Human Rights lawyer and President of the Liberian National Bar Association, Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, has sharply reacted to Police Inspector General Sudue’s statement of using excessive force, terming it as “Undemocratic.”
It may be recalled that on October 5, 2020, while providing an update on the mysterious deaths of the two LRA employees, Liberia National Police (LNP) Inspector General, Patrick Sudue threatened to use excessive force against any group of individuals who will engage in “disorderly conduct” during the campaign period for the December 8 midterm senatorial elections.
The Police Inspector General said the LNP will not take anything for granted this time around, especially during the campaign period for the pending midterm senatorial election.
“When they throw stones at the police, we will use teargas to contain the situation. The LNP will not take anything for granted during this election,” said IG Sudue.
In a phone conversation with the Daily Observer on October 6, 2020, Cllr. Gongloe said Sudue should not forget that the standard operating procedures of the LNP forbid any officer threatening any group of people.
“What I know of is that when there is a resistance from a group of people against police operations, the patrol department of the police comes in to restore order. Where the Patrol unit is overpowered, the Police Support Unit (PSU) comes in to help restore law and order,” Gongloe said.
He added: “When there is a proven fact that those who are resisting police orders are using lethal weapons or other kinds of dangerous weapons, the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) is authorized to step in to ensure that calm and stability are restored.”
“The police should not be a regime Police. They are for everybody. Threatening people ahead of time when there is already tension due to many challenges in the country is not in line with the tenets of democracy,” Gongloe said.
Like other elections of the past, activities leading up to the December 8 senatorial mid-term elections have been characterized by violence, which members of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) have been accused of perpetrating. A few weeks ago, Montserrado County Senator and a major contestant in the impending election, Abraham Darius Dillon, was attacked in District #15 where some of his supporters had invited him to speak to them.
Before that time, Dillon had been attacked in Clara Town by people he believes to be loyal to the ruling party. Interestingly, Thomas Fallah, Dillon’s main rival representing the ruling CDC, has not encountered any attack on any occasion in all his tours taken in Monrovia and other parts of Montserrado County.
IG Sudue, under whose watch opposition politicians have been subject to extreme, near-death acts of violence, said that the police will do everything in its power to ensure peaceful conduct of the election.
IG Sudue, while giving an update on the mysterious deaths of Albert Peters and Victoria Asmah Lamah, two ranking employees of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) who were murdered last weekend, said the police will no longer be lenient with anyone who obstructs any of the activities of the election.
We are ready to take the country through a peaceful senatorial election. We expect everyone, regardless of political affiliation or status to be law-abiding,” Sudue said. “We will not take anything lightly with anyone who tries disturbing the peaceful holding of the election. Definitely, we will go after you, even if it causes us to teargas you and bring you before the law to account for your action.”
The Police IG’s statement comes at a time when recent by-elections in the country have been marred by injurious friction between supporters of different political parties, most times on suspicion fraud or other factors.
Over the past two years, by-elections in Montserrado County Districts #13 and 15 were marred by violence resulting in damaging vehicles and wounding of individuals.
The fracas in District#13, which was never properly investigated by the police, started out when partisans of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) supporting the Representative bid of Mrs. Cornelia Kruah-Togba and partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) in support of John Weah, clashed during the close of their respective political campaigns.
A similar situation occurred in 2018 in Logan Town where Telia Urey, the then-candidate of the Collaborating Political Parties and her campaign team were attacked and escaped death.
During the incident in which Ms. Urey’s vehicle was severely damaged, the Liberia National Police was recorded for having its officers at the scene videotaping the event without any attempt to make an arrest or curtail the violence.
Although it may sound less than convincing to the opposition, Sudue said that all senatorial candidates in the December 8 election will be equally protected by the Police.