CDC Finally Suspends Chairman Solo

The Grievance and Ethics Committee (GEC) of Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has recommended that the National Chairman, Mr. George Solo be suspended from his position for a period of two consecutive years.

The committee said such a suspension commences with the date of formal suspension by the National Executive Committee of the party in the wake of the committee’s investigation. The CDC Grievance committee also called on the party’s NEC to follow the CDC constitution in filling the vacancy of the National Chairman.

The CDC also recommended the establishment of a Constitutional Review Committee to address a few ambiguities in the otherwise beautiful democratic instrument that is the CDC constitution.

The group noted that a revised or amended CDC Constitution should unify the Constitution and By-Laws into a coherent whole which will clearly define the powers available to the National Chairman.

The CDC Investigative team said this is because crises in the CDC often revolve around a National Chairman exercising rights, powers and privileges he or she believes is conferred by the CDC constitution, thus these powers should be more explicitly defined and restrictions to be fully articulated in a revised constitution.

The CDC investigation team said deposition made by the NEC and evidence in the possession of the GEC do point to attempts by the National Chairman to commit at least one member of the NEC to an act of corruption.

“Mr. Morlu informed the GEC that that National Chairman did promise him huge financial rewards in exchange for support. Asked whether similar offers or promises were made to other members of the NEC, Mr. Morlu responded that such promises could not be made since the National Chairman wanted to proceed secretly,” the Grievance and Ethic Committee said.

The CDC Committee said in audio evidence the National Chairman was heard promising Mr. Morlu financial reward in exchange for political support.

The committee noted that “rule 5 of the By-Laws cited in the assessment of Charge 1 clearly states that ‘creating division in the rank and file of the CDC membership’ is a serious violation. The action of a National chairman promising reward to a member of the NEC in exchange for political support, to the exclusion of other members of the NEC, points to such division.” See Full Text Of investigation’s report. SEE FULL TEXT BELOW:

CDC’s Grievance and Ethics Committee’s Ruling On The Investigation of Suspended National Chairman George SoloSeptember 5, 2014

I Introduction

The availing of due process to persons accused of violating the CDC constitution is central to the party’s internal democracy. Recourse to the due process of law is fast becoming the norm within the party, an indication that among political parties in Liberia, the CDC is fast moving beyond the rule of whim or caprice in dispensing justice to partisans or in making decisions affecting partisans and the broad direction of the party.

In December of 2012 National Chairman George Solo appointed the present Grievance and Ethics Committee, hereafter the GEC, his first such appointment of the GEC upon assuming the National Chairmanship in 2012.

In December of 2012, the GEC was soon put to work on its first case when it received formal complaints against the National Youth League Chairman, Mr. Jefferson T. Koijee. Mr. Koijee was suspended by the NEC, charged on three counts and sent to the GEC for investigation, consistent with Rule 14 of the CDC By-Laws, which empowers the NEC to temporarily suspend officials of the CDC and accord them due process within a period of 30 days. Mr. Koijee’s charges were as follows:

1. Violation of the CDC communications policy by issuing a statement without authorization from the National Executive Committee on the Vision 2030 conference in Gbarnga, Bong County in the name of the party.

2. Misrepresentation of the party’s position on Ambassador Weah’s role as Peace Ambassador.

3. Alleged attempt to disrupt the Vision 2030 National Conference held in Gbarnga, Bong County in Mr. Koijee’s role as CDC Youth League Chairman, an outcome that would have brought the party into public disrepute.

The GEC found Mr. Koijee guilty on the first charge and recommended a one-month suspension. While recommending Mr. Koijee’s suspension, the GEC wrote that the “original suspension of Mr. Koijee by the National Chairman on December 13, 2012 through a press release violated the CDC Constitution on grounds that a National Chairman does not enjoy the power to unilaterally suspend an elected member of the NEC.”

The GEC derives its authority from Rule 18 of the CDC By-Laws, which provides that:

The Grievance and Ethics Committee (GEC) shall bear and determine violations or offences on appeal from appropriate organs of the CDC. In addition, the NEC may refer such violations or offences directly to the Committee. In other situations arising out of serious breaches of the Constitution, Code of Conduct, the Committee itself may exercise original jurisdiction to investigate and determine any complaint.

The present case involving the National Chairman, Mr. George Solo, is the second in the last two years to make it to the GEC. Unfortunately, the National Chairman rejected the path of due process within the CDC, failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices. While the non-appearance of the National Chairman is a less desirable outcome, it does not detract from the norm of due process within the CDC, vouchsafed in Article 5 Section 46 and Rule 14 of the CDC By-Laws.

This is the formal investigative report in the case between the National Executive Committee and the suspended National Chairman of the CDC, Mr. George Solo.

II Rules and Procedures of GEC Hearings

The following are the rules and procedures that guide investigations and proceedings of the GEC.

Rule 1.0 Presumption of Innocence

Persons appearing before the GEC are presumed innocent unto proven guilty.

