By Bill W. Cooper
With just over a week to the October 10 General Elections, reports coming from Lofa county say a violent altercation between supporters of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Unity Party (UP) has reportedly left more than two people dead.
In a video footage on social media, a group of supporters of the UP were also heard explaining that the incident started when supporters of the UP were marching past Montserrado County District 5 Rep., Thomas Fallah’s residence to welcome some of the UP-diaspora based supporters to the county when they were attacked by CDC ‘gangs.’
This, according to the information, led to a violent altercation between the two rival groups, leaving at least two persons dead and many others injured.
But Rep. Fallah, who is running for a legislative seat in Lofa, gave a different version of the story, stating on his verified Facebook page, minutes after the incident, that supporters of the UP led an unprovoked attack, resulting in the death of some of his supporters and the injury of 19 others.
According to him, he was at home when he heard vitriolic chants emanating from members of the UP at the junction leading to his compound, where the CDC headquarters is also located, mentioning that these chants grew louder and more disturbing as the UP partisans began throwing stones in his compound and destroying streetlights, as they surrounded the compound, manhandled and killed his supporters.
He added that the Joint Security came later and de-escalated the unprovoked violence, asserting, “I want to make it unequivocally clear that I had taken the responsible step of suspending our campaign activities for the day.”
“I had instructed all partisans of the CDC in Foya to stay away from the streets to allow the peaceful conduct of the Unity Party’s campaign rally,” he intoned.
The incident comes after the U.S. government on Thursday, September 28, 2023, warned that visa restrictions and sanctions await anyone who will undermine Liberia’s democracy in the build-up to, during, and after the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
This alleged action by both the UP and CDC supporters, who are considered the country’s leading political parties, further violates the recently signed Farmington River Declaration by all political parties, and calls for a violent free electoral process.
Meanwhile, the Joint Security is to shortly dispatch its Special Investigation Team for the 2023 General and Presidential Elections to investigate the clashes in Foya, Lofa County.
The team, according to a Justice Ministry release, is mandated by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General to fast-track the investigation and report its findings in the soonest possible time.
Additionally, supporters of rival political parties are urged to desist from violence during and after these elections, and strictly adhere to the Farmington Declaration signed by all political parties.
Meanwhile, the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) strongly condemned the recent wave of political violence in Lofa County.
The CPP strongly urge all political stakeholders to prioritize peace, unity, and respect, during this critical juncture in our nation’s journey noting that Liberia deserves an atmosphere of peace and cooperation, where dialogue and understanding triumph over hatred and hostility.
The CPP said it stands united against any form of violence and remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting a peaceful electoral process and that Liberia’s future hinges on everyone’s ability to engage in peaceful political discourse, showcasing to the world the strength and resilience of its democracy.
The Mano River Union Youth Parliament-Liberia Chapter has termed as anti-democratic, uncivilized and a recipe for civil crisis, the recent brutal violent clash which led to the death of at least three citizens in Foya, Lofa County Electoral District 1.
The electoral violence, according to multiple sources, ensued between some partisans believed to be members of the opposition Unity Party and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change at the weekend.
In a press statement issued Sunday, October 1, 2023, the Speaker of the MRUYP – Liberia Chapter, Daniel Nills, categorically denounced the incident and its perpetrators.
Nills believes that the life of any citizen does not deserve to be taken away by another due to political, social, or ideological disagreement, especially so when the nation approaches the much publicized October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections.
“The unwarranted and unacceptable brutal action which caused panic in several peaceful people in the area by those citizens, believed to be supporters and or partisans of the CDC and UP, totally contravened the Farmington River Declaration signed by political actors to maintain the peace,” he asserted in the statement.
The Speaker further extends the body’s heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the fallen Liberians, calling all patriotic citizens, including the Liberian government and all political parties and independent candidates, to protect the peace before and after the October Polls.
The Parliament has at the same time welcomed the joint statement of the ECOWAS and the United Nations condemning the act.
Daniel Nills said the MRUYP – Liberia Chapter joins the two global bodies in calling on the Liberia National Police to speedily make public, an impartial and investigative report on the matter.
The group Speaker termed as troubling for the UP and CDC, having been linked to the brutal electoral violence to shift blame on each other and urged the two major political institutions to be responsible enough to take full responsibility of the act and aid the police in the investigation process.
“We caution those political institutions to warn their respective partisans to refrain from any action that undermines the peace and stability of the country,” he emphasized.
In the spirit of the Farmington River Declaration 2023, the protection of human rights, and under the due of the rule of law, ECOWAS and the UN call on the leaders of the UP and CDC to strongly urge their partisans to refrain from provocation.
ECOWAS and the UN extend deep condolences to the families of the deceased.