By: Varney Dukuly
MONROVIA: The Head of the Independent National Human Rights Commission of Liberia, Cllr. T. Dempster Brown, has cautioned that Liberia is experiencing “troubling signs” that have the potential to undermine its decade-long peace and stability.
The INCHR Chairperson said, it is now time for public officials and other stakeholders to stand up to address the troubling issues affecting the Liberian nation.
He mentioned that the “situations in Lofa and Grand Gedeh are troubling.”
The Human Rights Commission Chair also linked the situation mainly to the 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,” he sounded a caveat to Liberia’s ruling elites.
Since the disappearance of the National Elections Commission (NEC) staff in Grand Gedeh County, there have been sporadic protestations and calls for justice by terrified and aggrieved citizens of the County.
Cllr. Brown, a respected human rights lawyer, quoting the 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 talk about it.
According to him, due to the severity of the injury that the victim sustained, he was transferred from Grand Gedeh County to River Gee County in order to seek an advanced medical care.
“The people of Konobo have given the Government of Liberia two weeks while in the period of investigation, there are top government officials who are involved in this thing, and nothing has been done about it. I called the County Attorney and told him, that if Jesus Christ is involved, prosecute the Jesus Christ,” INCHR boss asserted.
He wants people especially folks in government who, he said, see the Independent National Human Rights Commission as “anti to the Weah Administration to desist, because the act creating the institution authorizes it to speak out on ills in society.”
Touching on the upcoming Senatorial election in Lofa County, Cllr. Brown frowned on the recruitment of “militants” by political parties and stakeholders, describing it as a step to cause chaos and instability in the country.
Lofa County is the home and stronghold of opposition leader, Joseph Boakai, who lost to George Weah in the 2017 presidential elections.
There are fears in Liberia that the governing Coalition for Democratic Change, CDC, party is recruiting hundreds of its supporters to provide ‘uniformed security’ for its candidate in the upcoming senatorial election in the opposition stronghold of Lofa County, in the far north.
Also there have been counter reaction by Unity Party Representative, Francis Nymalin, and other supporters of the former governing ruling party, threatening to recruit more than 1,500 “militants” to oppose the CDC ‘uniformed security.’
However, the assertions made by the INCHR boss was debunked by the Government of Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The Ministry’s Communication Director, Emmanuel Wheinyue, said contrary to Cllr. Dempster Brown’s claim the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been engaged with the locals and things are under control.
Mr. Wheinyue did not give details as to how things have been put under control in the absence of locating the missing NEC official in Grand Gedeh County, coupled with the suspension of the Lofa County Senatorial by-election as well as the establishment of “uniformed militants” in Lofa County.
He was speaking recently at the re-launch of the Covid-19 Election Monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation room with focus on identifying threats that tend to undermine the peace of the country.
With support from UNDP, the re-launch of the situation room also witnessed the provision of 20 motorbikes to the Peace Building office for use by monitors across the fifteen counties ahead of the 2023 elections.