CDC, UP Other Parties Clash: Blame, Insults Traded, NEC Yet to Investigate

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This supporter of Cornelia Krua-Togba alleged that he was beaten by CDCians during Saturday's melee

The grounds of the New Georgia road and Estate were a scene of chaos around 4 p.m. yesterday when partisans of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), headed by its Youth League chair Jefferson Koijee and partisans of the opposition alliance comprising Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) clashed, leaving several injured and at least two reported dead.

The situation occurred while the two sides were simultaneously conducting their political rallies, anticipating the pending by-election, scheduled for Tuesday November 20, 2018. According to eyewitnesses, the situation became tense, which led to opposing sides throwing stones and physical attacks.

The CDC was campaigning for its candidate John J. Weah, while UP, LP and ANC jointly campaigned for their endorsed candidate, Cornelia Kruah-Togba. The two candidates are among the four leading candidates that are likely to win the by-election in District #13, Montserrado County. Another candidate, Edward Flomo, also considered a staunch member of the CDC, is contesting as in independent candidate.

Several people however sustained injuries with two deaths reported so far. One of the injured persons told the Daily Observer that Koijee, who is also the current Mayor of Monrovia, along with his militants was also using pepper-spray.

While these figures are yet to be confirmed, both sides have made scathing accusations against each other, with social media rife with multiple versions of what happened. This situation led to the deployment of officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) within the New Georgia area.

In a statement issued on Sunday, November 18, 2018 under the signature of acting communications director, Prince Dunbar, NEC cautioned all political parties and their supporters to conduct their political activities in a peaceful manner within the confines of the Constitution, the electoral laws, regulations and guidelines to ensure that the political campaign period ends peacefully.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has well-established guidelines on the expected conduct of political campaigns and rallies.

Among these guidelines, NEC states:

  • Political Parties shall not carry and /or display arms and offensive weapons at political and related activities and gatherings;
  • Political Parties shall not engage, recruit or deploy any individual (s) for the purpose of violence, intimidation or harassment.
  • Political Parties shall, in good faith coordinate their campaign activities in such a way that no two Political Parties shall hold public meetings or rallies at the same venue and/or locality on the same day, if such meetings or rallies are likely to be at venues so close to each other that a possibility of conflict arises.
  • Where dates, venues and timing for any of the above activities conflict, representatives of the affected Political Parties shall, in collaboration with the local authorities, meet in a cordial manner to resolve issues without resorting to violence.

The Daily Observer sent messages to the CDC youth chairman Jefferson Koijee and Cornelia Kruah-Togba about whether either party officially informed the NEC about their campaign rally arrangements. Neither party responded to our inquires.

However Dunbar from NEC confirmed to the Observer that each candidate (or their campaign team) was supposed to submit to the NEC their plan of action including date and venue of their rally. However, according to him, “no one officially informed the NEC” about their rally plans for Saturday, Nov. 17.

In her personal statement posted via a Facebook Live video, however, Krua-Togba said her campaign team officially informed NEC of their planned rally. Dunbar said he could not confirm this and said the pending investigation would bring to light the real facts.

According to the NEC statement, the Commission is collaborating with State Security to ascertain full details about the violence in the Gardnesville area in district # 13, Montserrado County.

The NEC strongly warned all political parties and their supporters that it will not hesitate to take action in keeping with the laws of Liberia to punish any political party or political supporter engaging in acts of violence during the conduct of the By-Election in district #13.

Candidate Cornelia Kruah-Togba in a statement issued after the clash said they gathered peacefully to climax her campaign for the upcoming by-election, but met their unfortunate attack by CDC, thereby leaving some of her campaigners injured.

This man, dressed in a Unity Party jacket, claimed to be pepper-sprayed and beaten by Mayor Koijee and his men

“We were also cognizant of the possibility of other candidates climaxing their campaigns and, as per NEC’s permission, we agreed to use different fields in the District to assemble. Sadly, it turned to a bloodbath where many of my supporters were brutally wounded with matchetes, stones, sticks and other weapons and pepper-sprayed by supporters of the ruling party, the CDC,” Mrs. Kruah-Togba said.

According to candidate Kruah-Togba, the CDC group was led by its youth chair, Mr. Koijee. She said the CDC supporters left their assembly point in Iron Factory and marched into New Georgia.

Mrs. Kruah-Togba said she, along with the Liberty Party’s Political Leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, had to be whisked to safety immediately following the attack, describing it as is a violation of their constitutional rights and the elections laws.

“This is worrisome because it is proving now that the elections will most likely be rigged by the ruling party (CDC) in favor of its candidate as they now seem intent on violently taking over the leadership of our District. The attack on us today is a clear case of electoral violence meant to intimidate and instill fear in our supporters,” she said.

Mrs. Kruah-Togba said “My heart goes out to those who were wounded and hurt by this brutality and assault. We are highly disappointed by today’s events. I saw firsthand the brutality against peaceful citizens and partisans of the trapartite opposition alliance led by officials of government and senior members of the ruling party.”

