MONROVIA – With the ink hardly drying off the long-awaited Collaborating Framework Document (CFD) of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) that was signed last week, the CPP has come out to clarify that the framework document had several versions leading up to the final version that was signed by the chairpersons and political leaders/standard bearers of the constituent parties during last week’s signing ceremony.
“One of these versions and not the final one was unfortunately released,” a CPP release stated late last evening, noting however that the CPP truly appreciates the healthy reactions, recommendations and suggestions from the public to even this unofficial version as this clearly indicates that the Liberian people are concerned and care deeply for the forward march of their country.
“The CPP assures the Liberian people that the JPEG version of the signed and initialed document that will be submitted to National Elections Commission will be officially released to the public.
The CPP also assures Liberians far and near that it will never endorse any document or law that will seek to discriminate against other Liberians nor will it engage into acts that will discriminate against anyone in and out of Liberia,” the release stated.
The CPP’s clarification comes in the wake of huge public outcry over a specific portion of the CFD that deals with presidential appointments under the ambit of the Executive Branch of Government.
The final Collaborative Framework Document, prepared under the guidance of the four collaborating parties of Ambassador Joseph Boakai’s Unity Party, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence’s Liberty Party, Alexander Cummings’ Alternative National Congress and Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party, specially spelt out in Section 10.11 (Guidelines for Presidential Appointments-Executive Branch of Government), that only known, active and visible members of Constituent Political Parties shall be recommended by the parties as clearly delineated under Section 10.11.3.
While a good number of Liberians openly welcomed the spirit and intent of political parties forging a common front to capture state power, critics feel it is morally reprehensible for the CPP to formulate a policy framework document that restricts appointment of public officials based solely on affiliation with the CPP.
Many feel the CPP is threading a dangerous path along the lines of the past True Whig Party oligarchy and the current Coalition for Democratic Change hegemony whose key stalwarts have bitterly opposed non-party members getting jobs in government.
Surprisingly, the harshest criticism of the CFD comes from the unlikeliest source, a critical voice of the opposition camp.
“I just got done reading the Final Collaborative Framework Document of the CPP in its entirety. It is a mess. Stupid document. Who wrote it? I don’t think Kofi Woods was the architect. Did Cummings, Boakai, Urey, and Nyonblee even read through this mess? I’m finished! Liberia is far from redemption. All greedy politicians. This reminds me of Jewel and her “Da our time” theory. I don’t see Liberians in the framework document. The whole thing is not about Liberia. Maybe we need a young, but radical political leader to stage a true disruption of the status quo. I don’t know who can that be. I’m not as optimistic as I was yesterday for a change. My optimism vanished a few minutes ago. Wow!” fumed Jacob J. Barnes, III.
But countering the huge backlash of criticisms regarding the Collaborating Framework Document, Liberty Party Deputy Secretary for Press and Public Affairs, Kla-Edward Toomey, said, having keenly followed the ongoing arguments pertinent to section 10.11.3 of the recently adopted Framework Document of the CPP, he is elated that the wave of back-and-forth arguments on this matter is healthy for Liberia’s Democracy.
“It’s indicative of the growing political consciousness of our people and their huge interest in the CPP. In the wake of so much hopelessness looming the horizons of our country under the CDC-led Gov’t, it’s understandable that our people would be keen on knowing what the CPP has to offer,” Mr. Toomey said.
The LP stalwart indicated happiness over the fact that several prominent, acclaimed and weighty voices are also expressing their thoughts on this matter.
“What I haven’t heard or read is a strong legal, moral or ethical argument against the herein referenced provision of the document. The arguments are largely sentimental and driven by fear arising from the current extreme protectionist policies of the CDC. Discrediting the good and honest efforts of the CPP on account of the misrule of the CDC is unfair,” Toomey cautioned.
He said before Mr. Weah became President, it was obvious to reasonable minds that the people currently in government would have become leaders of the new generation under President Weah’s leadership.
“There’s no element of surprise here. These are the folks who inspired and managed his political destiny. To think that a CPP Government would follow their protectionist policies is to go too far yielding to fear. Unlike what our people are being made to believe, the document does not limit the provision of jobs to members of the CPP. No! In fact, the preceding chapter, Section 10.11.2 clearly indicates that a CPP Government would provide jobs to other qualified Liberians. Section 10.11.3 is simply a good standing requirement that is found in the constitutions of all political parties and limited to their members. I say this authoritatively because I’ve read the constitutions of the top four political parties. Even social clubs or family clubs have good standing requirements,” stated Toomey.
The Liberty Party stalwart said it is in the genius of the Liberian Constitution that every citizen is free to associate or disassociate with political or other social institutions, with the caveat that when one decides to associate with a given institution, he or she must conform to the policies of that institution or exercise the constitutional right to disassociate.
“In the instant case, the good standing requirement for members of the CPP should not be misconstrued as demanding all partisans to do battle cry or visit party offices regularly to be deemed visible. Merely paying your dues is arguably the biggest way of being visible and active. It should not also be seen as a policy that would be imposed on qualified Liberians who are not members of the CPP. We are not doing it the CDC way, compelling people to join us,” Toomey reasoned.
“It’s common knowledge that when a political party is elected to the Presidency, its ideologues are appointed in government to execute the programs of the party. This is an irrefutable fact. Our friends are simply saying that although it’s true that members of the CPP would be appointed, we simply should not have it written in the document. To this, I disagree. This argument is subtly promotional of deception and corruption at the get-go. Full disclosure is a good tenet of Democracy.
I would have yielded to the arguments against this provision of the document if it generally limited the provision of jobs to members of the CPP. This would have been in violation of Article 18 of the Liberian Constitution. That Qualified Liberians who are not members of the CPP would be appointed without being subjected to this good standing requirement is fair and legal. We cannot hold people to the same standards as our partisans when they’re not similarly situated,” Toomey averred.
He further noted that as far as morals and laws were concerned, such panic-driven disagreements wouldn’t suffice; however, appealing they may sound.
“On this note, if it were left squarely in my purview, the document would remain as it is. Lest we forget, this whole argument is limited to presidential appointments,” he stated.
Even as the debate over Executive Appointments heats over regarding CFD, governance pundits are equally concerned that the CPP policy document has not made much attempt to deviate from the appointment norms that have centralized local government within the Executive.
In accordance with Section 10.9.3 of the Collaborating Framework Document, the President shall appoint under Local Government Administrations the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Superintendents, Assistant Superintendents and County Inspectors; as well as Mayors, Statutory District Officials, Administrative District Commissioners, Paramount Chief, Clan Chiefs, Zone Chiefs, General Town Chiefs, Town Chiefs within the 15 political subdivisions of the country.
Pundits are of the view that such age-old practice of granting unchecked powers of appointment to the Executive hinders good governance and entrenches the patronage system of past governments.
“We had expected the Framework document to have included provisions for constitutional reforms that would have enhanced, strengthened and made local government more independent along these lines,” a venerable legal pundit noted.