Gbarnga, Bong County – Bong County citizens are divided over the local chiefs’ decision to support the Traditional Council of Chief’s role in mitigating the stalemate surrounding the 2017 presidential election.
On Monday, Chief Zanzan Karwar, head of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, held an hour-long meeting with local chiefs under the banner of the Bong County Peace Council of Elders to get their support in addressing the impasse over the election.
Joe Kollie, a resident of Chief Compound community in Gbarnga, said he wondered why the chiefs didn’t form a peace group when there were concerns about the voter roll Update, one of the problems cited in the Liberty Party’s complaints of irregularities and fraud against the National Election Commission (NEC).
“I hope our elders are not used again as political surrogates by greedy & selfish politicians,” Kollie said.
George Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change will face the Unity Party headed by Vice President Joseph Boakai in the runoff.
The runoff was scheduled for Nov. 7, but is now on hold due to a Writ of Prohibition issued against the runoff election.
The prohibition was placed on the runoff by the Supreme Court to give NEC the time to investigate allegations of electoral fraud and irregularities filed by the Liberty Party.
Last week, the Bong County Peace Council of Elders issued a statement appealing to the Liberty Party, Unity Party, Alternative National Congress and the All Liberian Party to abandon the legal fight for the “sake of peace.’’
Chief Karwar said he is pleased that the Bong chiefs had the same idea of petitioning Brumskine and others to give up on the legal fight.
At this critical juncture in the country, it is important that political actors put aside their personal differences to move the country forward, Karwar said.
Karwar said the stalemate over the electoral process is detrimental to maintaining the peace Liberia has enjoyed over the last 14 years.
But citizens questioned why the group formed to mediate when the matter is being handled by NEC and the Supreme Court.
Jesse Cole, regional coordinator of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), disagrees with the chiefs’ decision to join Karwar.
“I am seeing that there are extended hands behind this,” he said.
“Peace is not always about covering wrong.’’
Gbawoquiya Flomo, another resident of Gbarnga, called on the chiefs to allow NEC to deal with the issue.
“Interest groups or concerned individuals should wait for the outcome,” he said.
“It looks like our chiefs are fighting a proxy war for politicians.”
Ometo Mulbah, another resident of Gbarnga, praised the chiefs for their intervention.
“Bravo to our elders. I hope that those politicians involved will give our chiefs ears,” he said.
Younger Lahai, who lives in the Civil Compound community, questioned the timing of the chiefs’ involvement.
“Why are they talking about mitigation?
We are tired with their so-called peace mediation with no results,’’ Lahai said.
Steve Kennedy, a resident of Sergeant Kollie Town in Suakoko District, said chiefs in the county allow politics to divide political leaders in the county, noting that they contribute to the political divide.
“The people say before you wash someone’s front you must wash, you must wash your own mouth,’’ he said.
David Flomo, former president of the Bong County Citizens in America, said the chiefs should step aside and allow the court to decide.
He said the chiefs should not allow politicians to use them to advance their own interests.
The chiefs should allow the courts to decide, said Miatta Benson, 28.
“There can be no peace when people are not pleased,” she said.