But Cummings rejects claims: “... I and the ANC acted honorably.”
The political leader of the Liberty Party, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, has directly accused her counterpart from the Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, of illegally modifying the framework that brought the Collaborating Political Parties together.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence’s allegations against Cummings come in the wake of a CPP investigative report that stemmed from an allegation by Benoni Urey that the CPP Framework document filed at the National Election Commission (NEC) was tampered with.
According to her, the investigative report shows that while Cummings chaired the CPP, which was also the time frame in which the framework document was signed and submitted to the National Elections Commission, the document was altered.
The allegations reinforce the Senator's earlier statement on the matter as CPP chairperson, which was made without the public release of the report, rather through a press statement citing findings from the report.
Announcing the report findings, Sen. Lawrence claimed that the infractions, procedural transgressions, and fraudulent inclines, as captured in the investigative findings, transpired “under and during the leadership of 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 investigation, according to Grand Bassa County Senator, uncovered that there were significant procedural lapses leading to the submission of the CPP Framework document with the NEC under the leadership of her counterpart, Cummings.
“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,” argued Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence.
The CPP investigative report, which Sen. Lawrence is referring to, was divided into two parts: procedures leading to the submission of the document to NEC, and content change in the various framework documents.
But Cummings, in reaction, said anyone who really cared about the CPP, or the facts about this matter, would have known “that I and the ANC acted honorably.”
According to him, “We have nothing to be gained by altering a single provision of the Framework Agreement. The Framework Agreement, which was amended by the legal advisors and approved by the parties, was that which we filed in time to be registered, and it has remained the Framework Agreement under which the CPP has conducted itself for more than a year, including successfully participating in the Midterm Senatorial Elections and other by-elections in the country,” Cummings added.
He further said that it is unfortunate that it has taken this long, and at the cost of sowing seeds of distrust and spillage of disagreements into the public space for the simple exercise to have been done, an exercise every party could have done and completed in under 30 minutes.
“One is excused for therefore thinking that none of this is about the truth or uncovering the facts. It has and continues to be about politics as we have always known it to be practiced in our country,” Cummings added.
On procedural lapses, Sen. Karnga-Lawrence disclosed that the report finds Cummings and ANC forgoing the proper procedures for amending or changing provisions within the original Framework document as prescribed in Article 12.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence did not quote or make available the Article 12 procedures, which she claimed have been violated. Instead, “there is no documentation to prove that the parties (Executive Committees) reviewed and ratified the lawyers’ version of the framework document, which contains 10 recommendations to the amended document – that they need to have acted as Executives of the four constituent political parties of the CPP.
“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, while the fifth copy is submitted to the NEC requesting for certification of the CPP,” Sen. Karnga-Lawrence said.
“This procedure was not followed. Instead, the signature page from the framework signed on May 19, 2020, was extracted and attached to the amended version of the framework, which is significantly different, both in content and structure to the original copy signed in May and did not go through the prescribed procedures of the amendment,” she said.
Sen. Karnga-Lawrence furthered that in the lawyers’ review note, it was clearly stated that the lawyers were going to draft a letter, seeking the NEC to confirm whether a member party of the collaboration is allowed to file candidates in elections, while the agreement is still valid; but “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 framework and the Copy filed with the NEC. There is no available documentation to show that particularly included the Withdrawal Clause,” Sen. Karnga-Lawrence disclosed. “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 bound. The five copies should have been notarized and distributed.”
In regards to content, the CPP chair noted that there were significant structural and content differences of the original framework document filed at the NEC, whereby particular articles, sections, and subsections were significantly rearranged between the amended copy from the lawyers to one filed with NEC.
Sen. Lawrence added also that there were changes made to the meaning of keywords and clauses, for example, Section 10.5.3 in the original framework document defines the primary as the process by which delegates nominated by the alliance members can indicate their preference to the alliance’s candidate in elections, but the amended and filed copied define a primary as an assembly of delegates convened to elect/select CPP/Alliances’ candidates for elections (section 1.14).
“The Governance structure of the original document under National Assembly 6.1.1 talks about the endorsement of candidates and not elections of the 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).
According to the Senator, 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; but to the contrary, the original framework document and the filed Copy did not use the Alliance as was done in the case stated above.
She added that the dispute resolutions and grievances section in the original framework was totally changed from the broad mechanism agreed on in the original framework (Sections 7.5 to 7.5.3), and that definition removed from the original document leaves a lot of ambiguity in the candidate eligibility and selection process.
“It is being observed that the original framework document 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. But the amended and filed copy of the framework 11.4 talks about Consensus dates of September 30th and November 2021.
“The section, Loss of Membership (section 5.5) of the original document, was completely changed from its original passage to the inclusion of subtitle, decertification, withdrawal and suspension in the amended copy and 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,” Senator Karnga-Lawrence said.