Information gathered by this paper indicates that the ex-standard bearer and leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), businessman Alexander Cumming wants to head a three-party alliance here that would unite the former ruling Unity Party (UP), opposition Liberty Party (LP) and the ANC.
Cummings has reportedly promised to bankroll the entire process of sustaining the coalition to make it ‘very influential and powerful.’ But in a news conference here Monday, 11 June at the ANC headquarters in Monrovia, its national chairman Orashell Gould, avoided responding to question about the ex-standard bearer desirous of heading the alliance.
Gould said, “We are restricting our conversation with the issues abide. We haven’t reached that time to talk about leadership now.” His response cleared the quest of reporters who had gathered for the conference.
He maintains the intent of the conference should not be thwarted, as they are not thinking about who sits at the head of the coalition. However, the opposition coalition expresses its strong disapproval and condemns a pattern of gross disregard for the Constitution of Liberia and the rule of law by certain elements of the ruling Coalition Democratic Change, particularly referencing a recent policy statement by Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.
Chairman Gould notes that in a widely circulated statement to local leaders, including commissioners in Bong County, Vice President Taylor threatened to replace all commissioners who refuse to join the ruling CDC.
He quotes the Vice President as saying, ‘How can [two] work together if they don’t agree? To agree, we must all be on the same side; so if you think you can’t make it, tell us; we’ll find someone else.’
Gould notes that the most sacred duty of elected officials is to uphold the law, stressing that the solemn oath when taking office is to defend and protect the constitution.
He says Article 18 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution states that all Liberian citizens shall have equal opportunity for work and employment regardless of sex, creed, religion, ethnic background, place of origin or political affiliation, and all shall be entitled to equal pay for equal work.
He continues that Veep Taylor’s statement in Gbarnga is an affront to the Constitution, which she took oath to defend and protect, and a violation of the law.
He says these patterns of gross disregard for existing laws have also found a place in some unwholesome practices and actions of the CDC that are fast becoming public policy, pointing to removal from office of public officials, who have not ended their tenure of service, for no cause, replacement of heads of integrity institutions such as the Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiatives or LEITI, outside of the legal framework.
He also laments alleged displacement of civil servants, many of whom millions of dollars have been spent on for specialized training and higher education on mere authority of a letter from the Chairman of the ruling Coalition, Mulbah Morlu in total disregard of qualifications of new appointees or any reference whatsoever to the Civil Service Agency, which is established by law to preside over vetting, training and placement processes of civil servants in the country.
In a very brief news conference recently at the Liberty Party headquarters in Congo Town outside Monrovia, its national secretary general Jacob Smith, said the parties formed the alliance to work together in moving the country’s democratic process forward, the first since the 2017 elections that saw former opposition CDC ascending to power.
A joint statement dated, June 4, under the signatures of UP Chairman Wilmot Paye, LP Vice Chairman Rugie Barry, and ANC national chairman Orashall Gould, reads: “While all three parties will maintain their independent identities and leadership, we will collaborate to articulate common solutions and alternatives to our country’s challenges. We will also collaborate to hold the CDC-led government accountable to our Constitution and people.”
But the new marriage has come under sharp criticism from the public after it called off a scheduled statement last week that should have focused on issues of national concern.
The media and members of the public had gathered for the statement when at the eleven’s hour, the alliance announced that issues it should have spoken on were already addressed by the government, an excuse many ordinary Liberians considered as not being a serious opposition.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne