Cummings: Dangerous Delay, Inadequate Funding Risk Liberia’s Democracy

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The Standard Bearer of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Alexander Cummings, has described as dangerous the delay by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the inadequate funding by the government of President George Weah to ensure the credibility and transparency of the 2023 general elections.

   “We strongly encourage the government of President George to act consistent with the Liberian Constitution to provide the needed resources to the NEC, and do so with urgency,” Cummings said in a statement issued Monday, October 31, 2022.

   Cummings said the CPP is alarmed over the growing perception of incompetence and corruption surrounding the contract of a vendor for the biometric voter registration. He admonished the NEC to scrupulously follow the public procurement process and contract laws, learn preferably from other democratic countries and select the best competent and qualified vendor with impeccable-proved track record and ability.

   Cummings urged the NEC to also urgently seek technical assistance at government’s expense to execute the smooth transition to the biometric system, noting that the NEC has had no internal experience or proved capacities working with the biometric system.

   “Since 2018, President Weah has fooled around with the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census. Less than a year before the presidential and general elections in 2023, the administration is still playing around with the conduct of the census, which is a Constitutional demand,” the CPP Standard Bearer said.

   Cummings said, “No President of Liberia who will not obey and honor the Liberian Constitution deserves to be regarded as President,” noting that Liberia will not tolerate any compromise in the character and integrity of its democracy and election system.

   He said the President has persistently failed in his Constitutional responsibility to the Liberian people, including job creation, resulting into massive suffering and the rising cost of living.

   Cummings made reference to the government’s harmonization salary policy, which cut deep in civil servants’ salaries amidst the rising costs of food, transportation, rent, hospital bills and school fees.

   “As hard as people are trying, too many cannot find jobs, and those who are lucky to be working can barely care for their families because their salaries have been ‘harmonized’,” Cummings said. He described the scheme as “wicked”.

   He said drugs and crimes have overtaken streets and communities, while many Liberians are being forced to beg, in a country richly blessed with the abundance of natural wealth.

   The CPP Standard Bearer said five years into the President’s administration, he has absolutely no idea how to fix the economy and the problems they have worsened.

   Cummings said observed that the difficult economic challenge and rampant corruption, and with concerted effort to end their failed leadership in 2023, President Weah and administration are conniving to create serious problems in the electoral process and undermine the country’s hard-won democracy.

   The CPP Standard Bearer said the last and important duty of any democratic government is to provide for the free and fair conduct of democratic elections for its citizens to choose their leaders and ensure the smooth and peaceful transfer of power.

   Cummings said repeatedly that the Weah administration has acted not to obey the Constitutional demand for the timely conduct of elections, which he stated will not be permitted and tolerated.

   He said the 2023 presidential and general elections as well as all its attending process and procedures must be adhered to, as provided by the Liberian Constitution, and that as opposition leader he is duty bound to hold the Weah administration to its sworn responsibility.

   Cummings reaffirmed a CPP government’s commitment to ending the suffering of the Liberian people, reunite the country, grow the economy, provide opportunities for youth, empower women and create decent paying jobs for all of the working class.

   “Our country is not poor and our people are not lazy. Our soil is fertile and our weather is favorable to grow what we eat and to export the surplus,” said Cummings. “What is lacking is determined, competent, serious and responsible leadership that will make the right decisions and investments, rather than spending the largest portion of the national budget on enriching and caring for the President and top four officials.”

   Cummings maintained that serious investors need responsible and competent governments that can be trusted to prevent public stealing, and with strong justice and improved accountability systems. The CPP Standard Bearer said he has been engaged with international partners and industrialists who are prepared to invest in Liberia in all areas, including education, communications, manufacturing, and infrastructural development.

   He made specific reference to the urgency to deal with food insecurity and the need for improved agriculture production in Liberia.

   He said instead of resorting to “tentative actions and panicked reaction to rice shortages and crisis, as done by the Weah administration, a CPP government will pursue a comprehensive strategy to include emergency provision of rice at concessionary price, while at the same time pursuing an accelerated and sustained program for domestic production.

   Cummings said the program, which will be private-sector driven, will entail intensive training of Liberians in rice producing states, provision of experts, investment and finance for equipment and machinery.

   Cummings continued that there are many databases to tap into, including the West African Rice Development Association, hosted in Liberia, the Central Agricultural Research Institute, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture and other global institutions that made commendable progress in rice production and other cash crops.

   “Our government only needs to demonstrate seriousness in engaging these institutions to achieve its goals and stop fooling Liberians about fake shipments of rice.”

   He called on the National Legislature to exert itself in its oversight responsibility to ensure that millions of dollars allocated for rice subsidy are properly accounted for.

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