Liberia: Don’t Wait To Be Told – Do The Right Things

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HEADED BY New York Representative, Gregory Meeks, a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) is coming to Liberia. In the backdrop is the ongoing Bicentennial Celebrations, at whose official launch, the United States Government, at the level of a White House Official, appeared to publicly chastise the Liberian Government about corruption.

THE CODEL is headed to four African countries, three of which are in West Africa. Liberia appears to be the only country for which an agenda has been fixed for discussion with the Government. The two-point agenda concerns “governance and accountability”. The Weah-administration will do well to note the already publicized concerns, and let itself consider that all is not well.

FIRST IT WAS the White House uncharacteristically chastising the Liberian Government publicly about corruption. Now, a CODEL wants to talk about “governance and accountability”. In the background has been a lot of talks of late about sanctioning current officials of the Liberian Government. It is time to listen, and more than listen, to act in the best interests of the country.

INTERESTINGLY, it is not only Washington, DC that believes the Liberian Government to be corrupt. According to the latest perception report on corruption, Liberians believe their government to be corrupt. It is safe to say the impression is worsening. Accordingly, the Liberian Government does not need to wait to be told that the worsening corruption is a challenge to “governance and accountability”. The Liberian Government needs to act, and to act now to dispel this damning impression.

PERHAPS a second threat to good “governance and accountability” is one to our young democracy. With the announcement last week of the decision of the Unity Party (UP) to withdraw from the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), and its subsequent acceptance by the Alternative National Congress (ANC), it is hard not to see the Liberian Government continued prosecution of the Political Leader of the ANC as not being political, and on that reckoning, a threat to Liberia’s young democracy.

INDEED, THE ANC’s Political Leader, Alexander B. Cummings, is being accused of allegedly committing a crime of forgery and criminal conspiracy. He is said to have done this with other co-defendants by inserting a clause making it difficult for constituent member-parties to break out of the CPP. This is the contention of the complainant, Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party. But the ALP sued after it announced that it is withdrawing from the CPP. It has continued to suffer no penalty for its decision to withdraw. 

THE UP of Joe Boakai has also announced its decision to withdraw from the CPP, again without undergoing any penalty. What, then, is the value of the continuation of the trial, when the public evidence and actions of the constituent parties continue to prove that the parties can, and are actually withdrawing from the CPP, without contest or being made to suffer any penalty, for which Cummings is being tried. 

ALL ALONG Cummings and his ANC have not only maintained innocence but have insisted that the ongoing trial is a political persecution by which the Liberian Government is seeking to choose a preferred candidate to run against President Weah in 2023, ostensibly to exclude Cummings. Of course, this is unhealthy for our young democracy. This, too, befalls concerns about Liberia’s “governance and accountability”.

THE LIBERIAN Government does not need to wait to be told that continuing the trial of Cummings, a political opponent of President Weah, in the face of the recent political developments, can only act to confirm that the underlying interest is to exclude Cummings. This would be another wrong “governance and accountability” issue. 

DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENTS do not act to choose their opponents, and thereby their possible successors. In functional democracies, this is a right of the people reserved exclusively for the people. Cummings deserve his chance, unhindered by the government, to go out there and ask the Liberian people for the opportunity to lead them.

IT IS TIME to end the Cummings trial. It has no effective legal value just as continuing to prosecute someone for murder has no legal value when, in the middle of the trial, the living body of the supposedly dead person is found to be live and well. The Liberian Government does not need to wait until they are told this. Do the right thing… well, because it is the right thing to do, for “governance and accountability”, and the country’s infantile democracy.

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