Home Governance Fix The Country ‘Bloody 26’: Who Telling The Truth? …As Accusations & Counter Accusations Swell

Fix The Country ‘Bloody 26’: Who Telling The Truth? …As Accusations & Counter Accusations Swell

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MONROVIA: The 2022 National Independence Day Celebration was marred by a peaceful protest by students of the state-owned University of Liberia campus-based Students Unification Party (SUP), which was later countered by a pro-regime group, styled: “CDC-Council of Patriots (CDC-COP), leading to a bloody violence during which several persons sustained injuries.

The UL campus-based ‘Vanguard and All-Powerful’ Students Unification Party (SUP), ran into trouble with the pro-government CDC-COP on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, in Central Monrovia during SUP’s peaceful protest which was characterized by chanting of anti-government slogans.
According to multiple reports, the students had gone to present their petition to the United States Embassy near Monrovia which includes short and long term demands for the Liberian ruling establishment to address.

The students’ petition calls on the George Weah-led administration to address pertinent national issues that are affecting ordinary people which included provision of jobs for the predominately youthful population of the country, dismissal of alleged corrupt state officials, and justice for those who died mysteriously among others with an ultimatum for the government to address these concerns.

Since members of the pro-government group, CDC-COP, were seen in multiple videos, brutalizing the SUP protestors, more than a dozen pro-democracy, civil society, and religious organizations, among others have strongly condemned the violence against the students and concomitantly called on the central government for immediate probe of the bloody violent incident.

The Center for Media Studies and Peace-building; Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas; Liberia Council of Churches; National Civil Society Council of Liberia, and Civil Society Actors, former Veteran Leaders of the UL-campus based SUP, among others have vehemently condemned the brutalization of the student protestors.

Moreover, some politicians as well as the Liberian government through the Ministries of Justice and Information and the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) have equally decried the violence.

Former Vice President of Liberia, Joseph Nyuma Boakai, now political leader of the erstwhile government Unity Party (UP); Alexander Benedict Cummings, political leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC), Liberty Party’s Chairman, Musa Hassan-Bility; and Presidential Hopeful, Cllr. Tiawon Saye Gongloe; among others described the violence as a bad omen aimed at undermining the gains of peace and stability made by the Liberian nation over the years.

The ANC, in a press statement, characterized incident as “unprovoked violent attack against peaceful protesting university students” and called for the immediate investigation, the arrest and prosecution of Jefferson Tamba Koijee, Ben Believe Togbah, Abdurahman Barie and others for the thuggish acts of violence against the SUP protestors.
The ANC said Abdurahman Barie is believed to be the head of a Consortium of University Students for the re-election of incumbent President George Manneh Weah.

The party stated that “In fact, in a Facebook post, few minutes after the violent attacks, Ben Believe Togbah, leader of the attackers, wrote boastfully on his page: “Under special instructions from our supreme leader, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, we carried out attacks against UL students (SUP) this morning. Next time we will use live bullets.”

The ANC also said it is a matter of public knowledge that university students from the UL campus-based Students Unification Party (SUP) had long announced that they would protest, and had in fact gone on July 26, 2022, to peacefully present a petition to the United States Ambassador, with a demand: “Weah Must Fix the Country.”

“This is an unacceptable provocation and creeping lawlessness which must not be tolerated,” the ANC statement, quoting the party’s National Chairman who is also Gbarpolu County Senator, Daniel F. Naatein, as saying.
As for Presidential Hopeful, Tiawon Saye Gongloe, he has vowed to take legal action against the Weah-led government for allegedly encouraging the pro-regime group to afflict wounds on peaceful UL students who were expressing their disagreement with the government on crucial national concerns.
In a dispatch from the United States, the respected human rights lawyer said, the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) would institute what he calls “Legal Class Action” against the government for brutalizing peaceful protesters.

Cllr. Gongloe who is currently touring the United States said upon his return to Liberia, “We will institute the appropriate legal action to hold accountable those responsible for this mindless display of such devilish force against peaceful and law-abiding students of the University of Liberia.”
The LPP political leader added that President George Manneh Weah should not only condemn this act of savagery but should also take the appropriate steps to bring to justice those responsible for the crimes committed against the UL students.
He asserted that there can’t be “any common sense reason” for the extremely cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of those patriotic and nationalistic sons and daughters of our beloved motherland. Gongloe maintained that the students were attacked while exercising their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and speech, adding that “worst still it is reported that the police were watching and cheering the attackers, rather than arresting them.”
He then called on President Weah to stop leading the country towards a path of anarchy as Liberians do not want to be reminded of the ugly past when the erstwhile governing National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL), Task Force, of President Samuel Kanyon Doe (late) in the 1980s and Charles Taylor’s Special Operations Division (SOD) of the Liberia National Police and the Anti-Terrorists Unit (ATU) of the Special Security Service.

