London: Liberian Opposition Leader Tells Diaspora Community Corruption “Unprecedented” Back Home

London, UK January 21, 2019 – “The bottomline is that the country is struggling.”

Liberia Opposition ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Jr. in London

The charge, made on Saturday, January 21, 2019 by opposition leader Mr. Alexander B. Cummings Jr. of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) in London, England, is in apparent reference to the current economic challenges facing the small West African nation of Liberia.

Cummings was speaking to a group of Diaspora Liberians who gathered to hear first- hand about the current situation in the country and how they could help.

In a four-hour engagement with Liberians in which he gave a candid assessment of the political and economic conditions, Cummings recalled that when President George M. Weah was inaugurated a little over a year, he urged all Liberians to wish the new President and Government well, “because if he does well, that means that the country does well. And if it makes it harder for us to compete with him, then we should work harder because Liberia is in a difficult situation; everybody gotta work hard, if we want to change the country and take it to where it used to be,” Cummings said.

Some Liberian Diaspora Members At London Gathering With Cummings

He told the gathering that Liberia, after a year under the ruling Congress For Democratic Change (CDC) led Administration, “the early signs are not good.”

Cummings characterized the level of corruption as “unprecedented” but was quick to qualify his charge by indicating that the Weah Government is not the first corrupt Liberian Administration.

The ANC leader who is now viewed as the leading opposition voice in Liberia blamed the economic crime of corruption as the major reason for the country’s under development, describing corruption as “the bane of our country.”

The Liberian opposition leader further charged that, “the level of corruption now is just unprecedented; it’s kind of in your face. It’s almost disrespectful to the Liberian people because other Governments at-least would pretend. They would hide what they are trying to do. I think this government is so upfront and aggressive in acquiring properties, building properties…”, Cummings openly asserted.

The gathering of Liberians who traveled to engage politician Cummings heard him sharply contrast the high level of pervasive corruption against the economic struggles of ordinary Liberian. He pointed to country specific economic indicator data released by Liberia’s Ministry of Finance and the World Bank as declining.

“…Inflation is up, the Liberia Dollar is losing value, the current account deficit is expanding, revenue collections are going down…these are the facts,” Cummings, popularly known as ABC, told his compatriots.

ANC Logo

He cited the recent designation of Liberia as “the poorest country” in the world” and said all Liberians should concerned.

According to him, although he was calling out the facts of where the country is, it was also important to suggest solutions and potential alternatives, adding that, for him, “it was not just good enough to criticize.”

The opposition ANC leader who joined the local political fray over two and a half years ago from a successful corporate career at one of the world’s most successful beverage conglomerate and Fortune 500 companies Coca Cola, states that the opposition has a responsibility to hold the government in power accountable but will always offer solutions; so as not to be seen as always criticizing.

Although, he said, in his personal assessment, the “state” of the nation Liberia is not that great, President Weah is expected to deliver his constitutionally mandated “State of the Nation” report to the country ‘s National Legislature on January 28th, the opposition is planning to issue a “response”; an alternative point of view to the President’s address.

“And then we should hope that things get better,” Cummings stated. adding that, “as Liberians that should be our hope.”

The Liberian opposition leader, who was visiting London to get acquainted with the local Diaspora community, however, said he was less optimistic that things would improve but he remained hopeful.

Cummings In Middle and Some Liberians in London

The Diaspora community were told that government should create conditions for all Liberians to have equal access to opportunities and not just partisans of the ruling CDC.

Cummings, speaking at the engagement, clarified his recent statement in which he said “leaders should eat last”. He said the statement was being mis-characterized but said his view is that leaders are “servants”.

Alex continued that, “…but somehow, when some Liberians get into government, that servant- leadership characteristic goes missing.”

He emphasized that, “When you go into government, your role is to serve the people; not the other way around. And, somehow, that changes when we get into government. Eating does not mean corruption,” Cummings explained to the audience.

“And the idea of leaders eating last is that as a leader, you serve your people first. You should make sure they are taken care of; all the basic needs as necessities. Then pay yourself fairly for the work that you do. And that’s what we should be thinking about our leaders; they should be servant leaders…”, the ANC leader stated.

Map of Liberia

Cummings told Liberians gathered that as they think about change in the country, there were some fundamental questions that they needed to ask themselves about Liberia’s leadership model; why the country continues to do business the same way since independence in 1847 and expect a different result, and why those from the Diaspora…when they government, adopt corrupt behaviors.

