Liberia: 'President Weah Responsible Electoral Violence in District 15'

(file photo).

Opposition Collaborating Parties sound alarm for International Community Investigate "wave of national terror being imposed by our President"

Members of the four opposition collaborating political parties have called on the international community to urgently investigate the recent acts of deliberate violence against peaceful citizens during the ongoing District #15 by-elections and bring all perpetrators to justice.

The parties made the statement on Sunday, August 18, 2019, at a joint press conference in Monrovia.

Steve Zargo, Lofa County Senator, who read the statement on behalf of the collaborating parties, also invited the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) of the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) to act with utmost urgency because Liberia is rapidly descending into chaos, violence, and lawlessness.

Senator Zargo, who is the chairman of the Liberty Party, told journalists that the Collaborating Political Parties demand that an independent commission of inquiry to duly investigate these matters, have findings made public and provide a guarantee for the security and safety of every citizen.

He said, "We know that we are victorious but the safety of our citizens is our priority. We don't intend to become victors over the blood and misery of the Liberian People. This makes us different."

Senator Zargo alleged that President George M. Weah has orchestrated, designed, promoted and supported all the violence in the Montserrado County by-elections.

"He must be held responsible for the tragic episodes" Senator Zargo said, "and violence that continue to occur. His deafening silence and complicity is echoing all across our country and the world at large."

Hear Zargo: "The collaboration of Political Parties will not cower in fear to this wave of national terror being imposed by our President. We will resist it with peaceful actions and, in the words of former US First Lady [Michelle Obama], 'where they go low, we will go high'.

"We remain cognizant of the years of conflicts our country and its people have endured, and we remain committed to providing an alternative leadership with peace and unity as our core values. We call on all citizens and our supporters to remain peaceful. Liberia is our common denominator and we must not allow this President and the ruling party to take us back to the days of old," he said.

Senator Zargo urged the National Election Commission and partners who support the consolidation of democracy to speak out and bring international observers to observe the rerun elections due to the extent to which violence is becoming consuming and addictive.

"We hope all relevant committees on elections at the Legislature would call for inquiry and summon the relevant institutions, agencies of government to provide proper explanations for their actions against peaceful citizens."

The Senator's remarks are in response to the recent attack on Telia Urey and her supporters, which took place on the evening of Saturday, August 17, 2019, in Logan Town.

Telia Urey, the candidate of the collaborating parties in the District # 15 Representative by-election, narrated her ordeal in Logan Town Saturday evening, that led to the damage of her bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser and injuries to her person and several of her supporters. She said she had gone to visit the campaign headquarters of Kelvin Bayoh, another candidate in the by-election, when she came under attack by supporters of her main opponent, Abu Kamara, the candidate of the ruling party, Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

Ms. Urey said while sitting in Bayoh's office, they heard a noise outside, followed by rocks on the roof then later through the windows.

"After I observed that it was an attack, I placed a phone call to my dad and to Henry Costa, who told me that they were calling the police. But, because of the numerous incidents with the police and their protective behavior in protecting the ruling establishment, I did not sit there waiting for them to come and save me but I try to escape but I was unsuccessful," Urey said.

She said the police arrived after 20 minutes, but did nothing -- similar to what happened in June when she came under a similar attack from supporters of her rival, Abu Kamara.

She said, although the police arrived, she and her team made several attempts to leave the office but it was just impossible.

Ms. Urey said one of her attackers entered the building with a knife and almost stabbed her, but her supporters were able to save her.

She said a senior official of the Liberia National Police, code-name "105" was on the scene but, when she asked him to bring his government-issued vehicle down into the garage to be evacuated from of the building where she sought refuge, he refused.

"Are we protected," she asked. "If we are protected, who are we protected by? When the president sits at a platform tells his supporters to beat this little girl... I may not sustain injuries but, when you hurt one of my supporters, you are also hurting me."

Ms. Urey said the collaborating parties will not stand for violence in Liberia because protecting the peace and the lives of every citizen is important.

"Nobody owns District #15. We will stand firm against the President, Justice Minister, and the police," she said. "Nobody will intimidate us, we are bigger than the president, minister of justice because we are the people they serve; in case they have forgotten, it is their job to protect us because now we are unprotected."

She assured District #15 residents of her commitment to ensuring their safety, maintaining the peace and ensuring that the district is improved.

Alexander B. Cummings, the political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), said the four collaborating parties are a responsible opposition against an irresponsible government

Cummings said the people of District #15 have elected Ms. Urey as representative, indicating that it is unacceptable to have the President of the Republic of Liberia to declare that any citizens will not win an election under his turner.

He said the President's statement does not mean well for any democratic country, but the opposition will stand strong for peace.

He reminded Liberians that the economic hardship is not an accident but the government practices of 'self-severing economic' that only care for themselves not, the Liberians.

"To put the daughter of any citizens in harm," Cummings said "way is not a good practices of a leader of a democratic nation but we want to assure our people that as collaborating political parties stand shoulder to shoulder with rep. elect Telia Urey and want our government to know that we will not accept their irresponsibility."

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