Liberia: ALJA Proposes Punitive Action Against Fhangon, Farley

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA), an advocacy organization based in the USA, has described President George Weah's first-time denunciation of violence amid the attack of Alternative National Congress political leader Alexander B. Cummings and Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah as timely, calling on the President to match his words with concrete action in addressing the Zwedru incident by taking punitive action against the superintendent of Grand Gedeh County, Kai Farley, if found guilty of masterminding the attack.

The Association is also proposing that the President takes similar administrative actions against the Deputy Minister of Information for Press and Public Affairs, Mr. Eugene Fahngon, and other public officials, who have brazenly shown support for Superintendent Kai Farley and the attack on the opposition.

ALJA says it is preposterous for the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism (MICAT) and the Liberian government to be calling for a probe into the July 30th crisis in Grand Gedeh while, at the same, time turning a blind eye to the incendiary and insensitive social media posts propagated by Deputy Minister Fahngon and other officials of government.

According to ALJA, on July 30, 2020, Deputy Minister Fahngon, being unmindful of the critical position he occupies in government, posted via Facebook a derogatory statement that made a mockery of the Zwedru situation and Representative Kolubah.

ALJA says the Deputy Minister's Facebook post and those of some supporters of the Weah Administration insinuate that the attack on the opposition leaders and members of their entourage was done with the acquiescence of the Liberian government.

In the Press Release, signed by its Secretary-General Akai Akasu Awuletey Glidden and approved by president Joe S. Mason, ALJA said the reported attack sets a dangerous precedent that could have far-reaching consequences on Liberia's prevailing peace and stability if the hooliganism manifested by the ill-advised alleged CDC members is not promptly addressed by President George Manneh Weah and his government.

ALJA expressed in the communication a concern that since the ascendency of the Weah administration to power more than three years ago, there appears to be a growing level of intolerance in the country and politics has become so toxic, that local officials and a handful of citizens in Grand Gedeh felt emboldened to deny their compatriots their constitutional right to travel. ALJA says all Liberians should draw upon the experiences of the country's tragic history and learn to coexist, irrespective of political and tribal affiliations.

Mr. Mason and his members frowned on President Weah and senior officials of the Liberian government's past indifference when acts that undermined the rule of law and Liberia's peace and stability unfolded in the country.

Collaborating Political Parties Chairman Cummings, Representative Kolubah, and members of their entourage were attacked on Thursday, July 30th, in the county's capital, Zwedru, by some Liberians claiming to be supporters of the ruling Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC). The CPP Chairman and members of his delegation were visiting the southeastern region of Liberia to meet with their supporters and celebrate the country's 173rd independence anniversary.

Meanwhile, ALJA says it welcomes the President's recent denunciation of the July 30th attack against Chairman Cummings, Representative Kolubah and members of their entourage in Grand Gedeh County.

The Association said Mr. Weah's description of the Zwedru's attack as unwarranted, undemocratic and unacceptable is, however, heartwarming and says it supports and welcomes the President's vow to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Zwedru street violence.

Meanwhile, ALJA also strongly criticizes Representative Yekeh Kolubah for his inflammatory rhetoric in Zwedru and other instances where his conduct has been counterproductive. The Association described the lawmaker's barrage of invectives regularly directed at the President as irresponsible and said they do nothing to further the country's political discourse. ALJA called for civility from politicians and government officials alike in their utterances and urged them to help solidify peace and stability in the country.

At the same time, the Association is commending the Grand Gedeh Legislative Caucus and other prominent citizens of the country for swiftly condemning the actions of their compatriots. ALJA says it is important for Liberians of goodwill to be unequivocal in their condemnations so that the perpetrators understand that no Liberian should be denied the constitutional right to freely travel in the confines of their own country because of their political affiliations or differences.

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