As though he is weary of the age-old history of corruption, land grabs, poor governance and Liberia’s natural resources frequently doing the country more harm than good, the political leader of the opposition party, Alternative National Congress (ANC), has given his backing to government’s recent action to indict officials listed in Global Witness (GW) bribery report.
Alexander Benedict Cummings, businessman turned politician, believes that the government is proceeding “very well in keeping the Global Witness Report, because it has brought the required indictment against the key accused,” and wants that sustained.
The ANC political leader lauded the ongoing legal process involving current and former government officials in the Global Witness Report.
The government has since indicted some former and current officials for their alleged involvement in the GW bribery scandal; they include, House Speaker J. Alex Tyler and Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman. Senator Sherman chairs the governing Unity Party (UP).
Both accused are now facing prosecution for their reported involvement in the scandal, which has sparked huge national and international debates about government’s fight against endemic corruption in the country.
“I think the government is proceeding very swiftly with its indictment against individuals named in the report. On the overall, we at ANC think it is good on the part of the government to institute the legal process. That shows our country is on the path to the rule of law,” Mr. Cummings said.
He spoke yesterday in an interview with a team of Daily Observer reporters at the newspaper’s offices at ELWA Junction, Paynesville City.
Mr. Cummings also praised those indicted for submitting to the legal process, saying “that is also good.”
Between 1989 and 2003, Liberia, according to Global Witness Report, experienced civil wars that killed over a quarter of a million people. However, GW’s investigations revealed how the former President, Charles Taylor, used diamonds and timber to bankroll brutal campaigns against
Liberians and neighboring Sierra Leone.
“Today, Liberia is at peace and Taylor has been convicted for his crimes. There are positive signs of Liberia’s development: President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson has adopted laws to fight corruption and natural resource mismanagement, and for that decision, international donors have committed over US$ 6.5 billion in aid,” GW said in a report.
But Liberia’s efforts to jumpstart the economy through well-managed natural resource deals have been very mixed. Since the war, Global Witness has shown how mining companies have negotiated inequitable contracts, loggers have secretly and illegally grabbed huge swathes of the country, and oil companies have bribed government officials. Corruption in Liberia remains pervasive.
But as for the pervasive corruption, Mr. Cummings called on Liberians, irrespective of status, to join the fight instituted by the government, noting that “all of us need to leave corruption to put the country first on our minds and to get along with the development drive.”
“The fight against corruption is about government dismissing or firing the accused, prosecuting, and thereafter punishing whoever is liable before the law, no matter who that individual or the institution may be. Everyone is equal before the law,” noted.