A NAYMOTE organized debate intended for representatives of political parties that signed the National Youth Manifesto to explain to young Liberians the details in the platform, was reportedly disrupted last Friday by Montserrado County District #8 independent candidate, Jacob Barnes.
The manifesto was to demonstrate to the youth how to address issues that might arise in the legislature if any of them were to be elected as lawmaker in the October polls.
The Daily Observer gathered that while NAYMOTE staffers and partners, including representatives from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), and others were conducting the debate at the Monrovia office of the YMCA, Barnes reportedly ordered a group of gangsters he reportedly hired into the hall.
The thugs immediately put the entire program into confusion with partners and the program organizers running in all directions to escape deadly objects being thrown at them from all corners of the hall.
The confusion and uncontrollable noise caused by Barnes and his gangsters was brought under control by the Liberian National Police (LNP) Support Unit upon their arrival in the hall.
Barnes had contended that he was not given the chance to participate in the debate.
When this newspaper contacted him, he complained of being treated unfairly by the organizers. “Because I am a young man contesting for the district’s lone seat, I should have been included in the program to discuss such policy that is in the interest of young Liberians.
“We need to tell the young people in this district of what my plans and aspirations are; we must be included in this process, because we all have plans to work on. So, if I am not included in this debate, there will be no program here today and tomorrow, especially in this district,” Barnes shouted.
NAYMOTE Executive Director, Eddie D. Jarwolo, angrily said he was disappointed in Barnes’ behavior especially for disrupting a program that young Liberians were hosting to highlight the importance of holding “Violence-free” elections.
For an individual, who is already a candidate to disrupt one of the electoral processes supported by international partners aiming to conduct peaceful elections, is unacceptable, uncivilized and should claim the attention of all peace-loving Liberians.
He said the manifesto was for the benefit of young people who constitute the majority(52 percent) of the voting population.
Mr. Jarwolo added: “The debate was not intended for independent candidates, because none of them is a signatory to the documents.
“The program was organized to bring together those who developed the Youth Manifesto, so as to hold discussion on what they know about the manifesto, and how they intend to uphold it if they were to be elected to the legislature.
“We invited representatives from the four political parties that signed the document, so that they can be held accountable based on the way they will discuss the issues, and thereafter will sign the pledge to support the document. But unfortunately for us, we saw an independent candidate who brought in gangsters that disrupted our program,” Jarwolo said.
The entire program was cancelled as the gangsters seemed intent on hurting the participants.
For that reason, Jarwolo and his invited guests, including other candidates, felt threatened and fled the hall although they had spent a lot of money to rent the hall and prepare food.
“We feel that this kind of behavior by candidate Barnes is not good for our country and therefore we are going to take the necessary legal action,” Jarwolo vowed.
He expressed utmost surprised by the action by Barnes, saying, “I don’t expect people who want to take over the country’s leadership in the legislature to be so violent to the extent that they will want to hire gangsters from the streets and give them illegal substance. This is a disgrace to this country.”
“Jacob Barnes, said Jarwolo,“is very rude, irresponsible and it will be very disappointing for the district to look at somebody like that and give him their vote.”
Mr. Jarwolo explained that because Barnes is not a member of any political party, NAYMOTE could not allow him to sign the manifesto.
“He is an independent candidate, but we are working with representatives of political parties, who penned their respective signatures to that document, because they are the ones invited to discuss the manifesto,” Jarwolo said.