Liberia: Mere Verbal Condemnation of Pre-Electoral Violence in Cape Mount Not Enough

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Verbal Condemnations have been pouring in following the violent and barbaric action that led to the burning of properties — house and cars — in Grand Cape Mount County over the weekend.

Grand Cape Mount lawmaker, Representative Bob Sheriff, who is a member of the opposition Unity Party, house and vehicle were set ablaze by supports of a rival candidate in the county’s senatorial race against Mr. Simeon Taylor, who is vying on the ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), which the Unity Party is a part of.

Rep. Sheriff, who was in Monrovia at the time of incident, told this newspaper that supporters of Senator Victor Watson had set ablaze his home in Cape Mount. According to him, before his home was set ablaze, shots were fired at it several times before it was touched.

He further narrated that Mr. Taylor usually resided at his home in that part of Cape Mount when he is on the campaign trail. Rep. Sheriff could not tell FrontPageAfrica the whereabouts of Mr. Taylor; neither could he say anything about his well-being as Taylor was on the scene when the arson broke out.

At the moment, we can’t pinpoint what sparked the arson attacks against the person of Taylor and his supporters on one hand and the properties on another. However, Rep. Sheriff narrated that Mr. Taylor had received reports that a huge number of Sierra Leoneans were crossing into Liberia for the sole purpose of voting in Tuesday’s election in Gangama, therefore, he had gone there to inform the Sierra Leoneans to stay away from the election. He further alleged that while at it, a pick-up belonging to a prominent businessman who supports the ruling party’s candidate, Victor Watson, arrived on the scene and began to terrorize the CPP supporters which resulted in a tussle among rival supporters.

He charged that because they know that Mr. Taylor would often lodge at his (Sheriff) residence, Watson’s supporters moved on his house and began firing at it.

The verbal condemnations have not helped. We think they have only emboldened those uncivilized thugs to continually allow themselves to be used to satisfy the whims of selfish and spineless politicians.  

“They fired at the house until they fired all the window glasses; they went into the house, took the icebox (refrigerator) and scattered everything in the house and set it ablaze. They also set my pickup ablaze, according to information that I received,” he explained.

Following the incident, condemnations began pouring in. President George M. Weah, through the Ministry of Information, condemned the act, which happened in Porkpar District of the county. The President said the government will not condone such violent action by any group of citizens and political party.

President Weah emphasized that elections are about the exercise of people’s democratic rights and should be void of any kind of violence. He called on all political parties and their leaders to encourage their respective partisans and supporters to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during this campaigning period, while urging that peace and stability is paramount to the sustenance of the country’s democracy.

Also, some of Liberia’s international partners, including the United Nations, ECOWAS, the EU Delegation and the Embassies of the EU Member States (France, Germany, Ireland, and Sweden), the Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Embassy of the United States of America, too, joined in and condemned the thuggish behavior of those who set the home and other properties ablaze.

They reminded Liberians that they have invested heavily and worked strenuously alongside Liberians from all political parties and all walks of life to promote peace, security, and democratic institutions in this country.  “We deplore the incidence of violence in Grand Cape Mount yesterday, including the burning of cars and looting and burning of a house, and are certain that the vast majority of Liberians would wish to disassociate themselves from such acts.  In this regard, we fully support the statement this morning by President George Manneh Weah condemning the violence and calling for political partisans and their leaders to conduct themselves peacefully.”   

While we want to thank the President and those international partners, who reminded Liberians of what they have invested in Liberia over the years, we strongly think that mere verbal condemnations won’t amount to anything tangible.

We want to remind the President that this is not the first elections violence under his watch and nothing concrete has been done to stop such barbaric action on the parts of those hooligans.

We all know, heard and watched what happened few years ago along the Japan Drive (formerly Somalia Drive) when supporters from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) backed by the Mayor of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson Koijee, stormed and disturbed the campaign of Ms. Siah Tandapolie, who was running to become a member of the legislature.

We also know what happened again in Logan Town when Ms. Telia Urey’s campaign activities were attacked by supporters of her than rival, Mr. Abu Kamara, who ran on the ticket of the ruling party.

Following all of those incidents, only mere verbal condemnations were said again and nothing tangible happened to put an end to elections violence.

The verbal condemnations have not helped. We think they have only emboldened those uncivilized thugs to continually allow themselves to be used to satisfy the whims of selfish and spineless politicians.        

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