President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the direct and associated damage done to Arcelor Mittal facilities in Nimba County is more than an attack on a private company; rather they are attacks on the economy and the future of this country.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the Liberian leader made the statement when she addressed the nation on the violent protest at the Arcelor Mittal mining facilities on July 3rd and 4th, 2014 that left several police officers wounded, saw the holding of employees and contractors - national and expatriates - hostage for up to 20 hours, and millions of dollars worth of property looted and destroyed.
"Our collective response must be decisive, immediate and forceful," President Sirleaf in a very serious mood stressed. She again promised that all accused of participating in these destructions will have their full day in court as quickly as possible; and those found guilty will face the "fullest penalties" imposed by the law.
The Liberian leader announced that a Board of Inquiry will be appointed shortly to undertake a detailed investigation into the root and other causes associated with the fracas, as well as recommend further actions to ensure that such attacks are never be repeated anywhere in Liberia. The Board will be chaired by a prominent counselor and will include eminent lawyers and citizens.
Announcing a number of interventions, the Liberian President said Government will undertake the repair of the damaged roads and bridges; but the costs will be deducted from funds directly allocated for the development of Nimba County; while the costs to repair the damage and replace the properties destroyed at Arcelor Mittal, when determined will be discussed between them and Government.
President Sirleaf has, with immediate effect, placed a moratorium on the issuance and use of alluvial mining licenses and permits in Nimba County until the full effects and associated costs of Arcelor Mittal's operations are finally determined and known.
On behalf of the Government and people of Liberia, President Sirleaf extended profound regrets to the Arcelor Mittal family and all those who were made to endure the precarious infringement of the country's peace and security.
She revealed that the attacks at Tokadi, in Nimba County are callous reminders of the consequences of the abuse of freedoms. "As we have seen in Tokadi, and as it appears to be springing up elsewhere in the country including concession areas, the exercise of freedom without the associated responsibility leads to anarchy," President Sirleaf pointed out, adding that anarchy anywhere in the country undermines the collective progress and the Government cannot permit this to happen.
"The Liberian Government is absolutely resolved that wherever and by whomever, the unlawful incitement of the public to violence will be dutifully punished according to law," she said.
She thanked Arcelor Mittal for resuming mining production and congratulated the Liberia National Police for the swift and professional manner in which security and calmness was restored. She also commended the local chiefs and community leaders, including the Nimba Legislative Caucus, for cooperation with the police in encouraging those who fled into the bushes to return home; those who perpetrated these attacks to turn themselves in and surrender to the police; and assisting in the retrieval of looted items.