MONROVIA – The President of the Liberia Council of Churches and Bishop of the Apostolic Pentecostal Church of Liberia, Reverend Kortu Brown, says although the President of Liberia has condemned and called for investigation into the recent mob violence against opposition members in Grand Gedeh County, President Weah must go beyond mere condemnation and prosecute perpetrators of the July 30, 2020 mob violence that forced opposition leader Alexander Cummings and delegation out of Zwedru City where they had gone to meet with stakeholders in preparation for the December 8, 2020 midterm senatorial elections.
In an exclusive interview with this paper over the weekend, Rev. Brown said the Zwedru attack on the opposition is deeply troubling.
“It appears as if we’re in a race to undo what we achieved over the past 16 years since the civil war ended. This should be of concern to all Liberians. When you drive your vehicle past danger and then you begin to reverse towards the bad places on the road that you already passed, then people begin to wonder about the real goal of Liberians. What inspires us to pick up stones and physically attack one another? Those are very deeply troubling issues that Liberians should be worried about. And I think that anti-peace elements should be held accountable,” Rev. Brown lamented.
He said anyone who tries to undermine the peace should be held accountable. “Because of our wicked past and what is obtaining, I think it would be difficult for this idea of the War Crimes Court to go away, because of the way you see Liberians behave every day, as if they are not cognizant of the fact that you can’t live here without peace and stability,” Rev. Brown intoned.
Presidential Condemnation Not Enough
The Grand Gedeh violence is unfortunate, Rev. Brown said, acknowledging that it is a bad omen for Liberia.
“It’s not a very good optic. It’s a bad picture for Liberia. Even before the Grand Gedeh incident, there were other incidents around, but the Grand Gedeh one exacerbated the whole issue. Can you imagine driving to one part of your own country and the people in a particular county say you can’t be here? We cannot run a country in such a way,” the LCC president lamented.
“This is why the president should go beyond just condemning. The president has the authority to ensure that such acts are stamped out. Moreover, the president should realize that whatever happens good or bad for Liberia will be on his watch and on his account. It is not about just denouncing,” Rev. Brown intimated.
Narrating further, Rev. Brown said the Zwredu incident should be handled expeditiously and judiciously within the ambit of the law.
“We’re going to hold the Ministry of Justice responsible. Our understanding is that the President has asked the Ministry of Justice to investigate. So we’re now set on the Ministry of Justice. In fact today, we followed up on the Ministry of Justice to find out where we are with the investigation. We want the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Liberia to know that the religious community will hold them responsible for the results of the recent violence in Grand Gedeh. For example, I suggested that the Interreligious Council wants to observe the investigation. We want to know what happened, who were the perpetrators. And we want to know what the subsequent actions will be,” Rev. Brown stated.
The LCC president said Liberians are already saying that nothing will come out of the Grand Gedeh investigation based on past experience.
“Don’t forget a similar thing happened in District 13 a few years ago when people were stoning one another. We went as far as setting up a committee headed by Emmanuel Bowier, and we went to Monrovia City Hall and other places to find out what was happening. The Committee went as far as having a meeting with the Monrovia City Corporation Mayor. We even tried to get the City Mayor and the Liberty Party together. At some point, City Hall had taken the Liberty Party Standard Bearer to Court. At the end of the day, everything just got quiet,” Rev. Brown said.
“We don’t want that to happen again. This is one of the reasons we want to observe this particular investigation. The Interreligious Council is the conscience of our society. We are part of the keepers of the peace in this country. We heavily invested in the country. All across this country there are churches and mosques that are contributing to transform the lives of the ordinary Liberian through education. Whatever affects the people of Liberia affects our parishioners – those who go to our mosques and churches. Therefore, we are very interested in this investigation and subsequent actions,” he noted.
“This is why we were very much interested in the statement made recently by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon to the effect that if President Weah and the CDC cheat in the December 8 midterm elections, that will be the end of the Weah administration. We feel that such a statement has serious constitutional implications. We must maintain the peace in this country. We therefore met Senator Dillon for him to explain the rationale behind his statement.
Government Reacts to Grand Gedeh Incident
In a special statement following the incident, President George M. Weah said he was deeply concerned by the intemperate language, undue verbal provocations and acts of violence that have crept into Liberian politics in the last several weeks.
“I am particularly outraged by the violent mob attacks on political leaders, notably, Alexander B. Cummings, Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties and former Presidential Candidate of the Alternative National Congress, Hon. Yekeh Kolubah, Member of the House of Representatives, and their entourage, which happened on Thursday, July 30, in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County,” the Liberian leader said on August 2, 2020.
President Weah said, “as much as one can reasonably expect that, as we approach the senatorial elections towards the end of the year, political temperature may rise due to intense competition, it is important for all of us to note that in the exercise of our democratic rights in Liberia, violent acts and incendiary language have no place in our polity. Our collective past should make this obvious to us,” noting that the rights to freedom of movement and peaceful assembly — essential conditions for credible elections — are fully protected in the Liberian Constitution and are crucial for the good health of our fledgling democracy. I have mandated the Ministry of Justice to ensure a full and impartial investigation and hold those found culpable accountable for their act.
Meanwhile, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Justice, says it has commissioned a full scale probe into the incident, while condemning the appalling violence.
“In this regard, the Superintendent of Grand Gedeh has been summoned to Monrovia to assist in the probe. The Ministry has directed the Joint Security Forces to ensure that all those involved in Thursday’s incident are held to account for their actions. The inquiry will determine the apparent lapse in security protocol and other reasons which contributed to the fracas,” a Ministry of Information statement declared.
“The Ministry however notes the fact that the Cummings delegation safely visited several other counties without incident, a clear indication that the Government is committed to protecting all its citizens, regardless of their political persuasion. The rights to free movement and political assembly are fundamentally guaranteed by the Liberian constitution. The government will continue to ensure that these rights are protected at all times. As the country moves closer to elections in December, the Justice Ministry assures the public that it is employing additional measures which will ensure security for all those engaging in political campaign activities,” the government’s mouthpiece stated.