Liberia: Senator Dillon Remains Defiant in Caution to Ruling Party's Reported Plan to Rig Elections

Monrovia — Senator Abraham Darius Dillon(Liberty Party, Montserrado County) took the whip to the Capitol Wednesday for his much-anticipated meeting with the Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, days after the council, through its President, Bishop Kortu K. Brown, announced the setting up of an inquiry committee to invite the Senate for a discussion seeking clarity on his recent comments it says, appear threatening to the country's peace, stability and democratic process.

Senator Dillon, appearing on the 50-50 Talk Show on 107.1 Sky FM last week cautioned that President George Weah's tenure would end abruptly should the ruling party attempt tampering with the results of the December 8, 2020 Midterm Senatorial Elections.

Said the Senator: "George Weah and his gang will understand that we're not taking this for joke. When the people wake up in the morning and go to express their right for their choice, it must be respected, any attempt, it would be the immediate end of the George Weah and the CDC administration from December this year."

Senator Dillon further emphasized: "There are some people who're not talking at all, they're only waiting to speak on December 8, and you deprive them, you'll know what kind of fire all of us can warm ourselves with."

Public discourse over the Senator's comments have been heated over the past few days with some Liberians taking to social media to suggest that he had crossed the line, while others say, the interreligious council have been silent on other issues and are being unfair to the Senator who is simply voicing his concerns about the atmosphere leading to the December elections.

Rep. Acarous Moses Gray(CDC, Montserrado County, District No. 8) urged the Senator Wednesday to backtrack on his statement: "I want the Senator do desist from these conversations. This is not the Dillon that I know of for many years before he became Senator. Power has a way of changing people. Some people when they get power it becomes more difficult to maintain power. There's a difference between acquiring power and maintaining power. It is easier to acquire power and difficult to maintain power. The people have seen the true colors of the Senator, his fake nature of saying one thing and doing another thing."

Not Singling Out Senator Dillon, Council Says

Heading into Wednesday's meeting, the Inter-Religious Council faced a divided city unsure about its motives.

Bishop D. Jensen Seyenkulo of the Lutheran Church of Liberia, First Vice President of the Liberian Council of Churches and an executive of the Interreligious Council acknowledged at the start of Wednesday meeting the concerns over the perceptions that the IRCL is singling out Senator Dillon.

Bishop Seyenkulo said the council is hoping to meet with other government officials as well. "We want to assure them that we are here to work with them, and we want things to be done in such a way that there would be no discord that would lead to any destruction of properties and lives. So, we are not singling you out, you are not the only one - we have heard that those who think we are making fuss with you, we are not fussing with you. We are your brothers and your sisters - and we want to work with you and give you the advice we have and hope that the rest of the nation will listen to what God has given us."

We come today to begin a series of meetings with government officials because of our love for this country. We find ourselves in a place where we have to make our presence felt, known by government officials. We look for peace, we are fighting for peace and when we see any sign of a discord that will lead to any kind of disorder in the country, we would like to step in - and give a few words of advice. Meeting with you today, is not the only meeting we have planned.

In addition to Bishop Seyenkulo, the meeting was also attended by Rev. Olu Menjay, President of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention, Sheikh Musa Mohammed Bamba, Secretary General of the Inter Religious Council of Liberia and Executive Member of the Inter-Religious Council and Imam Abdullah Mansaray from Clara Town Mosque, Chairman, National Muslim Council of Liberia

Fearing District 15 Redux

For Dillon, the meeting was a welcome opportunity to reiterate his position. Not mincing his words, Senator Dillon said he believes the discussion Wednesday had a lot to do. "This has to do with a statement attributed to me. Let me confirm that I made the statement and I made the statement from the background of a combination of a lot of issues."

The Senator said since he won the election last year, the ruling party has been down his neck. "I believe democracy is about the will of the people and anybody who wants to win a seat in a democracy has a right to do everything within the ambience of the law and those tenets allow these democratic practices - to win these seats. Since we won this election, the Executive Branch of government headed by President Weah himself has spared no time and no effort aiming at this seat, they have gone on retreat, they doing reclaiming their seat and all of those stuff. All of these things are part of the politics. But when you start to go beyond - credible information, public action."

The Senator lamented: "When the President and his folks are publicly heard that they must win this seat at all cost, then it's problematic. When the Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill goes on radio, public radio with evidence available that we will not sit and allow Darius Dillon to win this seat - again."

Senator Dillon said winning the seat is not an allowance but rather, the decision of the people. "When the Superintendent of Maryland, all the way in Maryland, with evidence available, is saying that CDC is no longer just a party, they are the government, understandably, so they have control of the army, the police and all the state security apparatuses and they will use them to their full advantage, it is easy to remember District No. 15 election violence that almost got Telia Urey killed and scores of our people injured, property damaged with not one person prosecuted to date. District No. 13 violence was led personally by Jefferson Koijee, the city mayor. Blood spilled, property damaged. A political leader of a political party in this country, my party, Liberty Party, Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence was physically present and taken to safety, there's not one police report available to explain who had been caught or found culpable to date."

