Liberia: Misunderstandings, Disunity Overweigh CPP as ANC’s Cummings Become Loner in the Collaboration
MONROVIA – The future of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has become blurry than ever before but it all did not start with the Alternative National Congress’ Alexander Cummings walkout nor his refusal to attend the presentation of Joseph Boakai as the Unity Party’s standard-bearer. There was a white elephant in the room from the onset and it was glaring.
Cummings walkout from a major meeting over the weekend, perhaps, was an indication that the cup was full. His refusal to attend the Unity Party’s ceremony capped it all up.
But he has come under severe criticisms for his recent posture, which he says were all intended to ensure that the Framework document of the CPP is not continuously violated.
However, his critics say his walkout was a show of arrogance.
Why Did Cummings Walkout?
The ANC in a statement explained that the Political Leaders of the CPP had engaged in the usurpation of the functions of the various organs and functionaries of the CPP in violation of the Framework Agreement.
According to the ANC, no such powers is reserved in the Framework Agreement for the reported actions of the Political Leaders, especially its repeated actions to usurp the functions and authority of the National Advisory Committee (NAC), the National Executive Committee (NEC), and the CPP Secretariat.
“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,” the ANC stated.
The stated added, “Therefore, the Political Leader of the ANC, 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 CPP’s Argument
Reacting to Cummings’ walkout, the Unity Party’s standard beater, Mr. Boakai said, Cummings has always tried impose his decisions on the CPP.
“Out of four, you should not always decide what we should do. We will continue the process that will guide our principle decision on the consensus,” Boakai said.
Last Friday’s meeting was intended for the four political leaders to look into the Mr. Benoni Urey’s allegation that the Framework document submitted to the National Elections Commission (NEC) had been altered by a high-ranking member of the CPP – an allegation that did not go down well with Cummings.
However, Cummings believed that the review the document be done by a committee set up by the National Executive Council of the CPP.
But Boakai argued that Cummings’ suggestion for a special committee to rather review the document is wrong and his stance against the four leaders looking at the document to resolve the issue makes one to believe that he is guilty of the allegation made by Mr. Urey.
Cummings’ Contention on Boakai’s Selection for UP
In the ANC’s political leader’s view, Boakai’s selection as the standard-bearer of the Unity Party was not done in conformity with the CPP Framework, hence, he could not recognize such selection.
“I am constrained to decline your invitation at this time due to a number of concerns with the process which led to the program. In particular, the action to derive an aspirant for the position of CPP Standard Bearer through a process outside of a national convention falls short of the Core Values of the CPP as stated in section 3.1.2 “Good governance; including in particular Inclusiveness, Participation, Accountability and Transparency,” Mr. Cummings stated.
According to Cummings, the manner in which Boakai was selected runs contrary to the Guiding Principles of the CPP which provide for the creation of “an enabling environment of upholding the tenets of democracy including respect for the Rule of Law and human rights”, and has the potential to expose the CPP to public ridicule.
“To the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the Core Values and Guiding Principles of the CPP are not without legal force and moral effect. In addition, they define the deeper values of our commitments to each other, and our pledge to the Liberian people for a better Liberia. Therefore, the ANC believes each constituent member of the CPP must act, at all times, to uphold and adhere to the rule of law, including the laws which govern our respective parties,” he stated.
However, the chairman of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, said the leadership of the CPP had asked contesting parties for the standard-bearer of the CPP to hold conventions and submit the names of their standard bearer to the CPP.
According to her, in that meeting, Boakai informed his colleagues that the Unity Party had its convention earlier and had selected him as the standard bearer.
Cummings, according to her, informed the body that he was going to get back to the body with the timeline and plans before he can speak about his own political party.
“The three of us at that meeting agreed that the right thing to do was to accommodate Mr. Cummings by allowing him more time to have his convention. Because of that, I was asked as the chair to readjust the road map for the matrix that was provided in that meeting to include the timeline for the ANC to have their convention.”
