CPP Distances From Lobbying Against Weah Gov’t!

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An undisputed source within the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has informed the Hot Pepper that the CPP has no part in the hiring of a lobbying firm in the United States to promote their candidate for the 2023 presidential election, establish a war and economic crimes court or impose sanctions on the nation or its officials of government, but pointed accusing fingers at the Political Leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander B. Cummings, and a newly established firm, the Liberia Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI), headed by Sylvester Grigsby in Liberia, as well as Dr. Alan White in the United States.

   According to the source, majority of the CPP leaders are not aware of the lobbying campaign, and if they were aware they would not venture to counter the interest of the Liberian people in the name of politics. The Hot Pepper was told that, when the Unity Party (UP) Political Leader, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, was asked about the matter, he said he knows nothing about it and no one consulted him over the matter. Similarly with the Political Leaders of the All Liberian Party (ALP), Benoni Urey, and the Liberty Party (LP), Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence: they know nothing about it.

   However, the source accused Cummings of being the mastermind behind the campaign, claiming that he is doing so to create a world stage for himself, at the detriment of the country and its ordinary citizen.

   The source, which could be placed among the top seven officials of the CPP, told the Hot Pepper that lobbying to promote political candidate is not a problem, but it is disingenuous and counterproductive to lobby for sanctions to be imposed on the nation, noting that if a sanction regime is imposed on Liberia poor Liberians will be the ones to bear the consequences and not the higher-ups in government, as they are already wealthy and can afford anything in Liberia.

   The source added that, beside the negative economic ramification on poor Liberians, those who are behind the US to place a sanction on Liberia should remember that it takes less than a week to impose the sanction but years of lobby, consult and appeal to remove it; as such, lobbying for sanction to be imposed on Liberia two years to the end of the George Weah administration could affect the new administration that would take over from Weah in 2023.

   The source, who spoke in the context of the CPP winning the 2023 presidential election, wondered about the impact of the sanction, which is being lobbied for now, on their administration and the resources that would be needed to lift it up.

   On the other hand, a high-ranking official of the Unity Party (UP), George Wisner, alluded that the CPP is not the instigator of the lobbying campaign “against” the Liberian government but the Liberia Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI), which he is a member of.

   Wisner argued that they were lobbying with the US government to prevail over the rule of law and institute punitive actions over impunity, especially on war and economic criminals. He said officials of the LIROI have chosen to support the CPP in the 2023 election; as such, they will ensure that the two major frontrunners for the CPP ticket, Boakai and Cummings, are exposed to major stakeholders in the US politics and create avenues for their endorsement, in order to protect the principles of democracy and US interest in Liberia.

   It can be recalled that critics of President George Weah’s government recently established the Liberia Renaissance Office Incorporated (LIROI), a newly formed outfit in Monrovia, which hired BW Global, a US Lobbying firm, to launch a US$180,000 lobbying and public relations campaign to court US support for the opposition.

   Speaking about the source of the US$180,000, Wisner said the money will be raised by former diplomats, former officials of government and influential personalities in the Liberian society “who are seeking the restoration of good governance in the Liberian society”.

   The LIROI hired Alan White, a longtime Africa lobbyist and an-ex war crimes prosecutor who helped put away former Liberian President, Charles Taylor, to head the effort. The Liberian office is led by Sylvester Grigsby, a former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs under Weah’s predecessor, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

   Washington advocacy firm, the BW Global Group, signed a six-month contract with Grigsby on August 15, 2021, according to a new Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filing with the US Department of Justice. BW partners with Jeffrey Birrell, who lobbied for the Liberian government back in the early 1990s, and Alan White, a former Department of Defense employee and chief investigator for the United Nations Special Court for Sierra Leone, are registered as foreign agents on the account.

   It is said that BW’s goal is to “promote good governance and rule of law in Liberia”, according to the contract with Grigsby, in particular through the US promotion of whichever candidate the Liberia Renaissance Office ends up endorsing for the 2023 presidential election. Grigsby’s group supports the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), a coalition of four political parties that have agreed to get behind a single candidate to be selected in December: the Unity Party (UP), led by Johnson Sirleaf’s former Vice President and 2017 presidential candidate, Joseph Boakai; the Alternative National Congress (ANC), led by former Coca-Cola executive and fellow 2017 presidential candidate, Alexander Cummings; the All Liberian Party (ALP) of Wilfred Benoni Urey, a former Commissioner of Maritime Affairs under Charles Taylor, who was under US sanctions for his alleged role in the 1999—2003 civil war until President Barack Obama lifted them; and the Liberty Party, led by Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, the only woman in the CPP leadership.

   Birrell told Foreign Lobby Report that the Liberia Renaissance Office has a US presence and is expected to host Cummings, who resides in the United States, for a visit to Washington next month. The LIROI is also in touch with the other parties and may try to arrange Washington visits for their leaders ahead of the December selection of a unity candidate as well.

   BW will also be lobbying for the US to get behind the establishment of a war and economic crimes court to hold accountable those responsible for the civil wars of 1989—1997 and 1999—2003, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) back in 2010. The congressional Tom Lantos Commission held a hearing in support of the court in June, while the State Department did not immediately respond to a query about where the Joe Biden administration stands on the issue.

   Birrell said Cummings has a leg up with the LIROI because of his support for the court, but a final determination as to which candidate to support has yet to be made. Boakai and Cummings, who came in second and fifth in the 2017 primary, are widely considered the two top contenders to take on President Weah.

    “We represent that group as it goes through the process of deciding which of the four current candidates to back,” Birrell said. “While I’d say that Cummings is somewhat of a favorite due to his support for the war crimes tribunal, the LIROI is working to determine the best person to run against Weah.”

   According to information, Cummings’ Alternative National Congress registered a branch in Atlanta, ANC-Global, Inc., back in October 2019 to “promote the democratic ideas of The Alternative National Congress of Liberia (ANC Liberia), and to seek support from Liberians, to help ANC Liberia”. Cummings himself previously paid $425,000 in fees and expenses to New Jersey public relations firm the MWW Group for help with his 2017 bid.

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