— “I have asked the parties, and they have agreed to allow me to not take a side," Cummings said."As we know, it is difficult to engage meaningfully and constructively if one is perceived to be politically biased or prejudiced.”
Alexander Cummings, the presidential candidate of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), has disclosed that he will remain neutral during the upcoming runoff election between President George Weah and Joseph Boakai, even though the collaboration, which he heads, is expected to endorse the president today.
Cummings, who is repeating his 2017 position after placing 5th in the presidential election that year, has stated that while he respects the decision of the CPP Executive Committee, he has been granted permission not to endorse any of the two runoff presidential candidates.
The Collaboration, he noted, is a democratic institution, and as such, the overwhelming majority decision is final, which he respects, and they will be the ones delivering the statement of endorsement.
"However, I have asked the parties, and they have agreed to allow me to not take a side," Cummings said. "Among several important reasons, we believe this will afford the balanced perspective needed to continue to engage, as the CPP has demanded that I do, with all of our political, religious, traditional, and other national leaders, including Liberians of all political, social, and economic standing."
"As we know, it is difficult to engage meaningfully and constructively if one is perceived to be politically biased or prejudiced. Furthermore, I am hopeful that this position will help our country, both in the short and long term, to work for the unity and reconciliation of all our people and leaders, especially after a contentious election that threatens to further divide our people. Not personally choosing a side will also help in a more effective engagement with our international partners."
Cummings' neutrality comes after a dismal performance during the October 10 polls where his share of the vote is 29,613, constituting 1.61%, far below his performance during the 2017 elections. While he has now decided to remain neutral, he is on record as saying that if he does not make it to the second round, he would support an opposition candidate to unseat Weah.
However, it appears that he finds it difficult to stand by that position given the fact that Boakai once testified against him in court regarding a controversy over the CPP framework documents. This led to a strained relationship between the two, and the breakdown of the original CPP, which remains a festering sore that has yet to be treated, let alone healed.
On one hand, Cummings has been critical of the Weah administration, becoming the most vocal in the opposition and repeatedly warning that the reelection of the President would be detrimental to Liberia, citing alleged "incompetence."
His party decision, however, came a few days after the setting up of a Committee of Five that held discussions with the Weah ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Boakai Unity Party (UP).
The "object of those discussions," Cummings said, was to get the buy-in of the two parties for the incorporation and "implementation of some important elements" needed for the improvement of the country's governance space and the lives of all Liberians.
"CPP refuses to offer blind support without any reasonable commitments to change from the two parties," Cummings added. "By making our conditions public, we did not necessarily intend to impose our will on any political leader or party. We were simply asking the runoff parties to make change a real obligation, and not just a political slogan.
"We know this was an unusual practice in our country, but we offer no apologies to anyone for the audacity we have to believe in real change. And so, we thank the two parties for engaging with us in these discussions,” he added.
Cummings, however, did not say whether or not the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, which his party is endorsing today, made any commitment to a 12-point agenda, which incorporates a lot of political perspectives of the CPP.
The conditions, among others, called for a commitment to gender equality, a loan scheme for business development, the establishment of a war and economic crimes court, a review of the Liberian Constitution to strengthen democratic governance, as well as reforming the judiciary to strengthen independence and establishment of a claims court.
Meanwhile, Cummings has reminded Liberians that while they may not agree on everything, everyone "must never disagree to keep our country safe and peaceful."
Elections, he noted, are inherently divisive, but Liberians must remain faithful to and committed to building... as the "road ahead is going to be tough, and that Change is hard."
"But like they say, change is the only constant in the lives of people. We must never give up on trying to change. We must never lose hope in the possibility of change."