The recent violence in Zwedru was without question politically motivated and according to informed sources, the violence was carefully orchestrated by top officials in government and of the Coalition for Democratic Change(CDC) in order to intimidate the political opposition. This is clearly a very dangerous act of provocation that should not be allowed to repeat itself.
The Superintendent of Grand Gedeh County, Kai Farley, a top-ranked general in the former rebel Movement for Democracy and Elections (MODEL) and Representative Zoe Pennue have similarly been accused by Representative Kolubah of being the masterminds behind the violence. Pennue, who is reported to have now joined the ranks of the CDC, is allegedly being supported by a very powerful cabinet minister.
And it appears that violence may plague the December elections if things are allowed to get out of hand. And it appears rather odd also that President Weah who touts himself as a man of peace would remain silent or take no action to bring to book authorities of that county, particularly Superintendent Kai Farley whose credentials as a former MODEL rebel commander under whose watch egregious crimes were committed against ordinary Liberians.
President Weah should also chastise CDC Chairman Mulbah Morlu and officials of that party for wearing military uniforms and sporting sidearms (pistols) openly in the full glare of the public during a recent tour of the Southeast. Just to what purposes such display was intended remains unclear. However, judging from the look of things, it can be safely assumed that the sporting of military style wear and the open display of sidearms were all meant to intimidate the opposition.
The Daily Observer recalls that never ever since President Weah launched his initial bid for the Presidency in 2005 have people been coerced to turn out in their massive numbers in show of support and solidarity with him. It appears strange therefore, but not unusual that CDC officials have to now resort to the display and show of force, naked violence in order to intimidate the public into voting for CDC candidates.
Had it not been for the Armed Forces of Liberia whose intervention saved the day by preventing the situation from morphing into full blown violence, the situation would have most probably escalated and resulted into deaths.
Sources in Zwedru, say the Police response to the violence was weak and ineffectual in similar fashion to recorded instances of the violence that characterized the District 15 elections in 2019. Just what can explain the feeble Police response to a life threatening situation is difficult to come by. Public accusations of partisanship have dogged the Police since the ascendancy of its current Inspector-General, Patrick Sudue.
In view of this latest episode of politically motivated violence, the Daily Observer is
constrained to warn that those CDC officials espousing and promoting and reintroducing violence into national politics are playing with fire. It is a situation akin to a child playing with matches around a drum of gasoline with adults intently watching to see what will happen. And they are usually the first on the scene to offer help after having failed to take the box of matches from the child.
President Weah has to become seized of the situation and prevent any further escalation. Too many individuals are doing too many bad things in his name and are apparently getting away with it, failing to realize that they will not always forever get away with impunity. As unpalatable and unthinkable as it may appear, President Weah must part company with a lot many in his trusted fold of advisors and ministers if he intends to be more than a one-term President.
In light of this the situation in Zwedru and the response measures taken to bring it under control should be considered instructive. A scenario which should be studiously avoided by CDC chairman Morlu, is action which could provoke and propel the military to intervene. This is particularly important in view of the pending December elections during which tensions are expected to be very high in Monrovia.
If those CDC officials espousing violence are allowed to have their way to unleash violence against political opponents, then as sure as night follows day, pushback will be certain and resistance may come from some very unexpected sources. T
The likelihood that such elections related violence could degenerate into a free for all cannot be ruled out given reports that ruling party officials and some officials of this government have not only been courting the likes of ex rebel generals and local gang leaders but have ben providing them with cash and material support.
President Weah must, if he can, act with a sense of urgency to ensure that a repeat of the violence in Zwedru is studiously avoided in Monrovia later in December. The December senatorial elections promise to be very controversial as it will be handled by an electoral body that lacks credibility and the confidence of the public.
This means that transparency will be of critical concern. The involvement of NEC data officer Floyd Sayor in the manipulation of vote-count figures in the District 15 elections should not be repeated, now that he has been appointed as Commissioner. And officials of this government should know, except if they are pretending, that any attempt to cheat or rig the elections results could provoke violence.
And should that violence spin out of control to the point where it warrants the intervention of the country’s military, this government should consider itself virtually “gone with the wind” because getting the military to return to barracks would prove to be another up-hill challenge replete with so many unknowns.
President Weah is advised to caution his officials to stop playing with fire. The display of arms or the threat of their use is courting danger of the highest order. It must never be forgotten that, unlike previous times, most Liberian youths today have had prolonged exposure to violence and the threat of its use may just not prove sufficient to deter them from mounting open challenges to what they see as unfair and unjust.
He must therefore order his war mongers to STOP PLAYING WITH FIRE. He should take control and lead from the front, else he may unwittingly allow others to lead him to a very unkind and untimely fate.
This is an often repeated piece of advice!