The President Has Spoken; Will His Surrogates Listen?

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IT CAME A LITTLE late, but President George Weah is finally speaking out following last Thursday’s  attack on the leader of the Collaboration of Political Parties(CPP), Mr. Alexander Cummings and District No. 10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah.

ON SUNDAY, the President took to the pulpit, during regular worship service at his Forky Kloh Jlaleh Family Fellowship Inc, to urge Liberians to be peaceful and adhere to the tenants of democracy, as violence is not the answer to Liberia’s development challenges.

DESCRIBING THE RECENT happenings in Zwedru City as undemocratic, the President pledged that those culpable will be brought to justice. “This country witnessed too many instabilities that didn’t benefit us as a nation and people. Hostility is not the answer,” the Liberian Leader warned further. “We must focus on maintaining peace, order and adherence to the law. With peace we can develop our country.”

THE PRESIDENT FOLLOWED UP with a strongly-worded statement expressing concerns over the intemperate language, undue verbal provocations and acts of violence that have crept into our politics in the last several weeks. 

SAID THE PRESIDENT: “I am particularly outraged by the violent mob attacks on political leaders, notably, Alexander B. Cummings, Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties and former Presidential Candidate of the Alternative National Congress, Hon. Yekeh Kolubah, Member of the House of Representatives, and their entourage, which happened on Thursday, July 30, in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.”

AS MUCH AS one can reasonably expect that, as we approach the senatorial elections toward the end of the year, President Weah said the political temperature may rise due to intense competition. Thus, it is important for all of us to note that in the exercise of our democratic rights in Liberia, violent acts and incendiary language have no place in our polity. Our collective past should make this obvious to us. 

DESPITE THE PRESIDENT’S comments many are concerned about how his surrogates will pay heed to what he has said.

MANY ARE STILL baffled over the activities by some of his officials in the immediate aftermath of last Thursday’s incident.

HIS SPECIAL AIDE, Sekou Kalasco Damaro came under for changing his profile photo to that of former President Samuel Kanyon Doe, who hails from Grand Gedeh County.

MANY TOOK the president’s aide to task for trying to inflame tribal tension over the incident. Damaro would later defend his decision to change his profile photo, insinuating that changing his photograph to the former president’s is not a crime.

KALASCO HAS DEFIANTLY defended his action by saying there was nothing wrong we with he did.

EVEN AFTER PRESIDENT Weah moved Sunday to ease the concerns, Kalasco posted again: “If Sekou Kalasco Damaro(SKD) posts his namesake Samuel K. Doe(SKD) Picture, da problem? Only someone with conflicted mind will interpret it other wise. Avoid Self-imposed headache and remain peaceful.”

TO THE CONTRARY, it was the timing of Mr. Damaro’s act that had many scratching their heads.

ADDITIONALLY, Deputy Information Minister Mr. Eugene Fahngon has also come under fire.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the incident, the minister posted: “Racoon Supposed to Know Le Stick to Clean His Butt on… Go and Try Palm Tree Again, Ehn You say Da You alone Crazy?,” in what some says was an apparent reference to Rep. Kolubah, in retaliation of his many public insults and ridicule of President George Weah.

THE PRESIDENT’S move to ease tension and the establishment of “ a Mechanism of Dialogue and Positive Interaction that will ensure that political competition is conducted in a non- violent manner” is welcoming.

THIS HOWEVER, must be followed with concrete actions to assure the public and international stakeholders that this administration will not tolerate the resurgence of violence.

AFTER ALL, donors and stakeholders have invested millions, if not billions to ensure Liberia’s post-war  recovery remains on track. A peace accord signed on August 18, 2003, after months of international mediation paved the way for the peace Liberians are enjoying today.

THE BRUTAL CIVIL WAR which began in 1989, escalated in 2000, and ended in 2003, pitted the forces of Charles Taylor, elected president in 1997 after Liberia’s first civil war (1989-1997), against two armed anti-Taylor rebel groups. It also destabilized neighboring states, which accepted Liberian refugees and, in some cases, hosted anti-Taylor forces and became targets of the Taylor regime.

LIBERIA HAS enjoyed successful elections since the end of the war, which have often been contentious.

AT THE END of the 2005 elections, Weah, then an opposition politician claimed to have been cheated in the first round and contested his loss in the second round. Citing alleged evidence that he maintained had been turned over to him by “concerned citizens,” Mr. Weah claimed that the election had been rigged and “not free and fair” and called for a nullification and re-run of the vote.

MR. WEAH WOULD later pursue his claim though a number of formal channels, but after the National Elections Commission dismissed his claim, after meeting with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and under heavy international pressure, he agreed to drop his claim and accept the poll results.

MR. WEAH’S contention of the results spurred political unrest and some political street violence, largely attributed to Weah supporters, who chanted such slogans as “No Weah! No peace!”

SIX YEARS LATER, Mr. Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change boycotted the first round, crying foul.

AS THE COUNTRY GEARS up for crucial Midterm Senatorial elections in December, it is important that Liberians begin to respect each other and remain respectful of each other’s views. We can agree to disagree minus the insults.

THE PRESIDENT HAS SPOKEN. “The rights to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly — essential conditions for credible elections — are fully protected in the Liberian Constitution and are crucial for the good health of our fledgling democracy. I have mandated the Ministry of Justice to ensure a full and impartial investigation and hold those found culpable accountable for their act.  Liberia is a culturally and politically pluralistic society. Consequently, it is important that we establish a culture of courtesy, tolerance and respect for each other.”

NOW THE PRESIDENT Weah has weighed in and spoke his mind, we hope that those in his inner and out circle will take notice.

IT IS WRONG to repeatedly chastised criticisms of the president and government under the guise of sycophancy.

THE VERY CRITICS and media who took the government to task over the failed ETON and EBAMOF loans have been prove right today.

THE SAME CRITICS and media who were wrongly labeled “Enemies of the State” for simply raising red flags on a number of missteps have been proven right – in so many ways.

THESE FOLKS have just as much stake in Liberia as those in the circle of government – or simply sympathetic to its cause.

BRUSHING EVERYTHING said about the government aside is counterproductive to Liberia’s bourgeoning democracy and post-war survival.

LET’S ALL WORK together in the interest of Liberia’s success by flagging the wrongs and encouraging the government and president to do right by the Liberian people.

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