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EditorialGeneralLiberia news

Editorial: Government must speak on the diamond saga

The Government of Liberia is yet to come clear on a 53.3 carats diamond reportedly valued at US$5 million that led a group of aggrieved citizens from Gbarpolu County protesting before President George Weah’s Jamaica Resort in Paynesville last Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Hundreds of protesting citizens, including brokers, miners, and family members of a Liberian identified as Mohammed Kamara, who reportedly found a 53.3-carat diamond recently at a private mine in Gbarpolu County, protested before the President’s private resort, calling for the dismissal of the Assistant Minister of Mines, Emmanuel T.T. Swen, who they accused of hijacking [withholding] the precious stone.

Police arrested several of the protesters and dispersed the rest. But since the incident, neither authorities of the Ministry of Mines nor the Office of President Weah has officially commented, leaving the public immersed in speculations.

The protesters claimed to have reported the diamond to authorities at the Ministry of Mines, allegedly received by Assistant Minister Emmanuel T.T. Swen, who instructed someone only identified as “Kpaku” to give them US$100,000, but instead, they were offered US$80,000, which according to them, they rejected and demanded a return of the diamond.

The diamond was never returned. They are enraged and frustrated. Left with no other option, they are craving for the attention of President Weah hence, the basis for last Thursday’s protest near the President’s private resort, which was put down by riot police, characterized by arrests.

When law-abiding citizens peacefully converge to seek the attention of the highest office of the land, they should be responded to rather than violently turned away, as was experienced last week.

We believe rather than applying heavy-handedness, a roundtable discussion would produce a win-win resolution. That should be the role of government as custodian of peace, security and the happiness of its citizens.

Mohammed Kamara and his family members could have concealed the diamond in question and smuggled it out of the country without knowledge of government. But they chose to be nationalistic and law-abiding by reporting the stone to the appropriate authority.

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It is sad that they are being treated as undesirable common criminals for doing the right thing. This is highly disappointing and frustrating. Government should hail these citizens for their display of honesty and patriotism rather than shunning them.

It is important that government come out and speak clearly on this matter to lay the situation to rest peacefully not only to maintain citizens’ trust but to encourage honest business practice that boosts revenue and drives an healthy economy.          

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