Rule 2.0 Confidentiality

All proceedings and information within the possession of the Committee are deemed confidential unless otherwise specified. Members of the GEC are strictly prohibited from discussing deliberations or findings with partisans of the CDC or members of the public prior to the release of the GEC’s findings. Members of the GEC in violation of this rule will be subject to removal from the GEC and other forms of disciplinary action as determined by the GEC.

Rule 3.0 Initiation of Complaint

The GEC shall investigate no complaint which is not formally and officially written.

Rule 4.0 Notices

The GEC shall serve written citation notices to all complainants, defendants and parties expected to appear for hearing. Citation notices shall contain the date, place and time of hearing. All citation notices shall be posted on the CDC official bulletin board. In cases where any party refuses to appear, three citation notices shall be issued. The third citation notice may be published in newspapers and made available to the wider public.

Rule 5.0 Hearing

Hearings under the jurisdiction of the GEC shall proceed in the following order. Those appearing may be asked for written statements or arguments in support of their case and would be asked to make their case before the GEC. This will be followed by cross-examination by members of the GEC. Witnesses for complainants and defendants are required to appear. Rules of evidence may not be applied strictly during hearings. Hearings may be recorded by audiocassette or otherwise. All documents accepted by the GEC shall be made part of the record of the hearing. An oral affirmation of truthfulness will be requested from complainants and defendants. Neither complainant nor defendant shall be present when the GEC deliberates and makes its decision.

Rule 6.0 Investigations

Complainants and defendants who cannot appear on a specified date may submit documents and evidence to the GEC. The GEC shall rule after considering the submitted documents. Investigations that do not require a hearing shall follow the same procedure. Arguments for or against a particular position or outcome shall be made to the GEC.

Rule 7.0 Quorum Requirement

Three out of the five members of the GEC shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of formal investigation. Hearing and ruling shall not occur in the absence of quorum.

The GEC may establish a ruling by consensus. In the ability to reach a consensus on an issue, ruling shall be by a simple majority of a quorum vote.

Rule 9.0 Recommendations

The GEC may make recommendations to the NEC.

Rule 9.0 Publication

Rule 16 of the CDC By-Laws states that ‘decisions of disciplinary proceedings shall be made public.’ The GEC interprets ‘public’ to mean ‘public within the CDC.’ Rulings from the GEC shall respect this interpretation. However, in situations and contexts of cases wreaking significant public debate, in which complainants and defendants appear on public radio stations, publish views in newspapers and through social media and other internet outlets, the GEC may release its rulings through similar public media.

III Establishment of Grievance

On August 13, 2014 the GEC received a formal communication dated August 12, 2014 from NEC requesting an investigation into its August 11, 2014 suspension of National Chairman George Solo, which reversed an earlier August 2 resolution passing a vote of no confidence in the National Chairman and removing him from his position. Charges contained in the August 12, 2014 letter follow verbatim to wit:

1. That Mr. Solo, whilst administering the duties and functions of the office of Chairman, outside the knowledge of the National Executive Committee of the CDC; and acting outside the authorization of that body(i.e. NEC), deliberately, criminally, maliciously and dubiously proceeded to trade the political interests of the Congress for Democratic Change to opponents of the CDC, in exchange for monetary benefits and/or other benefits, contrary to the ideological comportments of the CDC, thereby attempting to jeopardize the collective interests of hundreds of thousands of its members, sympathizers, and supporters on whose behalf delegates meeting in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County elected Mr. George M. Weah as their Candidate for the Montserrado Special Senatorial Elections; a constitutional obligation Mr. Solo’s actions evidently threatened to disrupt, undo and prevent by scam. This attempted action constitutes a grave constitutional violation and is contrary to Part II, Bye-Laws, Chapter I, Codes of Conduct, Rule V; d., e., & iv; Article IV, under Principles of the CDC, Section 20 of the Bye-Laws and constitution of the CDC. In addition to the preponderance of testaments authenticating this indictment, please see attached ‘Exhibit A’, an unimpeachable audio evidence;

2. That over a period, Mr. George Solo, whilst enjoying the office of Chairman and its legal entitlements and attending trappings thereof, criminally, deceitfully, and illegally solicited a connivance, collaboration, and the partnership of some members of the NEC to unconstitutionally and criminally commit the CDC to a bargain of corruption and gamble without the approval of the National Executive Committee, thereby putting at great risk the reputation and image of the CDC, contrary to Part II, Bye-Laws, Chapter I, Codes of Conduct, Rule 2; Rule 5; Article IV, under Principles of the CDC, Section 24 of the constitution of the CDC. please see attached ‘Exhibit B’ as part of evidence authenticating the indictment;

