“ANC is the party we are going into and we are open for coalition, we stand the best chance for any coalition because if you look at the field I see that Mr. Cummings is incomparable to people who have expressed interest in running for the Presidency people who say he is not known but anyone who has read his profile and seen the records will say he is the best person for Liberia”- Taa Wongbee, Chairman, Alexander Cummings Foundation
Monrovia - Political discussions are ongoing ahead of the 2017 general and Presidential elections as many politicians look to form collaborations and possible mergers amid concerns that no political party is capable of winning the election alone. Incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sounded the caveat when she expressed in a recent FrontPageAfrica interview that no political party can win the upcoming election without collaboration. Said President Sirleaf: “There is just one thing I like to say, there is no political party as I see it, based on my political experience that will win these elections without a coalition, I don’t think any political party can win on its own giving the number of parties, so if you see people negotiating, dialoguing it is because that they have all realized that some coalition has to be made for a particular party or parties to be successful.” In the wake of these comments such as the one by President Sirleaf, politicians and political parties are busy discussing behind the scenes as dozens of political parties eye a single seat. Reports continue to tip a possible Charles Brumskine, Vice President Joseph Boakai collaboration while on the other hand other opposition political parties are also said to be locked up in negotiations. One of the many individuals eying the Presidency, Alexander Cummings, who is expected to retire from the Coca-Cola International Company, has already established a foundation in the country with the hope of possibly using the foundation to push his 2017 political agenda. Many believe Cummings is strange to Liberian politics and might face difficult time breaking into the political culture of the country to woo voters but his supporters are upbeat about his international reputation which is normally a major factor in Liberian politics. Cummings Presidential ambition confirmed Although Cummings is still out of Liberia but he has been paying frequent visitations which has led to speculations that he is nurturing a political ambition beyond 2017 and an official of the Cummings Foundation Tuesday confirmed that their leader has a political ambition to contest in 2017 and is scouting the newly formed Alternative National Congress (ANC) as the vehicle to pursue his political objective. Taa Wongbee says the opposition ANC is the vehicle his political leader wants to use in the 2017 Presidential and general election to take over the mantle of authority of Liberia. Wongbee told reporters that negotiations are ongoing between Team Cummings and the ANC about a possible collaboration that will see Mr. Cummings lead the Party to the 2017 Presidential and general elections and says he hopes that the negotiations will climax soon. Said Wongbe “ANC is the party we are going into and we are opened for coalition. We stand the best chance for any coalition because if you look at the field, I see that Mr. Cummings is incomparable to people who have expressed interest in running for the presidency; people who say he is not known but anyone who has read his profile and seen the records will say he is the best person for Liberia”. According to Wongbe, the ANC is showing good signs that it is happy and open to have Cummings as its standard bearer in 2017. “The ANC is open and happy for Cummings, their views and mottos are the same as us, and our visions are the same. We are working as a team in some areas where it makes sense and my job here is to ensure that it happens”, the Team Cummings official disclosed. No discussion with CDC There have been widespread rumors that Cummings has been holding discussions with the opposition Congress for Democratic Change but Wongbe says there have never been any of such discussions. “There has never been a discussion with the CDC. We have never had discussions with the CDC, never has there been a time that we sat in a meeting to discuss any important thing about working together”, Wongbe says. The Team Cumming Chairman confirmed admiration by the Team for the CDC as a viable political institution that is opting for the presidency but says they prefer the ANC because unlike other political institutions, it is not built around an individual. According to him, Team Cummings is in the 15 counties accessing the political atmosphere and disclosed that hopefully by June this year, a major event will be held where Mr. Cummings will declare his political intention officially. As part of its objective, Team Cummings is a group that says its mission is to create a society in which, they will build democracy through activism and education and change the law to ensure that political processes are controlled by citizens. They oppose discrimination based on race, color, spiritual belief, gender, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, and national origin. Cummings officially resigned in March 2016 as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer or the Coca-Cola Company. Still obligated to Liberia Cummings in a June 25, 2015 interview with FrontPageAfrica said he is still obligated to his homeland, Liberia. “Given my many blessings, I feel an obligation to personally continue to help empower and uplift Liberians and Liberia. So, I give back where I can – both in time and financially. Yes, I am therefore in the process of starting a foundation. It’s called the Cummings Africa Foundation. And it focuses on three of Liberia’s most pressing needs – education, health and agriculture. Strong education plus great health and sustainable agriculture can be the backbone of a thriving Liberia in the years and decades to come” said Cummings. Cummings at the time said while he has been blessed to have the opportunity to give back personally and through Coca-Cola, he is in the process of scaling back to leverage his networks in a bid to bring greater support and visibility to Liberia. During the interview, Cummings at the time shied away from any mention of politics although he was optimistic about Liberia’s future and said that the next leader will be selected wisely. Mr. Cummings attributes his success to a combination of things: “Intellect, hard work, integrity, discipline and the flexibility to move where the next opportunities have taken me. It’s also from a belief in people and hiring the best talent. I’ve been able to attract and work with outstanding people.” Cummings joined Coca-Cola in 1997 as Regional Manager for Nigeria where he progressed from there to become President and Chief Operating Officer of Africa Group, responsible for the Coca-Cola’s operations in Africa, encompassing a total of 56 countries and territories across the continent before he was promoted to the last position he served as Executive Vice President (EVP) and Coca-Cola’s Chief Administrative Officer.” With the political ambition of Cummings now made public by an official of his Cummings Foundation, the number Presidential hopefuls are now increasing. Vice President Joseph Boakai was the first to accept a petition from the people of his native Lofa County to contest the 2017 elections. Names such as Charles Brumskine, George Weah, Prince Johnson, Mills Jones, Togar McIntosh are all being heard within the corridors of the 2017 politics. US Citizenship dilemma There are reports that Cummings holds a US citizenship, something if proven might be used against him by his political opponents in the political process. He is said to have admitted at one public forum in the United States about his US citizenship. The issue of dual citizenship is currently a heavily debated one with a constitution proposition calling for dual citizenship to be accepted in the country but many Liberians are against the idea. Whichever way the dual citizenship debate goes it will affect Presidential hopefuls who are citizens of foreign countries in addition to the Liberian citizenship.