Liberia: ANC, Bility Angry with Unity Party

(L-r) Musa Bility and Alexander Cummings of the ANC. 

The Alternative National Congress and its ally, Musa Bility, have shamed the Unity Party for not attending the National Elections Commission meeting, which seeks to hear a complaint that intends to bar the Unity Party from contesting the 2023 elections.

The complaints against the UP, filed by ANC and Bility faction of the Liberty Party, called on NEC to invoke Section 8.5 (2) CPP framework document as a means of rejecting and denying “any application from the ALP and UP to field candidates in their names in any election until the expiry of the 2023 elections, including up to six (6) months thereafter, same being the agreed contractual life of the CPP.”

However, the hearing was unable to take place as the complainants claimed that the Unity Party asked for postponement due to the unavailability of its counsels and stated the reason as “the Supreme Court’s mandate requesting all lawyers in Liberia to attend the Liberia National Bar Association convention from March 25-26."

“The CPP is disappointed that the UP would use such an insubstantial reason to request a postponement, given that the date of the Bar Convention occurred outside of the scheduled hearing date,” Senator Daniel Naatehn, Chairman of the ANC, and his ally, Bility wrote in a statement. Others who signed the statement are Martin Kollah, Secretary-General of Bility’s Liberty Party faction, and Aloysius Toe, Secretary-General of the ANC respectively.

They added that “The Commission has informed all parties that the hearing is rescheduled for  March 29 at 10 am and emphasized the importance of concluding this matter, ‘because one of the allegations in this matter might likely concern ongoing candidate nomination/registration for the 2022 Lofa County Senatorial By-Election scheduled to end on April 1, 2022.’ We hope that the UP will heed the Commission’s notice and avail itself for the rescheduled hearing and not make another request for postponement.”

So far, the political leader of the Unity Party has stated that “Let the word go forth that the Unity Party and the People of Lofa have had enough and will not continue to be insulted, disrespected, and disenfranchised by the CDC government of President Weah.” 

The Lofa County Senatorial seat became vacant as a result of Senator-Elect Brownie Samukai’s inability to be seated after being convicted, along with two co-defendants, for theft of property, criminal conspiracy, misuse of public money, and money laundering over US$1 million and sentenced to two years in prison, and ordered to restore the money. 

On March 24, the ANC and its ally requested clarification from the NEC as to the official status of the Collaborating Political Party, in light of the withdrawal of the All Liberian Party (ALP), and the Unity Party(UP). 

The letter also sought the Commission’s intervention regarding issues arising from the withdrawal of the ALP and UP, specifically in light of the UP’s public announcements of its intent to field candidates in the upcoming Lofa by-elections.

The letter also talked about the ineligibility of both ALP and UP to field candidates in their names for the period up to and including six (6) months after the 2023 General and Presidential Elections, as provided for in the CPP Framework Document of Section 8.5 (2).

Section 8.5 (2) states that “Constituent Party desiring to withdraw from the CPP shall FIRST exhaust the dispute resolution mechanism stipulated in this framework document. If the Constituent Party which has satisfied the dispute resolution mechanisms is not satisfied with the outcome, it shall file a resolution to withdraw from the CPP signed and duly executed by Two Thirds (2/3) of the membership of its National Executive Committee, it is understood, however, that a Party withdrawing from the Alliance prior to the next Presidential, legislative and local elections shall not feed candidates in its name.” 

The ANC’s and Bility’s complaints come as Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence's faction of the Liberty Party, Unity Party, and the All Liberian Party withdraw from the Collaborating Political Party, leaving the collaboration in the hands of the ANC.  

The withdrawal of the Liberty Party, which is also split between factions loyal to the party’s political leader Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and its Chairman Musa Bility, respectively, now leaves the Alternative National Congress as the sole major party in the coalition.

Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s withdrawal is a big blow as she controls the party's largest voting block, Grand Bassa County — leaving Bility’s faction, which remains a member of the CPP, holding apparent legal title to the party, as recognized by the National Elections Commission.

And following the playbook of the All Liberian Party, the Unity Party, and Senator Nyonblee faction accused the ANC of illegally altering the CPP Framework Document. The ANC Political Leader, Alexander B. Cummings, has vehemently denied the allegation and says it is untrue. 

The CPP, during its heyday, attracted a broad base of coalition voters during the 2020 senatorial election, resulting in decisive victories for most of their candidates including Montserrado County for Abraham Darius Dillon. Before that election, Montserrado County was a no-go zone for other political parties as it was the stronghold of the CDC. The CPP won Montserrado County with 354,898 votes (40.27%) and the CDC, which previously held the seat, got 246,908 votes (28.02 %).

That win came on the backdrop of unity among the four leaders but, once the election was over, signs of internal wrangling broke the focus of the coalition. The political leader of the ALP, Benoni Urey, alleged that the CPP framework document was nefariously tampered with during the tenure of Cummings, who was at the time chairman of the CPP. This allegation Cummings has consistently denied.

And after much public argument, the ALP, which is wholly owned by businessman Urey, in January filed a lawsuit against his opposition compatriot to the government for forgery and criminal conspiracy, regarding the alleged tampering of the CPP framework agreement, which allegedly happened while Cummings was serving as chairman. 

The ALP, which is a strong political ally of former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai and his Unity Party (UP), undertook the lawsuit to seek legal action for an “unlawful attachment” of their leader’s signature to the CPP framework document. It is an open secret that Urey has opposed Cummings’s Presidential ambition — creating an air of bad blood among them.