No one would have thought the opposition camp which of recent times has been victimized by electoral violence could resort to the same violent tactics to mar a serious political event. But that was just the case with the Sunday, September 6, 2020 Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) primaries when CPP members, comprising Unity Party, the All Liberian Party, the Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress, jumped into a ruckus that ended with properties vandalized and several persons wounded. At the end of the day, after calm was restored with the intervention of state security, Liberty Party’s Edith Gongloe-Weh was reportedly declared winner over the Alternative National Congress’ pick, Taa Wongbe, by 134 to 7 votes.
Who started the fracas? – ANC official’s take
While the main cause of the violence still remains sketchy, eyewitness accounts from ANC official indicates that the violence started when the ALP, which supported the LP, brought in their candidate Edith Gongloe-Weh, barricaded the stage and prevented Taa Wongbe from getting on the stage.
“Violence broke out, several persons got wounded and properties were destroyed. Taa was attacked and his delegates were chased off the premises of the primaries. Some were taken to the hospital and while attending to them, ALP and LP regrouped to continue a fraudulent process. There can be no primaries where one candidate is under threat of violence. This was an orchestrated attempt by the ALP and LP to give Edith the CPP ticket unchallenged. That is undemocratic and void,” the official alarmed.
The ANC official disclosed that the ALP had changed all their delegates on Saturday night, less than 10 hours to the primary and many were disenchanted today. “And Urey was in Ganta last night meeting with his people. ALP was responsible with support from LP. The gang was led by Jethro Kolleh, ALP Youth Chair,” the ANC official stated.
Interestingly, a day before the primary, the Ganta district leadership of Liberty Party wrote the CPP Primary Committee complaining that, contrary to CPP Primary Guideline which states that each party should submit five partisans of their county structure within each electoral district, Madam Gongloe-Weh chose to leave out the legitimate district leadership and work only with her people within her movement.
Hence, we are asking that the primary be postponed until this matter is resolved. Any attempt to conduct this primary without the legitimate district leadership will be met with stiff resistance,” the letter, whose copies were addressed also to the National Elections Commission and CPP Chairman Alexander Cummings, stated.
Apparently disturbed over the incident, candidate Taa Wongbe immediately posted on his Facebook wall: “I am safe…the plan to assassinate me was dead on arrival! My God (Yahweh) I serve is greater than yours! More details to follow…”
According to other ANC sources, Madam Victoria Torlo-Kokoi, an official of the ANC and member of the National Assembly of CPP was brutally attacked and badly injured allegedly by ALP supporters.
The source also claimed that a supporter of Madam Edith Gongloe Weh who hails from Gleyee Zorpea in D #9, the same town from which Madam Weh hails, was arrested by the LNP with a single barrel gun.
“We also got news that with all that happened today, a bogus primary was conducted in the absence of the ANC. We learned that the very ALP that caused the problem did not partake because there was no delegate from the party. So, the bogus process was held only for the UP and LP,” the ANC stalwart claimed.
The event as seen from the lens of LP’s Zargo
Senator Stephen Zargo is the National Chairman of the Liberty Party, and he was present when the whole rigmarole erupted.
Said Sen. Zargo: “I don’t know Taa Wongbe personally. We had come to Sanniquellie. I was informed by my party executives that we were to meet in Ganta, but I was later informed that the ANC subsequently chose Sanniquellie because it is the provisional capitol for Nimba County. So we came to Sanniquellie despite the bad road condition. We came prepared with our candidate. The process started slowly, and then I walked in with my candidate, Edith Gongloe-Weh. When we walked with her, in less than a five minutes interval, the Taa Wongbe group brought Taa in. Somewhere, somehow, I don’t know what transpired, but there was an altercation between the two groups. A guy with a Rastafarian hair started to attack and throw chairs. I think some 50 plus chairs got destroyed at the Nimba County Community College, which amounted to $930. Thereafter, Taa and the ANC folks chose to hurriedly leave the campus after some stone throwing. But we didn’t leave. We remained there with our candidate, and kept our candidate until the situation was brought under control by the police who came with reinforcement with about a dozen of their ERU officers.”
According to Senator Zargo, when the melee ended, the CPP Elections Commissioner reconstituted and called for the primary to be held.
“The Liberty Party, the Unity Party, the All Liberian Party delegates all turned out and voted; and some ANC partisans turned out and voted. Edith has been declared the winner with 127 votes to 7. Before that, Edith won the Voters Perception Survey. So this result we got just reinforced the VPS. It didn’t contradict it, so it was not a surprise. We are just leaving Sanniquellie now and entering Ganta. We are celebrating,” Sen. Zargo informed this paper last night.