Liberia: Alexander Cummings Hires Ex British Prime Minister’s Wife to Conduct Forensic Investigation of CPP Framework Document
MONROVIA – Mr. Alexander Cummings, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to prove his innocence against the allegation that he altered the Framework Document of the CPP and forged the signatures of the CPP leaders, particularly that of Mr. Theodore Momo, chairman of the All Liberian Party.
Although the matter is in court for determination, Mr. Cummings has hired the services of Cherie Blair CBE QC to lead an independent and internationally-staffed forensic investigation into the document tampering allegations made by the All Liberian Party (“ALP”), which form the basis of ongoing criminal proceedings.
Cherie Blair CBE, QC is the Founder and Chair of Omnia Strategy where she focuses on international arbitration, strategic international legal, and advisory work and practices as a barrister. She is a Queen’s Counsel and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. With over 40 years of experience as a leading barrister specializing in public international law, human rights, employment law, arbitration, and mediation, Cherie has represented over 30 governments as well as numerous multinational corporations in international disputes. Through Omnia Strategy, Cherie advises clients on complex issues relating to international dispute resolution, investment treaties, corporate responsibility, and business & human rights, and government relations. She also represents clients as counsel in international arbitrations and legal cases.
“We are privileged to engage in this important truth-finding exercise, to independently assess the veracity of the allegations and get to the bottom of this sensitive issue. We are aware of the serious nature of the claims on both sides, and the ramifications of our findings not just for Liberia’s opposition but for the country’s future,” Cherie Blair CBE, QC said.
According to the ANC, Mr. Cummings commissioned this independent investigation to provide an objective evaluation of the claims made by the ALP and the Government of Liberia.
The political party in a press release stated that “Throughout his corporate, philanthropic, and political career, at home and abroad and his recent political engagements in Liberia, Mr. Cummings has always been committed to high standards of integrity, honesty, probity, and transparency. These allegations are an attempt to question and undermine his values.”
The Collaborating Political Parties which comprised the All Liberian Party, the Alternative National Congress, the Liberty and the Unity Party was with the single aim of forming a united force that would unseat the Weah-led administration in 2023 presidential elections.
However, the Collaboration began to disintegrate just a couple of months before they could go for their convention to elect the standard-bearer of the collaboration.
The political leader of the ALP in a complaint letter addressed to the then chairman of the CPP, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, indicated that he had been tipped the CPP Framework Document had been nefariously altered by a ranking member of the CPP.
This allegation has led to the state pressing charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy against Mr. Cummings. However, he says, the charges are politically motivated and tramped up against him to ruin his reputation and undermine his candidacy at home and abroad.
His party described his prosecution as a “weaponization of the courts, a waste of public resources, and a gambit to have a failed President re-elected by weakening his most formidable challenger or denying my participation in the elections. We will not permit this to happen. Liberians are ready for change, and we are ready to provide the changed leadership, with the high standards of transparency and accountability Liberia desperately needs.”
However, the prosecution led by Solicitor General Cllr. Syrennius Cephus maintains that the evidence against Cummings is overwhelming.
On January 3, 2022, the Liberian Government issued a writ of arrest on Alexander Cummings on the complaint of Benoni Urey’s All Liberian Party (ALP) which announced its withdrawal from the CPP a few days earlier, on December 23, 2021. The ALP complained that Cummings, and two other leaders of the ANC included a withdrawal penalty clause in their nearly two-year-old Framework Agreement before filing it with the National Elections Commission (NEC), which they claimed to have been “unresolved”.
Although the Unity Party has adhered to the Framework Agreement including becoming its eight-month rotational leader on October 15, 2021, on February 16 2022, the UP informed the NEC through a December 20, 2021 Resolution that it had withdrawn from the CPP calling the Framework Agreement “a product of fraud” because the party “did not sign”.
The UP asked the NEC to register its candidate in the May 10 Senatorial By-election in its stronghold of Lofa, which the ANC and the Liberty Party, two other member-parties of the CPP, objected to. Consistent with the Framework Agreement, the NEC denied the UP for which an appeal has been taken to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Article 8.5.1 of the Framework Agreement forbids a member party from fielding candidates in their name after withdrawing from the CPP. The UP is contending that this provision violates its right to associate or refuse to associate in political parties consistent with Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution. The ANC and the LP counter-argued that Article 25 obligates the UP and the ALP in the enforcement of the legal contractual obligations to which they freely entered and from which they have publicly benefited.
Recently, the Solicitor-General informed that the writ of arrest for Cummings was initially ordered quashed but was reissued by “his boss” the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Musa Dean. Cllr. Dean denied the claims and requested the Solicitor-General to submit the evidence in his possession to his office. He also publicly criticized “grandstanding” in the business of prosecution.
In the twists and turns of the ongoing trial, the prosecution admitted to “inadvertently” extracting and suppressing evidence reported to be favorable to establishing the innocence of Cummings and undermining the basis of the charges prompting the defense to raise claims of “prosecutorial misconduct”.