With less than two days for Liberians to go the polls to elect their next batch of 15 senators and vote in a referendum, violence erupted Saturday in Bamballa Town, Pokpa District, Grand Cape Mount County between supporters of incumbent Senator Victor Watson of the Coalition For Democratic Change (CDC) and Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) candidate Simeon Taylor, the aftermath which left Representative Bob Sheriff’s house burned down, while two vehicles belonging to Mr. Simeon Taylor also got burned.
According to eyewitness accounts, after touring Sinje, Bo Waterside and other parts of Cape Mount with CPP leader Alexander Cummings during the week, CPP’s Grand Cape Mount County senatorial candidate Simeon Taylor decided to close his campaign today Sunday in Bamballa, Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County.
“When Simeon entered Bamballa, Senator Victor Watson and diamond dealer Idrissa “Bomber” Mansaray came into Bamballa on Saturday in a convoy and warned Mr. Taylor against sleeping in Bamballa to close their campaign,” an eyewitness in Bamballa informed this paper.
In the ensuing argument between supporters of Senator Victor Watson and Simeon Taylor, intense riot erupted. In the aftermath of the riot, two supporters of Victor Watson reportedly sustained bullet wounds as Victor Watson’s men burned down Representative Bob Sheriff’s house, his vehicle and two of Simeon Taylor’s vehicles, the eyewitness said.
“Simeon Taylor is missing in action because he jumped in the bush. We expect the riot to continue because Simeon Taylor’s supporters started leaving from Gola Konneh District last night to enter Bamballa to retaliate against Senator Victor Watson’s action,” the eyewitness said.
“When they learned that Simeon Taylor supporters had mobilized to enter Bamballa to revenge for their candidate, Idrissa put up manpower in pickups and trucks, with cutlasses and single-barrels to enter Bamballa,” the Bamballa eyewitness stated.
According to another eyewitness in Mano River Kongo, after the riot Victor, Watson and Idrissa Mansaray later left Bamballa for Mano River Kongo where they were seen jubilating along with their supporters because they had succeeded in burning down Bob Sheriff’s house and Simeon Taylor’s cars.
Another concerned citizen who is a strong supporter of Senator Victor Watson also spoke with this paper on conditions of anonymity. He said he never believed that Senator Victor Watson could behave so irrationally in a way that could make him lose votes in his Pokpa District stronghold.
“He knows he’s depending on Sierra Leone citizens to vote for him, why would he allow riot in Bamballa, just around the Sierra Leone border where heavy shooting went on, in the last minute to the election. Victor Watson has spoiled his own vote. He is allowing Idrissa to damage his chances,” the citizen of Mano River Kongo told The Analyst, adding, it will be difficult for Victor Watson to win after the Saturday riot.
According to the Mano River Kongo eyewitness, Simeon Taylor has nothing to lose. Porpka is not his stronghold. Victor Watson has much to lose by instigating violence in his own stronghold.
“I don’t know how he will deploy poll watchers in Gola Konneh because the people over there are setting for them, the Mano River Kongo former Watson supporter said.
Simeon Taylor is Ok
As concerns mount over the disappearance of CPP candidate Simeon Taylor, CPP party agent Mohammed Daramie has informed this paper that Mr. Taylor is safe. Daramie could not however disclose the location of Mr. Taylor, “for security reasons”.
Daramie said the Saturday riot was led by Senator Victor. “Victor Watson and Idrissa were present when their men burned down Bob Sheriff’s and Simeon Taylor’s vehicles. They brought their boys onboard their cars, and they were the ones who did the act,” Daramie stated emphatically.
Daramie said the CPP leadership has not made any statement on the Bamballa riot because they are still gathering sufficient information on the incident.
He said Senator Victor Watson knows he cannot win this election. “Their intention actually was to harm Simeon, but as God could have it, we managed to get him out of the place. But I am happy that Victor Watson and Idrissa did that, because they have put fear in the hearts of those few voters who might have been sympathetic towards Victor,” Mr. Daramie
Meanwhile, President George M. Weah has strongly condemned a reported act of political violence which took place in Porkpa District, Grand Cape Mount County, ahead of Tuesday’s Senatorial elections. The President said the government will not condone such violent action by any group of citizens and political party.
According to a December 6, 2020 MICAT press release, President Weah was referring to reports that a convoy belonging to the opposition CPP Senatorial candidate in Grand Cape Mount County, Simeon Taylor, came under attack and two of his vehicles set ablaze after a tussle ensued between rival supporters of political parties.
President Weah emphasized that election is about the exercise of people’s democratic rights and should be void of any kind of violence. He called on all political parties and their leaders to encourage their respective partisans and supporters to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner during this campaigning period, while urging that peace and stability is paramount to the sustenance of the country’s democracy.
“There is no need for violence at a time when our country heads to a crucial election period which would solidify our democratic credentials,” the Liberian Leader stressed. The President then warned that the Government will not hesitate in bringing to book any group of individuals who engage in acts of violence during and after the upcoming elections.