MONROVIA: In the aftermath of the Thursday, August 11, 2023 violent clashes between supporters of the CDC and the UP, the Standard Bearer of the opposition Liberian People’s Party (LPP), Cllr. Tiawan Gongloe, is calling on the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the former ruling Unity Party (UP) to fashion their respective political campaigns on ideas instead of trading invectives and insults at one another simply because both camps are bereft of ideas that will convince the voters.
“In this election, the two parties that really hate each other are the former ruling party and the new ruling party. It’s terrible. If they continue like this, then the Liberian people will have to look for an alternative, because nobody wants a violent leader to take over power. They started with bitter exchanges of words, with President Boakai describing Weah, and Weah describing Boakai; and when you speak in a negative way about these two political leaders, they get emotional. That is why they end with such displays of violence. Let them present their plans to the Liberian people in a dignified, intelligent manner that speaks to the hearts of the Liberian people. They should not inflict violence on the Liberian people. The Liberian people don’t deserve that,” Cllr. Gongloe lamented recently when he spoke with the media.
Recalling the ugly incident that defied the terms and conditions of the Farmington Declaration, Cllr. Gongloe said it is needless for Liberians to keep crying on the international community when they should be matured enough to take care of their own business.
“We shouldn’t be like children. Every day the international community is coming here to calm our situation. Why? I am highly disturbed by that. If as a political leader I am disturbed, I can just imagine how ordinary Liberians are really disturbed by this. They should stop,” Gongloe said.
Power, the legal luminary said, belongs primarily to the people, and leaders are public servants who sign a contract with the people to do a piece of job. “Talk to the people. If they want you to be their leader, they will elect you. Don’t do anything that will negatively affect the people by hurting some of our citizens; by creating fear among our citizens to make some of them go across the borders to other countries to wait until after the elections; that will make business people not to come here and invest.
“The presidency of this country is nobody’s family inheritance. The Liberian people don’t owe anybody; not me, not Boakai, not George Weah, not Cummings, not Moniba, not any of us vying for leadership is entitled to it. We are just appealing to the Liberian people to employ us to lead them in the right way. Anyone who supports violence or engages in violence or promotes violence is not a true leader of this country, for the better Liberia that we are looking for.
“I am urging everyone to change their standard operating procedures in their political parties when it comes to roadshows, to respect the rights of other parties. I am speaking purely from my heart, even if I was not in the political race.
Continuing, Gongloe said there is no way President Weah can excuse himself from what happened last Thursday, while calling on Ambassador Boakai to investigate his camp to really ascertain if his people did not provoke the violence that marred the campaign opening of the October polls.
“President Weah is our leader. He should punish those people from the CDC who wounded the Unity partisans. And Honorable Joseph Boakai too should investigate in the Unity Party to see who in the Unity Party contributed to this; whether the violence was provoked. This is unacceptable and I speak for all Liberians. No Liberian wants violence here. We want a peaceful atmosphere for this election. I am calling upon them to stop. They are the only ones that have been violating the Farmington Declaration.
LPP Partisans served a strong caveat
“While I am at it, I want to appeal to all of my partisans and supporters to resist the temptation to be violent. No matter how they provoke LPP partisans and supporters of Cllr. Gongloe, do not engage in violence. When you are moving one side of Monrovia and you see CDCians or Unity partisans or any other group of partisans and they are trying to obstruct your movement, go another way.
“Yes, they may call you pacifists but we must collectively muster the courage to promote and maintain peace. Let LPP be noted for advising peace, promoting reconciliation and promoting unity. If you are not peaceful, you cannot have the credential, the ability or trust to unite and reconcile the people. Those planning on violence should stop the violence,” Cllr. Gongloe said.
No Need for Retaliatory Actions
According to the LPP Standard Bearer, CDC and UP leaderships might be contemplating retaliatory actions in the wake of last Thursday’s melee, but warned that violence is not the way to solve contentions in a democratic process.
“I know right now, some people in the Unity Party might be planning a retaliatory action for the Unity partisans that were wounded. And people in CDC might be planning to show their power to the opposition party.
“To display violence is not an honorable thing to do, and we should stop it. Already, CDCians have been reportedly training different militia forces. They should stop it. And the Unity Party should not train its own militia forces. I will not tolerate anybody in LPP training militia forces. Let us show our strength of knowledge by what we say and what we write to convince the Liberian people. That’s what the election is about. Let us convince the Liberian people about our track record, about our platforms. But it should never be a competition of physical force. We want competition of ideas that will create a better Liberia.
“We don’t want to know which force is higher than the other force. We’ve been there. We had warring factions here. We’ve seen how Liberians can be violent. We don’t need any more violent lessons. We want wisdom, love of country, great ideas for progressive development to be presented to the Liberian people in an intelligent manner. That is my message to the Liberian people, and I am calling on all Liberians to condemn what happened yesterday, and not to repeat it.
Regarding the recent violent clashes between UP and CDC supporters in the event of the recent Joint Security and Presidential Candidates conference at the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf Ministerial Complex, and whether the conference made any impact on the presidential candidates that participated, Cllr. Gongloe praised the organizers of the conference, but cautioned all parties to avoid situations that could lead to electoral violence and escalate national crises.
“I must praise the security authorities of this country headed by the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Justice for that initiative. It was good to bring all of the parties together and to deal with all of the issues that could stimulate violence. Everybody raised issues on what they considered to be relevant. And we were assured that we will be protected. But if everybody in the electoral process becomes violent, the security forces in this country will not have the capacity to fully protect everyone. Security protection is provided when once in while there is some level of violence, but not widespread violence. What CDC and Unity Party are doing could cause widespread violence throughout the country. And I am telling them to stop.
“We are less than one week into the campaign, and they are already engaging in violence. What’s going to happen one week to the end of the campaign? Already, some people have started to think: ‘if the political parties are going to be violent, then let’s leave and go to Guinea, Ivory Coast and wait until after elections’. Some people who want to invest might just stop. Right now, as we speak, people are negotiating on different business ventures. Some people will slow down; and that will undermine economic activities and therefore increase poverty. We don’t need to do that,” Gongloe warned.