“He knows best what has happened…” Says Sen. Karnga Lawrence
The political leaders of the All Liberian Party, Unity Party and the Liberty Party have accused their colleague, Alexander B. Cummings, of altering the Framework document of the Collaborating Political Parties.
The allegation against Cummings comes after Benoni Urey of the ALP had earlier complained to the Chairperson of CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, that some high ranking members of the Collaboration dubiously, viciously, and purposefully altered the framework document binding the four political parties.
But Urey’s rival, Cummings, rebuked the allegation and claimed that the issue of tampering was made without facts and specifics, but intended to evoke acrimony, “we must not allow it to.”
However, weeks later, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai of the Unity Party and Sen. Karnga-Lawrence of the Liberty Party backed Urey’s claims immediately after Cummings walked out of a scheduled meeting on Sept. 10, 2021, at a resort. The CPP trio explained that the Framework Document was developed under Cummings chairmanship, and was tasked with distributing the original copy of the document to them and the National Election Commission, which they have not seen or received.
Sen. Karnga Lawrence, in a public manner without mincing her words, said Cummings was the chairman of the CPP when the framework document was finalized, and he should be in the position to speak to issues surrounding the tampering with the same document he refers to each time they are in disagreement with an idea.
“He submitted the document to the National Elections Commission (NEC). He knows best what has happened and he should muster the courage to address the issues as we prepare for the primaries,” the LP political leader said.
Backing Sen. Karnga Lawrence claims was Ambassador Joseph Boakai who is eying the CPP standard bearer position against Cummings. For Boakai, the ANC political leader is inconsistent and should stop running to the media or the public with information in the absence of proper research.
He added “What is big about calling any of us or even each of us to raise a particular concern he has each time, even if he earlier agreed with a point but chooses to disagree later on? He needs to stop running to the press without doing his own homework first.”
Cummings Walks Out
On Sept. 10, before a press conference, Cummings walked out of a leadership meeting with his colleagues from CPP, in Protest against repeated violations of the framework agreement. In a press release, the ANC defended the decision of its leader and argued that his best efforts to halt and reverse the repeated violations of the Framework Agreement by Political Leaders of the Collaboration, forced him to walk out of the meeting.
"Today's meeting was convened without an agenda; therefore, the Political Leader, having failed to advise his colleagues to abandon their continued violations, was compelled to walk out of a meeting to continue the transgressions. This is without prejudice to the continued membership," the release said.
The release said it can be recalled that the Political Leaders of the CPP have recently engaged in the usurpation of the functions of the various organs and functionaries of the CPP in violation of the Framework Agreement. And after reviewing the legal implications of’’ the continued actions of the Political Leaders, the ANC has sought to call attention to these transgressions of the Framework Agreement and to urge Political Leaders to self-correct and abide by the constitution of the CPP.
"The internal efforts of the Political Leader of the ANC to get his colleagues to self-correct and reverse course is unsuccessful. Today, again, the Political Leaders sought to proceed to implement a "decision" illegally reached by them without any color of authority in the Framework Agreement to do so," the ANC said.
Urey tightens up claims
Meanwhile, Urey, who brought up the claims of tampering said Cummings should be able to explain why the original copy of the document is not available since the formation of the political front to contest against President George Weah.
“Someone at NEC called and informed me that the copy presented to them was not an original copy, but a photocopy of the framework. In fact, I further learned that the signature page to which we affixed our signatures was removed and attached to a different document,” Urey accused. He said Cummings was the first among them who suggested that lawyers representing each of the four collaborating political parties review the framework document and make amendments where necessary.
“We welcomed the idea and the lawyers worked on the document. At the Liberty Party headquarters, a meeting was held and the lawyers explained to us why certain portions were amended. We all saw logic in their arguments and agreed that the final copy be endorsed so as to prepare us for the political activities ahead.But, sadly, we don’t have the original copy of the framework document with us today, even though the primaries are around the corner,” Urey noted.
The ALP political leader said Cummings should in no way think that they will put the issue of tampering with the Framework document under the carpet.
Urey added: “It is difficult to proceed with the primaries, to determine who becomes the standard-bearer of the CPP, without the use of the framework document.” He furthered that the committee to coordinate activities leading to the primaries has been set up but it cannot work without a document to guide them.
Internal wrangling has long been ongoing in the CPP, presenting itself as the only alternative to succeed and correct the alleged ills perpetrated by the Weah led government.
It can be recalled that Cummings rejected his colleagues' position that Sen. Karnga Lawrence, the current chairperson of the CPP, should continues her term for an additional one month even though it is about to expire. Sen. Lawrence, whose tenure as CPP chair expires on October 1, 2021, was granted an extension by the four political leaders of the CPP, including Cummings at a meeting at a resort in Monrovia.
However, Cummings, who had agreed to the extension a day earlier, wrote Sen. Karnga Lawrence, rejecting her stay at the helm of the CPP beyond October 1, to avoid setting a dangerous precedent.
“As important as it is for the sense of togetherness we always strive to publicly inspire, we forget that a meeting of the four political leaders is not a forum contemplated by the framework agreement for decision-making in the CPP,” Cummings wrote. “In fact, specific roles are defined, and nowhere in the Agreement are the four Political Leaders constituted as an organ of the CPP, or an agency for decision-making and its enforcement. The Framework states the decision-making bodies are the National Assembly, National Advisory Council (which we sit on), and the National Executive Committee.”
Cummings argued that the eight months allotted to any political leader within the collaboration to lead has expired and it is time for Boakai to succeed, a mandate which Boakai appears to have forfeited.
But the UP political leader and Urey said it will be good for Senator Lawrence, the political leader of the Liberty Party (LP), to continue spearheading activities and processes leading to the determination of a standard bearer for the CPP because she is not contesting the primaries for the role.
Boakai has the backing of Benoni Urey, political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), and it appears that the LP leader may also be content with steering the affairs of the CPP in Boakai's stead. Cummings has condemned their action, terming it as a blatant violation of the rule of law that has brought them together as a unit.