Liberia: IRCL, Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas Condemn Grand Gedeh Violence


The Inter-religious Council of Liberia (IRCL) has called on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Collaborating Political Parties to work on modalities to cool down the rising political tension ahead of the December 8 Special Mid-Term Senatorial Election.

In its recent statement condemning the Zwedru attack against the Alternative National Congress (ANC) delegation, mainly Representative Yekeh Kolubah of Montserrado County Electoral District #10, the IRCL said Liberia has come a long way in the realization of the peace enjoyed today, and as such it is now no time for chaos.

"The Council admonishes all Liberians to respect human rights and dignity. No Liberian should be disallowed free movement within Liberia, irrespective of their political affiliation or utterances unless they are within the breach of the law," the IRCL said.

It can recalled that on the early morning of Thursday, July 30, a group of zealots said to be partisans of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the lead member of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), stormed the guest house in which Representative Kolubah lodged and demanded his immediate departure from Zwedru.

According to reports, the CDC partisans claimed that their action was based on Representative Kolubah's repeated insults waged on President George Weah.

Representative Kolubah, who traveled with ANC standard-bearer and chairman of the Collaborating Political Party (CPP), Alexander Benedict Cummings, including the All Liberian Party (ALP), the former ruling Unity Party (UP), the Liberty Party (LP), is on record for constantly insulting President Weah for what he terms as Weah's mismanagement of the country's affairs and resources.

The IRCL comprises the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) and the National Muslim Council of Liberia (NMCL).

The Council has at the same time called on individual politicians and all others to desist from using words or profane language to express their distrust or dissatisfaction on or about things.

"There is a need to stop endangering our peace! We need to watch our utterances no matter what side of the political divide we may find ourselves," the IRCL cautioned.

The body said it will continue its consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including the opposition political block, the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the government, mainly the office of President Weah in order to sustain the peace and calm down the increasing political tension that has the potency to degenerate into national chaos on or before December 8.

"No Liberian should be denied free movement regardless of tribe, gender, association or county of origin," the Council emphasized.

The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas has also buttressed the IRCL's call for calm in the country ahead of the December 8 Senate election.

"We have seen that when we become politically intolerant, we invite ourselves to breakdown and destroy, and undermine the foundation of Liberia's peace, stability, and development," the Diocese's statement signed by Bishop Andrew Karnley said.

The Catholic Diocese said its response was necessary due to Liberia's tragic history that is democratically unhealthy and presents a danger to the peace and stability of the country.

"In the face of these presenting threats to our collective peace and security, silence, including from the Church or state, offers the wrong signal to the perpetrators that their actions are acceptable, and makes us collectively complicit.

"Henceforth, we feel compelled to speak out against this danger and urge the political leaders of the country and those blessed with authority to uphold, protect and preserve the law, and to do so without fear or favor," the Diocese added.

Rep. Kolubah's vehicle is said to have been damaged by stone throws from the angry crowd full of young people, and his safety and those of others including Cummings was realized only by the intervention of the joint security forces headed by officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL).

Chapter 3, Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, and the Cape Palmas Diocese quoted it as follows:

"All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceful manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct, to instruct their representatives, to petition the government, or other functionaries for a redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions, and other organizations."

The Diocese termed the act against Kolubah, Cummings, and all other CPP delegates as a war against political tolerance and association.

Chapter 3; Article 13(a) says every person lawfully within the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, to reside in any part thereof and to leave therefrom subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and as such, the Christian denomination said the attack on Kolubah and others was a gross violation of their fundamental rights.

In the same tone, the head clergy of the Providence Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. Samuel B. Reeves, Jr., has stressed that "As we reflect on our most recent past, we as a nation and people cannot afford to return to such an unforgettable nightmare, the ensuing violent clashes should claim our utmost attention, whether members of the ruling party, the government of Liberia or the opposition community."

He added that with these growing waves of sponsored violence across the country, especially the recent one in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County in the wake of the 8th December 2020 Senatorial elections; President George M. Weah should address these fearful and tragic acts that have the potential to derail this nation's hard-earned peace.

"Mr. President, as Head of State and of Government, the Constitution gives you the power to protect the peace of the Nation and that burden rest solely upon you to instill peace in the minds of the citizens, including your officials of government and members of the opposition," said Rev. Dr. Reeves.

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