By Othello B. Garblah & Lincoln Peters
Partisans of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC drew the first blood on day one of the 2023 presidential and general elections when they paraded with a casket bearing images of Unity Party’s Standard Bearer Amb. Joseph N. Boakai with inscription-Rest in Peace.
The parade was performed on the principal streets of Monrovia and ended in front of CDC’s headquarters with key stewards and executives of the party in attendance.
The officials in attendance included CDC Secretary General Jefferson Koijee, Assistant Minister for Bureau of Correction and Rehabilitation Andie Telawion and Montserrado District #8 Representative Moses Acarus Gray.
The group of zealous partisans who carried the casket during the parade sang songs with provocative lyrics such as: “Rest in Peace Amb. Boakai. “We tell you to leave this thing but still you say no”. “Oh, my people, the papy na die oo,” among others.
According to the partisans, the displayed and parade of the casket was a dramatization and symbolization of the celebration of home going of former vice president Baokai, who is one of CDC’s biggest challengers in the 2023 presidential race.
The action of the CDCians has been greeted with condemnation from within the party itself.
Monrovia City Mayor Koijee who doubles as the ruling party Secretary General immediately condemn the action after partisans retired inside the compound of the party’s headquarters after the parade.
“We can’t allow people to injure this peace,” Koijee said while informing the crowd of partisans that President George Weah had asked him to rebuke the perpetrators and ask them to refrain from all forms of violence.
” We can’t win these elections by injuring the peace. We call on those young patriotic citizens to refrain from any act that will spark up violence,” Koijee added.
He said actions by partisans to have paraded the principal streets of Monrovia with coffin bearing photograph of Amb. Boakai was uncalled for and totally out of order, adding that it does not represent the character of the founder (Weah) of the CDC.
In addition, CDC National Campaign Team in a press statement released late Saturday evening, deplored action by its partisans saying its unacceptable.
“The Weah-Taylor 2023 Campaign Committee of the Coalition for Democratic Change re-commits itself to the conduct of an issue-based campaign that emphasizes the exceptional record of development and good governance of His Excellency President George M. Weah, while also stressing the importance of maintaining a peaceful democratic environment” the communication Signed by the National Campaign Manger Maritime Commissioners Lenn Eugene Nagbe stated.
The statement noted that the action is unacceptable and does not represent the set of activities that have been envisioned to characterise this crucial democratic exercise.
” The committee believes that the unprecedented gains the Weah Administration has made over the years provide sufficient nuggets for a massive victory in the upcoming elections. It therefore urges everyone working towards this ultimate goal to remain on message.
The act of provocation was also condemned by Senator Edwin Snowe, a none CDcian who has pledged his support to Weah’s second term bid.
Sen. Snowe wrote: As a passionate and ardent believer in the principles of democracy, I am compelled to speak out against the recent actions witnessed during yesterday’s parade organized by a group of overzealous youth of the CDC.
It deeply saddens me to see a casket with the image of the lead opposition leader, Amb. Joseph N. Boakai, Sr., of the Unity Party, paraded in such a manner.
As someone who has declared support and endorsed the second term bid of President Weah, I must emphasize that I can not condone any actions that undermine the very essence of our hard-earned democracy.
Our democracy thrives on the pillars of respect, inclusivity, and constructive debate. Using provocative displays like the one witnessed in yesterday’s parade only serve to stoke division and animosity among fellow citizens. Such actions do not only tarnish the reputation of the CDC, but also threaten the foundation of our nation’s democratic principles.”
Unity Party’s response
Meanwhile, reacting to the action by the CDC, UP Alliance 2023 Campaign team did not only describe the action by CDC as “childish” but also a violation of the Farmington Declaration signed by all parties.
“The recent childish and violent action of the CDC on the first day of the campaign, involving a casket bearing a derisive portrait of a Statesman, not only represents a clear violation of the nonviolent agreement but also confirms the Unity Party Alliance’s position – that the CDC lacks maturity and has no clear message for its attempts at re-election.” A statement signed by UP’s National Secretary General Amos Tweh said.
It alleged that violent actions have consistently characterized the activities of the CDC since its establishment, and the party has not implemented desirable policies for the benefit of the Liberian people during its six years in power.
The UP scribe opined that governments in other jurisdictions typically present the gains they have achieved over the years and outline their development policies.
“However, parading with a casket on the first day of the campaign demonstrates that the CDC is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the Liberian people. The use of a casket as a symbol is deeply troubling, as it represents death, and the Unity Party Alliance empathizes with the suffering of the Liberian people while the CDC appears to delight in it, even wishing for more deaths,” Tweh added.
The statement further argued that CDC government has not been accountable for its stewardship of the country over the past six years, opting instead for unprovoked actions that incite violence and undermine the elections. The Liberian electorate is seeking alternative policy prescriptions for the vexing issues they face.
It further that CDC’s failures are evident in the increased poverty, healthcare costs, and lack of access to education. Civil servants have suffered salary cuts and lost their dignity, unable to afford tuition for their children. Governance, rule of law, and basic social services have been undermined, leaving hospitals without basic drugs and schools without essential supplies.
“Under a Unity Party government, President Amb. Joseph Boakai will prioritize restoring the dignity of civil servants and healthcare professionals and teachers as part of the JNB-JKK development concept called ARREST (Agriculture, Road, Rule of Law, Education, Sanitation/Health, and Tourism) agenda,” the release went on.
“While the Unity Party Alliance is committed to a nonviolent campaign, the CDC, as the ruling party, should be reminded of its constitutional responsibility and refrain from unprovoked actions.
We call on our citizens to remain calm, and we will officially notify our partners about the CDC’s violent actions. To all foot soldiers of the rescue mission, be on alert as you may be called into action at any time,” the statement ended.