Over 50 participants in a dialogue in the Borough of New Kru Town on August 28, 2019 identified “lack of rule of law and drug abuse” as conditions that are posing a threat to the fragile peace in the country.
Lawlessness and violence have been reported in recent days, one of which involved the reported attack on representative candidate Teila Urey in Montserrado County District #15. During that incident, Telia narrowly escaped death, while some of her supporters sustained injuries. Ms. Urey’s vehicle was totally destroyed as a result of the violence.
Residents of New Kru Town, during a dialogue, said that failure on the part of the government to enforce the law impartially is leading people – mainly youth – to embrace violence as a way of life.
“Impunity is undermining peace and stability here, because when people do wrong or go against the law, they are left unpunished, especially people who have money to bribe judges. To reconcile and have peace in the country, impunity must end so that the government can implement the law to the letter,” said Thomas Cassell.
James T. William, a youth, said that young people are the driving force behind violence in the country, because they no longer represent themselves as a result of “drug abuse.”
James added, “We commit injustice against the people we claim we are leading. Instead of working to improve our society, community leaders and national government sometimes put political and personal interest ahead of the rule of law and carry out injustice against people.”
Daniel Sahn and Alexander Vinton agreed with James’s comment that justice was being sold to rich people, while young people were engaged in drug abuse that often made them mentally retarded (crazy).
Sahn said until the government makes drug trafficking and abuse a non-bailable crime, it will be difficult to control the flow and use of drugs, which is facilitating violence and destroying the future of Liberian youth.
Frank D. Shannon, in consonance with others, also emphasized land crises in Liberia as one of the threats to peace.
Shannon said many people are engaged in selling a parcel of land to two or more people, thus brewing conflict.
Bedell S. Fahn, on the other hand, blamed the wave of violence and division in the social sphere of the country squarely on the media, noting that the media and social media users are sending out hate messages against government, thereby making others to see it (government) as the only cause of the problem.
In Annavo Yarsiah Johnson’s view, she said instability of Liberia’s peace now is also facilitated by “transferred aggression.”
“People who are not parties in a conflict are sometimes invited into it by a party, and this is a way of escalating conflict because the person they go against has his/her people too who come in defense of him/her,” she said.
The gathering in which residents of New Kru Town expressed themselves is a County Reconciliation Dialogue under the theme, “Advancing Reconciliation through Legislative Reforms and Civic Engagement.” It is a project implemented by the National Youth Movement for Transparent Election (NAYMOTE).
NAYMOTE Executive Director Eddie Jarwolo said his organization is carrying out the project in seven counties.
Jarwolo said NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development supported by the United Nations Program Peacebuilding Support Office (UNPSO), has completed 39 dialogues totaling 1,067 males and 794 females across the seven counties.
“These dialogues are increasing the participation of diverse stakeholders in developing the counties’ reconciliation roadmap, engendering local ownership of reconciliation processes and mitigating drivers of conflict so that sustainable development can take place in these counties,” NAYMOTE said in a release.
The release named illicit mining, illicit drugs, ritualistic killing, and limited access to quality services, education and health, boundary disputes related to land, drug abuse, rape and sexual violence, accountability, declining economy, low police presence in most communities as issues undermining reconciliation and peace.
NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development in collaboration with the Liberia Peace-building Office of the Ministry of Internal Affairs with support from the United Nations Peace-building Support Office, implemented the project.