Though ballots were cast peacefully and votes are being counted by the National Elections Commission to determine victory in the representative bi-election in Montserrado County’s District #13, the scars left behind will take some time to heal. Two traditional rival parties in the country, the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and the former ruling Unity Party, went into physical collision course on Saturday, November 12, when both launched their campaigns. The collision resulted into deep bruises and injuries on both sides with yet-to-be-confirmed death. Though the injuries are drying and temperaments subsiding, anti-impunity advocates in the country are not leaving the incident dying down naturally. One of them, longtime human rights defender Kofi Woods, is calling for a speedy trial of the incident and punishment for individuals found culpable for inciting the melee.
Former Public Works Minister and respected human rights advocate says Government should immediate investigate the District #13 bi-election violence and there should be no sacred cows.
Samuel Kofi Woods has opined that the violent incident undermined faith that the bi-electoral process and its outcome would be free, fair and transparent.
He said the incident put a dent in the gains made over the years in consolidating our nascent democracy and is an onslaught on human rights and a threat to peace and stability.
In a statement delivered to the media, the former Public Works Minister said, “I hereby condemn the Saturday November 17, 2018 act of lawlessness and call on the Government to conduct a comprehensive investigation and ensure that the alleged perpetrators are brought to justice.
“There must be no sacred cows,” he added.
Woods who is the founder of the Liberia Law Society, put forth a number of demands amongst which is that Government must conduct a “comprehensive investigation into the election-related violence that occurred over the weekend of November 17, 2018 and the incident involving the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Executive Protection Services (EPS) on Sunday, November 18, 2018.”
He said demanded further: “All named perpetrators must be brought to justice; all religious, civil and political organizations must ensure redress for the victims of such violence and campaign for the necessary punitive measures and sanctions against individuals and organizations who continue to engage in violence in our country thereby undermining our peace.”
Attorney Woods also called on the National Legislature to conduct open session on these events and act to secure and protect our fledgling democracy, and that the international and regional organizations must take note of these developments and act to sanction individuals and organizations that seek to undermine the democratic gains made by our country.
“Where the Liberian Government fails to act properly,” Attorney Woods continued, “individuals are encouraged to take advantage of other avenues including the ECOWAS Court to ensure that government’s duty under international and domestic laws are adhered to”
He said any investigation must consider the violation of the code of conduct for public officials and the extent to which it has been violated.
He offered that his Liberia Law Society was open to participate as a full partner to ensure that these recommendations and other suggestions are considered and implemented.
“If it was wrong then it is wrong now,” the longtime human rights advocate asserted.