Liberia’s Defense Minister Warns Politicians Against Electoral Violence; Says Such Would Destabilize The Sub Region
Monrovia – Liberia’s Defense Minister, Major Gen. Daniel Dee Ziankahn, Jr. (Rtd.) has cautioned Liberian politicians to do away with vices that have the proclivity to return the country to its ugly past.
By Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]
In an Op-ed written by Minister Ziankahn, he warned that the trends being taken by politicians ahead of the December 8, 2020 special senatorial elections and national referendum bear semblance of the events that led to the country’s darkest moments, and warned that the international community, which always come to ‘our aid’ was engulfed with so many problems that Liberia will be left alone to solve its own problems in case of any recurrence of conflict.
“The international community is busy finding solutions to her own problems and therefore, won’t care much to extinguish any unnecessary or self-destructive flames on our soil. We were blessed if not lucky to have been rescued by the precious blood of peacekeepers from ECOMOG and UNMIL,” he cautioned.
ECOMOG, which is an acronym for the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group was a multilateral armed force established by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to intervene in the first conflict in Liberia between 1989 to 1997; while UNMIL- the United Nations Mission in Liberia was the largest UN peacekeeping mission during its inception that guided Liberia to the disarmament of all warring factions during its second civil war that happened between 1998 to 2003.
Writing further, he lamented that thousands of individuals across the sub-region including widows, widowers, orphans and love ones of those peacekeepers who laid down their precious lives while saving our country will regret the sacrifices of their love ones should we slip back into civil crisis.
He reminded Liberians that the United Nations and ECOWAS are engaged in resolving problems in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Sudan, Cyprus and Western Sahara, just to name a few.
According to him, Troops Contributing Countries (TCC) that once contributed peacekeepers in Liberia during the crises are presently facing some economic, political or security issues.
“Our country has gone through a lot. A big chunk of the population is still licking their wounds and do not want to go through the same motion again. We as security actors will not sit idly by for our National security to be threatened and allow our country to go down the drain once more. Therefore, we will act decisively and accordingly irrespective of your positions and affiliations.”– Maj. General Daniel Ziankahn, Minister of Defense, Republic of Liberia
Minister Ziankahn, who served as the first Liberian Chief of Staff of the postwar Armed Forces of Liberia outlined that Nigeria, Chad and Niger are combatting Boko haram and other violent extremists in the Lake Chad Basin, while the G5 Sahel countries including Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Chad, Niger and Mali are coordinating their efforts to fight terrorists within the Sahel.
Categorizing Liberia and two of its Mano River Union’s neighbors, Guinea and Ivory Coast as a triangular flashpoint, he said Guinea and Ivory Coast are politically charged due to constitutional issues which could potentially snowball into military crises.
“In fact both countries are due to hold presidential elections this year which makes it more worrisome. Given all of these developments, we will be left alone to tote our own cross if we are not mindful of our careless actions. Sub-regional, regional and international organizations mostly will pay little attention to civil conflicts except there are some geopolitical dimensions to it.”
‘We Will Act Decisively’
Minister Ziankahn, addressing Liberians both at home and abroad, called on them to choose the path of nonviolence, and in the same vain “strongly warned the power-hungry politicians and trouble makers about the dangerous cliff to which you are dragging our country.”
“Irrespective of our social, economic and political positions,” he said, “we are all Liberians first before assuming our respective positions and sides. Let us not forget or pretend to forget what we have all been through over the last four decades.”
He referenced the 1979 rice riot that saw Guinean troops on Liberian soil, the 1980 coup that saw the overthrow of a civilian government and subsequent death of President William R. Tolbert, Jr. along with 13 of his cabinet ministers and members of parliament, the 1985 failed coup against then President Samuel Kanyon Doe by renegade members of the Armed Forces of Liberia, the Nimba raid and the 1989 Rebel incursion which follow the introduction of various warring factions during the first and second Liberian civil wars.
He said in the wake of these darkest episodes in the nations’ history, Liberians have paid a huge price but were sadly forgetting those “life and death lessons so soon.”
He cautioned that “There’s a price that one has to pay whenever you deliberately turn your face from the rights and embrace the wrongs in the forms of violence, hypocrisy, greed and deceits.”
Writing further, he warned that Liberia cannot afford to revisit its dark and bitter past and warned ‘trouble makers’ that security actors will not sit by and watch the country descend in to chaos once more.
He said: “Our country has gone through a lot. A big chunk of the population is still licking their wounds and do not want to go through the same motion again. We as security actors will not sit idly by for our National security to be threatened and allow our country to go down the drain once more. Therefore, we will act decisively and accordingly irrespective of your positions and affiliations.”
“To the trouble makers and would be trouble makers, take heed and govern yourselves accordingly. Remember! An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
The Defense Chief’s comments come in the wake of sporadic skirmishes that often lead to stone throw between supporters of the ruling party and the presumptive senatorial nominee of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Senator Abraham Darius Dillon of Montserrado County.
A highlight of these precarious tussles came when one of Senator Dillon’s recent community engagement meetings with his supporters ended abruptly in St. Paul Bridge Community (District #16, Montserrado County) following a scuffle with supporters of the ruling Party who were in a forum with the area’s Representative, Dixon Wlawlee Seboe. Rep. Seboe is also an official of the ruling party.
In the aftermath of the event, recriminations flared as Senator Dillon blamed the ruling party of orchestrating the violence he claimed is part of a broader conspiracy to disrupt all of his political gatherings leading to the December 8, 2020 midterm elections in a bid to keep him detached from his supporters. While Rep. Seboe blamed Senator Dillon and his supporters for attempting to assassinate him.
Taking on his much-followed Facebook Page, Dillon threatened to attack the convoy of President Weah with stones and clubs if he is attacked again or if any of his political gatherings are ransacked.
Although, Senator Dillon backtracked his threats made against the President’s motorcade and apologized for his comments, the elite Presidential guard, the Executive Protection Service (EPS) and the President’s National Security Advisory Board said they were not taking Dillon’s threat lightly and vowed to proportionally engage any individual or group of people who would pose threat to the President.