Home Politics Tension Brews At UL… As Rep. Gray’s “Lunch” Post Angers SUP

Tension Brews At UL… As Rep. Gray’s “Lunch” Post Angers SUP

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By: Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: Tension is said to be brewing on the main campus of the State-owned University of Liberia (UL) between the leading campus-based political party, Students Unification Party (SUP), and some officials of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)

Fortnight ago, some students believed to be members of SUP chased out of UL Capitol Hill campus Liberia’s former Solicitor-General, Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, a situation which nearly resulted into violence.

Recently, the students also allegedly attacked an Aide to Finance and Development Planning Minister, Aloysius Howe.

There were series of outcries and condemnations relative to these fracases as the UL Faculty Association has categorically denounced such unfolding situation at the university and called on the university administration to thoroughly investigates the incidents and take appropriate corrective measures.

However, as the tension builds up, the governing CDC’s Executive, and Representative Acarous Moses Gray, of Montserrado County District-8 has promised, via a social media post, to visit the campus today, March 13, 2023, to have lunch there, Rep. Gray has also invited other students of the UL to join him for the lunch.

But, SUP has declared, today March 13, 2023, as the “end of dictatorship” and “trial of democracy in Liberia.”

The student political party has also called on “all progressive social forces, solidarity movements, and the broader masses of the Liberian people” to come out in their multitude to collectively “mark a new chapter in the history of the homeland.”

The Student Unification Party (SUP), Friday, March 10, 2023, also mandated its “militants, stalwarts, and cadres to begin a robust mobilization around this revolutionary endeavor to ensure the students and the general Liberian masses can, in an epic custom, send a resounding message to the world on the state of affairs of the Liberian Nation” under what it calls George Weah-CDC “tyranny.”

The declaration of the UL student group followed a recent social media post, attributed to Montserrado County incumbent Representative in the Lower House of the National Legislature, Moses Acarous Gray, who is also an Executive of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

The Montserrado County District# 8 Lawmaker, in his post, via social media, planned to invite his colleague Rep. Dixon Seboe to “have lunch” with students on the University of Liberia’s main campus on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

“Monday, March 13, by 12:30pm, General Hon. Acarous Moses Gray and Rep. Seboe will have lunch in the student Center with my students attending the University of Liberia. You are invited guys. You can take a drink on me.” The above mentioned words were contained in a Facebook post attributed to Rep. Gray.

But, the Student Unification Party (SUP) held a press conference at which time, it said, the post by Rep. Gray was a “provocation and threat absurdities of violently invading the Capitol Hill Campus of the University of Liberia.”

SUP also described Lawmaker Gray’s post as a “crude showmanship and nauseating arrogance.”

“If any student gets injured on the instructions of both Gray and Seboe, they will be held liable and made to pay dearly by the Vanguard Student Unification Party,” SUP Chairman, Mustapha N. Kanneh alarmed.

The student movement has been influential in breaking down political barriers, especially from state actors by defending the rights of students and the masses for academic freedom, unity, freedom of speech, socio-economic justice and peace.

The party has firmly opposed anti-democratic elements in Liberia, particularly those believed to have plundered state resources for their personal aggrandizement as opposed to equal distribution of state’s resources that would improve lives and have triggered down effects on the poor.

With this stance, it is reported that some members of the UL campus based student political party booed some officials of the Weah-led government who had been allegedly involved in corruption and human rights abuses.

On August 15, 2022, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Nathaniel McGill, former Minister of State and Chief of Office Staff of President George Weah; Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, former Solicitor General of Liberia; and Bill Tweahway, former Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), for their alleged involvement in public corruption in Liberia.

“Through their corruption, these officials have undermined democracy in Liberia for their own personal benefit,” said under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brain E. Nelson.

SUP added that even those associated with abuse of human rights and massive looting of state treasury go with impunity, as President Weah “remains tie-lip.”

Some of the alleged ‘shielded officials’ were recently chased from the University of Liberia, including Vice President Jewel Howard-Taylor; former Solicitor General, Sayma Syrenius Cephus; and Aloysius Howe, Special Assistant to Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, being the latest victim of students’ action on the University of Liberia’ main Campus.

The actions of the students, according to keen observers and analysts, maybe reason for Rep. Gray’s decision to have lunch with students on the University campus in apparent reaction to their (the students) increasing booing and attacking of public officials.

But, SUP has challenged the District#8 Lawmaker to foot on the UL campus and called on all progressive forces, disenchanted masses, and all well-meaning Liberians “who are sick and tired of the misrule, economic failure, bad governance, secret killings, and all forms of malfeasance to join ranks with them (SUP) for what they called “Popular Citizens Rally” on Monday, March 13, 2023, at the University of Liberia Capitol Hill Campus.

Also, the student movement called on the International Community, Civil Society, Religious Community, and the Liberia National Police, the leadership of the Legislature, and the University of Liberia authorities to inform them about the alleged mastermind (Rep. Gray) behind the violence incitements on the campus of the university.