3. That on 1st August 2014, Mr. George Solo, armed with dangerous objects and a double-edged, well sharpened cutting knife; whilst fully exercising the office of Chairman, and without any provocation, assisted by a ring of accomplices, violently descended on the premises of the Headquarters of the CDC, and successfully disrupted a an organized meeting of the Youth League, thereby put at physical risk the safety and security of congregants of that meeting, also creating physical and psychological havoc/chaos, personally injuring the party’s Chaplain General with the swing of the blade/knife he carried; which is an act ill-disposed to his office as Chairman. This unwarranted action of Mr. Solo has caused great political harm to the integrity of the CDC and subjected its many partisans to shame and embarrassment, leaving many to threaten a withdrawal of membership unless punitive and swift measures are taken to avert this injurious and scandalous act of dishonor strongly disallowed in Part II, Bye-Laws, Chapter I, Codes of Conduct, Rule VI, Sub-sections 6, 7, & 8 of the constitution of the CDC;

4. That Mr. George Solo has commenced a systematic campaign of misinformation, propaganda, lies and callous misrepresentation of facts and circumstances against the CDC, and to the extent that he has aggravated said deliberate campaign by exploiting the premise of public journalism, through the print media to besmear the good image of the CDC and members of its Executive Committee, rendering them ‘Hooligans, criminals, troublemakers, and people ‘Plotting to overthrow the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’. This action being a wicked and intentional blackmail, character assassination and attempts to destroy the image of the CDC and members of its leadership, has already tainted the character of those officials named and the entire image of the CDC, thereby bringing to disrepute the offices of the victims, making it difficult to carry out their daily functions due to unease amongst party members. The actions detailed in the foregoing being inexcusable; in addition to the latter, which runs counter to Article V Membership, Section 41a of the constitution of the CDC, provides admissible constitutional basis for accountability and the advancement of the rule of law.

Upon receipt of the August 12 communication, the GEC, in separate citation notices dated August 15, 2014 requested the NEC, the complainant and the suspended National Chairman, the defendant, to appear before the GEC on August 19-22, 2014 at 2:00 PM at the headquarters of the CDC. The NEC was asked to appear on August 19, the suspended National Chairman on August 20 while both parties were asked to appear on August 21. On Sunday, August 17, 2014 the GEC received audio material from the NEC as evidence to substantiate its charge against the suspended Chairman.

IV GEC Hearing

On Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the NEC deposed witnesses to substantiate the charges brought against the National Chairman, in persons of Vice-Chairman for Operations, Mr. Mulbah K. Morlu, Deputy Secretary-General, Mr. Samao P.Z. Wolokollie, National Chaplain General, Rev. Festus R.B. Logan, Youth League Secretary-General, Mr. Barsee Karr-Barley and partisans Mr. Lewis Wright and Mr. Habakkuk S. Wonmei. The witnesses were deposed under oath prior to beginning testimony against the National Chairman.

This section presents depositions from both the complainant, the NEC and the defendant, the National Chairman as well as GEC assessments and rulings on all four charges brought against the National Chairman.

Charge 1: Attempt to Trade or Jeopardize the Interest of partisans of the CDC.

Issue 1: Did the NEC have the authority to convene on August 2, 2014 without the National Chairman presiding?

Complainant’s Deposition: The Vice-Chairman for Operations, Mr. Mulbah Morlu deposing for the complainant, informed the GEC that Article 12 section 71 of the CDC constitutions defines the broad powers given the NEC, and that one of those powers is to conduct meetings in the absence of the chairman or where the chairman willfully attempts to undermine the holding of NEC meetings. Mr. Morlu averred that the circumstances of the NEC’s July 30, 2014 meeting made it difficult for the National Chairman to attend the August 2 meeting, since the NEC did not approve the extra fund-raising mandate the National Chairman had requested from the NEC at the July 30 meeting. Mr. Morlu related that NEC members had informed the National Chairman that the chairman of the CDC has inherent powers granted by the party’s constitution to raise funds and ensure the financial viability of the party and that the National Chairman’s request for specific powers to raise funds appeared perplexing. Mr. Morlu further explained that because the July 30 meeting ended disappointingly for the National Chairman and because of the chairman’s alleged misbehavior at the August 1, 2014 Youth League meeting, the National Chairman sought to undermine any subsequent meeting by the NEC and refused to attend the August 2 meeting despite formal invitation sent by the NEC, receipt of which was acknowledged. Mr. Morlu argued that under such circumstances in which a National Chairman wilfully and deliberately attempts to undermine the operations of the NEC and the CDC, the NEC is empowered under Article 12 to safeguard the interest of the party. According to Mr. Morlu, NEC members had sufficient evidence that the National Chairman had attempted to compromise the interest of the CDC and the August 2 meeting was called to put him check but that he did not attend left the NEC with no other option but to declare a vote of no confidence in the Chairman and relieve him of his position.

Defendant’s Deposition: None. Defendant waived his right to due process in failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices availing such right.

