An executive member of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) has blamed Senator Nyonblee Karngar Lawrence, former Chairperson of the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) for the lingering crisis within the collaboration due to what she called the poor leadership ability exhibited during her tenure and called on the new chairman Former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai to step in to resolve the unfortunate development and reconcile everybody so as to make the CPP focused and more united to provide a viable opposition and checks on the ruling establishment.
Madam Victoria Torlo Koiquah, Deputy Chair for Political and International Affairs said that the present crisis the CPP was engulfed with which bordered on the allegation levied against the Alternative National Congress(ANC) and its political leader , Alexander Benedict Cummings by Mr. Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party(ALP) was aggravated by Senator Lawrence with the manner and form she responded to the allegation by taking side and failing to show true leadership which from the onset would have stopped the situation from spilling over to a point of threatening the existence of the collaboration.
Speaking during a live interview on the Prime FM 105.5 radio station on Thursday, October 28, 2021, and monitored by this paper, to discuss the situation in the CPP, Madam Koiquah who is also a member of the National Advisory Council of the CPP said when Mr. Urey made the allegation, the former CPP chairperson should have not allowed the communication from Urey to have gone public because there was a crisis resolution mechanism spelled out in the framework document through the Grievances Committee for an aggrieved person or party to exhaust and a redress could still be sought within the collaboration.
“In the first place, the framework document provides the function of the Grievance Committee within the collaboration that should handle complaints or grievances from people or party (ies) who have grievances and beyond that there are still enough options to resolve issues when members raise them. When she got the letter from Urey she should have called a meeting for it to be discussed and resolved or refer it to the grievances committee but it was unfortunate that as soon as it was received, it was all in the press and the public”.
Madam Koiquah said that Senator Lawrence even aggravated the situation more when the Investigative Committee set up to look into the allegation by the National Advisory Council came up with its findings and found Mr. Cummings liable. She said the NAC upon receipt of the reports, advised Senator Lawrence to refer its findings to the lawyers that amended the framework document which was used to file with the National Elections Commission (NEC) for registration of CPP and that she should also inform the Liberian people through the media that the report was ready but will be sent to the lawyers.
“We gave the mandate to Senator Lawrence to take the report to the lawyers but she did not do it. We also asked her to come up with a draft of the press statement to be issued telling the Liberian people that we have received the document. She did not do it either but instead released portions of the report on social media and came up with an excuse that since there were mixed reactions from the public, she was going to hold a press conference. She did and thanked Urey for bringing the issues of the alteration of the framework document and called on Cummings to summon the courage to take responsibility for the alteration”, she said.
The tough talking politician said that what made the situation to go thus far was that it was a smear campaign orchestrated to tarnish the reputation of Cummings and the ANC because even when it became so glaring that the documents were not altered, people who knew all the truth decided to remain mute and allow the ugly scene to persist thus bringing the image of the CPP to public ridicule unknowingly to those who were making the vague allegation.
Madam Koiquah also criticized Senator Lawrence for intentionally scheming to rope the lawyers in the unnecessary controversies by writing the letter to them without the input of her colleagues and the National Advisory Council asking the lawyers to act on specifics that they were never part of and stated that the report from the lawyers which according to her vindicated Cummings clearly stated that there was no magnitude in what she was requesting them to do as she had turned the whole situation into a political one which if care is not taken could be risky for the CPP.
“It was sad that people who knew the truth, especially after the lawyers came out with their report exonerating Mr. Cummings, are still not ready to come up and say the truth. And I will call out the name of Senator Darius Dillon. In our meeting, Senator Dillon asked Mo Ali who was in charge of taking the documents to the lawyer one question two different times if after looking at all the documents Mo Ali was convinced that there was no alteration, and Mo Ali said there was no alteration. We had a four member committee and Mo Ali was the fifth person as the resource person. He knew all these things but he too is not talking. Even in one of our leadership meetings attended by former Vice President Joseph Boakai, he said if what he has seen and heard from the findings were true, was there any way they can find a solution and move forward, Urey stood up and said no”, she said.
Continuing further she said, “I personally stood up in the meeting that if Urey cannot point out what was altered, we should not continue with the investigation. We signed the framework document on May 19, 2020 and the Liberian people rejected the document on appointments to be made in government if CPP takes power and we called the lawyers and they came to us to tell us areas we needed to pay attention to and they strengthened the document and came back to us with it and it was used to register the CPP with NEC. People have to be very careful that it is the same document that Senator Dillon, Senator Lawrence and others were elected on and it is the same document that four of our candidates will be contesting in this bye election”
She also clarified why the ANC was not part of the turning over ceremony from the LP to UP, again blaming the LP political leader for creating the problem because she did not involve the ANC in the planning and execution process since the planners were more concerned with turning the event into a campaign.
“When ANC was turning over to LP, there was a transition committee set up that involved all the political parties within the CPP and that was why during the program all the political leaders of the constituent parties were present and made remarks. But for this one, they extended us an invitation as if to say we were from CDC, PLP, and there was nowhere we could be part of the planning process. So we refused to go to the program because they did not consider us as part of the CPP”, she said.
When asked now that she has stated everything from her perspective and seeing the impact the crisis has caused the CPP what could be the way forward, Madam Koiquah said that there are two ways going forward, one is for a public apology to be rendered to Mr. Cummings and the ANC by those who made a wide allegation that cannot be proven because this borders on character defamation of an innocent man and his party. She said there is no way true reconciliation can be possible in the process if people who offended or did wrongs cannot admit they did wrong and that they are sorry.
She said this is the area where former Vice President Boakai as the new Chairman can play a crucial role to resolve the problem and reconcile everyone.” He knows very well that there was no alteration and that the allegation was false and if those who made the allegation cannot apologize, he could do so on their behalf and a forward march can be done. She rejected a reconciliation that is not built on people admitting to their wrongs and rendering apology. “If we cannot stand up to the wrongs in the CPP, then we cannot stand up for it in government. We will start to be pampering people who are corrupt that need to be exposed”, she stated.
She said the second way forward is for the framework document to be followed to the letter so that there will be no room for unnecessary distraction, especially the aspect that has to do with picking the sole candidate that will contest against President George Manneh Weah in 2023. She said when the CPP was founded it was not done with a notion in the mind of the political parties that there was going to be a particular candidate that has been anointed to be the automatic candidate.
“We founded the CPP to be an alternative to what the CDC is providing and we are reaching the crucial part so we need to follow the framework document that all the parties signed to abide by. We are in the consensus stage whose outcome will be known by the end of November 2021. From there we will go to the Voter’s perception survey (VPS) and finally pick the standard bearer and we need to allow the process to sail through”, she concluded.