The Montserrado County Senator said when the entire government mercenary led, facilitated and abated by the President is breaking every rule and ordinance for the seat he currently occupies - in spite of a code of conduct, it speaks volumes. "He(President Weah) has all his ministers in the streets campaigning in violation of the Code of Conduct because of this seat then it says that they aim to get this seat at all cost. So, I made the statement which I will repeat verbatim - when the people go to the election and the will is vote Darius Dillon out of office, let the people will prevail because that is what democracy is all about. But if the people went to the polls and voted Darius Dillon as their choice and that to make true the threat by President Weah and his people that they will win this seat at all cost and take away the people's will as in rigging the election, then President Weah himself will not end his term. So, President Weah will end his term - if they don't' tamper with the election."

Senator Dillon says Liberia's long history of disputed elections is a key reason why he is raising alarm now. "We know what tampering with election in this country has cost us. They have brought this country this far - and it's not only about election, the bad governance, the frequent, gross abuse of the respect of the rule of law, all of these things are things that should concern us as a country and people."

CDC Regrouping, Rep Gray Says

Rep. Acarous Gray disagreed: Liberia, the lawmaker averred, has graduated from the days of jungle justice and reverting to the bitter past of yesterday. "We(the CDC) are a group of very responsible people. We have demonstrated no history of rigging elections- and I have set examples. In Grand Cape Mount County for example, the CDC didn't have a candidate on the ticket; in District No. 13, the opposition won the CDC, we accepted, graciously, the result. We did not contest the results. Again, the opposition collaborated. In Montserrado County, we did not rig the elections, the results came, and we accepted the results as very responsible group of political conglomerations in the Coalition for Democratic Change."

Interestingly, Rep. Gray noted, one of the very places, specifically in the Logan Town belt where Senator Dillon won - and there was the contestation for Telia Urey at that polling center, the National Elections Commission decided that there should be a rerun - in that area, that entire district.

The contradiction he said is that, Senator Dillon won.

"So, if there were discrepancies, then why they didn't ask for a rerun for the Senatorial elections in that specific area. But even amid the contradiction, we chose to graciously accept the Senatorial elections. So, the statement is reckless, it's uncouth - and violates every democratic constitutional tenet for Senator Dillon."

Rep. Gray added: "The fact of the matter here is that the reckless nature of the Senator is problematic for many reasons. We have regrouped as a political party, the momentum is mounting, that in fact, primaries for the first time that a political institution's primary for this midterm Senatorial elections, we are moving from various electoral districts where the delegates are assembled and the decision of the people will be respected."

Rep. Gray insinuated that Senator Dillon's victory last year was a fluke became many CDCians were disenchanted. "You can understand that some CDCians who drifted have returned home; some of the lapses that led to Senator Dillon winning the elections have been fixed. Every fighting force in the party is ready to go to battle against the Senator. The auxiliary, the party leaders, are going to ensure that we campaign in the various political subdivisions."

But Contrary to what is being perceived, the Montserrado County Senator said the seat he currently occupies s not the reason the country is going downhill neither is it the reason children are being whipped every day in this county. "It doesn't concern President Weah and his followers, corruption is practically in double three-piece coat suit, brand new and is walking freely on Broad Street with people cheering. It doesn't concern the President and his folks."

The Montserrado County Senator also accused the ruling party of intimidating his supporters. "We can't move freely. My people tell me how they are chased, harassed in communities by people known to be CDCians. They are emboldened to do these things because the President leads them into these things and I wish these things will call the attention of the religious council and everyone of us together. I'm a lover of democracy, I'm a respecter of the rights of people to freely assemble and decide who they want to lead them in terms of election. While we are a perfect respecter of democracy, we detest people encroaching on people's rights - and any attempt and other acts that have the potential to derail the democracy that we want to forge in our country - and so I sent that caveat. Since they must take this thing at all cost, probably, including getting rid of me, physically, my life."

"Utterances Have Interpretations", Imam Bamba Says

Recently, he told the IRCL that OK FM reported that Rep. Thomas Fallah, the presumptive candidate for CDC for Montserrado and his Senate colleague Saah Joseph met with ex killers, not ex-generals. Ex-Generals are men of the army commissioned and retired, ex-rebels and killers are not state actors, they are criminals, they are war criminals. When state actors start to hold secret meetings with them with my name being the target and center of discussion, then it says it is a cause for concern. I have not seen nor heard the council. This thing was all in the air. OK FM broke the news, other news media broke the news corroborated OK FM story, we did not see the religious council, we did not hear the religious council. Probably they did but we did not hear. If they did and we did not hear, we say sorry for not hearing, but we did not hear anything.

Senator Dillon also took the IRCL of turning a blind eye to what is happening in the country. "Twenty-five million US dollars infused in the economy or said to have been infused in the economy for quote on quote mop-up exercise, nobody talks what happened to that money to date. Two different report, including the Presidential Investigative Team report(PITT) clearly reported misgivings, misuse, misapplication of funds, criminal acts and those who presided over the infusion of that money are still walking around. The minister of finance has the audacity to demand an apology from opposition in the name of no money missing - and no US$25 million in question, we should apologize to them when evidence is right in their lap. To date, yet another US$25 million for quote-on-quote stimulus package for food distribution across the country is going dead and everyone is silent. But thank God we are having this discussion so that we know that I am a respecter of the law. I am a law-abiding citizen. I do not believe in violence; I do not believe in lawlessness."

Imam Bamba said that the interactive meeting offered a chance to hear from the Senator and advise him about how all Liberians need to be careful about utterances - and make sure that the country unites and move toward the December elections. "It's obvious that when statements are made, they have interpretations and it is always our concern to put it in the right perspective."

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