GEC Assessment: The GEC concurs that the CDC constitution empowers the NEC to run the affairs of the party. Article 12 section 71 (c) specifically empowers the NEC, NOT the National Chairman, ‘to supervise and direct the work of the CDC, its organs, including national, regional and local governance structures.’ Under Article 16 which specifies the duties, and functions of elected officers, the National Chairman is empowered as the Chief Executive Officer responsible for the party’s daily administrative operations. Administrative decisions are unambiguously the preserve of the National Chairman but where decisions or actions obtrude beyond normal administrative issues, the framers took great care to specifically empower the National Congress (NC) or the NEC. Section 86 (a) of Article 16 empowers the National Chairman ‘to preside over the NEC and National Congress’ (b) ‘to remain the custodian of Decisions TAKEN by the NC,’ and (d) ‘carry out such additional tasks as the NC or the NEC may INSTRUCT and or appoint and establish a committee from time to time deemed necessary to enhance the work of the CDC.’ In matters extending beyond party administration, the National Chairman is essentially carrying out the instructions of the NC or NEC and the framers were judicious in adopting this kind of language, considering Liberia’s experience with imperial presidential autocracy, dictatorship and the rule of individual will. While Section 86(a) empowers the National Chairman to ‘preside over the NC and the NEC,’ that right does not imply that in the event the Chairman has reason NOT to convene the NEC or is indisposed to calling NEC meetings or is the subject of a pending NEC investigation, an NEC meeting may not be called. In contexts and circumstances where a National Chairman has reason NOT to call an NEC meeting even though such meeting may be necessary, the operations of the CDC would be hindered, and were the NEC to permit such obstruction, it would be in violation of powers entrusted to it by the CDC constitution. An NEC meeting called to discuss grave issues bordering on the integrity or viability of the CDC, particularly after a previous NEC meeting ended prematurely, should and must be attended by the National Chairman. The decision to call meetings is a normal administrative responsibility of the National Chairman as noted above, but where issues go beyond administrative nature as is clearly the case here, the NEC, which is empowered to ‘supervise and direct the work of the CDC’ may call an NEC meeting WITH or WITHOUT the approval of the National Chairman. To otherwise subject the NEC to the wishes of the National Chairman is to undermine the powers granted to the NEC in Article 12, which in the absence of National Congress, is the highest decision-making body of the CDC.

It is the judgment of the GEC that the August 2, 2014 meeting of the NEC, which gave birth to both the National Chairman’s removal and subsequent suspension was legal and consistent with the CDC constitution and By-Laws.

Issue 2: Did the National Executive Committee have cause to pass a vote of no confidence and remove the Chairman on August 2 or to suspend the National Chairman in its August 11 sitting on the basis of Charge 1?

Complainant Deposition: The Vice Chairman for Operations argued before the GEC that the primary responsibility of any National Chairman of the CDC is to uphold and protect the interests of partisans of the CDC. He stated that on numerous occasions, the National Chairman, George Solo, had engaged him in discussions about trading CDC’s senatorial bid in Montserrado County in exchange for finances to support the CDC. Mr. Morlu referenced audio evidence the NEC submitted to the GEC, in which the National Chairman is heard promising rewards to Mr. Morlu in exchange for supporting the alleged National Chairman’s interest in trading the Montserrado senatorial bid. Asked whether these audio conversations pre-date or post-date the CDC Buchanan primary, Mr. Morlu answered that he could not be sure and promised to subsequently provide information about the dates. Mr. Morlu referenced additional conversations on similar subject between him and the National Chairman but equally could not pre-date or post-date those conversations relative to the Buchanan primary at the time of his appearance. Subsequent to the hearing, Mr. Morlu provided evidence that the National Chairman and another NEC member (name withheld) were involved in such conversation after the Buchanan primary. Asked during the hearing whether these conversations were ever brought to the attention of the NEC, Mr. Morlu answered to the contrary. He further argued that it was based on the level of trust the National Chairman had accorded him that he was privy to these conversations. Mr. Morlu further argued that the National Chairman’s request to the NEC for additional mandate to raise funds was consistent with conversations between him and the National Chairman, concluding that the NEC, on the basis of evidence submitted in favor of this charge, has sufficient cause to suspend the National Chairman.

Defendant’s Deposition: None. Defendant waived his right to due process in failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices availing such right.

GEC Assessment on Charge 1: Evidence supplied by the NEC and Mr. Morlu during their deposition disposes the GEC to believe that the audio conversation referenced by Mr. Morlu occurred before the CDC Buchanan primary, held on June 6, 2014. This means the CDC did not have a material interest the National Chairman could trade prior to June 6. Ambassador George M. Weah, the current CDC Montserrado candidate, was only a contestant for the CDC Montserrado senate slot prior to the Buchanan primary. Partisans had not vouchsafed their interest in him or any other person at the time of the National Chairman’s conversations with the Vice-Chair for Operations. For reasons best known to himself, Ambassador Weah could have opted out of the Montserrado race prior to Buchanan. If he so did, he would not have in any way compromised the interest of the CDC, since the CDC constitution does not MANDATE that specific Liberians, including Ambassador George Weah, be candidates in legislative or presidential elections. As such, the National Chairman, judging by the evidence provided by the NEC, allegedly attempted to trade a future or potential CDC interest, not an existing interest. Although the NEC had provided evidence purporting to show conversations between the National Chairman and Mr. Morlu after the CDC convention, the preponderance of the timing of the audio evidence as revealed by statements made by Mr. Morlu during the hearing leaves the GEC unconvinced by this later evidence.

