19 October 2017

Liberia: Alexander Cummings Conditions Before Endorsing Boakai or Weah

Monrovia — Political campaign for the runoff election has already begun - both the ruling Unity Party (UP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) are already lobbying for the support of major opposition political parties.

"For me it's about what the parties are willing to commit on behalf of the Liberian people. It's not about how many jobs we get for our party people or how much money we get for our party people."

"That's not my consideration, there are certain things I think all Liberians should want, whoever they vote for in the second round of election. They are many but there are three for me that are paramount."

Liberty Party's Cllr. Charles Brusmkine has called for reelection and has therefore remained mute on whom he will endorse for the runoff election.

But Alexander Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), who has invited international experts to examine the level of fraud that took place during the October 10 elections, has laid out conditions on which he will endorse any of the two parties contesting the runoff.

The philanthropist and former executive of Coca-Cola Company told the 50-50 talk show on Sky FM in Monrovia his support to either of the two political parties would depend upon three issues which he considers cardinal.

Condition 1

According to Cummings, the party wanting his endorsement must assure the public that it will preserve all the freedoms and rights that Liberians have enjoyed over the past 12 years.

"The first for me is that whoever Liberians decide to vote for should commit to the fact that the freedoms we've enjoyed over the last 12 years continues - the freedom of the press, the freedom of association, the political freedoms, all the freedoms we've enjoyed - he needs to publicly commit that he will not curtail those freedoms," he said.

According to Cummings, Liberia's history before the 12 years of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's leadership was void of the rights that Liberians currently enjoy and that contributed to the hostilities the country faced.

Condition 2

The ANC political leader further urged Liberians to demand from whoever wants to be president to make a public commitment to fighting corruption and taking out wastes.

"Let them provide us some details on how they're going to do it. We have said at ANC the way to reducing corruption and taking out waste is to pay teachers more; police people more; civil service more; healthcare workers more," he said.

Condition 3

Cummings said the political party wanting his support in the runoff elections must ensure that the Liberians do not remain mere spectators of the economy. He said it would be cardinal for economic growth if Liberians were afforded the opportunity to participate in the economy through the strengthening of local businesses.

"They have to make sure that Liberians are not just spectators to the economy. That they commit to supporting Liberian businesses; that they commit to empowering Liberian businesses; enabling them through credit and other means to protecting the categories that are mean for Liberian businesses; to expanding the categories that are meant for Liberian businesses. Liberians cannot be spectators of the economy like they are today.

"For me, those three things are critical and Liberians should demand that whoever they elect publicly should commit to those things.

"For me that's a pre-cursor to wherever I go; we'll listen to the sense of the party because I am an institutional builder."

Is Cummings the Kingmaker?

During the political campaign of the first round election, Cummings was described by the vice chairman for political affairs of Liberty Party as the dark horse in the presidential race.

His campaign stayed above the political fray and he projected himself as the untainted, ready and efficient candidate. He focused on policy and sold his message.

On the one hand, he could endorse Vice President Boakai of the ruling Unity Party. Of course, this comes with burdens.

The hardship and slow progress that besmirch this Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led administration would rob him of one half of his base, a good number that eventually left the UP after they didn't see issues like corruption being addressed with any serious effort.

Were he to ignore these and sell the VP as experienced and a more logical option, he can't discount fears of his health, age and more importantly the general belief that Sen. Sherman holds a sizable sway in that camp. These, plus the perceived failure of the UP government, weigh him down.

Alternatively, he could endorse Sen. Weah and sell him as a change but the primary concern would be what change? As Liberians talk of change, it is implicit that it is a positive one.

People should not change for the sake of change. The CDC has failed to get the voters that could close the gap and hand her a certain victory since 2005 elections.

Every time she falls short because the general perception is that she has not yet matured, it is loaded with louts.

The party has repeatedly failed to convince the Liberian people that she is ready for the tasks she seeks. They seem perpetually stuck on one mode, revolution.

It has refused to reform from the revolutionary mindset into the political organization that is ready to lead ALL Liberians. Revolutionaries are not necessarily political leaders.

The mindsets of the two institutions are slightly different. The revolution should lead and prepare one for leadership. This transition CDC has failed to make.

At a point, one has to change garments. One has to put aside the fight for power garment and put on the power to fight garment of leadership.

Revolutionaries fight to get power for the people and then use that power to fight for the people. They don't just fight for some or those that are a part of their movements, but for all that may need their leadership.


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