For the past months, the Daily Observer has been drawing to public attention, the rising specter of political violence which, if left unchecked, could spiral off into free for all violence and eventually undermine national stability.
Recent media reports (FrontPage Africa) speaking of a violent attack by CDC supporters against an opposition candidate in Cape Mount say the home of Representative Sherrif (Unity Party) was set ablaze by CDC supporters. The report quoting Representative Sherriff said his home came under a hail of gunfire and bullets from the attackers who looted his home before setting it ablaze.
CDC supporters are also said to have burnt the convoy of Simeon Taylor, a candidate on the opposition CPP’s ticket who was on the campaign trail in Dambala, Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County. Despite repeated calls to the Police for assistance the Representative is said to have made, no response was ever forthcoming.
President Weah has been quick to condemn the violence however mere condemnation is not sufficient as it does not go far enough in dealing with the problem. This is not the first of such incidents of political violence mounted by thuggish CDC supporters during which the Police has been unresponsive to calls for help.
It can be recalled that in its January 22, 2019 editorial headlined, “A Dangerous Development Which Must Be Checked With Great Urgency”, the Daily Observer drew attention to the violence perpetrated against opposition politician Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence in Montserrado County District 13 during a campaign rally held in District 13 and urged President Weah to check the escalating level of political violence perpetrated in the main by supporters of the CDC.
“They surrounded my vehicle, but fortunately, residents of the community came to my rescue and took me to a secure location. Distinguished colleagues, I panicked for myself and the crowd especially the children who were escaping the chaotic scene caused by the mayor of the City of Monrovia,”
“I was a hostage for about two hours before being escorted by the community dwellers to my vehicle,” she continued. “As a result of the pandemonium and mayhem, we had to use the back road to escape the scene,” Senator Karnga Lawrence said in a letter of complaint to the Senate.
The Daily Observer at the time also referenced the attack on Representative Yekeh Kolubah’s Old Road home, where he was hosting a party for children in his neighborhood. Again, the response from the Police was extremely feeble and virtually ineffectual as none of the suspected attackers was ever arrested.
That attack was followed later by an attack on opposition aspirant/contender Telia Urey in the 2019 District 17 elections during which Ms. Urey nearly lost her life while the Police stood in plain sight but did nothing to prevent the attack nor apprehend the attackers.
Fast forward to 2020, reports of yet another instance of political violence directed against opposition elements came to public attention. It was the attack by CDC supporters on opposition politicians Alexander Cummings and Representative Yekeh Kolubah who while on a visit to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County were stoned and then asked to leave the county by Superintendent Kai Farley.
None of the attackers were arrested. And then, this latest incident of political violence occurring in Grand Cape Mount County during which the convoy of campaign vehicles for opposition contender Simeon Taylor was attacked and burnt, has prompted condemnation by President Weah but falls short of a declared intent to bring the perpetrators to book.
Currently, there are fears that the highly polarized situation and charged atmosphere could easily degenerate into a free-for-all situation, should there be an outbreak of violence of the kind witnessed in Cape Mount over the last few days.
Signals being sent by this recent attack suggest that the people should prepare themselves to counter whatever violence supporters of this government will unleash against their perceived enemies. The development in Grand Cape Mount constitutes a very dangerous escalation of tension.
President Weah can act to defuse the situation by apprehending the perpetrators and securing convictions against them. Should he fail to act accordingly, he will have himself to blame for any possible undesirable outcomes. And in so doing, he should remember that the Liberian people will not continue to roll over and play dead as their rights are being gravely abused.
It is here that the new incoming Biden administration will be put to test. And it is whether it will support the democratic aspirations of the Liberian people or whether it will continue with policies of destabilization intended to secure and maintain greedy US corporate interest over the interests and wellbeing of the Liberian people.
Such policy is what US Congress woman Angela Occasio Cortez describes as a “no holds barred Wild West hyper Capitalism”, meaning profit at any cost. In real terms, it means that Liberia should forego and has foregone development assistance from China which had offered at the onset of President Sirleaf’s government to rebuild the Mount Coffee Dam.
China had also offered to construct hydropower plants around the country, given its huge but unexploited hydroelectric potential. But the US government pressurized President Sirleaf to reject. And she did in return for debt relief.
But look at where we are now with the cost of electricity about the highest in the world and where less than 10 percent of the population has access to electricity. As our oldest ally with blood ties between both countries, Liberians expect that the US government will support the democratic aspirations of the Liberian people. If not, short of embracing jihadism, extremism or terrorism, the Liberian people will have to look elsewhere for alternatives. This newspaper has pointed out time and again to President Weah and warned that in the final analysis, he and his government stand to be ultimate losers should the violence spill out of hand.