During the Question and Answer period, attendees and Cummings exchanged views and discussed issues around Liberian youth empowerment, Technical, Vocational Education And Training (TVET), building and promoting political alliances and processes, Constitutional Amendments and term limits.

Some Liberians in London and Alex B. Cummings Jr. seated in Middle

They also discussed issues around resolution of war and economic crimes and electoral reforms.

Sound Cloud link – https://m.soundcloud.com/douglas-farngalo/town-hall-meeting-with-leader-of-alternative-national-congress-alexander-b-cummings-london-uk/s-9CjXo

By Our Staff Reporters and Contributing Writer Douglas Farngalo in London

Photos: Courtesy of Douglas Farngalo

VP Jewel Howard Taylor Tried To Get US Help To Release Charles Taylor From Jail

Philadelphia, PA October 29, 2018

“He’s in jail for the long term. We have not made any effort to seek any change or adjustment to the due process and what was adjudicated by the court systems.”

Charles Taylor At Funeral of His Mother Comforted By Ex Wife Jewel Howard Taylor - File
Charles Taylor At Funeral of His Mother Comforted By Ex Wife Jewel Howard Taylor – File

The statement, an apparent reference to former Liberian President Charles Taylor,was made by then Ambassador Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto U.S. State Department official during a Congressional committee hearing in September, 2017 and in response to questioning about the effort by Madam Jewel Howard Taylor, the current Liberian Vice President and ex-wife of former rebel leader turned former President Charles Taylor to get Taylor released.

Apparently and prior to the Presidential and General Elections in Liberia, the then Vice-Presidential candidate of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) Ms. Jewel Howard Taylor and a delegation of the CDC visited the U.S. in early 2017 and pressed State Department officials to assist with the release of her ex-husband Charles Taylor who was convicted and sentenced in May, 2012 to fifty years in prison for atrocities committed in Sierra Leone’s war.

Nathaniel F. McGill

Also on that US trip was a former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) stalwart turned Former CDC Chairman and now Minister of State for Presidential Affairs in the office of the Liberian Presidency Mr. Nathaniel F. McGill. The CDC delegation also visited their party stronghold in Minnesota and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during their US visit last year.

Taylor is serving his sentence in a jail in the UK.

Ambassador Donald Yamamoto
Ambassador Donald Yamamoto

At a sub-committee meeting before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing held on September 13, 2017 in Washington DC, New York Republican Dan Donovan Jr. who, on September, 8, 2018, introduced a resolution which calls for the establishment of a war crimes tribunal is Liberia, wanted to know if Madam Howard Taylor held discussions with the State Department. Ambassador Yamamoto demurred about the substance of the discussion but confirmed that State Department did meet with Ms. Howard-Taylor and “messages were passed.”

“Yes, we did meet with Jewel Howard Taylor and those conversations, I think, are between us,” the former State Department said at the time.

The U.S. which had expended over $2 billion dollars in assistance to the Liberia since 2003 worked to dissuade the CDC from placing Ms. Taylor on the Weah warned prior to the election that it would not tolerate interference by Charles Taylor in the election which subsequently elected President Mr. George M. Weah.

Murdered American Nuns
Murdered American Nuns

The Weah Administration remains defiant in the face of international calls to establish war and economic crimes to address human rights abuses and killings by warlords and militias. The UN, 76 international non-governmental organizations and the International Justice Group (IJG) have called on the Weah Administration to prosecute economic and war crimes. International support is growing for accountability in Liberia and include the U.S. Congressional resolution which supports the establishment of the war crimes court.

The opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) political party in Liberia has called on President Weah to take the lead in disclosing his position on the establishment of a war crimes court.

Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson
Former Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Recently and following the visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, by the Executive Director of the IJG Counselor Jerome J. Verdier to seek international support for their advocacy to pressure the Weah Administration to address war crimes and impunity in the West African nation, the German envoy accredited to Liberia Hubert Jager two weeks ago, at the launch of the Alliance for Transitional Justice in Monrovia remarked that, “Providing justice for the victims of the conflict is a key aspect.”

““Providing justice for the victims of the conflict is a key aspect,” the German Ambassador said.

HHRG-115-FA16-Transcript-20170913

Other that humanitarian assistance, the Weah government is finding it difficult to access international loans to relieve mounting economic pressures and has been told by western countries that further pressure including travel ban and sanctions may be forthcoming if the government refuses to implement measures to address war and economic crimes by alleged perpetrators.

Staff Report

West African Journal Magazine