-Says silence has a way of getting back at national leaders
The opposition Vision for Liberia Transformation Party (VOLT) has expressed uneasiness over what it termed as a surge in electoral and politically related violence across the country.
More worrisome, according to VOLT, is the silence of President George Weah and his government—a situation that could be interpreted as a quiet acceptance and endorsement of violence that has the potential to create havoc that could lead to civil unrest.
Addressing a press conference in Monrovia over the weekend, VOLT political leader, Jeremiah Whapoe, said his institution is deeply concerned about the perpetual silence of President Weah and his ruling the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government on the emerging tensions in the country that is causing perturbation among the ordinary citizens.
“The continuing silence of this government to speak and take actions on issues that concern the citizens is a quiet acceptance and endorsement of violence that has the potential to create havoc that could lead to civil unrest,” he noted.
Mr. Whapoe warned that Liberia is moving into “the valley of the shadow of death” and any inaction by the leadership of this government and other civil intervening groups to bring under control the recent nationwide outburst of pre-electoral and rape violence in the country, and there is blood shared and displacement of any citizen, history will not only judge them, but their generation and the ones after them.
Liberians are tired of “singing the Lord’s songs in strange lands,” he noted, quoting Psalm 137 of the Bible. Also, quoting the late American Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Mr. President,” Whapoe warned, “silence has had a long history of causing more damage than what is perceived by society.”
“It is no secret that over the past few months, the country has been engorged with pre-electoral violence in both rural and urban communities and violent raping of our young girls and babies are becoming accepted as a new normal of the Liberian society,” Mr. Whapoe said.
He added that there is nowhere in the history of this country that keeping silent on issues that concern the ordinary citizens has had a successful ending of any leadership.
“For example, first, in recent history, when the citizens of Liberia cried on President William R. Tolbert for the shortage of rice, the staple of the nation, they outraged on April 14, 1979 and led to the loss of several innocent lives. The uneasiness from the April 14, 1979 continued to April 12, 1980 military coup d’etat that did not only slay President Tolbert, but claimed several innocent lives; destroyed the social and economic fabrics of our country and displaced prominent Liberians around the world.”
Providing another case in point, the VOLT political leader added that “the silence of President Samuel K. Doe on the outcry of Liberians for the act of tribal segregation, nepotism, summary executions and disappearance of citizens, abuse of human rights and violation of the Liberian constitution, resulted to a fourteen year guerrilla war that not only barbarically unseated the Doe led government, destroyed the infrastructure and human capital of the country, but claimed over 250,000 innocent lives including women and children.”
He also stated that former President Charles G. Taylor is being faced with a similar fate that haunts leaders who choose to be silent in the midst of problems confronting the masses.
“These historical facts mentioned above are being told to help president Weah and his CDC led government to look into the rear view mirror of the nation and have sober reflection on how silence and inaction have had negative impacts on Liberian leadership,” Mr. Whapoe said.
“The VOLT party would like to remind this government and all other citizens that the wounds on our hearts from the civil war are still fresh, the mass graves of our loved ones are still uncovered, the scars on our bodies are still painful, our individual experiences from Calvary or Golgotha are indelible and the tears of our eyes are yet to dry.”
He however condemned all verbal and physical violence being meted against “any citizen; be it ordinary or government officials.”
He called on the President to be proactive and robust in addressing the hovering menace in the country. “We further call all tribal leaders, civil society grouping, religious leaders, and inter-faith council of Liberia to move swiftly and intervene in the current wave of violence in the country before the society becomes volatile,” he said.
Meanwhile, VOLT is a member of the Rainbow Alliance—one of three major coalitions of political parties in the country. The other two are the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the four member Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).