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Politics News

Police concede in first electoral violence

Authorities at the Liberia National Police (LNP) say they had “shorting comings” in reference to procedural issues in an unfortunate situation in which opposition All Liberian Party (ALP) presidential candidate Benonie Urey’s private guards flogged Officer Roosevelt Jimmy in the first recorded elections violence on Monday, 31 July.

“During our after action review, we came to realize that we had some procedural issues as a police body and as such there was a need for us to correct them to avoid any future embarrassment”, Police Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman said Tuesday, 1 August.

Flanked by his deputies and other senior officers at the Police Headquarters, Col. Coleman speaks of an unfortunate situation on Duport Road in which Officer Jimmy of the Police Support Unit (PSU) had an alleged encounter with opposition ALP agents, a situation which turned nasty leading to his flogging.

Though the police failed to explain their short comings, authorities insist that “there are sets of procedures that should have been followed” based on police intervention that they “believe were not fully followed”.

“We are not hundred percent saying that we are wrong for yesterday’s intervention”, Col. Coleman clarifies, and adds that so far to where the investigation has reached, there are charges that could be levied against the suspect whose name is being withheld for the purpose of investigation.

Police investigators want to have video evidence and expert testimonies on the Monday intervention so as to be able to come up with the most appropriate resolution in whatever that may have occurred on the first day of campaigning here.

Col. Coleman says the campaign started on Monday as per police analysis and projection of threats with an incident that has led the police force to go back to its drawing board for an “after action review” to avoid recurrence.

However, Col. Coleman notes that the victimized officer is safe, has reunited with his family, and will resume duty on Wednesday, 2 August on grounds that he is now fit for duty.

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While reassuring the public of the police’s commitment to demonstrate fairness in the elections process, Col. Coleman adds that the LPN will acknowledge when it goes wrong in an effort to maintain public trust.

In a related development, police authorities say they have decided to do a tactical adjustment considering the prevailing circumstances here, announcing that they will relax regulation against commercial motorcycles during these elections process to accommodate political parties and candidates that may not afford vehicles for campaign purposes.

Making the pronouncement on Tuesday, Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Col. Abraham Kromah said while regulations remain in force hundred percent, police will allow registered motorbikes submitted by parties or candidates that bear campaign stickers to move in the streets.

Col. Kromah says the police agree that political parties will coordinate with the police in regards to the usage of motorbikes during rallies.He says motorbikes were used in 2005 and 2011 elections, and therefore police will guide the usage of these bikes to accommodate the political process.

But he also sent a caveat that the adjustment in the regulation is not in any way giving commercial bikes operators the ground to come and violate the rights of people in the political process, noting that the no go zones remain in place.

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