MONROVIA: As promised to respond to the solicitation visits paid to him by President George Manneh Weah and the Standard Bearer of the Unity Party, Ambassador Joseph Nyuma Boakai seeking his endorsement for the November 14, 2023 run off, Alexander B. Cummings, Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has announced a 12-point demand for both Weah and Boakai to commit themselves as conditions for the CPP endorsement and at the same time named a team of 5 persons headed by Cllr. Charlyne M. Brumskine, his running mate in the just ended general elections.
Speaking at his private office in Congo Town, Monrovia on Tuesday, October 24, 2023, Mr. Cummings while addressing issues surrounding the just concluded general elections and the next move of the CPP especially as regards the run off, historicized his path in the political field and the message of reinventing the entire governance system through his real change mantra, adding “we have been consistent in our message for change: change from doing business as usual; and change from doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” and that from his travels through the length and breadth of the country holding “interactions with thousands of our people from all walks of life in remote villages, backwater towns and cities, and cutoff counties, we have come to know our people more intimately”.
The conditions which according to Cummings were not in particular order, are key pillars of the CPP manifesto which should have been implemented by the party if it had won state power, among them is the sticky quest for the establishment of a war and economic crime court (WECC), a thorny issue that both parties will not find easily to consent to.
Cummings listed others as gender equality where he said the parties must prioritize the passage of the minimum 30% law for women participation and membership in the Legislature as well as seek the appointment of women to the cabinet with a view to achieving, at least 40% inclusion of women in the cabinet, the establishment of a National Youth Service Program to address improving social cohesion, empowerment, employability and civic duties, commitment to provide preferential loans and business development support programs to Liberian entrepreneurs, especially for women and youth.
The others among the 12 conditions also include commitment to undertake a review of the Liberian Constitution with a view toward strengthening democratic governance and the unity of the Liberian people, to reform the judiciary where Cummings said there must be an improvement to access and affordability to justice, seek a review of lengthy litigations merely on procedural grounds, establish a claims court, and take steps to improve and strengthen the independence of the judiciary, as well as the capacity of investigatory agencies and the commitment to decentralize public administration, stressing, “we will not sustainably develop Liberia until we ensure the provision of basic service delivery to Liberians across the country, commitment to continuous audits with a view toward implementing recommendations therein as well as the strengthening of internal audit systems across ministries, agencies and public institutions, enforcing the declaration of assets, and auditing the legislature.
The other conditions according to Cummings are commitment to simplify the tax code and rules and regulations for establishing businesses to make it business-friendly and accommodating to Liberian entrepreneurship, to end drug peddling and trafficking, insisting that nothing is threatening Liberia’s future more than the drug epidemic, to commit to electoral reform to avoid the repeat of electoral fraud and to commit to religious tolerance to ensure an inclusive Liberia.
The number one partisan of CPP said a committee of five persons to be headed by his running mate Cllr. Charlyne Brumskine which also included a Vice Chair of the Liberty Party, two leaders of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the head of the CPP Campaign team was set up to engage in meaningful discussions with the 2 parties going into the runoff to inform the final decision of the party who to endorse. Though the duration of their assignment was not mentioned, Cummings, however said the anticipated discussions are important to the CPP
“These discussions are very important to us. We promised the Liberian people that we would work to change the system to the benefit of all Liberians. Although the announced results, which we are investigating, do not give us the power to directly drive the real change agenda, we know that without commitments to systemic change in how we have repeatedly governed ourselves, we would simply play musical chairs with leaders, only to keep doing the same things over and over without any improvement in the lives of our people, or how we should be managing ourselves. We refuse to be a partner in keeping our people poor, our nation divided, and our governing system corrupt”, he said.
Some pundits are looking at the reality of the conditions being implemented if any of the two suitors gets to the Presidency because there could not be any legally binding arrangement that will force the government of the day to implement the conditions at all cost. One of the pundits who craved not to be named in the papers said he looks forward to seeing such agreement being forced on a sitting government to honor as it was signed in exchange for endorsement.
“This is something I hope to see where an agreement of such will be forced on the elected government to implement. So I may wish to ask, what if the government refused to honor the agreement after signing and they are now in power? Is there any clause in the agreement that will make it mandatory for it to be implemented? What if it is not implemented, can it be enforceable under our laws?
“The last time I check our politicians in the first place do not honor agreements and going into such an arrangement where you will be contending with a sitting government what are the legal options that you will use to compel the government to implement your demand? I am not saying the agreement will be breached but I am being real to think outside of the box”, he said.
In line with the assertion, another political commentator, Simon Titus Jeemie said either of the parties being desperate to get the endorsement just to win the election could agreement to any condition and upon election, could jettison the whole arrangement without any remorse of conscience.
“What I see happening is any of the parties will just go ahead to sign the agreement for the sake of getting the endorsement and as soon as they are in power, will do a different thing entirely and nothing will be done”, he said.
Speaking further at the occasion, Cummings who was one of those tipped to have gone all the way to the second round given the level of engagement with the citizens over the years, said on all these journeys meeting Liberians from various background and locations, there is a general story of backwardness that has fallen the countries over the years and the only way forward was to have a change in what has been in use to a new system that will ensure real change.
“We have heard the stories of repeated government’s neglect, corruption, and wastefulness. We saw the heartbreaking results of dangerous drugs, rising crime, increasing poverty, broken down schools, neglected hospitals and a crooked national value system. We continue to import what we could grow and continue to see the deplorable conditions of our roads, from Lofa to the Southeast. We know the next 6 years are critical, for which we must decide well, and in the best interests of the Liberian people. We are therefore determined that the elections this year must reflect the true will of the people”, he said.
The businessman turned politician said It is in this spirit that “we have written the National Elections Commission (NEC) asking that the ballot papers be preserved for forensic examination”.
“This is a part of our promised investigation to understand and expose what actually happened on October 10. It is important that we do this to protect and preserve the integrity of our elections and the health of our cherished democracy. At least two political parties, through their presidential candidates, have agreed to join us in this important undertaking for our country”.
“In summary, we want our change agenda to drive our decision. We, therefore, request that the parties who seek our support in the 2nd round of elections commit to our vision for a better Liberia and our agenda for real change and to sign with Liberia that will commit them to fundamentally changing politics as usual for the benefit of all Liberians”, Cummings concluded.