9 February 2018

Liberia: Alexander Cummings Calls Dual Citizenship With Conditions

Photo: Liberian Observer
(file photo)

Monrovia — Weighing in on President George Manneh Weah's proposition for the repealing of the "racist" clause of the Liberian Constitution to allow dual citizenship and property/land owner right to people of non-Negro decent, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) said such must be done with reciprocity.

Speaking on Sky FM's 50-50 talk show in Monrovia on Thursday, Alexander B. Cummings said while he supports the President's call for dual citizenship and property ownership right, there must be set measures that would guide the process.

"What I think is important as we think about that is reciprocity."

"We should not offer citizenship to people or nationals of countries, which do not reciprocate with Liberians. We should not allow people to own land where we cannot own land," he said.

Delivering his first Annual Message on January 29, President Weah described the constitutional clauses that bare dual citizenship and land ownership for people of non-negro descent as "unnecessary, racist and inappropriate".

The Liberian leader said the clauses in the country's organic laws are inconsistent with his pronouncement that "Liberia is open for business", while at the same time denying those who would heed our call and come to Liberia to invest, when they are prevented from owning property because of they're been denied Liberian citizenship.

There is an estimated 4,000 Lebanese people who have lived in Liberia for generations that are barred from citizenship and, by extension, land ownership.

Cummings, who came fifth in the 2017 presidential elections, noted that in the 21st century race should not be a determinant for who becomes a citizenship of a country.

He agreed with President Weah that dual citizenship has a bearing on national development but said granting it, in itself, does not assure any country of development unless it is coupled with a lot of factors like putting in place variables that would soften the economy, create jobs and improve infrastructure.

Strong Opposition

Cummings said while it is quite too early to begin criticisms of the new administration, having a strong democracy would depend on having a strong opposition bloc which would offer solutions, acknowledge when things go well and criticize when things don't.

"Holding the government in power accountable is actually a benefit to that government. It may not know or feel that way at the time, but this is how we'll strengthen our democracy," he said.

Staying Away From Weah Gov't

Despite having lots of great plans, ideas coupled with his expressed love for country, Cummings is unwilling to serve in the Weah-led government.

He noted that he would remain in the private sector and focus on strengthening his businesses, which dwindled when he was away playing politics.

Responding to queries on how he could help President Weah resuscitate the country's broken economy, Cummings said the administration could take notes from the ANC platform and 100-day plan, which clearly define what he (Cummings) would have done had he won the elections.

"They can look at our platform, it's published; our 100-day plan is published, so the blueprint as we saw it is available. That's the same advice I would give if asked.

"I will help as a private citizen, be in the private sector, try to create jobs, try to start businesses in Liberia. I'll help by being in opposition," he said.

The ANC political leader also disclosed that he has no interest in running for the Liberian Senate.

Flawed Basis for Coalition

For Cummings, members of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who are now scrambling for jobs probably joined the Coalition on flawed basis.

"We should be aligned along a set of principles - what are we trying to achieve?

What are our objectives for Liberia?

What can we do for the country and then based on that as a basis we can decide on to divide the government to achieve that objective," he said.

Why Cummings Lost

Cummings believes he lost the presidential elections because a lot of Liberians think he was new in Liberian politics and that he was jumping the line.

"It manifested itself in many ways, some people said he's arrogant, others said we don't know him," he lamented.

He also believes the ANC was not organized enough for the elections despite the abundance of resources at their disposal during the election, but noted that the party made some good strides.

But Cummings also blamed their poor performance in the election to factors beyond the control of the party.

He called for the visitation of the electoral process, which he believes had some influence on his dismal performance in the elections.


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