Cummings Wants Independent Investigation of July 30 Violence -Replies Government with Litany of Complaints
In the wake of President George M. Weah’s recent call for an in-depth investigation into the incident leading to the July 30, 2020 violence meted against Collaborating Opposition Parties Chairman Alexander B. Cummings and members of his delegation by angry mob in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the Ministry of Justice on August 4, 2020 wrote Mr. Cummings, inviting him to a “meeting aimed at working modalities for the conduct of a full investigation on August 11, at 1:00pm”. Mr. Cummings has however replied to the government, saying that the government’s invitation for him to help work out modalities for an investigation demonstrates an obvious lack of seriousness and beclouds any serious investigation with issues of integrity and sincerity. “It further reinforces the prevailing impression that these continuing violent actions perpetrated against the opposition are organized thuggery sponsored, either in whole or in part, by elements of the administration or the ruling party,” Mr. Cummings on August 10, 2020 replied to the Justice Ministry.
According to the Mr. Cummings in a letter addressed to the Ministry of Justice, with copies dispatched to the Political Leaders of CPP Constituent Parties, the Liberia National Legislature, ECOWAS, African Union, UN Mission in Liberia and the Diplomatic Corps, there is no precedent for this type of invitation.
“First, it is not quite clear from your letter why I am being invited to a meeting to ‘work out modalities’ for a full-scale joint security investigation and what my role would be. In view of the foregoing, I would prefer not to be involved in organizing or working out the modalities for the conduct of any investigation you wish to commence. Moreover, inviting me to help you work out modalities for an investigation demonstrates an obvious lack of seriousness and beclouds any serious investigation with issues of integrity and sincerity. It further reinforces the prevailing impression that these continuing violent actions perpetrated against the opposition are organized thuggery sponsored, either in whole or in part, by elements of the administration or the ruling party,” Mr. Cummings remarked.
Continuing, the CPP chairman and ANC political leader said he does not believe that the incident was carried out by citizens of Grand Gedeh as stated in the letter; rather, it was organized thuggery by the county superintendent and not the actions of the people of Grand Gedeh.
“The Grand Gedeh incident is not an isolated case of violence against members of the opposition. It is a continuation of the trend of violence and intimidation against members of the opposition to include the District 13 incident involving Cornelia Kruah-Togba and Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, District 15 involving Telia Urey and others, the Prime FM incident involving my Chief of Staff, Atty. Moriah Yeakula, Sen. Dillon’s victory celebration attack at LP Headquarters, the District 10 incident involving Rep. Yekeh Kolubah during a children Christmas party and the most recent Clara Town incident involving Sen. Dillon,” Mr. Cummings recounted.
He said all of these incidents were surprisingly sprung on the peaceful people of these communities as they were going about their normal course of business, forcing some of them to become unwilling by-standers and in many cases, victims of the violence.
“It is important to note that the vast majority of our people are peaceful, and given the chance, will actually offer to protect opposition candidates and aspirants as was done in Clara Town on yesterday, and in District 13 a few months ago, where a number of opposition members including Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, were offered safety and refuge from thugs organized by the Monrovia City Mayor. As such, any investigation of the Grand Gedeh incident should include the Superintendent, rather than “a group of Grand Gedeans” as stated in your letter,” Cummings stated.
Moreover, Mr. Cummings said he was particularly disappointed that the Joint Security that is responsible for the maintenance of peace, and has a duty to respond to threats to the security of the nation, would take more than a week and several local and international condemnations, to constitute an Investigatory Board, into an incident described as posing “a threat to the security and maintenance of the peace”; even worse, is to have done so without first working out modalities to conduct a full-scale investigation.
“Mr. Minister, I believe we owe a higher and more professional duty to entreat ‘a threat to the security and maintenance of peace’ with a sense of seriousness, urgency and diligence than the letter presents. Under this administration, the incidents of election-related violence, threats of violence as well as intimidations of only opposition candidates and aspirants are not just increasing but also the response of the government is proportionately faltering, disappointing, and seemingly abetting,” Cummings averred.
The Liberian opposition community, Cummings assured, will not be easily frightened or intimidated.
“At the same time, we are becoming increasingly dissatisfied, and without confidence, that we can continue to rely on the security agencies of the government to offer us the protection and security to which we are justly and equally entitled as we see Liberians threatened with violence and in some cases, get wounded and hurt, with growing impunity. All of the incidents cited herein are yet to be addressed with the release of an official investigative report or penalties therefrom. Announcing an investigation has become a mere bluff to quiet the wave of condemnation every time these incidents occur,” Mr. Cummings said.
“Given these realities, the opposition has no confidence in any investigation this government wishes to commence. We are therefore calling for an independent investigation into the incident that occurred in Grand Gedeh County. Should you decide to commission an independent investigation or desire any information or have any question, please do not hesitate to contact me directly or my office,” Mr. Cummings proffered.