Hundreds of stone-throwing youths believed to be from the youth league of the governing Congress for Democratic Change chapter in Zwedru City, Grand Gedeh County Thursday, 30 July besieged a local hotel in the city, preventing the Chairman of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) Alexander B. Cummings and Montserrado County District#10 Representative Yekeh Kolubah from stepping out to address supporters. Local correspondents on the ground described the situation as very tense, disrupting normal businesses with a bank shutting down.
Mr. Cummings, also leader of the opposition Alternative National Congress (ANC) and entourage are currently on a tour of southeast Liberia, rallying citizens’ support for the CPP in the December 8th midterm senatorial elections. He began the tour over the weekend in his native Maryland County with Rep. Kolubah, where he introduced the CPP senatorial candidate for the pending elections to voters before coming back to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh.
The Collaboration, which unites the Alternative National Congress, former ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party and All Liberian Party has named Eric Wlea Giko, as its candidate for Maryland County. It is not clear whether Mr. Cummings had gone to similarly introduce a senatorial candidate for Grand Gedeh County.
But the delegation woke up to a nightmare Thursday morning when angry youths, armed with stones, sticks and cutlasses, among others barricaded Hotel B-2 in the heart of Zwedru City, where Chairman Cummings, Representative Kolubah and members of their delegation lodged, threatening to lynch Rep. Kolubah for constantly ranting invectives at President George Manneh Weah.
President Weah commands strong support from the people of Grand Gedeh, and has consistently swept the county in three presidential elections, including the one in 2017 that brought him to power.
According to Spoon FM 107.5, Joint Security forces, including the Police, Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency and the Liberia Immigration Services were overwhelmed by the stone-throwing youths, who reportedly smashed windshields of Rep. Kolubah’s Hammer jeep with license plate, Rep6.
Kolubah made several attempts to come out of the hotel, but was forced back by hails of stones from the angry youths, who demanded the lawmaker to leave the county immediately. Speaking via mobile phone from Swedru, Rep. Kolubah accused President Weah and the ruing CDC for mobilizing the youths against him.
He insisted as a citizen and lawmaker, it is his right to visit any county in Liberia without prior notice or permission, vowing to call on his people in Lofa County to stop President Weah and officials of his party from entering the county in an apparent tit-for-tat response.
Authorities of Grand Gedeh County led by Superintendent Kai Farley subsequently went on the scene but failed to put the violence under control. Subsequently, troops of the Armed Forces of Liberia moved in and calmed the situation, which enabled Chairman Cummings, Rep. Kolubah and delegation to leave the county.
Reports say following the violence, group of thugs stormed the Superintendent Compound in Zewdru, demanding compensation, including cash and rice for a mission accomplished.
Mixed reactions are said to be among residents of Zwedru City over the incident, with saying it has portrayed a negative of the county.
Some residents caution, that no one knows who may become the next President of Liberia, and that such behavior could hunt the people of Grand Gedeh in the future.
Meanwhile, the National Youth Congress of the ANC says the violence against its leaders Alexander Cummings and Representative Yekeh Kolubah in Grand Gedeh clearly contravenes Article 13(a) of the Constitution of Liberia which states, “Every person lawfully within the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, to reside in any part thereof and to leave therefrom subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.”
In a statement issued here following the incident, the ANC youth congress notes that the woeful, undemocratic, appalling, dreadful and repulsive situation being witnessed in Grand Gedeh County does not only roll back fresh memories of the country’s bitter past, but shows to Liberians and the world at large that President Weah is either unwilling or unable to execute the duties and responsibilities assigned to the Office of the Presidency.
“While we (ANC/CPP) conduct ourselves responsibly and lawfully, we want to unequivocally condemn and denounce the distasteful and unacceptable circumstance of lawlessness displayed by the Coalition for Democratic Change hired mobsters. And we call on the Government of Liberia to immediately arrest the situation to avoid setting a very dangerous roadmap that would threaten the peace we have all worked tirelessly to strengthen over the years”, the statement continues.
It calls on ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations, the United States Embassy near Monrovia and development partners of Liberia to closely monitor the happenings in Grand Gedeh and also prevail on the President to safeguard the peace and security of Liberia by ensuring the rights of every Liberian citizen is protected as enshrined in the Constitution.
By Jonathan Browne–Editing by Jonathan Browne