CPP lawyers say they altered and structured the framework document, but…
Lawyers of the Collaborating Political Parties have confirmed that they altered the structure and content of the framework document, which the Alternative National Congress and its leader, Alexander B. Cummings, have been accused of.
In a letter, dated October 14, 2021, leaked to the Daily Observer, the CPP lawyers, led by former Justice Minister, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, informed Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, who was then chair of the CPP, that revision to the framework document was made by them.
However, the lawyer's letter did not state whether their revised document is the same as the one filed by the ANC and Cummings at the National Elections structurally and content wise.
Rather, they declined a written request, dated October 12 by Sen. Karnga-Lawrence, to probe the issue and provide legal advice on “whether the proposed amendments made by the lawyers were changed without their consent.”
“While noting your request,” Cllr. Sannoh said in response to Sen. Karnga-Lawrence, “we would like to state [that] we made a number of revisions both in substance and structure and the framework document as revised was presented at a meeting convened for that purpose and attended by the Leadership of the four Political Parties.
“Upon submission to the leadership of the Parties and to date we have had no interactions with the said document. We note with concern, however, that the issues raised in your letter of October 12, 2021 and upon which we are requested to opine have become the subject of intense internal and external discussions over the past several weeks,” the letter continues. “This has rendered the process overwhelmingly political thereby marginalizing the efficacy and effect of the Framework Document. Under these circumstances, we find it extremely difficult to advise on the issues presented to us.”
But while Sannoh and his colleague's letter does not conclude that Cummings committed any wrongdoing, the content of the letter is a significant political victory for the ANC political leader and lifted a cloud that has hung over him since his eight-month tenure at the helm of the CPP came to an end.
Essentially, Cllr. Sannoh and his team of lawyers are informing the CPP political leaders that, ‘this is what we did; whatever it is you believe Cummings did, we won’t get involved.’
Meanwhile, the lawyers informed Sen. Karnga -Lawerence that the unceasing public engagement (scathing allegations, war of words) on the framework document comes with a lot of risks. Thus, they have called for a total ceasefire on the matter.
“Notwithstanding, may we remind you that there are risks associated with the unceasing public engagements on this matter. Accordingly, we advise that some form of collective restraint is put in place and that the political leaders urgently exert efforts to bring closure to this matter,” the letter said.
Earlier, the ANC and Cummings denied allegations of significant procedural lapses and fraudulent incline and argued that the framework document, which they filed at NEC was the one amended by the CPP legal advisors and approved by the constituting parties.
“I and the ANC acted honorably, “Cumming noted while contesting the tempering committee report finding, which he said contained inconsistencies.
CPP crisis in brief
Although the lawyers' position of modifying the framework document, seen to vindicate Cummings, the opposition group has seen its ship nearly capsized by scathing allegations of framework tampering led by Benoni Urey against his arch-rival, Cummings.
And after an investigation, the past CPP chair, Senator Karnga-Lawrence, directly accused Cummings of illegally modifying the CPP framework during his tenure as chair.
“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,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence said.
But long before the release of the investigation report and the lawyers’ letter, former Vice President Joseph Boakai and Benoni Urey, the political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP) treaded on similar paths—directly accusing Cummings of tampering with their framework document.
Boakai, being aware of how damaged the CPP brand is, offers himself as an “interlocutor” in addressing unresolved issues and other problems in a remark after having received the chairmanship of the CPP for the first time on Friday, October 15.
He added that without any defense and justification, he accepted full responsibility for all the tethering issues in the CPP due to his eloquent silence in the face of internal wrangling.
“Where others see breakdowns, we see an opportunity to build and become stronger, where others see despair, we offer hope and in the face of what appears to be division, we will work with our colleagues to unite,” the UP Political leader added. “Now, I admonish my colleagues Alex, Benoni, and Nyonblee to see the bigger picture - the People of Liberia; and exhaust our internal processes of conflict resolution in absolute respect for each other. The CPP will hold itself to strict adherence to its rules.”
But a buoyant Cummings, who may have been aware of the lawyers’ letter, although his party chairman has claimed to not have knowledge of – has already started gloating – demanding that his colleagues in the CPP openly apologize to him before any attempt at reconciliation.
While Cummings has always denied accusations that his party “viciously, and purposefully altered the CPP framework document,” he has always cast the investigation as politically motivated, and bemoaned the investigation toll on the CPP — and on him.
And now breathing a collective sigh of relief, Cummings, upon reading the lawyer’s letter, has said that the accusation of tempering has maligned his character, and integrity and cannot move on without an apology.
“I am not just going to say, ok, you did a bad thing a few months ago but let’s move on. That’s not how it works. People get to be accountable for things they do. I am happy to move on with them after I have been vindicated and they acknowledge that I have been vindicated,” he said.
The CPP, made up of four political parties, has a rotating leadership mandate, which the political leader of each member institution chairs for 8 months at a time. The four parties are, the Liberty Party, Unity Party, the Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party.