Furthermore, the requirement to convict the National Chairman on the basis of Rule 5 of the CDC By-Laws, is stronger than an ‘attempt to trade the interest of the CDC.’ Rule 5 specifically states that a serious offence for which disciplinary proceedings may be held, shall be committed by any member who by conduct, acts or omissions prejudices the integrity of the reputation of the CDC, its personnel or its operational capacity by:

a) impeding the activities of the party;

b) creating division within its ranks and membership;

c) exposing sensitive, important, confidential, business information of the CDC without authority;

d) doing any act which undermines its effectiveness as a party and

e) acting on behalf of or in collaboration with:

a. anti-CDC counter-productive forces

b. a political organization or party other than an organization in alliance with the CDC in a manner contrary to the aims, policies and objectives of the CDC;

c. intelligence or the security forces of other countries and

d. any person or group who seriously interferes with the work of the party or prevents it from filling its mission and objectives.

The requirement under (e) above is that the National Chairman be seen ‘ACTING’ not ‘ATTEMPTING’ to act. A future National Chairman may attempt to hold discussions with anti-CDC forces with the intention of transforming such negative energy against the CDC into a productive, synergistic merger or collaboration with the CDC. The GEC is unable to rule that all attempts in such regard are against the interest of the CDC. To pass such a ruling requires that the National Chairman must have acted and the action must have been demonstrated to be against the interest of the CDC. The framers of the CDC constitution did not intend to inhibit the CDC from holding discussions with adversarial political interests. The CDC has entered into coalition with anti-CDC forces in past elections. Article 20 Section 108 states that the ‘CDC may ally itself with other political interests under special circumstances for the purposes of achieving common objectives.’ To evolve such an alliance, a National Chairman may engage in a wide range of conversations to generate what he or she may be believe to be in the interest of the CDC. It may be an objective of the CDC not to field a particular candidate in a coalition arrangement. In exchange, the coalition may reward the CDC in any shape or manner which may include finances. Section 108 of Article 20 regards such a quid pro quo as a ‘common objective’ and a National Chairman in pursuit of any such common objective is not in violation of the CDC constitution. To be in violation it has be that the National Chairman’s pursuit of such a common objective ends up demonstrably endangering the interest of the CDC, something which cannot be established at the time of conversations, which could possibly end up benefiting the CDC.

Another aspect of Charge 1 is that no National Chairman, consistent with the powers granted to the NEC, has the power, capacity and efficacy to single-handedly trade the interests of partisans of the CDC. It is the assessment of the GEC that the powers of the NEC are potent enough to prevent any such compromise and as such the interests of partisans of the CDC are significantly protected by the powers given the NEC, except the NEC chooses NOT to exercise such powers and conspires with a particular National Chairman to trade the interests of the CDC. In view of the foregoing, the GEC argues that the interests of the CDC partisans were never in any real danger by the alleged actions of National Chairman Solo, neither are such interests ever in any danger under any National Chairman, except the NEC, comprising about 17 highly placed partisans, so permits. The dangers motivating the action of the NEC on the basis of charge one are merely perceived.

GEC Ruling on Charge 1: Although judgment is typically by default in cases where defendants do not appear, the GEC, considering the magnitude of the charge involved and the ramifications such charge imposes on future NEC and Chairpersons of the CDC, has decided to enter a ruling on the merits of the charge. It is the ruling of the GEC that the suspended National Chairman is NOT guilty as charged and that the NEC did NOT have CAUSE for removing or suspending the National Chairman on the basis of this charge.

Charge 2: Alleged solicitation of connivance, collaboration, and the partnership of some members of the NEC to unconstitutionally commit the CDC to a bargain of corruption.

Issue 2: Did the National Executive Committee have cause to pass a v00ote of no confidence and remove the Chairman on August 2 or to suspend the National Chairman in its August 11 sitting on the basis of Charge 2?

Complainant’s Deposition: See Complainant’s deposition under Charge 1 above:

Defendant’s Deposition: None. Defendant waived his right to due process in failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices availing such right.

