Liberia: 'CDC Framework Was Revised, Not Violated'

-- Says high-ranking coalition official

A high-ranking official of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has described as a false and misleading reports that certain provisions of the framework holding the coalition together has been breached.

In recent times, stalwarts of the National Patriotic Party, a member of the tripartite CDC, have complained that a certain provision of the Coalition framework, which reportedly allows incumbent lawmakers of the ruling Coalition who are seeking re-election to be exempt from primaries, has been violated ahead of the December 8, 2020, midterm senatorial elections. One person who raised the concern recently was Maryland County Senator Dan Morais, who claims that it was wrong for the Coalition to contemplate on putting up a candidate in his county when he is an incumbent with the desire to be re-elected.

The coalition, which brought George M. Weah to the presidency in the 2017 General and Presidential Elections, comprises three political parties -- the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the National Patriotic Party (NPP) and the Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP).

It was established on a framework, which states, among other things, that parties to the coalition, which have seats in the Legislature, shall reserve the right of nomination to the seat in constituencies where coalition members do not have seats, and the candidate that provides the right option for victory shall be considered as the coalition nominees. This provision of the coalition framework has been implemented in several by-elections conducted in the country.

For instance, in the by-elections held in Montserrado and Sinoe counties during the past year, the Congress for Democratic Change decided on who contested the senatorial seats. This also goes with a by-election for a seat allotted for the NPP in the Bong County senatorial election as well.

However, in a telephone interview over the weekend with the Daily Observer, the CDC official, who requested not to be named said that the provision of the "Coalition framework has not been violated as speculated, but it has been revised to encourage open competition for all political parties of the Coalition."

According to the official, the framework was revised by members of the governing council some time ago.

Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor and Maryland County Senator Dan Morais have recently spoken about the framework being violated, especially for the pending senatorial election. Senator Morais, who is seeking reelection this year, has written the National Elections Commission (NEC) to interpret to all the three member-parties of the Coalition the provision of the framework on the production of candidates.

But contrary to the concerns of Vice President Howard Taylor and Senator Morais, the CDC official has emphatically said that the framework was only meant for the 2017 General and Presidential Elections.

"During a meeting held in February this year, attended by President Weah and other members of the governing council, including Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor of the National Patriotic Party, Former Speaker Alex Tyler of the Liberia People Democratic Party, we decided to revisit the provision of the framework," the CDC official explained.

"The process was reviewed instead of allowing political parties to have domineering influence. It baffles me when I hear that the framework is being violated. We are ensuring a very democratic process that gives the right to the people to decide who their leaders are," the CDC official added.

He further explained that the review document has been communicated to the NEC.

He told the Daily Observer that those CDC members who left the party and joined the opposition are welcomed to come back to the Coalition to contest for the political positions in which they have an interest.

The CDC chairman concluded that a strategy to revise the framework will ensure victories for the upcoming midterm senatorial election for the coalition, adding that primaries for the coalition will be conducted in the 15 political subdivisions of Liberia.

Meanwhile, the deputy secretary-general of the Coalition, Janga Kowo, did not speak of the revision of the framework, but frowned on the complaint to NEC by Senator Morais, suggesting that the Senator's utterances might be misplaced.

"I can't comment on any statement made by Vice President Taylor because I did not hear it and she's a member of the governing council. But as for the Senator, he lacks the standing to speak on issues relating to the coalition," he said.

Since the Coalition for Democratic Change was established, there have been a wave of turbulence among the parties to the coalition, especially the National Patriotic Party and the Congress for Democratic Change. The NPP's standard bearer, Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, once admitted that, at a certain point she was on the verge of stepping down due to the misunderstandings between her and the CDC standard bearer, President George Manneh Weah.

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