Liberia: CPP Takes Giant Step

-as NEC gives legal approval

The National Elections Commission or NEC will on Friday August 14, certificates the four Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) months after the parties signed a framework document to operate as one ahead of the 2020 mid-term senatorial election and 2023 general and presidential elections.

The CPP comprises the former ruling Unity Party (UP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC), the All Liberian Party (ALP) and the Liberty Party (LP).

In a letter of acceptance to the CPP dated August 11, 2020, NEC averred that the parties have met the requirements of Article 79 of the Liberian Constitution and Chapter 8, Section 8.5 of the 1986 New Election Law, which speaks to the registration of alliance and coalition in Liberia.

"In view thereof, the Commission will issue a certificate of accreditation to the Collaborating Political Parties on August 14, 2020 in the James M. Fromayan Conference Hall at 2:00 PM," the letter signed by EC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah noted.

The CPP is currently chair by ANC's political leader Alexander B. Cummings. He took over from ALP's political leader Benoni Urey whose chairmanship saw the drafting of the framework document that binds the party together.

The four opposition parties signed the framework document in May this year at which time they drew up a roadmap for their collaboration.

The document set three steps that the four collaborating parties will utilize for nomination processes to determine the selection of CPP's candidates for both presidential and legislative candidates to guide this year's and the 2023 elections.

The parties agreed to work with the document which says consensus shall be the first process conducted to select the ticket and that any decision emanating from there shall be binding on the parties and endorsed by the CPP.

15 of Liberia's 30 senators are expected to seek re-election this December, including Grand Bassa's Nyonblee Karnga - Lawrence; Nimba's Thomas Grupee; River Cess' Francis Paye; Montserrado's Abraham Darius Dillon; Grand Kru's Peter Coleman; Maryland's Dan Morais and Bomi's Sando Johnson.

The CPP Collaborative Framework Document says the objective of the alliance is to present a single presidential ticket and or legislative candidates for all elections leading up to and including 2023 general and presidential elections.

It mandates all constituent political parties allocated slots for both the senatorial and representative elections are required to determine their nominees in compliance with their party's internal democratic selection processes.

The four constituent political parties are obligated under the arrangement to participate in the formal endorsement ceremony for all representatives and senatorial candidates preferably to be held in the constituency or county concerned, to be attended by the relevant district or county representatives as well as representatives of the National Executive Committee of the alliance.

Further, all constituent political parties are under obligation to be fully represented or to form part of any established campaign committee for the presidential, senatorial and representative elections, provided that the candidate shall select the head of any such committee.

The document further commits the four political parties to work toward an eventual merger of the constituent political parties in the future in line with the CPP's objective to reduce the number of political parties to an affordable number in response to the desire of the people.

Where consensus is not met in selecting a ticket, the framework document directs that the CPP shall conduct a Voters Perception Survey (VPS) as prescribed in Sections 10.5.2 of the agreement.

For the purpose of presidential nomination, the framework document notes that consensus shall be by unanimous choice made through a confidential medium, and that the presidential aspirants of the four initial parties shall have until December 1, 2021 to, by consensus, decide or agree on and name a presidential ticket, including a running mate.

The agreement gives the Standard Bearer of the CPP three months to name his/her running mate for subsequent endorsement by the National Executive Committee of the CPP in keeping with the electoral laws and Constitution of Liberia.

The Vice Standard Bearer nominee is required to hail from the CPP, but that such nominee should not come from the same constituent party as the Standard Bearer.The Executive Committee may only reject the Vice Standard Bearer nominee on grounds established by law.

Where the presidential aspirants of the CPP fail or are unable to decide/agree on and name a presidential ticket, including a running mate on or before December 1, 2021, the framework document states that the CPP shall conduct a non-binding voters' perception surveys (VPS) funded by the CPP, for the purpose of informing the four parties and its delegates on the views of the public in preparation for primaries.

It says the VPS shall include the four standard bearers or legislative candidates of each of the CPP constituent parties as survey subjects (SS), and in addition, also obtain voters' preference and perception about other influentially potential presidential and legislative aspirants from within and outside of the CPP, as SS.

Where the designated official of the CPP on legislative nomination are unable to decide/agree on and name the legislative candidate for a district or county, the framework document also mandates that the CPP shall conduct a Voter's Perception Survey funded by the CPP, for the purpose of informing the four parties and its delegates on the views of the public in preparation for primaries.

But the results from the VPS for presidential candidates will not be binding, except that the conduct of the VPS shall be mandatory and conducted no earlier than six months and no later than three months to the conduct of the primaries.

The results emanating from the primaries shall be binding on all parties in the collaboration," the document says.

Concerning legislative candidates, it also says the results from the VPS for legislative candidates will not be binding unless in the case of incumbent lawmakers as per Section (10.5.4). But it notes that the conduct of the VPS shall be mandatory and conducted no earlier than four weeks to the conduct of the primaries.

Further, the document says an alliance member may lose his/her membership when a political party resigns from the alliance for cause or is dissolved by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Other causes for losing membership include inaction of the other parties to probe a matter concerning the actions of a member party against the party in reasonable time; the party is consistently maligned, attacked and brought to public disrepute by officials and affiliates of a member party.

It cites also as further reason for losing membership, consistent violation of the agreement by one or more members of the alliance; the political party's consistently refusal or neglect to fulfill its financial obligations as provided in Article 8 of the framework, provided there is no pending/undetermined matter or grievance filed by the defaulting member. The document gives the alliance the power to establish a single account to be managed by designated signatures as agreed by the authorities of the constituent political parties.

Agreement is reached for each political party to make equal financial contribution to fund all activities of the alliance based on a 25% cost-sharing principle of the total expenditure required to fund any activity of the alliance as long as the framework is in place. Members of the alliance are required to make an initial contribution of USD $10,000 for the opening of the bank account to be paid upon the signing of the document and an annual due payment /contribution of USD$ 24,000 to run the affairs of the Alliance.

The document says the total amount of annual contribution agreed to by the parties shall be paid in quarterly installments of US $6,000 with the first quarter installment to be invoiced and paid within three months after the signing of the agreement.

In the guideline set in the framework document, a party is found guilty of violating the provisions of the agreement provided that due process is accorded and party's or its Executive Committee member(s) or official(s) are found guilty of promoting the activities of a political party that is not one of the members of the alliance.

It sets a punitive measure of suspending the violator's membership for up to one year or expelling them from the alliance if they are found promoting the activities or programs of a person or organization engaged in acts that are counterproductive to the objective of the alliance.

The document states equality, transparency & accountability, integrity, inclusiveness, respect for rule of law, peace & unity, discipline & hard work and gender equity as the core values of the alliance.

The CPP seeks to strengthen the democracy here through grassroots engagement with the people, using town hall meetings, community engagements, radio and technology.

Members of the alliance are to jointly and in equal proportion finance the operational costs of the office of the alliance which shall be rotated based on the chairmanship of the alliance. The alliance says it is aware that the media have the power to shape public opinion and make or break the alliance's political mission, thereby committing to endeavor to enhance its activities with a tolerant media engagement strategy and seeking to empower media entities to voice the vision of the alliance in pursuit of its overriding objective.

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