Demonstrations Rock Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill, Liberia ‘s citadel of power in Monrovia yesterday experienced a series of demonstrations involving residents of the Worwee Community on Capitol Bypass and the inhabitants of LPRC Community in Gardnersville outside Monrovia.

The peaceful demonstrations brought together a cross-section of students backed by their parents, guardians, property owners, and tenants.
Residents of the Worwee Community were represented by a four-member committee led by chairman, Jeremiah Wehtee and co-chair, Enes Young who met with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as part of their efforts to seek redress for their grievances.

Although no news had emerged from the committee that met with President Sirleaf up to press time last night, two members of the community, Mrs. Rose Katoe Fah and Rutyher Palkpar, informed the Daily Observer that their peaceful demonstration was based on an eviction order stating that the Supreme Court had ruled in favor of one Mr. Jessie S. Payne awarding him 48 acres of land, including the land which the community inhabits.

Mr. Payne is said to have started a campaign to reclaim the parcel of land extending from 3rd Street in Sinkor to the Slipway Community. The area in question encloses the Monrovia City Hall, Stella Maris Polytechnique, and the University of Liberia.

According to Mrs. Fah the eviction is presently focused on areas in the Worwee Community including the Richard N. Nixion School, Deeper Life and the Mountain of Fire churches, Total Gas Station, the old Ministry of Health, and Jallah Town, among other places.

One of the residents told the Daily Observer that the embattled area hosts over 60, 000 residents and about 600 houses.

Demonstrators were seen carrying placards, some of which read: “Government, we want justice since the courts of our land are corrupt”; “Where was this Payne during the regimes of presidents S.K. Doe and Charles Taylor?”; “After 80 years, where was the justice to award 48 acres of this place to one person who lived in America and did not achieve anything?”

In a related development, a similar situation occurred at the Monrovia City Hall yesterday when residents of LPRC Community in Gardnersville, particularly those from the Clarke Community, staged a peaceful demonstration calling on the government to reconsider its decision to demolish their homes.

The demonstrators peacefully assembled outside the headquarters of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) in Sinkor. A member of the group, Sedike Kamara, said the government has set October 26, 2015 as the date to implement the demolition exercise. Kamara believes that the exercise will affect over 400,000 people, including school going children.

“We want to talk to the international community to help appeal to the government on the residents’ behalf. We have assembled at the Capitol Building on two different occasions, but have decided to bring this situation to the attention of the international partners, particularly the UNMIL authorities,” said Kamara.

He said residents of a home recently demolished by a representative of the government are now residing in an open field exposed to rain and sun.

A delegation from the community, he said, had earlier engaged the government through a letter of appeal to help stop the pending demolition exercise.
Police officers who were brought in to contain any mayhem were kept at a distance by Police Director Chris Massaquoi to “look over the situation.”

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