Liberia: LNP to Investigate Capitol Hill Chaos
— The investigation was prompted by condemnation from the US Ambassador to Liberia, who stated that the violence would only take the country backward.
The Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, has ordered an investigation into the violent standoff that occurred on the Capitol Hill campus of the University of Liberia on March 13.
The investigation was prompted by condemnation from the US Ambassador to Liberia, who stated that the violence would only take the country backwards.
“The Minister called on the police IG to file a report to his office in the soonest following his inquest into the violent incident, which led to injuries and the destruction of properties,” the government said in a statement released by Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie on Thursday.
“The Government has however reiterated that while it is committed to protecting fundamental rights - including freedom of expression and assembly - it will not tolerate violence of any kind,”
Rennie’s statement is the first since the violence occurred on Monday. The government has been silent throughout until the US Ambassador Micheal McCarthy spoke.
The violence at UL campus was provoked by Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray, who was protected by scores of thugs, invaded the main campus of the University of Liberia (UL) to settle scores with the leadership and members of the campus-based Student Unification Party (SUP).
The invasion, which was resisted by SUP led to a tense hour-long stone-throwing battle, wounding many in the process. SUP was backed by Rep. Yekeh Kolubah who had gone to the University to challenge Gray.
Both lawmakers were heavily protected by their own militants who. The melee occurred when rival student groups supporting the two Liberian lawmakers faced off.
Meanwhile, Kolubah and Gray yesterday smoke a piece pipe leaving the injured students to shoulder the burdens of catering to their wounds.
The next day after the violence, McCarthy issued a strongly worded condemnation, saying violence was only going to undermine the country's credibility and move it backwards — something the government did not do.
"I unconditionally condemn the violence that occurred yesterday at the University of Liberia Capitol Hill campus,” the U.S. Ambassador said.
“Details are still emerging, but violence does nothing but undercut your own credibility and will only take this country backwards. Disagreements and competing visions for the country should be solved through peaceful debate and at the ballot box, not on the street,” McCarthy said.
Meanwhile, the University of Liberia has with immediate effect suspended student politics on all its campuses until further notice as a result of Monday’s violence.
The University in a press statement released on March 16, said "Students are mandated to keep in strict conformity to this pronouncement.”
“Violators would be severely sanctioned in keeping with the UL Revised Student Handbook.”
As a result, the University through its president Prof. Dr. Julius Nelson, has declared that during this period of suspension, no political group may congregate, hold meetings, or engage in any political-related activities on any of the University of Liberia campuses.
Both Monday's violence and the university's most recent decision to suspend student politics are nothing new at the university, which has a long history of violent standoffs and protests.
Campus-based organizations and politicians now frequently resort to violence to solve problems at the university, which the US Embassy near Monrovia views as detrimental to a democratic society.
Meanwhile, the university administration has also commissioned an immediate independent investigation to probe the Monday disturbances, which led to the cancellation of classes and injuries to students and others.
Professor T. Debey Sayndee, Director of the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation (KAICT) has been named as head of the committee.