‘We Cannot Allow A Few People to Undermine This Country’

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has expressed serious displeasure at the news of the vandalism and looting of properties at Golden Veroleum-Liberia (GVL) in Butaw, Sinoe County on Tuesday, May 26.

“As a government, we cannot allow a few people to undermine the interest of this country; to run investors away and to make sure that we do not attract what we need to achieve our development goals,” President Sirleaf stated.

According to an Executive Mansion release, Madam Sirleaf said her government will respond to the violence ‘in a very effective way’.
President Sirleaf was addressing journalists at the Roberts International Airport upon returning from Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire where she participated in the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the African Development Bank.

She indicated that her government cannot continue to go out and attract investments to create jobs, and others engage in violence that scares away investors.
“When I returned the last time you may recall, I said to Liberians that we cannot continue to go out and attract investment, bring people to do business and create jobs and then when you have these kinds of violence, it takes away from our effort and people run away from the country,” a visibly upset President Sirleaf said. “Money only goes to the place where it’s safe. They [investors] don’t go where they’re frightened,” she said.

At the request of Vice President Joseph Boakai during a visit to Indonesia in April, a senior Vice President of Golden Veroleum was visiting the company’s operations in Sinoe County when the violence and destruction unfolded.

An annoyed President Sirleaf vowed not to allow this to continue, stressing, “People cannot undermine the interest of the millions of others in this country that are looking for jobs, that want to be safe, that want to make sure that this country progresses.”
She urged all Liberians to stand against violent behavior “because it takes away from us, our livelihood and success.”

It may be recalled that angry protesters in a violent demonstration last Tuesday attacked facilities of Golden Veroleum in Butaw, Sinoe County and took hostage several individuals, including Gender and Development Minister, Angela Cassell, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister who was injured and an Indonesian worker of the company.

According to the Liberia National Police, both ministers were later released upon the collaborative intervention of UNMIL.
The demonstrators who were armed with cutlasses and other deadly instruments attacked the Golden Veroleum mess hall and looted several items, causing company workers to flee into nearby bushes for safety, a release by the LNP said.

Police Director Clarence Massaquoi informed leaders of the protestors, headed by a man identified as Terry Pirnos, in a phone contact about the consequences of their actions and cautioned them to avoid further destruction of the company’s properties.
The extent of the damages is yet to be determined but Director Massaquoi warned the demonstrators that the law would take its course where necessary.

President Sirleaf’s warning that the government would respond ‘in a very effective way’ indicates determination to hold those involved responsible for their actions.

Meanwhile, the LNP said a team of Police Support Unit (PSU), and Emergency Response Unit (ERU) was dispatched to the scene of the violence and eventually brought the situation under control. However, the LNP has not confirmed the arrest of any of the ring leaders and has also not provided reasons for the violent protest.

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