“We want to also register with the above-mentioned institutions regarding the increasing waves of death threats on the lives of SUP leaders and the consistent tailings of members of the leadership especially leaders of the Politburo of the Party by terrible assassins of the CDC government. Our lives are in the hands of the Weah CDC regime”, SUP Chairman Mustapha N. Kanneh, told scores of journalists in a news conference.

He continues: “The Vanguard Party wants to unequivocally say here that, as Gray and Seboe are planning to come to the university campus in a combative fashion, we are conversely planning too to visit their Capitol Building’s offices with thousands of university students to share coffee with them in the coming days. This exercise will be done in a demonstration, that going forward and never again students will be cowed into cowardice to the unwarranted and reckless threats and violent outbursts of people based on their positions in government.

“And going forward, anyone who dares to walk this line will be resisted by a determined and conscious student body ever-ready and prepared to defend themselves as outlined in the constitution and the law of self-defense,” SUP said.

Notwithstanding, the “Revolutionary Vanguard Student Unification Party” has resoundingly objected to the “illegal and politically fueled” suspension of student Prince B. Gbaryu by the University of Liberia’s authority.

Student Gbaryu was suspended by authority of the university recently for his alleged involvement into violent attack on Aloysius Howe.

A video footage circulating on social media allegedly shows students of the University involvement in physical attacks on Mr. Howe, leading to ‘fracture’ of his body being injured and destruction of his vehicle and other valuables—an incidence amongst several others, SUP Chairman Kamara refused to comment on.

But, he believes the University’s student handbook was violated. Chairman Kamara asserted that the student was suspended without investigation and due process as provided for in the revised students’ handbook, seeing it as academic witch-hunting”.

“This is a clear academic witch-hunting being squarely engineered by Mr. George Weah and will meet the fiercest resistance from the university students. Weah and Nelson (UL President) are playing with fire! Don’t blame us tomorrow!” Kamara declared.

Meanwhile, the party has blamed the University authority for the “consistent invasions” of the university and brutalization of students and vandalizing of the university’s properties.

“Fellow compatriots, it will interest you to note with keen attention that since the ascendancy of Mr. Julius Nelson to the Presidency of the University of Liberia, the CDC has invaded and inflicted heinous casualties on peaceful students with literally nothing being said or done to have these people stopped. Again, this is because of the way partisan President Nelson has politicized the academic activities of the university, running the nation’s premier institution of higher learning as an auxiliary group to the CDC government. We want to caution the pastor of doom President Nelson to desist from running the university on CDC mandate and ill academic instructions from minions of the government. We can promise this president that we can only have a peaceful university when rotten characters and defected elements of both this regime and the past can stop parroting the premises of the university in utter arrogance in contestation of the ever scintillating dominance of the Vanguard Party,” he added.

Frantic effort was made by this paper to contact Dr. Nelson for inquiries to no avail.

In order to protect the peace on the University campus, the President of the University of Liberia Student Union, Varfee JM Dukuly, has called for calm to be restored and at the same time warned those that he called “agent provocateurs to desist from making inflammatory statements” that have the propensity to undermine peace and democracy of the state.

Dukuly said on Friday, it has gotten to the ULSU leadership attention of recent wave of violence that has been permeating the corridors of the University where hired stooges, thugs and hooligans have been causing chaos and mayhem, leading to students’ retaliation.

“These actions are direct progenitor of violence and should not be encouraged on the campuses of the University of Liberia. ULSU categorically condemns any act of violence and calls for immediate calm among students and members of the public who are visitors to the University”, Dukuly cautioned.

History reminds us of the Students Unification Party’s role in national decision making and body politics of the state that has greatly impacted the Country.

The party’s consistent advocacy in speaking fearlessly to power has led to series of historical events in our country.

It can be reminiscence that 43 years ago, conscious Liberians took to the streets to protest against a centralized decision of the Tolbert’s regime to increase the price of rice from $22 to $26—a decision that triggered the masses to move into history.

The protest, however, became bloody predicated on the bankruptcy of the government, then, to not allow the assembly of the people in keeping with their legitimate rights as enshrined in the Liberian constitution. It is estimated that over 100 people were killed and several arrested and jailed for exercising their constitutional rights.

The former was buried in a mass grave while the latter was granted general amnesty.

However, SUP has been united for 52 years since October 1970. It was very active in fighting alongside the Movement for Justice in Africa, Progressive Alliance of Liberia and other progressive groups for the pluralistic democracy Liberia now enjoys.

It is also accredited for the active role it played in helping to mobilize the former warring factions in the Liberia armed conflict during the August 2003 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA), which was the final peace agreement in the second Liberian Civil War.

On the other hand, the student movement strongly participates in the national decision-making process in Liberia, ranging from staging several peaceful protests to reaching common ground with different governments.

Through its constant agitation, the state-run University of Liberia has experienced many changes in its infrastructure and technological transformations that brought about the digitalization of its entire system.

Aside from this, SUP has provided opportunities for thousands of students through scholarship, mentorship, entrepreneurship, and leadership. The Union Building, Palava Huts, Student Center, etc. are all projects implemented by SUP on the campuses of the University of Liberia.

The launch of SUP came in apparent reaction to the reported maltreatment meted out to Liberian citizens, including students, by a “small empire” of what was known as the autocrats.

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