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Liberia: The Need To Resolve Simmering Conflicts

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Recently, the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia, through its Chairman, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, observed that Liberia is experiencing multiple “troubling signs” which have the potential to undermine its decade-long peace and stability.

The National Human Rights Commission Chair specifically made references to the prevailing situations in Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties which, he said, are “troubling.”

The Human Rights Commission also linked the unfavorable developments in both Lofa and Grand Gedeh to the apparent lack of interventions by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the National Elections Commission (NEC).

“If we are talking about peace and stability and also prevention of conflict, this is the meantime we suppose to act or else, during 2023 presidential and general elections, we will run away from here,” said Cllr. Dempster Brown, Chairperson of the Independent National Human Rights Commission.

The Rights Commission Chairperson further elucidated that since the disappearance of a key official of the National Elections Commission (NEC), in Grand Gedeh County, there have been sporadic protestations and calls for justice by aggrieved citizens of the County.

Additionally, Chairman Brown quoted INCHR monitors in Grand Gedeh County as disclosing that a student, name not given, was recently shot by joint security officers, but up to present, the Internal Affairs Ministry is yet to talk about it.

He disclosed that due to the severity of the injury that the student sustained, he was transferred from Grand Gedeh County to River Gee County for advanced medical care.

Cllr. Brown also disclosed that in his official capacity as Chairperson of the Independent National Human Rights Commission, he called on the County Attorney of Grand Gedeh County and told him, that even “if Jesus Christ is involved, prosecute the Jesus Christ.”

Commenting on the troubling situation in Lofa County, the Rights Commission’s Chairperson frowned on the recruitment of uniformed “militants” by political parties in the country, describing it as a step towards chaos and instability in Liberia.

Lofa County is the home and political stronghold of former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, who lost to George Manneh Weah in the 2017 presidential elections.

Moreover, reports abound that the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has been recruiting hundreds of individuals, including boys and girls believed to be its diehard supporters and sympathizers to provide ‘security’ for its candidate in the pending Senatorial By-election in Lofa County.
Votes-rich Lofa County is strategically situated in the northern region of Liberia.

Similarly, some officials of the former ruling Unity Party (UP), in apparent reaction to the reported recruitment of “uniformed militants” by the governing CDC, have also unveiled their intension and /or plan to recruit more than 1,500 “militants” for protection of UP officials and citizens in that part of the country.

For us, at THE INDEPENDENT, we are very much concerned and highly disturbed about the glaring unfavorable situations in both Lofa and Grand Gedeh Counties.

The unhealthy development as it relates to the pending senatorial by-election in Lofa County where one party or many citizens are claiming political marginalization at the behest of ‘powerful politicians’, coupled with the circumstances relating to the much talked-about Brownie Samukai-AFL pension money saga, as well as the ongoing recruitments of overzealous ‘militants’ by political parties, is to say the least, very worrisome and terrifying.

This is why, we, at the INDEPENDENT, are in full agreement with the National Human Rights Commission of Liberia that “If we are talking about the country’s peace and stability and also prevention of conflict, this is the meantime we suppose to act prudently.

In other words, all stakeholders in Liberia must ensure that the relevant Liberian authorities appropriately intervene in addressing the rising waves of protests and concerns of the aggrieved citizens and residents of Grand Gedeh County.

Just as the Rights Commission, we too candidly believe that “If we are talking about sustaining peace and stability in Liberia and prevention of conflicts, this is the meantime that we, as a government and people, supposed to act by taking the necessary proactive and prudent measures.

We say this simply because, Liberians at home and abroad had, for more than a decade, experienced firsthand the unholy and unlawful activities of various erstwhile warring armed factions and their foot soldiers who operated under multiple and dreaded pseudo names and titles such as “Militants, Brigades, Marine Unit,” among others, as they rained unspeakable acts of terror, chaos and mayhem on helpless citizens and residents, effectively leaving no inch of Liberia’s territories safe and peaceful during the country’s decade-long civil war.

This is also why, we, at THE INDEPENDENT, are strongly calling on the Liberian government to ensure that the prevailing situations in both Grand Gedeh and Lofa Counties are properly investigated and corrective measures put into place to genuinely calm the aggrieved citizens and residents.

In the same vein, we crave the unqualified support and intervention of Liberia’s civil society and religious groups to rise to the challenge by ensuring that visible suspicions, mistrust, distrust and other simmering conflicts that are inimical to sustaining Liberia’s peace and stability are amicably addressed head-on. Anything less than this, we, as a government and people will have ourselves to blame, sooner than later.

This is not a threat but a Hint.

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