Liberia: Justice Minister Assures Peaceful Elections - Warns Disruptors of the Peace

Monrovia — The Minister of the Ministry of Justice, Frank Musa Dean, has warned individuals he says are looking to disrupt over 20 years of peace to desist, adding that any violent actions will be met with the full weight of the law.

Speaking to journalists on Monday at the Headquarters of the Liberia National Police, the Justice Minister made the statement after condemning the violent clash over the weekend between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and supporters of the Unity Party, which led to the death of at least two persons in Foya City, Lofa County.

"Notwithstanding law enforcement's willingness to work with the public in preserving the peace, no one has the right to disrupt the peace. Anyone or group thinking otherwise must reconsider. We caution members of the public not to test the resolve of the Joint Security. Any attempt by anyone to disrupt the peace will be met with the full force of the law," Justice Minister Cllr. Dean said.

He added, "The Joint Security shall be robust and prepared to do anything and everything legally permissible to protect the peace. Reasonable and proportionate force shall be used where required. Those who want to test the resolve of the Joint Security will be doing so at their peril."

The Liberia Immigration Service, he said, has been ordered to heighten security during the period of these elections to ensure that Liberia's territorial borders and boundaries remain safe and secure.

Cllr. Dean further stated that the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), as part of the Joint Security, will remain available in the ongoing effort to guarantee peaceful elections.

"In the event the police and other law enforcement officers are overwhelmed, the military will be called to quell any situation of unrest," he said.

"Individuals Found Culpable in Foya Violence Shall Face the Full Weight of the Law" - Justice Minister Dean

Also, the Ministry of Justice has disclosed that the Joint Security's Special Investigation Team on Election Violence has begun an investigation into the Foya City violence.

The Justice Minister says the Joint Security's Special Investigation Team on Election Violence will leave no stone unturned.

"Our team arrived in Foya, Lofa County, and has since commenced an investigation into the incident of Friday, September 29, 2023. Those found culpable shall face the full weight of the law. People must be made to understand that when they break the law, they will be held accountable," Minister Dean said.

According to Cllr. Dean, the Liberia National Police, representing the Joint Security, has undertaken a great deal of community policing and has explained to people the need to avoid violence during General and Presidential elections.

"We continue to caution against incendiary, inciting, and violent rhetoric being delivered online, in print, and electronic media to our communities," he said.

Cllr. Dean added, "Deliberate misinformation, disinformation, fake news, hate messages, and extreme militancy both in dress code and deportment by some of the young people in political parties continue to pose a deeply concerning challenge."

The Minister of Justice also warns political actors to refrain from orchestrating violence, adding that it is unhealthy for Liberia's democracy process.

"Those who incite violence are as guilty as those who commit the actual acts of violence. We urge those having grievances regarding the conduct of the elections to direct their grievances to the appropriate court of law and not seek to settle them in the streets," he said.

Cllr. Dean added, "Under our law, an aggrieved individual cannot be a plaintiff, judge, jury, and executioner. Law enforcement is prepared and willing to work with members of the public to preserve the peace."

He stressed that men and women in uniform are friends of the public and are trained to respect and protect life and property.

Cllr. Dean added, "We ask that you also respect them as they represent the rule of law. Law enforcement and the public must work together collaboratively and supportively."

He continues, "Violence has no place in our democracy, and elections must represent a peaceful process by which citizens choose their leaders."

Joint Commences Deployment of Law Enforcement Officers in the 15 County

Adding up, the Justice Minister said the Joint Security has begun the process of deploying law enforcement officers throughout the fifteen Sub-political divisions across the country.

He said, "The Joint Security, following a comprehensive review of its Election Security Plan, has commenced the deployment of law enforcement officers throughout the fifteen (15) counties of Liberia ahead of Tuesday, October 10, 2023, elections."

The officers, he says, are being deployed and will be led by the Liberia National Police, in addition to those already stationed in the counties.

"We wish to assure everyone of adequate security. We provided security during the voters' registration exercise. We are currently providing security to presidential candidates and to campaign rallies to ensure that candidates campaign freely," he said.

Cllr. Dean added, "On election day, the Joint Security shall guarantee the security and safety of members of the National Elections Commission, election workers, voters, precincts, election materials, and the general public."

Meanwhile, the Join Security Special Investigative Team has arrested and investigating, twenty-three people in connection to a recent violent incident against peaceful citizens in Foyiah Lofa County.

Making the disclosures Monday at the headquarters of the Liberia National Police in Monrovia, Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue said the special Investigations team arrested the 23 suspects through the Video footage from the crime sean.

According to Col Sudue, the Join Security Team is still in search of everyone involved in the September 29 incident that led to the death of two person.

Col. Sudue further stated that the Join Security Special Investigative Team will make sure that everyone who is involved are brought to book to face the full weight of the Law.

He encouraged every Liberian to be peaceful ahead of the Tuesday, October 10 General election.

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