Liberia: The CPP Must Look No Further Than Itself for Betrayers

THE COLLABORATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES (CPP) issued a damning statement Sunday, expressing grave disappointment over the decision of the Liberian Senate to investigate Senator Abraham Darius Dillion for making comments critical of the Liberian Senate.

THE STATEMENT FOLLOWED a complaint filed last week by Senator George Tengbeh (Coalition for Democratic Change - Lofa County) for what he called acts unbecoming of senator of this Republic.

IN HIS COMPLAINT, Senator Tengbeh claims that Senator Dillon and Cohorts have in recent months embarked on a "smear campaign" aimed at denigrating the Liberian Senate both wholly and individually. The Lofa County Senator alleged that his peer has willfully and intentionally distorted the image of the Senate, causing massive injury to the characters of Senators and the institution.

SENATOR TENGBEH SAID: "On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Senator Dillon accused all Senators who affixed their signatures to the Senate resolution containing the COVID-19 recast budget and certain fiscal measures of receiving bribes. I demand the senator to provide proof of the commission of this highly felonious crime by twenty-three senators who signed the document."

SENATOR TENGBEH, A FORMER MEMBER of the former ruling Unity Party, now a member of the currently ruling party is reportedly interested in running on the CDC's ticket in the upcoming Senatorial Midterm elections in Lofa and is using the complaint against Senator Dillon as part of his play on behalf of the ruling CDC.

WHILE THE CPP makes a strong case for Senator Dillon, it must look within its own corridors for betrayers amongst its ranks.

UNDER THE EXISTING CONFIGURATION, 30 Senators make up the upper house of the national legislature. Of that number, only seven belong to the ruling CDC.

THREE POLITICAL PARTIES - Weah's CDC, the National Patriotic Party of former President Charles Taylor and the Liberia People's Democratic Party(LPDP) of former House Speaker, Alex Tyler), make up the ruling CDC coalition.

FROM THE CDC: AUGUSTINE CHEA(Sinoe); Saah Joseph(Montserrado County); Marshall Dennis(Grand Gedeh); Peter Sonpon Coleman(Grand Kru); Albert Chie(Grand Kru) and Dan Morias(Maryland) and George Tengbeh(Lofa, CDC).

AS PART OF THE RULING COALITION, Jim Tornallah(Margibi), represents the People's Unification Party(PUP); Senator Sando Johnson(Bomi, NPP) and Armah Jallah(Gbarpolu, NPP)

FROM THE CPP COALITION, at least ten senators make up the opposition Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and the former ruling Unity Party.

THEY ARE: Morris Saytumah(Bomi, UP)Daniel F. Naathen(Gbarpolu, ANC); Jonathan Kaipay(LP, Grand Bassa); Varney Sherman(Grand Cape Mount, UP); Stephen Zargo(Lofa, LP); Conmany Wesseh(River Gee, UP); Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence(Grand Bassa, LP); Edward Dagoseh(Grand Cape Mount, UP); Alphonso Gaye(Grand Gedeh, UP);J. Milton Teahjay(Sinoe, UP)

THERE ARE THREE independent Senators- Henrique Tokpa(Independent, Bong), Matthew Paye(River Gee) and J. Gbleh Bo Brown(Independent, Maryland).

FRANCIS PAYE REPRESENTS the National Democratic Coaltion(NDC); Prince Y. Johnson and Thomas Grupee of the National Union for Democratic Progress(NUDP)

ON PAPER, THE OPPOSITION should really have no problem standing up to the ruling establishment but too many times, votes on crucial issues have left many Liberians devastated.

DURING THE IMPEACHEMNT SAGA, to remove former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja'neh for example, the opposition fell short of the fifteen votes need to keep Ja'neh on the bench.

ARTICLE 43 OF THE Constitution states: "No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law."

A TWO-THIRD VOTES could have saved Ja'neh - and the number was there amongst the opposition.

CRITICS HAVE for years chastised Liberia's opposition parties for failing to stand up when it really matters.

IN INDIA, AN anti-defection law is in place to counter the menace of corruption-driven defections and ensure political stability, Rajiv Gandhi introduced the Anti-Defection Law as the new Tenth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. Under the law, the Speaker of the House - in Parliament and the state assemblies - can disqualify Members, if they switch parties or vote/abstain on an issue against their party's directions (also called the 'party whip'). Members may only defy their party whip if two-thirds of their party decides to defect or rebel against the whip.

EVEN IN MORE developed countries, the issue of lawmakers going against public good and party interest remains a nagging problem.

IN MOST INSTANCES, elected lawmakers prefer to vote in the interest of the ruling establishment or with their re-election helping to shape their decision making.

VERY RARELY nowadays, would lawmakers put their jobs on the line and willingly risk their jobs for the public good, especially on matters of conscience or morality.

WHILE SENATOR DILLON'S stance is commendable, the ruling CPP can do itself a lot of good by holding their representatives' feet to the fire and ensuring that they vote in the public's interest and not what's best for their pockets.

THE CPP can begin putting its house in order if it is serious about ending the harassment and intimidation of Senator Dillon by going the distance and not just curbing defections within its rank but publicly naming and shaming those on their ticket who do and demanding more from them, then just a number roaming around the corridors of power.

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