MONROVIA: The irony of it all in Liberia is that while opposition political parties in other countries are the ones complaining their ruling parties of excesses, it is the rather the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) that is lamenting and drawing attention to ruthlessness and violence of the opposition community. Others say this speaks to the ultra-tolerance and unusually extreme peace-mindedness of a ruling administration. Once again, the administration is at it: over reported electoral violence in Lofa, Nimba and other counties widely allegedly perpetrated by the Unity Party, the CDC is complaining again. As The Analyst reports, the ruling party has taken flight to nearly all international stakeholders, including the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS, amongst others.
The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has abandoned the overuse of incumbency powers often exploited by others, and is running to the international community to report what it considers electoral violence perpetrated by the Liberian opposition community.
The CDC is complaining that former ruling Unity Party, led by Liberia’s former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has overtly adopted a systematic pattern of election violence never before seen in an election circle in Liberia.
The party says “amid the emerging widespread commission of this new trend of election violence, especially against supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change, the leader of the Unity Party, Mr. Joseph N. Boakai, cannot escape blame for the increasing state of election-related lawlessness, chaos, and the destruction of life and properties as he continues to incite violence and fan the flames of conflict.”
In a strongly worded communication sent to a plethora of international stakeholders, the CDC has drawn the “attention to this egregious culture of election-based violence that constitutes clear and present danger to the democratic process, and is evolving into an existential threat to the peace and stability of Liberia.”
The letter was sent to the Chairman of ECOWAS, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, the European Union, United Nations Secretary General, amongst other key international institutions and individuals.
The Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) stated in the communications that as Liberia’s governing political party, it has upheld all the basic tenets of democracy, and kept the country peaceful throughout the six years of its first term.
“During this period of peaceful democratic leadership under His Excellency President Dr. George M. Weah, a mid-term Senatorial poll, a major referendum and several bye-elections were organized and conducted under the auspices of the National Election Commission of Liberia,” the CDC stated.
“By the appraisals of international observer missions, all of these elections were democratic, free, fair and transparent, and were held without any major incidence, even though the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), the incumbent governing party, lost some of these elections in areas considered as its traditional strongholds.”
But according to the CDC, as Liberians prepare to participate in another presidential and legislative election on October 10, 2023, the United Party has been involved with a systematic pattern of election violence never before seen in an election circle in Liberia.
Says the CDC: “Despite the gains that have been made by President George M. Weah towards promoting peaceful co-existence as well as free, fair and transparent elections, some elements of our society are bent on derailing this hard-earned success. Last week, Foya City, located in Lofa County, was the scene of a ghastly tragedy planned, masterminded and deliberately carried out by supporters of Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai and the Unity Party, leading to the death of several partisans and supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change, and a vast destruction of properties.
“Our peace-loving supporters were not only murdered in the most gruesome manner, but were rounded up and then attacked with machetes, sticks, and rocks in their homes; butchered, dragged and left in the streets while the assailants celebrated! This act of depravity has no place in the governance architecture of our party, the Coalition for Democratic Change; and should find no breeding ground in any existing political structure in Liberia. To the contrary, this devilish trend of violence has not only become a key instrument in the hands of the Unity Party but is in fact, a resource playbook to undermine the ongoing electoral process. This is unacceptable!”
According to the CDC, the recent deadly election violence in Foya, Lofa County is not an isolated incidence, but a systematic pattern of impermissible strategy of disruption being perpetuated by the Joseph Boakai-led Unity Party, which continues to target partisans of the Coalition for Democratic Change.
The ruling party presented a number of cases it has documented as handiwork of the Unity Party in recent years, as evidence of its intent to derail the hard-earned people of Liberia.
On August 9, 2023, a staunch CDC partisan suffered a horrific attack as one of his ears was chopped off by supporters of Amb. Joseph N. Boakai. This cruel act of violence demonstrates the ruthlessness of the Unity Party and their disregard for the fundamental rights of political opponents.
On August 17, 2023, Partisan Augustine Pennoh was severely beaten by supporters of the Unity Party. He owes his survival to rescue efforts by good citizens in his community as he remains hospitalized. The extent of the inflicted violence has created fear and panic in his community.
In August, 2023, Partisan Bobby Gray and several others were subjected to targeted attacks in different locations in Margibi County by supporters of the Unity Party. These acts of violence only serve to erode the democratic process and perpetuate a climate of fear and intimidation.
On September 05, 2023, Partisans Patrick Jarso and Leuroy Summerville were brutally assaulted in Sinkor, Old Road, Monrovia, leading to severe injuries. Both victims were hospitalized and are currently in the process of recovery. This act of violence has become commonplace, a blatant violation of the right to peaceful political expression.
