Liberia: ‘Stop Muzzling the Opposition’, Cummings Tells Ruling CDC-Led Government
Monrovia – The leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress, Mr. Alexander Cummings has frowned on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change-led government’s repeated attempts to stifle the opposition.
“We reject the government’s attempt to muzzle the opposition or to put fear into people who have a different view of them”, said Mr. Cummings when he paid a visit to the acting Chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP), Menipakei Dumoe, just hours before his release from incarceration Thursday.
The ANC leader urged government to give concentration to paramount reasons for which citizens made a determination at the ballot box in 2017, instead of instilling fear in critical voices or those perceived as critics of the ruling establishment.
The ANC political leader added that government must accord citizens the opportunity to exercise their rights to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under the 1986 Liberian constitution. “The constitution is regarded as the organic law of the land,” Mr. Cummings added.
Mr. Dumoe, who was being held for posting on the social media a statement the Government of Liberia (GOL) deemed as a “threat to national security”, was freed late Thursday afternoon.
Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean Jr. ordered the release but said an investigation by the Joint Security Forces, which includes the examination of materials from Dumoe’s home, is continuing.
Dumoe was arrested on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 after a search of his home – which was sanctioned by the courts – for making comments deemed threatening to national security.
Earlier this week, he posted on his Facebook page that poor people in Monrovia needed “Ak47s so that the government can take us seriously”.
Minister Dean said the government remains committed to protecting the fundamental rights of everyone, even as it grapples with an unprecedented health crisis and urges all to refrain from making incendiary remarks which could undermine the hard-earned peace. “Liberia currently faces an existential threat that should claim the attention of all of us. Attempting to score political points when our compatriots die is unpatriotic.”
Mr. Dumoe spent his first night behind bars on Monday after he was arrested by Joint Security Forces of the Liberian government over a comment posted on Facebook, preferring AK47s over the distribution of rice during this lockdown period in Liberia.
“We don’t need free bags of rice. I say we the poor in Monrovia need AK-47s so our leaders can take us seriously”, he posted on the social media.
Following public outcry, Dumoe later posted providing clarity on his previous post, which had drawn mixed reactions from the public. Some had accused him of being a violent person; however, there is no record of him being that way.
In his clarification, he stated, “A number of people have called me about a post I made last night regarding our people needing ‘AK47s’. Of course, this was a metaphor; AK-47 is a globally known symbol of resistance. Several national flags carry the AK-47 symbol as a statement of resistance against oppression.
“My call on our people to not just accept free bags of rice without questioning the system that has them living in desperate poverty should not be misunderstood as a call to violence.
“I am a non-violent political activist and will never call for the use of actual guns. Civil resistance is my M.O.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPageAfrica at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police on Thursday, Mr. Cummings noted that the health and well-being of Mr. Dumoe remains the paramount concern of both the ANC and the CPP respectively.
Mr. Dumoe reportedly fell ill while in police custody early Monday evening.
He was rushed at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia to seek medical treatment.
According to him, executives and members of the CPP believed that Mr. Dumoe’s comments posted on the social media were not illegal, and as such, government should respect and obey the rule of law.
“I am here to look after and see Menipakei Dumoe. He is a citizen of our country; he has issues that we are concerned about and we want to make sure that he is accorded due process. The police accorded us the opportunity to see Mr. Dumoe and I want to commend them for the opportunity”.
“Our government needs to set example by unifying citizens and bringing our country together. Many of their actions; they are not leading in almost all areas of our lives. I am appealing to Liberians to come together and let’s observe the health protocols to defeat this virus”.Mr. Alexander Cummings, Alternative National Congress
“He (Dumoe) is not well and we are worried and concerned about that though I did not see him behind bars. He was brought in an office by one of the police officers. He expressed concerns about why he is being detained and his health. He was grateful that we came and to acknowledge government to do the right thing”.
Mr. Cummings maintained that though the comments should not have been posted by the acting Chairman of the COP, government acted out of the rule of law to arrest and imprison Mr. Dumoe, despite the signing of the Table Mountain Declaration and the repealing of anti-speech laws by President George Manneh Weah.
He added that the magnitude of Mr. Dumoe’s Facebook assertions does not warrant his arrest and illegal detention by the government.
“We are against the illegal detention of a citizen of Liberia. This is a clampdown on freedom of speech. Dumoe’s arrest and detention is meant to muscle freedom of speech. The CPP Chairman and the Liberty Party separately issued a statement and we all feel that Dumoe is being detained illegally”.
Mr. Cummings added that Mr. Dumoe has done nothing illegal, or violated the laws of the country, through his comment posted on Facebook was “ill-advised”.
The ANC leader has meanwhile promised to provide the necessary support to lawyers representing the legal interest of Mr. Dumoe in the matter.
“Our government needs to set example by unifying citizens and bringing our country together. Many of their actions; they are not leading in almost all areas of our lives. I am appealing to Liberians to come together and let’s observe the health protocols to defeat this virus”.