MONROVIA — Liberia’s quest to conduct credible and peaceful elections in October this year is being overshadowed by early violence and threats of insecurity partly being caused by supporters of politicians in most parts of the country.
By Selma Lomax, [email protected] & Franklin Doloquee
Attacks during recent political rallies in Monsterado and Nimba Counties have increased in recent times. Just last month, the ear of a partisan of the Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) was cut- off by those suspected to be partisans of the former ruling Unity Party over charges of intruding into a crowd of partisans of the ruling party during a campaign rally in Monsterado County.
On Monday, August 21, 2023, Mr. Aloysius G. Bahn, believed to be a member of the Coalition of Democratic Change, was reportedly stabbed by two Mr. Baccus Sayeh, cousin of Jeremiah Kpan Koung, Vice Standard Bearer of the Unity Party in Vayenglay Town, Soe Chiefdom, Twah River Administrative District, Nimba County, over “simple political argument” and was later pronounced dead after two days spent at the G. W. Harley Hospital.
Both rival groups linked to the ruling CDC and the opposition Unity Party have, however, rebuffed claims of instigating violence that led to the death of Bahn.
Nimba County’s Senator, Prince Johnson, also a supporter of Unity Party, posted to Facebook page to register his outrage at Monday’s incidence when he wrote to his Facebook page, saying: “In the town of Gbor-Wheiplay, situated in District 4, Nimba County, I experienced an attack orchestrated by the representative of that district, Hon Gunpue L Kargon He is no longer the choice of the people due to his selfish representation, disobedient and disrespectful behavior towards the the people he represents.”
“I’m the one who helped him achieve his current position. Hon. Gunpue has received over 2 million dollars from the CDC government, which has failed to fulfill its promises to the Liberian people, including the payment of Nimba County’s land rental fees amounting to 9 million United States Dollars,” he added.
“This incident occurred during my campaign activities in that Nimba County region, a place I hold dear in my heart. The attacks transpired when our campaign team visited a town named Sole Vayanglay. Here, CDC supporters, led by the head of the Good Governance Commission and former representative of District #4, Hon. Garrason D. Yealu (my own son, whom I propelled into Liberian politics), engaged in a clash with supporters of Rescue 2 and Unity Party Vice Standard Bearer, Hon. Jeremiah Kpan Koung Unfortunately, this clash resulted in the tragic death of a young man aged between 22 and 25 years upon his arrival at the hospital.”
Sen. Johnson said the situation escalated to such an extent that they were unable to find rest in Vayanglay Town that night. “This was primarily due to the aggressive behavior exhibited by the CDC supporters, who fatally injured the young man by pelting him with rocks aimed at his abdomen,” he said.
“As a devoted man of God and a senior senator representing the cherished people of Nimba County, my utmost priority is to maintain peace. My deep affection for my constituents compels me to avoid any form of conflict or violence.”
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Doldeh Movement in Nimba County and sympathizers across Liberia has strongly described the brutal stabbing Bahn as a callous act of insanity calculated and perpetrated by monstrous elements of nature who have no heart, conscience and sense of reasoning.
In a statement issued in Monrovia and Nimba County simultaneously on August 23, 2023, the Chairperson of the Movement expressed absolute dismay and frustration at the inhumane monstrosity with which the killers of Bahn viciously ended his life.
The statement is quoted as saying that Atty. Garrison D. Yealue and his family are terribly troubled by this unfortunate situation and have thus instructed the entire membership of the Doldeh Movement to stand in solidarity with the bereaved family, whilst the killers are being frantically pursued to answer for their crime.
The Movement added that Atty. Yealue has promised to do all within his means and power to ensure that all those responsible for the perpetration of this gruesome act of barbarity meted out against a peaceful member of his Movement are apprehended and made to face the full weight of the law.
The Doldeh Movement has also called on the family of Mr. Bahn to remain calm and peaceful, while the issue is being looked into. The Movement notes that the exercise of calmness in a matter like this where a loving member of a family is killed out of stupidity can be a grievous situation to handle, but called on the family to remain put and stable, as the matter is being drastically pursued.
Meanwhile, the Movement is calling on the Liberia National Police to vigorously launch a manhunt for the killers of Mr. Bahn, so that they are made to answer for their crime. “We also call on all well-meaning Nimbians to rally forces, join efforts and build grassroots surveillance, especially along the border lines between Liberia and Cote dIvoire, with the purpose of instituting citizens arrest for the suspects who are cowardly running into hiding.”
The Doldeh Movement is made to believe that the recent inciting statement made by leaders of the Unity Party, especially former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, may have prompted the actions of their followers. It is quite unfortunate that the former ruling Unity Party and its Standard Bearer who claim to be peaceful and law abiding, would now provoke their followers into stabbing peaceful citizens on accounts of mere political disagreements.
The Movement ended that whilst the quest for political power is ongoing, the Unity Party and their followers must note that no amount of blood sharing can compensate for their election to political offices in Liberia. We therefore call on former Vice President Boakai and his followers to campaign on the merits of the issues and stop inflicting harm and destruction on the very people they claim their quest is intended to rescue.
Liberians are worried about the current political insecurity in the country. “My family members and I will stay off from these elections if this violence persists. It is frightening now,” says Fred Reeves, a resident of Gbarnga.