“No name, no blame,” they say. But given the context in which a recent Facebook post by Deputy Information Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Eugene Fahngon was made, the Deputy Minister may once again be dangerously flirting with with words that could incite violence beyond the government’s ability to control.
Deputy Minister Fahngon has been twice reprimanded for his rude and unwholesome utterances. Once he was fined and jailed by the House of Representatives for raining expletives at a sitting member of that august body. Later, he was suspended by the President of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, after the U.S. Embassy near Monrovia called him out for his public remarks that had the propensity to incite violence and up-end Liberia’s hard-earned peace.
Minister Fahngon’s post published early Friday, July 31, reads: “RACCOON SUPPOSE TO KNOW LE STICK TO CLEAN HIS BUTT ON…GO AND TRY PALM TREE AGAIN. EHN YOU SAY DA YOU ALONE CRAZY?,” was posted the same day an angry mob in Grand Gedeh County last Thursday, July 30, 2020, attacked Montserrado County District #10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah and opposition politician Alexander B. Cummings in Zwedru.
The two opposition politicians came under attack by people believed to be loyal to President George Weah on a grievance that Representative Kolubah allegedly insults “Their President” and therefore he should leave the county. The two men and their entourage were rescued by members of the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Liberia National Police in Zwedru.
As video footage from the scene of the attack on the two men went viral on social media, Deputy Minister Fahngon, who had once been temporarily suspended for making divisive and inciting comments on the radio and on social media, as highlighted in a concern raised by the U.S. Embassy in 2019, posted the comment insinuating the event that was taking place in Grand Gedeh County.
Although he did not name a particular person in the comment, social media users commenting have attributed his inciting view to Representative Yekeh Kolubah who was at the center of the attack by the people of Grand Gedeh.
With the public view that Representative Kolubah insults the President, analysts and other interpreters see the post as referring to Kolubah because the subject in the post is singular and the District #10 Representative was the target of the attack on the opposition in Grand Gedeh.
Commentators also see the post as referencing the people of Grand Gedeh as the palm tree that the raccoon (Kolubah) cannot disrespect and get away with it. In the Liberian colloquial, “Eh you say da you alone crazy,” directly referring to Kolubah whom loyalists of the ruling CDC have always described as a “Crazy former fighter.”
President George Weah for the first time, over the weekend, condemned political violence that has dogged his administration since he took office in 2018. In a press statement from the Executive Mansion, the President is quoted as reiterating his objection and detestation of violence and unrest in Liberia, recalling that the country witnessed so much of it for long at the expense of peace and normalcy.
“If you love me, if you support me,” the President said, in the release, “please be peaceful and developmental. Remember that I promised people of Liberia that my administration will maintain zero tolerance for violence but will maintain peace, build roads, and improve the lives of all.”
It can be recalled that in Montserrado County Districts 13 and 15 by elections, violence erupted and opposition contestants barely escaped wounds and possible death at the hands of partisans of the Congress for Democratic Change were blamed for the actions. With the promise to investigate the violent incidents to bring the perpetrators to book, the government through the Ministry of Justice is yet to publish any report about them.
As the President — a self-proclaimed feminist-in-chief — registers his disdain for violence (even against women), there are so far no results to show that his messages of peace are heeded by his deputies.
Up to present, the Liberia National Police, which was investigating the electoral violence in Montserrado County Districts 13 and 15, have yet to release findings on those attacks. Moreover, those under attack in those districts were against female opposition candidates.
Minister Fahngon is on record for preaching Congau—Native politics, stating that descendants of Americo-Liberians cannot reclaim the country’s leadership any longer because it has come in the hands of the natives who are the legitimate owners of the land.
The Ministry of Information has sent out a circular informing the public that the government through the Ministry of Justice is launching an investigation into the Zwedru incident as called for by members of the Grand Gedeh Legislative Caucus.
In spite of the President’s pledge to investigate the Zwedru attack on the opposition politicians, he has yet to call Deputy Minister, Eugene Fahngon to order for yet another slew of divisive and inciting statements that deviate from the intent of the President’s remarks.
The head of the political activist group, Council of Patriots (COP), Henry P. Costa, has reacted vehemently that they can by no means believe that the government’s investigation will yield any fruit, i.e. bring to book any key figures of the Weah administration implicated.
Since the Zwedru incident, members of the opposition community have expressed on both social media and the radio that they will not exercise tolerance any longer but will equally counter any violent action perpetrated by members of the ruling establishment.