However, the man who accusing fingers have been pointed to, Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, for masterminding the bloody attacks against members of SUP, has rejected his alleged link with the CDC-COP and categorically denied his involvement in the ‘Bloody 26’ fracas.
Mayor Koijee, in a response, accused the opposition community of masterminding and promoting the violence that would destabilize the country.
Addressing journalists in Monrovia, Koijee called on the opposition community to put stop to the political tension that is damaging Liberia’s image to outside world for selfish reasons.

He stressed that such political tension is not necessary for a country coming from a prolonged and bitter civil conflict during which an estimated 250, 000 persons were killed, and more than a million others internally and externally displaced.
He noted that while it is true that the country is facing serious challenges, the opposition should reason to help improve the lives of the people instead of causing violence in the country.
In early July, SUP announced “FIX The Country” protest for July 26, 2022.
According to the SUP postal circulated on social media, they are demanding jobs for the youth, healthcare for all Liberians, renovation of all public buildings, dismissal of those accused by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) of involvement in corruption, and justice for all those who died under mysterious circumstances. The students said it is a “Patriotic Call for Real Change” and mass protest on July 26, 2022.

While Liberia’s 175th Independence Day celebration was ongoing with the presence of foreign guests including Nigerian President, Mohammadu Buhari, and ECOWAS current Chairman, Guinea-Bissau’s President Umaro Sissoco Embalo, SUP’s march in central was far from the Centennial Pavilion, where the official independence celebration was being held.
Multiple reports indicated that the students faced brutality following the presentation of their petition to the US Embassy in Mamba Point.

Meanwhile, the government has equally condemned the brutality in Monrovia involving what the state calls rival protesting groups and that it has launched an immediate investigation into the violent incident.
According to statement issued on July 27, 2022, government of Liberia has condemned the street violence which occurred in Monrovia on July 26, 2022 involving two rival groups “purporting to be some students of the University of Liberia campus-based Students Unification Party (SUP) and the CDC-COP.”
The government through the Ministry of Justice has accordingly instructed the Inspector General of the Police to launch an immediate and full-scale investigation into the incident.
The release said that images of the violence being posted on social media show unwarranted use of force and maltreatment of some participating youth, “Which has no place in our new found democracy.”
Similarly, the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), in a formal statement, said it is “shocked by allegations of violence in Monrovia and expressed its total disapproval.”
The statement, signed by CDC’s National Chairman, Mulbah K. Morlu, said “the CDC is peaceful, law-abiding and non-violent political institution that will continue to maintain a zero-tolerance policy against any form of violence.”
“Besides, the use of violence as a medium through which political expressions are sought is reprehensible, unjustified, and runs contrary to the ideology and philosophy of the CDC,” the CDC statement further said.

“Henceforth, the CDC condemns in the strongest possible terms these alleged acts of brutality committed by lawless elements and calls on the Liberia National Police to launch a speedy investigation (on all sides) determined to establish the facts and to bring the culprits to justice,” the statement asserted.
CDC: “Therefore, as we call for the prosecution of all those allegedly involved, the CDC assures the Liberia National Police of its unconditional cooperation, if needed. We also call on the Liberia National Police to conduct a holistic investigative process in response to strong allegations that members of the CDC (who are being treated in different hospitals) sustained injuries meted out by anti-government protestors in different locations.”
CDC: “Lastly, we use this medium to encourage the combined political opposition to confront the CDC-led government more openly if they will, rather than hiding behind members of the student community to portray a false sense of governance dysfunction.”

At the same, the erstwhile, governing Unity Party (UP), says “the draconian regime of President George Weah unleashed thugs, under the banner of CDC-COP, who were well-armed to attack the peaceful students who had only gathered to bring the plight of the Liberian people to the World.”
“We call on the government to investigate and bring to justice those she unleashed on the students of the University of Liberia, Liberia can no longer afford a government who tortures its own citizens for the simple act of gathering in a peaceful manner to protest against economic hardship, wanton corruption and the unprecedented pillage of state resources. The video that was circulated on social media today brings back the ugly memories of the fourteen years of civil carnage. Liberia cannot afford to go back to its terrible past and this government must desist from all and every form of brutality against citizens.”

Moreover, Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Tamba Koijee, who, along with Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel F. McGill and President George Weah has been accused by the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) of masterminding the violent attack against peaceful SUP protesters, has distanced himself from the July 26 violence in which several persons were injured.

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