Senator Karnga-lawrence also said, on the issue of extending her tenure, Mr. Cummings agreed in principle and welcomed the idea stating that it was necessary since, in fact, he and Boakai would be contesting for the CPP standard bearer position, it would be better for her to continue to preside.
Is Cummings Dodging Bloc Voting?
Mr. Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP), a constituent member of the CPP, has never relented on his stance that Mr. Cummings should not be President of Liberia, especially so when Boakai is still in the race.
Both men have clashed over this a number of times.
Mr. Urey has publicly declared that Mr. Cummings, in his own words, “was not fit to be President”, owing to his late arrival on the political landscape.
Mr. Urey had said he prefers former Vice President Joseph Boakai. “People usually elect people who have worked in government. You don’t elect people who just come from a country and come to another country and want to be president. You elect people based on their experience and based on their reputation. And I think of the 3 candidates, Joe Boakai has the most experience; Joe Boakai has stood the test of time, and he’s a relatively decent person.”
Mr. Urey’s assertions, according to Mr. Cummings, is a deviation from the objectives of the CPP. “Those assertions are far from the truth. When the four (4) political parties agreed to come together on February 21, 2019 and we all affixed our signatures to the document, we decided to work together in a collaboration of independent parties and by 2023, put forth a single ticket for the Presidency in 2023.”
However, it is becoming glaring that Cummings may be the lone man standing at the CPP’s convention Mr. Boakai is already assured of the ALP’s support while recent developments over the past few months are indicating that the Liberty Party is also leaning on the side of Boakai.
But Mr. Menikpake Dumoe, a supporter of the ANC argued otherwise. He stated, “Bloc voting is not recognized by the Framework Agreement of the CPP and we are not renegotiating the Framework Agreement. Therefore, there is no way it will be used at the primary next year.”
He continued: “Those who want to vote in bloc can try it in 2029. Hon. Alexander B Cummings did not walk out of poorly planned impromptu CPP leadership meeting today, because of bloc voting.
“The ANC leader and rising star in the opposition community, Alexander B Cummings walked out to underscore the numerous violations of the Framework Agreement.
“Our support base in the CPP is solid and we will eventually win the nomination but we have a duty to protect the sanity and public image of the CPP.
“This inability to lead or work with others is fast becoming the legacy of Joseph N. Boakai; he always shies away from leadership and shift blame.
“How can you claim to be the legitimate leader of a major political party and say you are unable to find 310 delegates that you trust to vote for you?
“Over the last couple of weeks, the UP/Boakai media have been running and winning numerous opinion polls across media platforms. One may ask why with all this popularity they are afraid of a democratic primary?
“If we follow the absurd reasoning of the Unity Party and the Boakai team, Political parties will demand that their political leaders cast presidential ballots in the name of their members.”
In an analysis of the CPP Primary process and the pre-empted bloc voting, Ms. Wade Powell, among other things, opined:
The CPP Framework Document leaves no room for individual political parties to take away the right of eligible voters and replace that right with an instruction/mandate to vote at the CPP Primary. Additionally, it makes absolutely no sense that individual parties within the CPP will be allowed to select how they vote and have multiple voting practices within the same primary. As such, the idea being peddled by some members of the CPP is in complete violation of both the laws of the CPP and the laws of the Republic of Liberia ad common sense in general. One must be very careful of setting these sorts of precedents that allow fundamental rights of eligible voters in political parties to be arbitrarily taken away. If our history has taught us anything, it is that some people have always tried to circumvent the laws to gain power and authority, not to do what is right but to do what is personally beneficially. As a group of people presenting ourselves to the citizens of Liberia to be elected as their next leaders, we also must be very careful in the character of ourselves that we project. If we are circumventing the laws of the land and our own Political Party, at a time when we do not yet have state power, what does that say about how we will conduct ourselves once we do get state power?