The Liberia National Police response to protests across the country has been strikingly similar – brutal, but at the Liberty Party headquarters in Monrovia, the police rose to the occasion, de-escalating a riot.
The police presence became necessary after a faction of the Liberty Party’s (LP) youth wing, who wanted to attend a rally held for Alexander Cummings, political leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), at the LP headquarters, were denied entrance.
From the onset of the ANC rally, tensions had already been running high among Liberty Party stalwarts when its political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence and chairman, Musa H. Bility, clashed over permits issued to the ANC to hold its program at the party ground.
And, as expected, a faction against the Bility agenda, stormed the party’s 19 Street headquarters and, when denied access, began throwing stones.
But the pending bad blood was averted as the police came and deescalated the protest.
The protest leader, Warril Blamo, National Vice Chairman, LP Youth Wing, said it was highly frustrating that they were denied access to their party headquarters while ANC partisans were allowed to enter.
“We need to go there to exercise our rights and observe the program,” he said.
Blamo argued that once the ceremony was held at their party headquarters, they had the right to attend the event and make statements as well.
“LP is captured in the program and the youth wing should be making a statement. We are members of the party so we all need to be there and grace the occasion,” the youth chair added.
Earlier, Sen. Karnga-Lawrence had issued a statement, distancing the party from Bility’s decision as a means of asserting control over the party, underscoring the growing challenge she faces is not just controlling the party, but unifying it.
In a statement, the Grand Bassa County Senator said she had no prior knowledge of the event, neither from the planners in LP nor from the ANC Leader, and advised all partisans and supporters to go about their normal activities and not give credence to any such program.
“In the coming days, the LP will institute specific measures to deal with this situation,” Sen. Karnga-Lawrence added.
But the program went ahead against the will of the LP’s political leader, as chairman Bility now wields certain leverage, maintaining a stronghold on the party since his ascendency to the chairmanship saw the party acquiring a fleet of brand new vehicles and a spacious national party headquarters.
In brief remarks at the LP party headquarters, Cummings promised to work in the best interest of Liberians to change the country's current crisis.
“We are committed to making sure the CPP works but, at the same time, we will fight for the Liberian people. We will make sure that the system that has kept us for the past 170 years, we will change,” he said.
“We are not going to spend any more time on the internal wrangling of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP); we will start to focus on the Liberian people. We will not let the Weah led government get away with the suffering that you are suffering today,” Mr. Cummings added.
If elected, Mr. Cummings vowed to equitably distribute the resources among Liberians to give them a better life that the Weah administration has failed to do.
“The CPP, with Alexander Cummings, you will have real change in LIBERIA. We will stop the suffering in our country; we will stop the stealing in our country. And we will make sure the resources of Liberia benefit the Liberian people,” the ANC political leader said.
Meanwhile, the protesting LP partisans have accused Bility of portraying himself as one who has absolute control of the LP that is why he granted the ANC permission to use the party’s headquarters.
“Musa H. Bility wants to prove to the Liberian people that he has control over the LP. That is the reason he allows Cummings.”