“My life and that of my family as well as the lives of members of my campaign team and supporters are at risk,” she said. “I have left my home tonight and relocated to a safe location due to the attacks on my life and threats of burning my house tonight. I am also very deeply saddened by reports of the death of two of our supporters who were stabbed today, amongst many others.”

She further called on the government of Liberia to launch an immediate investigation into these reports and ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.

“We cannot reverse the gains we have made as a nation and fall back into the abyss of lawlessness and violence. To my supporters, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your immense show of support today and throughout this process,” Mrs. Kruah-Togba said.

The CDC party top brass was present in full, with Youth Chair, Jefferson Koijee, (in green outfit) among those leading the charge.

Mulbah K. Morlu, chairman of the ruling party, Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) on his social media page under the title: Cornelia Kruah-Togbah, “The lying face of UP’s failed campaign in D-13!” Said Unity Party’s candidate in D-13, apparently the least in the race, is all over the place crying ‘Wolf, wolf’; she’s a dangerous liar & blackmailer. 

Chairman Morlu said “And, frankly It’s shameful that she’ll stoop this low & lie 100% about everything in a recorded video, shedding fake tears, crocodile tears.

“The CDC rejects these cheap lies & can think of no other reason for their peddling, except that the UP weakling is striving to construct a self-consolation narrative after her defeat on Tuesday. We clarify that her assertions against the CDC & its officials are all false & misleading; the Chairman of the Youth League, Mr. Koijee, did not brutalize anyone, nor was he wielding a machete as falsely claimed by this UP agent-provocateur, disguised as a party candidate,” Morlu said.

Chairman Morlu said Mayor Koijee’s great leadership shown in the district upheld the rule of law; amongst other things, restraining partisans from retaliating when several CDCeans were violently attacked with knives in different locations by thugs dressed in UP T-Shirts.

A victim undergoing first aid treatment at the home of candidate Kruah-Togba.

Author

  • Anthony Kokoi is a young Liberian sports writer who has an ever-growing passion for the development of the game of football (soccer) and other sports. For the past few years, he has been passionately engaged in reporting the developments of the game in the country. He is an associate member of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). He is a promoter of young talents. He also writes match reports and makes an analysis of Liberian Football.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A wise person once said, “Those who seek power for personal aggrandizement will eventually run afoul (into conflict) with popular opinion.”

    Mayor Koijee (CDC Youth League Chair) and officials of this CDC government should realize that the 2017 general election is over! CDC won the general election. They were entrusted with the mantle to run the affairs of this complex and complicated country called Liberia to the best of their abilities….with the help of God!

    CDC officials were never entrusted with power to infringe on the constitutional rights of their fellow Liberians who are lawfully seeking political office. Liberians fought too hard to break away from the crucibles (grips) of a one party state!

    CDC government officials like Mayor Koijee (CDC Youth League Chair) and others cannot continue to be in a state of perpetual political campaigns (sometimes violent) that have the propensity to impede the smooth running of this new government.

    These young CDC government officials should realize they are now custodians of this new leadership. They now have the utmost responsibility of steering this poor economic nation in the right direction. History will always judge this CDC Leadership on how they execute this enormous task of steering Liberia back on its right trajectory.

    Therefore, all perpetrators responsible for this violent clash between the various political parties are to be held responsible for innocent lives lost and for those who sustained injuries during this melee. These violent acts are deterrents to foreign investors coming to do business in Liberia.

    Mayor Koijee and other CDC youthful militants cannot be political referees and players at the same time: they cannot make up their own rules and neglect the official campaign rules set by the National Election Commission (NEC) of Liberia which states:

    “Political Parties shall, in good faith coordinate their campaign activities in such a way that no two Political Parties shall hold public meetings or rallies at the same venue and/or locality on the same day, if such meetings or rallies are likely to be at venues so close to each other that a possibility of conflict arises.”

    Most of these conflicts and brutalities could have been prevented by these high ranking CDC government officials who went to campaign on behalf of their candidate: they had the power. They had the advantage. They had security protection. Sensing imminent danger, CDC could have changed venue!!!!!

    Why should CDC members violate NEC campaign rules by scheduling their campaign at the same time and at the same venue as the opposition party did? Was this done intentionally to suppress the opposition? If so, then, what a recipe for disaster in a country where poor people blindly followed their powerful leaders!

    If Liberians really want to succeed as a prosperous nation, then, we should stop this notion that Liberians who belong to a different political party or philosophy are the enemies of this governing party.

    Anger, hate, jealousy, bitterness, entrenched partisanship, and tribalism are rising exponentially in Liberia; while love for our fellow Liberians are diminishing precipitously (sharply). These are all negative vices that make it too difficult to summon our collective efforts as Liberians to wholeheartedly join in the effort of rebuilding our torn nation.

    Remember CDC Youth Militants, President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “You do not lead by hitting people over the head. That’s assault, not leadership.”

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