GEC Assessment: Deposition made by the NEC and evidence in the possession of the GEC do point to attempts by the National Chairman to commit at least one member of the NEC to an act of corruption. Mr. Morlu informed the GEC that that National Chairman did promise him huge financial rewards in exchange for support. Asked whether similar offers or promises were made to other members of the NEC, Mr. Morlu responded that such promises could not be made since the National Chairman wanted to proceed secretly. He added that the level of trust between him and the National Chairman did not exist between the latter and other members of the NEC. In audio evidence the National Chairman is heard promising Mr. Morlu financial reward in exchange for political support. Rule 5 of the By-Laws cited in the assessment of Charge 1 clearly states that ‘creating division in the rank and file of the CDC membership’ is a serious violation. The action of a National chairman promising reward to a member of the NEC in exchange for political support, to the exclusion of other members of the NEC, points to such division. The issue here is NOT the particular form of corruption in question but the allegation that the National Chairman discriminates among members of the NEC, which may subject the CDC to rancor, division and political infighting, effectively ‘impeding the activities of the CDC,’ which (a) under Rule 5 considers a ‘serious offence’. The CDC constitution mandates the National Chairman to treat all members of the NEC on equitable terms in such a manner as to enhance both the administrative and strategic operations of the CDC, consistent with Article 6, Rights and Duties of Members, Section 48 (f) which states that ‘every member of the CDC shall have right to benefit equally from the work, activities, and programs or opportunities offered by the party without any form of bias or prejudice.’

GEC Ruling: It is the judgment of the GEC that the National Chairman is guilty as charged.

Charge 3: Alleged invasion of the headquarters of the CDC to disrupt an on-going Youth League Meeting, in the process causing injury and pandemonium.

Complainant’s Deposition: The National Youth League Secretary-General, Mr. Barsee Karr-Barley, deputizing National Youth League Chairman Jefferson Koijee who could not attend the hearing because of ailment, informed the GEC that the National Chairman proceeded to the headquarters of the CDC on August 1, 2014 to principally disrupt the CDC Youth League meeting. Mr. Karr-Barley further stated that the National Chairman had expressed opposition to the Youth League holding a meeting to discuss fund-raising possibilities in the wake of the National Chairman’s request for an extra mandate from the NEC to raise finance for the party. He related that during the July 30 meeting, the National Chairman threatened to suspend the National Youth League Chairman, who had indicated during the meeting that he would convene a meeting of the Youth League to discuss fund-raising possibilities. Mr. Karr-Barley inferred that the Chairman’s visit to the CDC compound on August 1 was influenced by the interaction between him and the Youth League Chairman and by the National Chairman’s desire to suppress any designs of fund-raising contrary to the aims of his request for an extra mandate from the NEC. He related that the National Chairman proceeded to the compound with five security personnel, leaving three personnel to man the front door which was locked upon the National Chairman’s entry and proceeding with two other security personnel to the Conference Room on the second floor, where the National Youth League meeting was on-going. According to witness Karr-Barley, upon entering the Conference Room, the National Chairman proceeded aggressively to the head of the conference table where the National Youth League Chairman sat and demanded that the he vacate the seat or be forced out. Upon Mr. Koijee’s refusal, the National Chairman ordered security personnel to forcefully eject Mr. Koijee from his seat, an order that led to the eventual disruption of the meeting and to violent clashes in the Conference Room and outside the building. Mr. Festus Logan, National Chaplain-General of the CDC, who was reportedly injured in the violence, corroborated Mr. Karr-Barley’s account. The National Chaplain-General displayed to members of the GEC a scar on his right shoulder, which he stated resulted from the injury he sustained from a knife-like object the National Chairman wielded during the melee. All witnesses of the NEC related the same story about happenings on August 1. In response to cross-examination that the violence in the conference room may have started because of the refusal of the Youth League Chairman to vacate his seat in normal deference to the National Chairman, Mr. Karr-Barley and other witnesses countered that the tone and manner of the National Chairman’s order suggested a premeditated attempt to disrupt and cause violence. The witnesses argued the Youth League Chairman was right in his refusal to obey the National Chairman’s orders. The National Chaplain-General, who sustained an injury, averred that it was difficult for him to say whether the National Chairman wilfully intended to injure him since the National Chairman was possibly wielding the knife-like object in self-defense to ward off partisans. Other witnesses describe the Chairman as chasing partisans while holding out the knife-like object, which to them implies the National Chairman had a wilful and deliberate intention to cause violence and harm partisans. Others argued that the possession of such knife-like object is an indication of premeditated attempt to cause violence in which the knife-like object would be used as a means of defense. When asked to describe the knife-like object, various witnesses believed it resembled a pen-knife or a pocket knife device. In response to the GEC demand for a more tangible proof of premeditation, witnesses pointed to the locking of the front door of the building, which they stated had to be forcefully opened by partisans on the outside, as a proof that the National Chairman had both an inclination and premeditation to commit violence at the headquarters of the CDC on August 1, 2014.

Defendant’s Deposition: None. Defendant waived his right to due process in failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices availing such right.