On September 7, 2023, Partisan Caypae Doe, a resident of Montserrado’s District 11 was attacked and wounded while celebrating the successful launch of the CDC campaign. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those who openly support the CDC.
On September 10, 2023, Partisan Richard Holder was attacked and brutalized in Montserrado County’s District-9 by a group of supporters of Amb. Joseph N. Boakai. This alarming trend of violence against partisans of the CDC threatens the foundation of free and fair elections.
September 11, 2023, Partisan Vivian Wrato, a resident of District 10, was violently attacked and brutalized by supporters of Amb. Joseph N. Boakai.
On September 16, 2023, Partisan Mamie Davies-Wreh was brutalized in Gbarpolu by supporters of Amb. Joseph N. Boakai. Out of security concerns, she has sought refuge in an undisclosed location.
On September 29, 2023, Partisan Josiah Saah Rayloe, a partisan of the CDC, was rounded up and brutally beaten to death in Foya, Lofa county in the most gruesome manner by supporters of Unity Party’s Joseph N. Boakai.
On September 29, 2023, Partisan Tamba Momoh, a supporter of the CDC was also rounded up, brutally attacked and mobbed to death even as his lifeless body was dragged and left to be mocked in the streets of Foya.
The CDC says as key architect of the opposition-led violent outbursts, Mr. Boakai’s incendiary expressions have only bolstered ongoing ruthless and extremist tendencies, which has come to be an accompanying trademark of his supporters who appear to operate with impunity.
The CDC states further in the communications: “Whilst most of his ruthless supporters are misguided youths carrying out orders, several others, for example Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, a key figure in the ranks of Mr. Boakai’s inner cycle, is unfettered in his incendiary remarks as he unapologetically sloganeer calls for citizens uprising to “protect our votes with our blood’. Furthermore, a former rebel leader-turned representative, Hon. Yekeh Kolubah has culled from his leader’s (Joseph N. Boakai) support for violence by holding weekly facebook podcast about ‘raining war on Liberia’ and ‘destabilizing the country’ if ‘Our votes aren’t protected.’ And by ‘protected’ he insinuates that anything less than Mr. Boakai’s victory will be chaotic and unbearable for Liberia.”
It added: “These remarks, bolstered and energized by Mr. Boakai’s statements, could undermine the democratic gains made in Liberia, which became possible through huge financial sacrifices coming from the UN and international development partners. Inspired by these lingering concerns, we write to acquaint the United Nations systems of these unfortunate developments taking place in Liberia, which create the moral demands to hold perpetrators accountable for what is fast becoming the widespread and systematic commission of election-based violence.
“Unless strong measures are taken to deter the egregious rise of election-related violence in Liberia, democratic governance buoyed by the international community’s facilitated post-conflict success story, may be at the mercy of political extremists who have trained militias and brainwashed ‘Militants’ to rain havoc and disrupt the smooth democratic process. This was the sad case in Foya, Lofa County a few days ago where three innocent citizens were gruesomely murdered in cold blood by supporters of Mr. Joseph N. Boakai.”
The CDC says it is worried that this level of violence has now been elevated to cold blooded killings of innocent Liberians, despite condemnations, the UP “continues to carry out relentless, violent and brutal attacks which are being tactfully, willfully and intentionally waged against unarmed civilians and supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change by visible supporters of the Unity Party.”
The Coalition for Democratic Change said it was joining Liberia’s development partners to call for an immediate and speedy investigation into the mayhem that occurred in Foya, Lofa County.
“Subsequently, the Coalition for Democratic Change assures local and international partners that it will fully cooperate with investigating authorities and looks forward to the arrest and prosecution of all individuals found responsible for these lawless actions, including the leaders and masterminds,” the CDC said.
“Incontrovertibly, the Coalition for Democratic Change has remained a party of peace for over 18 years, never ever spilling the blood of any Liberian citizen, not even while we were being beaten and killed at the hands of police brutality during our days as leader of the collective opposition between 2005 and 2017. Though the situation in our country, which is few days away from the conduct of a major election, remains tense, we have kept the peace as we continually caution our supporters to remain peaceful at all times and refrain from any or all forms of retaliatory measures.”
As a governing political institution, the Party indicated, “we will continue to tote the line of peace and non-violence, which imposes a far greater and heavier responsibility given that our people are being harassed, intimidated, attacked and now brutally murdered by supporters of opposition candidate Joseph N Boakai whose inflammatory comments against peace and stability are well documented as follows when he said ‘Liberia will come to an end’ if the outcome of the pending election is not free and fair.