Liberia: Who Started the Riot at NEC? -Opposition, Ruling Party Supporters Riot Over By-Election Results
Monrovia – Riot erupted Tuesday, August 13, at the National Elections Commission (NEC) headquarters in Monrovia between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and followers of the four opposition collaborating political parties bringing normal activities along the Tubman Boulevard to a standstill.
It all started when partisans of the collaborating political parties — Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP), Liberty Party (LP) and Alternative National Congress (ANC) — had gathered peaceably before the NEC to protest while the Montserrado County District #15 by-election dispute hearings were being conducted inside the Elections Commission with representatives of the contesting parties.
The tension flared when supporters of the ruling party who were brought in a bus with inscription, “Abu Development Initiative” began throwing water at the vehicle of the ALP leader, Mr. Benoni Urey, when he arrived to attend the dispute hearing.
This prompted supporters of Ms. Telia Urey to react, too. They began throwing objects back at the CDC supporters.
However, before the arrival of Mr. Urey, both supporters kept their individual lines without agitation from either side. CDC supporters had been bused and disembarked at the intersection of Warner Avenue and 9th Street, while Ms. Urey’s supporters, who had come earlier, were scattered across the street in the LP Gas Station.
The tension took another trend when stones began to fly in from both sides. CDCian rioters over ran the supporters of Telia as police officers only stood by and watched them go about with their rioting openly.
An assigned Unity Party (UP) vehicle belonging to Mr. Mohammed Ali, who heads the press and public affairs office of UP, was vandalized allegedly by partisans of Mr. Kamara, who is the candidate on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) ticket.
At the same time, Police Spokeman Moses Carter confirmed that a female supporter from the end of the opposition collaboration got severely injured on her head and had to be rushed from the scene by fellow partisans/supporters when followers of Abu Kamara sparked a violent stone-throwing melee at the National Elections Commission in Sinkor.
It was later confirmed, however, that after a while, the police arrested three persons from the CDC rioting clan on the scene. Spokesman Carter confirmed that 11 persons have been arrested so far in connection to Tuesday riot.
“I cannot state how many persons were from the CDC or opposition supporters. We did not separate them, but 11 persons were arrested,” Carter noted.
However, he stated that they were still investigating the situation so can’t be final with the number of arrests.
The riot took place in the presence of officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP), who stood by and did nothing initially even when the vehicle of Mo Ali was being vandalized by the rioters.
During the riot, Mr. Henry Costa, a supporter of the four collaborating parties emerged from inside the hearing hall so furious. He was visibly seen venting his anger on the police who only stood by and did nothing to arrest the situation when the CDC supporters allegedly sparked the riot.
Costa said it was unfortunate that Police will allow supporters of Abu Kamara, to damage vehicles belonging to the UP.
Costa in a furious tone said: “How do you expect us to have confidence in you the police, when you are standing right here and allowing CDCians to throw stones at our people? How do you expect us to feel secure in this headquarters when you are right here and CDCians are throwing stones at our people?” Costa stated among others.
“I am very disappointed in you the police, you burst our car, and if it was on June 7 that this happened, what could have happened to us?
On June 7, we could have beat you, but we did not do it. You want us to make trouble in this town? When they were throwing stones at our people, you were to remove them, but you did not do so?” he said angrily.
When Mo Ali emerged, he told journalists, “I think you can see what is ongoing here. We are in a country that has retrogressed. I mean gone back and if we don’t fix it that’s how it will stay. This country is in total collapse as you can see properties are being damaged right in front of the police.”
A CDC supporter, who was part of the riot, in the presence of LNP Officers said they will not sit back and allow Telia’s supporters to gather on the street when their leaders are taking the issues with NEC.
“You must respect your leader, even the Bible and Koran said that you should respect your leader, but you don’t want to do so, but to come on the street and demand result,” the CDC supporter who only identified himself as Clarke stated, while still throwing stones.
Prior to the riot, supporters from the opposition collaboration told FrontPageAfrica that their peaceful assembly at the NEC was meant to protest against “any attempt to give fake result” in the District 15 by-election.
Noah Gibson, a visually impaired man and a supporter of the opposition bloc said, “We have gathered to tell the world that the NEC wants to cheat and we will resist any attempt to do so. Today, the final ruling is to be up and we do not want George Weah to influence this process. What should be for District 15 should be given them,” Gibson said
“Let me say this to the security apparatus, we feel for you because you have not taken pay for several months, you should therefore feel for yourself. An attempt to fire one drop of tear gas here today, you will have yourself to be blame.”
Another supporter of the opposition collaboration, called for the incarceration of those associated with what he calls ‘fraud in the process.”
“We have come to protect what belongs to us and electoral violent is one thing that no country will like, but at this junction, the IT guy who caused the problem called Floyd Sayor should be behind bars by NEC.
There was a foul-play in the process, because we are sensing that they infused new names in their data base, because I was in Telia’s War Room,” Jetro Emmanuel Kolleh said.
According to Kolleh, if action is not taken to deter such act from repeating, NEC will give any result now and in future elections; adding: “Therefore what belongs to Telia Urey should be given to her.”
Prior to Tuesday’s riot, officials from both the opposition and ruling establishment have issued stern warning on situation surroundings the result of Montserrado County District 15 by-election.
In a recent comment at the CDC headquarters in Congo Town, its youth league chair, Jefferson Koijee, who is also the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, threatened that the CDC will counter protest anyone who will protest against the government.
“Make no mistake that because we bear certain title or occupy certain space in government, you think that position has taken away from us our true identities,” Koijee said.
“We want to officially announced to the world and the international community that we will not sit here as spectators and watch what we fought for, to come under attack by those friends who believe that nothing good can ever happen under our watch.
“When there is any called demonstration, as lawmakers can lead, I want to say in my official capacity, whether you call me Mayor of Youth Chair, we will lead such forces also.”
“Whatsoever day that will be announced by anyone, we will announce similar date and we will meet in flesh and blood,” Koijee maintained.
On the other hand, the four opposition collaborating political parties on Monday, August 12, issued a clarion call to the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Government of Liberia that they will do everything within their powers to ensure that the will of the people of Montserrado County District #15 prevails.
They even threatened to include what they described as “radical approaches.”
“Let the word go forth to those seeking to circumvent the District #15 by-election results that we are not taking this process lightly. We hope that the NEC does the right thing by allowing the will of the people to prevail and give our candidate Miss Urey her deserved victory,” the opposition collaboration said in a press conference. Meanwhile, NEC on Tuesday, August 13, held final arguments in the case involving Telia Urey versus the NEC and party of concern and has set ruling in the case for Wednesday, August 14, 2019.