GEC Assessment: Central to Charge 3 is determination of premeditation. In a context where a National Chairman willfully intends to violently disrupt an on-going meeting, the probability of violence is significantly higher than would normally obtain. The GEC concurs with the NEC that the locking of the front door behind the Chairman after his entry, an abnormal behavior of a National Chairman, does indicate the National Chairman anticipated some form of violence. Forceful locking of a doorway or encumbering of an access or passage against the will of other Liberians infringes on their constitutional right to free entry and exit from buildings in which they have normal access. Article 20 Section 109 of the CDC constitution enjoins on all members of the CDC the obligation ‘to comply with and adhere to the provisions of the Liberian constitution and of the Election laws of Liberia.’ In seeking to forcefully keep partisans in the building after entering, the National Chairman violated the right of the Liberians whose exit from the building had to be forced by other partisans outside the building. In the process of forcing the door opened, injury or death could result, which a National Chairman has serious obligation to prevent at all times. The National Chairman of the CDC, a political party priding itself on respect for the fundamental liberties and freedoms of the Liberian people, should NEVER be in the business of issuing militant orders to barricade doorways at the headquarters of the CDC.

It is the thinking of the GEC that the National Chairman be accorded respect and deference in any leadership meeting of any organ of the CDC, being ex-officio of all committees as provided for in Article 16. The GEC believes irrespective of the National Chairman’s tone or manner of approach, the National Youth League Chairman should have vacated his seat in deference. However, failure to obey the National Chairman’s order provides no justification for him to order the forceful ejection of the National Youth League Chairman from his seat. In ordering the forceful removal of a CDC partisan, the National Chairman arrogates onto himself powers reserved only to the Liberian State, which as the power to execute orders given by judges, legislators or presidents. The National Chairman’s order violate the letter and the spirit of rule 5 of the CDC By-Laws and is reminiscent of the era of despotic jungle justice in Liberia, during which citizens were order flogged by national leaders for ‘offences’ such as ‘overtaking the vehicles of powerful officials of government.’ The National Chairman’s disruption of the National Youth League meeting further violates Rule 6 of the CDC By-Laws, which regards ‘fighting or behaving in grossly disorderly or unruly manner,’ ‘deliberately disrupting meetings or interfering with the orderly functioning of the party’ and ‘behaving in any manner unbecoming of a public servant or CDC member’ as SERIOUS OFFENCES. The order equally displays a militancy that should never be exercised by any official of the CDC. Officials of CDC should deploy reason, not force or violence, to induce compliance from members and partisans of the CDC.

The GEC argues that the possession of a knife-like device is no proof that the National Chairman intended to commit violence, since he may always have carried such a device on his person prior to August 1, 2014. However, the wielding of such a device to the extent that it intentionally or unintentionally injures another partisan is least expected of a CDC National Chairman, let alone that Chairman’s chasing of partisans while holding out a knife-like object, an allegation the GEC has to accept amid the wilful and deliberate absence of the National Chairman or his witnesses from the hearing.

GEC Ruling: It is the judgment of the GEC that the National Chairman is guilty as charged.

Charge 4: The National Chairman has allegedly commenced a systematic campaign of misinformation, propaganda, lies and callous misrepresentation of facts and circumstances against the CDC in the public media, going so far as to publicly describe NEC members as hooligans, troublemakers and coup plotters.

Complainant’s Deposition: Witnesses of the NEC alleged that in his appearance on appearance on Voice FM, specifically on the Henry Costa Show on Monday, August 4, 2014, the National Chairman referred to members of the NEC as hooligans, troublemakers and coup-plotters. The NEC argued that in emails to both the GEC and to members of CDC via the CDC email directory, the National Chairman has ridiculed the NEC and the CDC. The NEC contends that such actions violate the CDC constitution and warrants the National Chairman’s suspension, consistent with the suspension meted out to National Youth League Chairman Jefferson Koijee, for similarly subjecting the CDC and its leaders to public disrepute in December of 2012. The NEC has submitted the August 6 online edition of the FrontPage Newspaper and forwarded numerous emails as evidence in support of its charge against the National Chairman.

Defendant’s Deposition: None. Defendant waived his right to due process in failing to appear before the GEC after three citation notices availing such right.

GEC Assessment: The GEC concurs with the NEC that the National Chairman is in violation of Article 5 Section 41 (a), which states that ‘misrepresentation or false suggestion of material facts and forgery,’ an act committed by the National Chairman in his appearance on the Henry Costa Show on August 4, is a ‘bridge of organization discipline and loyalty.’ The Frontpage newspaper attributed the following quote to the National Chairman: “What these individuals have done is shameful to the party quite frankly, for individuals [NEC members] to plot and scheme at this time, who just want to resort to gang violence it is sad that those individuals are associated with the CDC.” The National Chairman is also quoted as saying “I don’t think that those individuals who took that decision are aware of the CDC constitution, they are just naïve and caught in their own little web of hate, some members do not represent the competence and character of people who are to make decisions for this party.” These statements additionally violate Article 6 Section 49 (h) which imposes upon every member of the CDC the obligation to ‘observe discipline, behave honestly, and execute dutifully and loyally all decisions of the majority and decision of the leadership of the CDC.’ In emails to GEC me0mbers, the National Chairman has consistently rained insults, pejoratively referring to a member of the GEC by the phrase ‘your short legs,’ accusing a GEC member of ‘double standards’ and falsely accusing the Chairman of the GEC of ‘receiving funds from the USA to plot his removal,’ a mendacious statement the National Chairman made on the Truth Breakfast Show on Monday, September 1, 2104.

