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House recalls AFL and ERU from Bea Mountain

Residents’ longstanding dissents have led to repeated violent protests which led to the deployment of Liberia’s elite security forces from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the police’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) to secure Bea Mountain.

By Bridgett Milton & Ethel A. Tweh

Tuesday, February 27-Members of the House of Representatives have voted recalling from Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) and all other concession areas, officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) and the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP).

The decision was triggered by a communication from Grand Cape Mount County Electoral District #2 Representative Mohammed Dosii.

Grand Cape Mount is the host county for BMMC which brags of being Liberia’s first and largest commercial gold mine.

The district lawmaker has requested the indulgence of the House of Representatives to ensure the immediate pull out of the AFL and the ERU from the company’s facilities.

In a related proposition, Grand Cape Mount County Senator Dabah M. Varpilah is demanding the removal from of AFL Soldiers from Bea Mountain. She has separately written the Liberian Senate to decry the huge and unusual deployment of military personnel at the gold mining site of Bea Mountain which she suggests has kept peaceful citizens in fear.

Both Varpilah and Dosii are unhappy that the state security forces continue to be deployed at the concession site.

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Rep. Dosii said he visited and engaged his constituents over the weekend at the Bea Mountain area in Konjor, Gola Konneh District.

During that visit, he said he took a keen note of a number of AFL officers and ERU officers whom he accused of allegedly behaving like contractors for the company.

He further alleged that the security forces are doing hard labor work for the company.

“They came to this country, they say they are investors but they are not. They came here to suppress us,” Dosii lamented.

He explained that on 14 February, a group of peaceful citizens constellated at the company’s gate to stage a peaceful protest  concerning the company’s alleged continued  bad labor habit.

Unfortunately, he said the said the protesters were belabored by the AFL and ERU personnel.

Dosii added that the People of Kinjor need free movement and the army needs to be in the barracks and not among civilians.

Also speaking, Nimba County Representative Musa Bility said there is a need to make a change and inform about direct withdrawal.

“The Army’s internal capabilities are limited and require legislative consent, thus, we must address this issue. Moreover, most concessions across the country face similar problems, which is a legacy issue,” said Bility.

For his part Montserrado County Electoral District #16 Representative Dixon Seboe said he strongly believes that with the authority and consideration of the pain of those affected, they can make a difference and reverse the deployment of the army in certain areas.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Cllr. J. Fonati Koffa during the next session is expected to set up a committee to look into the concession agreement.

 And at the Liberian Senate, Sen. Varpilah has complained that for at least two years now, the state security forces remain deployed at the company’s mining site.

Presenting her communication on the Senate floor, Varpilah said the deployment has brought fear to the residents of the community.

According to her, the concerned citizens have consistently complained to her office about the matter, recounting that almost two weeks ago, the people staged a protest against the company.

“One of their key issues was the deployment and they are asking the government to withdraw the military from the concession area,” said Varpilah.

“And we know from our colleagues that as far as our recollection, there has not been such a deployment before in any concession area,” she added.

The Grand Cape Mount County Senator argued that there is ongoing gold mining by the MNG Gold Liberia in Bong County without any deployment of AFL personnel.

Senator Varpilah also named the ongoing operations of Liberia’s steel giant, ArcelorMittal in Nimba County where there is no military deployment unlike in Grand Cape Mount County.

“We know that even in the urban areas, when you see military deployed, that’s a serious security issue, less I say in the interior,” she noted.

“So when they see those military people they’re always in fear. So they want for these people to be withdrawn,” Varpilah noted.

Additionally, Senator Dabah Varpilah has requested the plenary to invite authorities of the security apparatus to explain to the body what has led to such level of military deployment among peaceful citizens at the concession area.

“If they have any concern of local security normally in a civilian setting, there should be police officers but not armed men.”

Meanwhile, the plenary of the Liberian Senate has forwarded the communication to the Committee on Security, Défense, Intelligence and Veteran Affairs to report back to the body subsequently.

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