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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Liberia: Weah In Talks With Cummings for 2029 Race

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By Festus Poquie

Former President George Weah is in talks with the leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Alexander Cummings, to potentially forge a common front for the 2029 presidential race.

Cummings, a former Coca-Cola executive, could potentially lead the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) in a grand opposition collaboration that would challenge incumbent President Joseph Boakai and his ruling Unity Party, insiders with knowledge of the arrangement told Oracle News Daily.

A segment of the CDC led by influential Secretary-General Jefferson Koijee backs the Cummings partnership, one account holds.

The ANC, a breakaway from the CDC, is the country’s third-largest political party, but has had poor showings in recent votes.

Koijee did not respond when reached for comment. ANC’s National Chairman Horatio Gould did not confirm or deny the report. Nothing is static and nothing is permanent in politics,” he said. “We are talking to everybody including the Unity Party.”

Cummings’ international reputation, social capital, and network of global leaders seem appealing to a political institution like the CDC, which is effectively under U.S. sanctions. Prior to the party’s exit from power, nearly a dozen officials of the former Weah administration were sanctioned by the United States government on various accusations, including human rights violations and corruption.

Ousted from power in November 2023 following his electoral loss, Weah has been working to rebuild his CDC party. The coalition he formed in 2017 to unseat the Unity Party has cracked, with mass exodus of allies and partisans.

Weah has been inconsistent regarding a comeback to power, at one point indicating he was quitting politics, and at another time expressing his willingness to run for office once deemed fit by his party.

Rebranding and Repairing a Broken Image

After six years at the helm of the West African nation’s political leadership, the CDC now sits in opposition, powerless and disabled.

Biting United States financial and visa sanctions imposed on more than half a dozen influential members and associates of the former ruling Coalition for Democratic Change have seemingly left the party decapitated.

In the aftermath of the sanctions and the 2023 misfortune at the ballot box, the political organization, which prides itself as a grassroots movement representing the masses, is now on a path to rebranding.

Recently, the party had a rally in the capital Monrovia to reawaken its demoralized bases under the theme:  Turning Setback into Comeback. It had an impressive gathering of partisans and supporters showing glimpses of a potential opposition force.

After resigning over policy disagreements with Party leader George Weah in February this year, former National Chairman Mulbah Morlu is advised the CDC to improve its international reputation, dispel misperceptions with global powers, and position itself for a comeback in 2029.

“I would like to offer one final piece of advice, Mr. Standard-bearer, which I have previously communicated to you in a briefing note. It is crucial to assemble a proficient team of foreign policy experts to engage with key Western capitals, such as Washington, Brussels, Number 10 Downing Street, and others. These engagements should involve discussions regarding international decisions made during our tenure, aiming to rebuild confidence and provide assurances to our international partners.

“As we endeavor to revitalize the CDC’s domestic and global political standing, I stress the importance of prioritizing the enhancement of relations with Washington and its invaluable allies. Neglecting to capitalize on our historical ties with the U.S. would be a missed opportunity, especially considering Liberia’s strategic significance within the United States’ sphere of influence. Therefore, strengthening ties with the U.S. and its European counterparts is a good step forward, even for a major opposition party.”

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