In a veiled threat to implicate the Political Leader of the CDC into allegations meted against him, the National Chairman said the following on the Costa Show in response to a question about whether the CDC Political Leader is aware of his dealings: “I do not hold any conversation on behalf of the Congress for Democratic Change or within my function as the Chairman of CDC without the knowledge of Ambassador Weah who is the political leader of the CDC. Who did what, when and all of that will come to light, and when it comes to light our old people have a parable that says when you haul rope, rope will haul bush.” The GEC notes that the Liberian saying ‘you haul rope, rope will haul bush’ is a direct threat implying that dark secrets would be revealed if an accused or suspected person if not left alone. By using such parable on national radio, the National Chairman clearly and deviously intended to cast aspersion on the reputation of the CDC political leader and draw the party into disrepute. The GEC has reason to believe the National Chairman may have made the statement in a mistaken belief that such threats might have led the NEC to reverse its decision to suspend him or to subject him to due process. As the National Chairman realized his threats were going unheeded, he descended into an additional spate of violations, ‘suspending’ some members of the NEC. These ‘suspensions’ while having zero constitutional force or bearing, reveal a more troubling mind-set that a National Chairman has the power to ‘summarily suspend’ other elected officials of the NEC. In its ruling on Youth League Chairman Jefferson Koijee’s initial suspension by the National Chairman in December of 2012, which was subsequently endorsed by the NEC, the GEC observed and observes here again, that the CDC constitution and By-Laws do not grant any right or powers to the National Chairman to suspend another member of the NEC. Rule 14 gives such power of suspension to ‘the leadership structure or authority of the CDC’ and Article 5 Section 46 states that ‘any official of or member of the CDC may be suspended for cause by the NEC.’ Any National Chairman wishing to suspend an NEC member would have to influence the NEC to endorse such suspension.

The National Chairman’s disparaging remarks on national radio and in emails against NEC and GEC members, which are in the possession of the GEC, are clear violations of the CDC constitution, as has been amply documented in this assessment.

GEC Ruling: It is the judgment of the GEC that the National Chairman is guilty as charged.

V Final Judgment of the GEC

Considering that the National Chairman is guilty on three of the four charges brought against him by the National Executive Committee of the Congress for Democratic Change, the Grievance and Ethics Committee upholds the suspension of the CDC National Chairman George Solo. The Grievance and Ethics Committee concludes that the National Executive Committee’s action meets the CAUSE requirement imposed by Article 5 Section 46 of the CDC constitution, as has been severally established and demonstrated in this report.

VI Recommendations

  • The GEC recommends that the National Chairman be suspended from his position for a period of two consecutive years, commencing with the date of formal suspension by the NEC in the wake of this report.
  • That the NEC follows the CDC constitution in filling the vacancy of the National Chairman.
  • The GEC recommends the establishment of a Constitutional Review Committee to address a few ambiguities in the otherwise beautiful democratic instrument that is the CDC constitution. A revised or amended CDC Constitution should:
  • Unify the Constitution and By-Laws into a coherent whole;
  • More clearly define the powers available to the National Chairman. Because crises in the CDC often revolve around a National Chairman exercising rights, powers and privileges he or she believes is conferred by the CDC constitution, these powers should be more explicitly defined and restrictions thereto fully articulated in a revised constitution.

VII Conclusion

The GEC hopes the NEC will speedily act on these recommendations and secure the party on the path of institutional transformation. The current crisis in the CDC in no way diminishes the stature and standing of the CDC. It is a test to determine whether a single individual, the National Chairman, or a group of individuals, the National Executive Committee, holds sway in running the affairs of the CDC. The CDC constitution grants the NEC the ultimate sway in decision making and places the National Chairman at its head to influence that body in his or her direction, consistent with the rules, laws and norms of the CDC. But where the NEC refuses to be nudged in the direction of the National Chairman, the latter does not become the institution. The crisis is also a test to determine whether the CDC has become a full-fledged institution ensconced in the due process of law. That the National Chairman has been accorded due process, to which he did not avail himself, bears eloquent testimony that the CDC has come of institutional age.

These institutional practices and patterns will redound to Liberia when the CDC takes power in 2017. The whims and caprices of political leaders, that hobgoblin that has defied, haunted and decimated the Liberian people since their founding, would be banished, and supplanted by the rule of law and due process. If the CDC cannot allow due process and equity to reign, it will equally not permit these to flourish on the national stage, where greed, cronyism, nepotism and perverted self-interest are entrenched in the struggle over national wealth and resources. It is only the rule of law and availing of judicial equity, which was put on rich display in this GEC hearing, that provide clear signals that a country is on a path to equitable resource distribution and national development. Big, giant milestones begin with small steps!

Grievance and Ethics Committee Members: Samuel D. Tweah, Jr., Chairman; Professor Ansu Sonii, Cllr. Sayma Cyrenius Cephus.

Comments

comments

coming soon