STATEMENT IN REACTION TO THE IMPOSITION OF SANCTIONS ON HIGH-RANKING OFFICIALS OF THE WEAH GOVERNMENT

BY MR. ALEXANDER B. CUMMINGS, POLITICAL LEADER OF THE ANC AND PRESUMPTIVE STANDARD BEARER OF THE COLLABORATING POLITICAL PARTIES (CPP)

My fellow Liberians:

President George Weah and his administration of thieves are continuing to disgrace our country and worsen the living conditions of all of us. Such is the seriousness of their stealing from the Liberian people that three of President Weah’s closest members of his inner circle have been sanctioned by the United States Government.

The action of the United States Government which was recently announced by the U. S. Ambassador to Liberia imposes sanctions on Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, Solicitor-General Sayma Syrennius Cephas, and National Port Authority Managing Director Bill Tweahway for what the US Government says is their acts of corruption and other criminal conducts. The sanctions imposed on Messrs McGill, Cephus and Twehway are pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act of 2017, which “targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption around the world.” The sanctions are targeted and in support of the suffering Liberian people. It sends a clear and serious message to the corrupt and abusive administration of President Weah.

Accordingly, we welcome this important public accountability action by the United States Government. For too long, the Weah administration has misled the country and have failed to take the necessary actions to address the many scandals and reports of stealing and human right abuses of the administration.

For too long in the administration of our country, too few Liberians have continued to illegally and corruptly enrich themselves while too many ordinary families have had to go to bed hungry; too many schools are without teachers and adequate learning implements; too many young people are unemployed and unemployable, while teachers, doctors, nurses and civil servants are grossly underpaid; and too many hospitals are without medicines and beds – all of these neglects of the suffering people while officials are stealing and enriching themselves. This is wicked and unacceptable leadership.

The wealth of Liberia belongs to all Liberians. It does not and should not ever be seen to belong to only public officials, or some officials of government. It is wrong to steal from the people. Even worse, it is deeply offensive for rogues to publicly boast of stealing from babies, children, pregnant mothers, students, unemployed youths, the elderly and struggling families, and then arrogantly and unbelievably ask the people they have stolen from to applaud and reward them for doing so.

It is time for real change and serious leadership in our country. It is time to stop this lack of accountability in our country. Under a Cummings Administration, if a government official steals, he or she will end up in the same common jail as any other rogue because that government official is a rogue. Justice must not and will not discriminate. It must and will be served equally and blindly to the big and small as well as to the haves and have-not, alike. This is how we will change the country and truly lift the Liberian people from poverty by holding each other accountable and to higher standards.

My Fellow citizens:

We take note that President Weah has announced suspensions of the sanctioned officials of his administration pending another of his administration’s many publicly-announced “investigations” which all too often have left much to be desired. The announced suspension of President Weah’s closest cronies exposes the unsettling truth about our President: President Weah is either dangerously derelict or shamefully complicit in the stealing and abuses that have swallowed up his administration.

Firstly, it should never require the intervention of the United States Government for President Weah to act against the pervasive wave of corruption, explosion of crimes in our streets and communities, violation of human rights, and abuse of public offices which continue unabated under the watch of this administration. President Weah may pretend all he wants, but the corruption, lawlessness, and unaccountable behaviors on his watch are well-known to the Liberian people.

Secondly, Mr. Weah and his administration have announced several investigations into murders, mysterious deaths and disappearances, and corruption in the past. Results of many of these investigations have yet to be made public, or to lead to desirable outcomes. Announcing yet another investigation amounts to a coverup that deceives only himself.

Thirdly, in many cases of corruption, including accusations involving President Weah, he has not acted to hold his officials accountable or to even clear his own name, as stealing in government has increased manifold and the actions of public officials have proven to be increasingly abusive.

Fourthly, President Weah has emboldened his officials to steal and behave unaccountably by his very bad examples of suddenly coming into unexplained wealth which he began to publicly display in the purchase and building of personal condominiums, resorts, and even an entire personal city, immediately after inauguration. This is after declaring to a United States Court that he was indigent and incapable of meeting his father’s responsibility to a mother and daughter.

My people:

A fish rots from the head. President Weah is the head of this rotten fish which his administration is being shown to be. As President, Weah has not just disappointed the Liberian people and disgraced our country by his lack of leadership, but also, he has continued to encourage stealing by his public officials, especially those very close to him, both by his bad examples and by his seeming complicity which makes him incapable of acting against his officials for stealing.

Today, government officials no longer declare their assets because the President does not declare his, and likely will embarrass himself by declaring his assets publicly. Obviously, President Weah lacks the will and standing to fight stealing in his administration.

It is telling that the officials targeted by the sanctions are the most powerful members of President Weah’s inner circle. The performance and activities of Mr. Weah`s Chief of Staff and gatekeeper over the last five years has to be rightly viewed as reflecting the image, character and values of the President.

If Weah did not know what his gatekeeper was doing, then Weah is an incompetent and inept leader. If President Weah knew what his gatekeeper was doing and he did not act to stop him, which appears to be more likely the case, then he is a partner, enabler and facilitator of the stealing.

As President, Mr. Weah has a duty to protect and preserve the integrity of the country and the best interest of the Liberian people. These sanctions speak poorly about how he has continued to perform in carrying out the duties to manage our country and its resources. The sanctions are therefore serious and should be responded to seriously.

As such, President Weah’s mere suspension of his officials and close confidants is not good enough to address the injuries caused to the Liberian people by the actions of these individuals, nor is it enough to exonerate the President from the growing public impression of his participation in the commission of these high crimes.

I strongly urge the President to therefore dismiss the designated persons, and formally request the assistance of the United States Government to prosecute them in keeping with Liberian law. This is not the time for bogus suspensions, coverups, and fake investigations.

Finally, my fellow Liberians:

The Government of the United States cannot continue to do for Liberia and Liberians what we can and must do for ourselves. This is why I agree with the U.S. Ambassador when he said, “It is my hope that Liberians that are today being victimized by these actions of corruption will feel EMPOWERED to peacefully stand up to corruption and say, NO MORE!!!”

Well, no more must we accept the use of past wrongs to justify the continuation of wrongs against the Liberian people, now or in the future. The change we seek for our country must be one to correct wrongs and not to justify repeating them.

No more must we fear our government which we elected to serve us. No more must we believe we need to accept the wrongs of government officials whose duty it is to set higher standards of moral leadership, and to lead by good examples.

No more must we believe we are powerless in our democracy for which many sacrificed and died. No more must we believe that the handouts of rogues somehow justify the stealing and looting they continue to carryout in the country.

No more! Enough is enough!

On behalf of all Liberians everywhere, I commend the United States Government for its decision to stand with the Liberian people, and to expose and punish the increasing wave of stealing and abuse of public office by the officials of the George Weah-led administration.

Liberia is too rich for Liberians to be so poor. Liberia cannot continue to be a country to be repeatedly exploited by its leaders while the majority of Liberians live in worsening conditions of hardship and backwardness.

Real Change is coming.

Liberia deserves better. Liberians deserve better.

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