Monrovia – It was a show of unison and optimism on Wednesday when the outgoing Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Alexander B. Cummings, turned over the gavel of leadership to Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence.
The smooth transition of the CPP leadership from Mr. Cummings, political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) to Senator Karngar-Lawrence, also the Liberty Party’s Political leader comes in the midst of murmurs and predictions from political pundits and cynics that the CPP, which is the union of the top four opposition political parties would not hold together for the 2023 elections because of its leaders’ political ambitions.
However, Senator Karngar-Lawrence, in her address upon assuming the leadership of the CPP said, the smooth transition and tremendous achievements of the CPP under her predecessors are clear indications that the collaboration is committed to living up to its legal framework.
“Today, once again, we come together to fulfill our commitment to rotational leadership as contained in the Framework Agreement. The Liberty Party is honored, and I am especially humbled, to receive from the hands of the Political Leader of the Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, the gavel of authority to chair the CPP for the next period,” she said.
She continues: “If there have been any lingering doubts that our parties are fully committed to the Framework Agreement which we signed, including the peaceful transfers of power, let those doubts now be dispelled. We are together, stronger, proud of our collective achievements, and are ready to pull ourselves together even more, in the best interests of our country and our suffering people.”
The CPP’s ultimate goal under her leadership, she said, is to ensure that the party gets its standard bearer and vice standard bearer in line with the framework document.
“I feel challenged to move the CPP a big step further in firming up our protocols and readying us for 2023, and again, a single CPP ticket, as agreed, for the victory of Liberia and our people… With only two years to 2023 Presidential and General Elections, and by the framework document, we must ensure that the CPP standard-bearer and the vice standard bearer single ticket is presented to the people of Liberia before the end of 2021. This is our goal. It is our commitment,” she declared.
She also thanked outgoing Chairman Cummings for his exemplary leadership in ensuring that the CPP captured more seats in the Liberian Senate during the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections, and for ensuring that the CPP is certified by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as a political party.
“It must be said that Mr. Benoni Urey, our Organizing Chair turned over a signed framework of the CPP to you. Today, you’ve turned over to me a registered CPP with a respected number of elected senators,” she said in paying homage to Mr. Cummings.
She also thanked former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and Mr. Benoni Urey for their continued “support, encouragement, guidance, and leadership.”
The Grand Bassa County Senator, who just got reelected following a hotly contested polls have come to prominence in the Liberian political landscape as the only female Senator of the 54th Legislature. Known as the ‘Lioness’, she is the lone female political leader within the CPP. Her ascendancy as Chairman of the CPP makes her the first female to head the collaboration.
Dedicating a significant portion of her speech to the women of Liberia, Madam Karngar-Lawrence said her tenure represents the aspirations and hopes of all women and girls across the country, adding that “My chairmanship is yet again another evidence that the CPP represents the future we seek of gender equality and the inclusiveness of all Liberians in national decision-making and leadership.”
“To the women of Liberia, I extend this opportunity to you. This is your chairmanship. We have the chance to change the course of our country’s history by impacting a major political organization. The choices and chances we have in the CPP could not be clearer and different from those of the ruling establishment.”
Aiming a jibe at the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, she noted: “Dishearteningly for the women of Liberia, when women issues of participation, domestic violence, rape, discrimination, and inequality are confronting our country and the world, the ruling coalition offered no place to a woman – they found no woman, not even one – to be qualified for any place on their senatorial tickets. They have acted to exclude us!”
She thanked the CPP for not only meeting the 30% threshold for the participation of women but ushering a woman as its chairman.
“Shamefully for the ruling coalition, even where women have won, the ruling coalition has tried to cheat and undermine the progress of women, our right to participate, and our success in the elections,” she condemned.
Meanwhile, the colorful event was attended by all of the political leaders of the CPP, who pledged to stay united amid their disagreements.
‘Stronger Than Before’
In his farewell address, outgoing Chairman, Alexander Cummings said he was turning over a stronger CPP to the new Chairman than the one he inherited and called on Senator Karngar-Lawrence to lead well and make the union stronger than the one she is inheriting.
“Colleagues, I am pleased to say that with all of your support, today, I handover a CPP stronger than I inherited it from my predecessor. It falls upon you, Madam Chair to handover an even stronger CPP to the next chair. This is how we must continue to build and progress,” Mr. Cummings charged.
He said the greatest challenge of his eight-month tenure was the CPP’s participation in the Midterm Senatorial and Referendum Elections. Apart from the Nimba fallout, he said the challenge of selecting 15 candidates from about 60 ambitious and qualified persons was accomplished.
“I am pleased to report that in spite of the one fall out in Nimba, the CPP successfully fielded a single slate of candidates in all 15 counties, with five female candidates and outperformed the critics. We now have the building blocks of direct CPP Senators and leaders in the government, to whom the Liberian people can look for the alternative leadership we promised,” he said.
“It has to be said that the differences that these CPP Senators will make going forward, will go a long way in confirming the CPP as the ideal alternative to the current group of leaders in the country.”
He named the CPP accreditation by the NEC, formation of all CPP committees, legislative caucus, legal team and county structures in eight counties, as well as meeting and exceeding of the 30% women representation on the party’s tickets and the winning of six senatorial seats as some of his top achievements.
Also speaking, former Vice President Joseph Boakai thanked the CPP supporters for electing more senatorial candidates and said it is the beginning of more successes in 2023.
“The country will be liberated and be celebrated, and our people will see real life. No selfish person is among us. We will unite and put our country first because our country is going through embarrassment and we don’t deserve it,” the Unity Party political leader said.
For his part, the founding Chairman of the CPP, and political leader of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Mr. Benoni Urey thanked outgoing Chairman Cummings for steering the CPP in difficult times, and said he was optimistic that Senator Karngar-Lawrence will be successful.
Mr. Urey also called on the CPP Senators to join popular Senator Darius Dillon to be more lights at the Senate.