By Samuel G. Dweh/ freelance journalist in Grand Kru County
Political parties’ supporters in Grand Kru County, in southeastern Liberia are opposed to those who are in the constant habit of vandalizing posters of candidates in the upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
Victims so far are incumbent Representatives Numene T. H. Bartekwa (District #2, Unity Party); Doris N. Ylatun (District #1, Coalition for Democratic Change); and Kumeh Assaf (District #1, Liberty Party).
“They tore off my image from my banner, leaving my party’s standard bearer and the vice-standard bearer,” lamented the CDC’s candidate Doris N. Ylatun, in Barclayville, the county’s capital on August 29.
“People in Gbanken, where my banner was torn saw the person who did it, but they did not prevent it or report the person to the local authorities,” another resident cried.
The report of the damage to Madam Ylatun’s banner in the district particularly in Gbanken, a town in the Wedabo Chiefdom, reached her two days late, she said.
As for Rep. Bartekwa’s banner located along the Hospital Camp Road in Barclayville where his campaign office is located, much of his face, including his eyes, were ripped off.
“Two little children did that on August 24,” Saybeh Toe, 17, said at a barber shop a few yards from the damaged banner. “They threw stones at the banner, which caused the tear.”
He said the children were caught and taken to Rep. Bartekwa’s party headquarters, but were released minutes later, “because they were considered as minors.”
A young man was caught in front of one of Rep. Bartekwa’s banners after he wrote ‘FAILURE TO ELECTION 2017’ on the banner, Saybeh Toe said.
A ripped off piece of the banner of Liberty Party candidate Kumeh Assaf was left in a grassy field in Juduken, a town in the Wedabo Chiefdom, on September 17.
“Some cows uprooted the banner one week ago,” a young man in a house a few yards away from where the banner was planted, said in an interview.
Grand Kru County Superintendent, Elizabeth Dempster, said in an interview that those who were tearing down campaign materials in public places in the County are “paid agents, who work in the night.”
“Their action is a gross electoral offense,” Michael Wisseh, former Development Superintendent now campaign manager for LP’s District #1 candidate Jonathan Fonati Koffa, said.
“How much will these people tearing or pulling-down political opponents’ posters or banners get from such acts? My candidate is not a victim yet, but I am gravely concerned about this action and I know he is, too,” a Koffa supporter said.
The time in which the act (crime) is committed makes arresting the perpetrators impossible, Grand Kru County’s commander of the Liberia National Police, Adolphus Siafa Cole, said during a campaign rally hosted by CDC’s candidate Doris N. Ylatun in Picnic Cess Statutory District.
“It happens when most people are asleep,” he said, “but the police command here has in its custody a young man, who said he saw an under 18-year-old tearing a banner of one of the candidates.”
Posters—especially those pasted on walls of private residential homes—are not spared.
Most Grand Kru residents fear that the destruction of campaign materials by ‘unscrupulous persons’ would have a divisive effect after the October 10 elections.