advisory council; there was no position about the role of other members making up the Advisory council.
- The issue of Eligibility to stand for elections for presidential and Legislative Candidates under subsection 10.3.1 and section 10.3.1.2 was changed. Additionally, Article 10 (Definitions) of the original framework document was removed; and A broad “not in good state of health “clause as a criterion for selection, as opposed to the detailed conditions that were in the original framework document. The section 10.3.1.2 in the original framework document that talks about a person vying for any electoral seat subsection (i), the Clause,” has been or is a convicted felon, provided such conviction is not derived from a political charge to include, treason, etc, was removed completely. Both the amended copy and the filed copy maintained the descriptions under section 11.1 (Eligibility for contesting)
- The original framework that was signed on the 19th of May 2020 did not have September or November deadlines for consensus building. December 1, 2021 was the only deadline set. And section 11.4 of the Amended copy maintains the date of December 1, 2021 as deadline for consensus building. So the Amended copy concur with 10.5.1.2 of the original Framework document. While the filed copy added September 30th and November, 2021 as deadlines and dialogue for consensus building.
- Article 7 (Duration) as reflected in the Amended copy and filed copies was never detailed in the original framework document.
- Section 8.2 party based membership of the amended copy and the filed copy is different from that which is specified in the Original framework document
- The section 7.2 of the original Framework document is not reflected in the amended and filed copies.
- The Last Paragraph under section 9.1 (public and media relations) of the original framework is not mirrored in section 10.3(iii) of the amended and files copies of the Framework in this form and manner: one (1) copy for each Constituent Political Party member and one (1) to be filed with the National Elections Commission.
In light of the violations in procedures and content change, it is reasonable enough that Mr. Cummings summons the courage to take ownership of all that has transpired and the crisis thereof.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the CPP calls for calm among all its members and parties while we submit the full report to the lawyers for further advice and subsequent relevant actions by the CPP.