‘Days of Marginalization Are Over’ – Grand Gedeans Speak Out
Monrovia – Citizens hailing from Grand Gedeh County have expressed serious delight over the election of football legend, Senator George Weah as Liberia’s 25th President.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah – [email protected]
Those Grand Gedeans said “the days of marginalization are over” for their county and southeast region.
The citizens, in a mass meeting on Tuesday, January 16, complained that they faced serious marginalization under President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration, beginning in 2005.
Citizens of the county, which once produced a President in the 1980s, is certain that the leadership of President-elect George Weah will create more development opportunities for their counties as well as empowerment for residents of the county and the region.
The county Senator, A. Marshall Dennis, said the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration has not done much to improve the wellbeing.
“We were here and witnessed the Unity Party 12-year reign. All we saw was a rehabilitation of road: road that was destroyed by their rockets,” he said.
According to him, the ongoing pavement of road work, which is in Ganta, Nimba County, won’t stop in that city, but would extend to Grand Gedeh County.
The county lawmaker further stated that his kinsmen or those traveling to that part of the country, won’t now have to be worried about deplorable road condition under the incoming administration as it will make it a top priority.
However, this newspaper can’t say for sure if the extension of ongoing roadwork is going to be one of the new administration’s major priorities as the nation faces a broken economy.
Senator Dennis accused the outgoing administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that since 2005, citizens and county of that county have been marginalized.
He, however, assured his kinsmen that with the election of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC)-led administration, their marginalization is going to be a thing of the past.
In the October 2017 Presidential and General, voters in that county and southeast overwhelmingly voted the CDC over other political parties.
Senator Dennis told citizens at a thanksgiving gathering for CDC victory in the elections, Tuesday, January 16, in Sinkor, that it is unfortunate that the Sirleaf leadership would ostracize them for no reason.
According to him, over the last 12 years of the UP-led administration, youths of the county didn’t benefit from bilateral scholarships and fees of most of the young people had to be what he termed as “pocket supported” by officials of the county.
“We also know that we have sub-standard health facilities not only in Grand Gedeh but the entire southeast. I am sure this CDC-led administration won’t sit supinely and do nothing about our health system,” Dennis asserted.
“With the President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore coming from the Southeast, there is no way the road condition would be a problem for the southeast. What we have been yarning for since 2005 is now in our hands; we can now breathe the air of relief at long last,” the county Senator said.
Despite him outlining all his expectations, he, however, asked his kinsmen to manage theirs, especially for jobs.
He told them that there were also opportunities in the private sector.
At the same time, the standard bearer of the United People Party, McDonald Wento, who also hails from the county, noted, that amid growing interest for consideration in the Weah-led administration, citizens of Grand Gedeh must put unity and togetherness first in their endeavors.
“Firstly we must know exactly who we are and where we come from, no matter what we did for the last 12 years, most of us were marginalized,” Wento stated.
He buttressed Senator Dennis’ expectation that President-elect Weah’s leadership will fully include Grand Gedeans in his administration.
Also speaking, an elder of the county, Maxwell Kaba, called on Mr. Weah to give executive clemency to their kinsmen, who are serving jail term at the Monrovia Central Prison.
According to Kaba, his kinsmen were not properly processed in court due to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s influence over the case.
The 18 Grand Gedeans were arrested and charged by state security in 2011 and 2012 during cross-border scuffle in neighboring La Côte d’Ivoire.
Five of the 18 were acquitted during the trial at the lower court due to lack of evidence to link them to the crime, reducing the number to 13.
Of the 13, one reportedly broke prison and is yet to be seen while three were released in 2015 due to insufficient evidence produced by government to prosecute them.
Four of the remaining nine Grand Gedeans convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment were granted executive clemency by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
The Grand Gedeans were accused in 2012 of carrying out mercenary activities in that sisterly nation.
They were also linked to the killing of seven Nigerien peacekeepers and at least 10 civilians on June 8, 2012 near Tai, Southeastern La Côte d’Ivoire and fighting side-by-side with militias loyal to former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.