Liberia: Cummings Blasts Weah On Handling of Rape, Poverty, Corruption

Mr. Alexander B. Cummings: "All they have succeeded in doing is leading our people into abject poverty and destitution."

The political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and chairperson of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Alexander B. Cummings, has vowed to give the "failed President George M. Weah-led Administration" one-term presidency.

Mr. Cummings made the disclosure Wednesday, August 5, at a major press conference held at the ANC party headquarters in Monrovia, where he stated: "Today, I have come to offer a simple message to our country: We hear you. We see you. We feel your disappointment. We know our country deserves better. Our people deserve better. This is why we will make this failed Weah Administration a one-term presidency!"

Mr. Cummings said the CPP knows the Weah-led Administration will try to cheat, and as they have already begun, they will try to use fear and intimidation in order to keep themselves in power.

"We promise you that none of this will work! We are not easily frightened. We will not be provoked into violence. We do not have to be violent because our cause is just. We stand not for ourselves but for our people who have suffered too much. Mr. Weah has failed the country," Mr. Cummings said.

Mr. Cummings said President Weah has failed the Liberian people and he knows it, and the Liberian people know it. He said the CPP is desirous to build up the country and lift up the people, saying: "We are not interested in destroying our country."

According to Mr. Cummings, the CPP will democratically defeat the Weah-led Administration because the people deserve better.

Mr. Cummings said while the Weah Administration is trying to be violent, too many Liberians cannot afford to buy food or pay school fees; too many cannot pay their rents, or pay their medical bills.

"While you are trying to be violent and display ill-gotten wealth, homes are being washed away in West Point and the Borough of New Kru Town and, in many other places, families cannot sleep when it rains. While you are trying to be violent, mortuaries are overfilling with unclaimed bodies because families cannot afford to pay to take possession of their dead loved ones," Mr. Cummings said.

He said it is a shame that the country has become a dog-eat-dog zone with everyone trying to hustle on each other.

Mr. Cummings further said in just three years President Weah and his administration have shown that they lack the ability to lead Liberians to peace, prosperity and development.

"All they have succeeded in doing is leading our people into abject poverty and destitution. More children are now crowding the streets and risking their lives to provide for themselves and their elderly parents. At street corners, the elderly, disabled and other vulnerable Liberians are queueing up in increasing numbers to beg for help," Mr. Cummings said.

He continued: "All across the country, our people are losing their dignity as they struggle to take care of themselves and their families. How can anyone claim to love our country and pillage, destroy and disrespect it like this? How can a leader claim to love his people and suffer them like this? How can 'Change for Hope' create no positive change, and engender such hopelessness?"

He said perhaps nowhere is the moral bankruptcy and hopelessness felt more than in this government's nonchalant approach to the Rape Pandemic- the astronomical rise in cases of rape, sexual abuse and violence perpetrated against babies, children and women.

According to him, the CPP knows that due to stigma and other pressures, the cases are being grossly underreported, saying: "Even where a few bravely offer their heart-wrenching stories and experiences to the authorities for redress, they are often greeted with growing impunity and deafening silence."

Mr. Cummings said under this government, rape has become a pandemic and, unfortunately, the administration of justice appears to weigh more favorably for accused persons than it does in support of victims and survivors.

"This imbalance is so bad that it is actually more difficult to report and investigate cases of rape and sexual abuse. As a result, many victims and survivors opt to endure in life-long silence and mental agony," Mr. Cummings said.

According to him, the underfunding of Liberia's judicial sector and the flagrant efforts to politically influence and undermine justice is clearly destroying the lives of far too many of our citizens.

"It is also waning public confidence in the justice system. A prime example is the case of a CDC lawmaker and executive of the ruling coalition, who continues to use his political influence, proximity to the President and affluence to imprison and try a young woman who is alleging that he had sexually harassed her. This is the height of silencing," Mr. Cummings said.

He said where officials of this government should give voices to alleged victims and survivors of these crimes, they are effectively silencing them.

"Not since the civil war has there been such a massive number of cases reported. It must be said that this government is credited for passing the Domestic Violence Law. But it can also be credited for shelving the law after passing it because cases of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) continue to rise," Mr. Cummings said.

He said by their own numbers, the total number of SGBV cases for 2018 was 2,145 but increased in 2019 to 2,590 cases indicating that "so far this year, about 600 cases were reported from Jan-March with only 32 cases prosecuted."

Commenting on poverty, Mr. Cummings said: "We know that the root cause of poverty is corruption. Where corruption thrives, as it is currently, poverty will rise. This government is very corrupt. In fact, it is the most corrupt we have had. This is not only the opinion of the Liberian opposition."

"Additionally, we see the government systematically breakdown and destroy the integrity institutions created to fight corruption by either underfunding them or staffing them with incompetent loyalists. Integrity institutions are receiving far fewer resources now than they were when this government took over," Mr. Cummings said.

According to him, comparing the approved National Budget of FY2017/18 to the draft appropriations for FY 2020/21, we see that PPCC draft budget has been reduced from US$1.4 Million to US$752,754; LEITI from US$553,356 to US$220,849; General Auditing Commission from US$5.3 Million to US$4.5 Million; LACC from US$2.3 Million to US$1.3 Million, and the Governance Commission from US$1.9 Million to US$1.1 Million.

He said similarly, allocations for basic services like health and education, for example, have also seen drastic cuts. While the actual budget performance reports tell an even more alarming tale of underperformance, these cuts are expectedly leading to a lesser quality of services provided by government-run educational and health institutions.

According to him, the leadership of the country is rudderless and the state of the nation is weak.

"The future of our nation under Mr. Weah is anything but bright; our international image is once again soiled, and our reputation is tarnished. Rather than being respected in the region and the world, in just under three years of this administration, our country is being ridiculed and humiliated," Mr. Cummings said.

"Our ship is sinking. Too many of our people are suffering. We are increasingly seeing a culture of moral bankruptcy being promoted with a determination to destroy the last piece of the moral fabric of our society. This is wicked. It is immoral, and it threatens our long-term peace and security," he said.

"They are too busy enriching themselves that they have either forgotten, do not know how, or just do not care about the most important duties for which they were elected. And so, while countries of the world are struggling with one pandemic, in Liberia, we are confronted with three things; The Poverty Pandemic, The Rape Pandemic and the COVID 19 Pandemic," he said.

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