The attention of this newspaper is drawn to reports of a violent clash between supporters of Representative Yekeh Kolubah and those of the government.
The Daily Observer observes with grave concern also, confirmed reports of the presence in Monrovia of ex-fighters from the various factions, some of who are alleged to have to come Monrovia at the behest of Senator Prince Johnson. One of such fighters is Mark Guan, a notorious character listed as a perpetrator in the TRC report.
Another of such fighters is the ex LURD General, commonly called K-1, also listed as a perpetrator in the TRC report; not to mention Ofori Diah, also listed as a perpetrator in the TRC report and accused of killing UN Peace Keepers and Ivorian soldiers in the Ivory Coast.
Just why, suddenly, these ex-fighters have turned up in Monrovia is the question to which answers are not hard to come by, given the given the heightened tension in Monrovia arising from the impending anti- government protest on June 7, 2019.
That officials of this government are in panic mode is illustrated by the disjointed approach to critical national issues especially the planned June 7 protests. This is further amplified by the issuance of terroristic threats against individuals perceived to be in opposition to this government. Also, the disclosure by former Representative Dusty Wolokolie that Minister of State Nathaniel McGill has issued death threats against him constitutes a serious escalation which cannot be ignored in view of acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals which have gone with impunity.
Further, the fracas which erupted on Broad Street yesterday which according to eyewitness accounts started when a group of street thugs attacked Representative Yekeh Kolubah after he emerged from the SKY radio studios in the Rivoli building. Supporters of Representative Kolubah are reported to have responded in kind and a stone throwing match ensued which resulted in some individuals sustaining injuries.
This newspaper has warned time and again about the likelihood of an outbreak of violence in view of the very strident rhetoric coming from both sides of the divide and given that the June 7 protest is expected to attract a large following, such an outbreak of violence cannot be ruled out. Moreover, the Daily Observer has repeatedly called the attention of the ECOWAS, particularly its early warning mechanism, to become seized of the matter to forestall any possible attempts by hired criminal elements to foment violence.
Additionally, this newspaper has also repeatedly called on President Weah to take charge and lead as it appears that he has since surrendered his power and authority to others. His dogged insistence, for example, on keeping Nathaniel Patray and Samuel Tweah in their positions of power and authority when it has become clear to all and sundry that both officials have outlived their usefulness and are by their actions undermining the legitimacy of his government.
President Weah is indeed embattled but his actions suggest that he probably does not realize the gravity of the situation. News filtering into the Daily Observer that his Vice President intends to resign summarily, if actualized, could leave the legitimacy of his government hanging by a thread. Thus, any resort to violence by his supporters to suppress the June 7 protest action would only serve to aggravate the situation and probably mark the end.
What President Weah and is supporters appear not to realize is that threats of violence against the June 7 protesters, if actualized, could go out of hand and thus invite the military in to quell the violence and restore public order, something which the LNP may find itself incapable of doing, although the military clearly lacks a capacity to govern.
Moreover, the experience of a decade of fascist military rule, which eventually culminated in a civil war, has left a sour residual taste in the mouths of most Liberians and very little tolerance for military rule.
Liberians have therefore welcomed the intervention of ECOWAS hoping that it will serve to keep things in check. But while the intervention of ECOWAS is welcomed, especially given its immense sacrifice to restore peace and sanity and end the long-running civil in Liberia. However, this newspaper is not unmindful of the manifold mistakes made along the way to peace, mistakes which in the opinion of the Daily Observer, ECOWAS should learn from and be guided by same.
ECOWAS’ “Straight Jacket” approach, which was wrongly perceived as the panacea to the conflict, saw the imposition of a ruling council of state made up of warlords to lead Liberia to peace but it failed. The Daily Observer recalls, for example, how the then Nigerian Foreign minister Tom Ikimi would shuttle in to Monrovia, storm into peace meetings virtually behaving like a wild bull in a china shop, berating meeting participants as though they were little children.
And then a formula was derived awarding power to the biggest gun (the most powerful warlord) which also miserably failed. Notably, the fourteen or more failed peace agreements never had the involvement of civil society prior to the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2003. This agreement, which has held sway for more than 15 years, has been so because Liberians and not warlords took ownership of the agreement.
Today, ECOWAS is unfortunately once again directly involved in efforts to maintain the peace by mediating in the virtual standoff between government supporters and organizers of June 7. However, this newspaper is troubled by what it sees as ECOWAS’ attempt to stifle legitimate stirrings of a war-adverse Liberian public, anxious to see an end to what they see as economic hardships induced by runaway corruption in government, by pleading with protest organizers to limit protest to a single day.
Sadly ECOWAS, appears bereft of a sense of appreciation for genuine public concerns about a possible outbreak of violence on June 7, organized and perpetrated by individuals and groups acting at the behest of top officials of this government.