ALJA Wants Independent Probe of Nov. 17 Campaign Violence

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Mr. Moses Sandy

Calls of President Weah to ‘suspend Mayor Koijee’ pending outcome of investigation

The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has termed as “unfortunate” the recent brawl which erupted between partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and supporters of the opposition’s candidate in the Montserrado County District-13 by-election during a campaign rally held in the township of New Georgia.

In a press release issued on Tuesday, November 20, ALJA said it condemns the reported gangsterism, and called on the President George Weah’s Administration to act swiftly to bring those allegedly connected to the melee to justice.

The Association said the reported street fight is reminiscent of Liberia’s ugly past, especially the successive civil wars, which callously destroyed thousands of human lives and millions of US dollars’ worth of properties between 1989 and 2003.

According to media reports, on Saturday, November 17, supporters of Montserrado County District-13 Representative-hopeful, Cornelia Kruah-Togba, who represents the opposition alliance comprising Unity Party, Liberty Party, and the Alternative National Congress in the by-election, and partisans of the CDC allegedly led by the Party’s Youth League Chairman and Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee, clashed when both groups simultaneously hosted political rallies in New Georgia that wrapped-up their respective campaign activities. The CDC candidate in the race was John J. Weah.

The incident reportedly resulted in the vandalizing of private properties and the injury of several supporters of opposition candidate Cornelia Kruah-Togba. It was further alleged that there were two fatalities that involved a male and female. However, the report remains unsubstantiated and the Liberia National Police has since denied the report.

But ALJA says the report is “troubling for a country that is evolving from 14 years of civil wars.”

Meanwhile, the Association has urged the Liberian government to set up an independent panel of eminent Liberian organizations for a speedy, honest and objective investigation of the crisis. ALJA is further proposing that the Press Union of Liberia, Liberia National Bar Association, Liberia Council of Churches, and a representative of civil society organizations in the country be included on the panel’s membership.

The Association says an independent probe of the current situation is necessary for ensuring impartiality in the adjudication of justice in the matter.

In a related development, ALJA has called on President Weah to immediately suspend Mayor Koijee for time indefinite, while the matter is being probed, given the alleged leadership role he played in the orchestration and execution of the street fights.

Also, ALJA has recommended that President Weah ensures that all alleged perpetrators, including CDC and opposition political parties’ supporters linked to the violence, are arrested and prosecuted in accordance with the laws of Liberia.

ALJA has also called on candidate Kruah-Togba, Liberty Party Political Leader and Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, and other opposition politicians associated with the reported riot to avail themselves and cooperate fully with the government in unearthing the veracity of the reported deaths and the mayhem committed.

The Association says it wants the matter investigated and justice rendered, because any act to the contrary would set a bad precedent in the political governance of Liberia.

ALJA says it regrets the reported reckless destruction of human lives and properties as well as the brutality suffered by some innocent Liberians.

The Association maintained that the essence of democracy in any civilized nation is for people to assemble freely, disagree and agree at all times without any iota of political intimidation or hooliganism. ALJA said unless President Weah and the CDC government demonstrate leadership in this matter, it has the propensity of undermining the prevailing peace and unity in the country. The Association emphasized that “Liberia belongs to all Liberians regardless of political, tribal and social affiliations.”

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. The organization was founded in 1998 in Washington D.C.

Journalist Moses D. Sandy is ALJA’s National President.

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