Barring any last minute hitches, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, wraps up his visit to the United States after holding fruitful meetings with several US policy makers, Congress members, Senior Staffers of key Congressional Offices, and influential Think Tanks in Washington DC. Cummings also held discussions with Liberian Communities in Minnesota, Atlanta, and Washington DC. The meetings were intended to reassure Liberians in the United States of his commitment to ensuring genuine democratic change and economic transformation in Liberia. A massive and rousing welcome today is planned for the businessman turned politician by his teeming supporters, partisans and well-wishers as a way of showing appreciation in his leadership as well as the feat recorded on the trip in the United States.
According to a press release from the party signed by Mr. Aloysius Toe, said Mr Cummings also used his meetings to mobilize the support of Liberians for the democratic process back home and for their continued direct active participation in developing the country and alleviating economic hardships their compatriots have been subjected to for far too long. He reiterates his desire to seek the nomination of the Collaborating Political Parties in the forthcoming elections in 2023 despite recent distractions from within and without which have rocked the foundation of the CPP. He assured that the noble ideals of good governance, accountability, integrity, and transparency which the CPP promised the Liberian people are upheld against all odds.
The release said it can be noted that the United States has the single largest Diaspora Liberians and Liberian-Americans estimated at 100,000 in communities across that country. Liberia receives annually on average $300 million remittances from this Diaspora. Liberia’s yearly budget is about $500 million. Diaspora Liberians in the United States have impacted America’s policies towards ending Liberia’s civil conflict and restoring peace and building a democratic, prosperous Liberia.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cummings has held an hour-long meeting with Congressman Chris Smith, R-New Jersey, who is senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and ranking member of its Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations Subcommittee. Congressman Smith is Co-Chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The discussions focused on support for the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in Liberia. Congressman Smith has demonstrated a history of keen interest in Liberia. He worked with the Obama Administration to secure appropriation for the U.S. contribution to fight the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in Liberia. He has also been instrumental in the passage of HR 1055 which calls for the full implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations, including the establishment of an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia. The Tom Lantos Commission which he co-chairs held hearings in June, 2021 concerning the establishment of the Tribunal.
The veteran U.S. Congressman noted at those hearings that “…From 1989 to 2003, about 250,000 Liberians lost their lives during the war, and thousands more were conscripted as child soldiers, tortured, raped, suffered lost limbs, and traumatic experiences, among other things. To date, there is no war crime court in Liberia to bring perpetrators to justice as part of Liberia’s judicial process.” The hearing he said would focus on the compelling and long overdue and unmet need for justice and to establish an Extraordinary Criminal Tribunal for Liberia in a country which has yet to achieve closure and accountability. He added that a fog continues to enshroud Liberia, and alleged war criminals walk the street and occupy high offices.
In contrast, he said a Special Court for Sierra Leone — which convicted Charles Taylor for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone — has helped that country heal the wounds of its past divisions.
Congressman Smith quoted from a 2004 United Nations Report on the rule of law and transitional justice: “The consolidation of peace in the immediate post-conflict period, as well as the maintenance of peace in the long term, cannot be achieved unless the population is confident that redress for grievances can be obtained through legitimate structures for the peaceful settlement of disputes and the fair administration of justice.”
He said, “Some might ask why we are focusing today on Liberia, a small country of roughly 5 million people, when there are such outstanding problems in other parts of Africa — first and foremost, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The answer to that is twofold — first because I believe attention shown by Congress can have a significant and positive impact in Liberia. Second, however, is because the United States owes a moral duty to the people of Liberia. Liberia is unique among all other countries of the world. There is no other country whose history is so intertwined with that of the United States, founded as it was by free American slaves.”
Congress this year passed and the President signed a law establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday, which provided Americans an occasion to reflect upon the history of slavery and liberation. As part of that reflection, Americans should acknowledge that desire for liberty, which inspired the establishment of the Liberian nation, yet which remains only partially fulfilled.
While ultimately Liberia’s fate lies in the hands of the Liberian people, the Lantos Commission can provide a platform to elevate the question of justice and accountability for the Liberian people,” he concluded.
Following his meeting with Congressman Smith, the ANC leader also called on the offices of several high level policymakers and professionals of both the Democratic and Republican parties of the Africa Subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, respectively, including on the Directors of Staff of California Congresswoman and former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, Karen Bass, Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Senator James E. Risch of Idaho.
Congresswoman Bass is Chair of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Human Rights and International Organizations. She also serves on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. She was Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus 2019-2020. She is serving her 6th term in the House. She supports economic growth and partnerships with the African Continent and expanding trade between Africa and the United States. She was a strong supporter of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). Congresswoman Bass visited Liberia during the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration.
During the meetings, Mr. Cummings, who is one of four political leaders of the CPP, spoke extensively about his vision for the consolidation of peace and democracy in Liberia and his plans for transforming the Liberian economy and expediting the socio-economic development of the Country. Mr. Cummings asked that Liberia not be abandoned. He emphasized that the Country must be supported. He also informed the US policymakers that Liberia will observe next year 200 years since the settlers from America landed on the West African Coast in 1822. He called on Americans to identify with and support this significant milestone given Liberia’s traditional and political ties with the US. During the meetings, the ANC Leader, who informed that he was seeking the CPP nomination to run for President of Liberia, shared his vision for the country and offered an alternative to the current culture of impunity, corruption and lawlessness
The ANC Standard Bearer, who is a former executive of Coca Cola International, a multi-billion dollar US Company, also met with Dr. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute, Dr. Anthony Kim of the Heritage Foundation, and Ambassador Peter Pham, of the Atlantic Council respectively. A key highlight of the various meetings with the thinktank was to explore ways and means for future partnerships and collaborations to accelerate Liberia’s development processes.
The American Enterprise Institute, of which Dr. Rubin is a senior member, is a Washington, D.C.–based think tank that researches government, politics, economics, and social welfare. Its highlight on a country generates huge investment interest in that country. Similarly, Dr. Kim is Editor of the Index of Economic Freedom at the Heritage Foundation. The Index is a widely respected policy guidebook that tracks economic freedom around the world by measuring 12 freedoms including the rights to entrepreneurship in 186 countries. It influences measures for performance and eligibility by the Millennium Challenge Corporation. It also serves as a yardstick for investors’ confidence in countries around the world. Liberia ranks 164th among the 186 countries.
For his part, Dr. Pham returned to the Atlantic Council as a Distinguished Fellow in March 2021 after he ended his tour of duty as Ambassador At Large and United States Special Envoy for the Sahel Region and Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, respectively. He was engaged with issues of restoring peace in Liberia during the civil conflict and is considered an expert on Liberia and African issues. Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Kim of the Heritage Foundation has expressed interest in helping to develop a strategic economic plan for Liberia.
“It can be recalled that following a brief experience with the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI), Mr. Cummings spent most of his professional life working with major international corporations, including Coca-Cola and Pillsbury international. As an executive of Coca-Cola, he was responsible for billions of dollars entrusted to his care to administer. He faced rigorous annual audits and was never once found in corruption or misappropriation. He retired honorably and decided to offer his services to his country. He has established the Cummings Foundation which has invested more than $2 million into health, women and youth empowerment programs and education including the only top notch Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) school in the country. He has also invested heavily in real estate”, the release said.