MONROVIA, July 31-The Catholic Diocese of Cape Palmas has expressed concern over the incident and threats of violent which took place in Grand Gedeh, South Eastern part of the country against two opposition politicians.
The two leaders, Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, Chairman of the Collaborating political parties(CPP) and political leader of the Alternative National Congress(ANC) and Representative Yekeh Kolubah of the CPP were attacked en-route from Maryland county by some supporters of the Congress for Democratic Change-CDC, the ruling party.
In a statement issued Friday, the head of the Diocese, who controls the Southern part of the country, Bishop Andrew Karnley said: “We have seen that when we become politically intolerant, we invite ourselves to breakdown and destroy, and undermine the foundations of Liberia’s peace, stability and development.”
The statement considers the attack as gross violation of the fundamental rights to free movement and peace assembly goes against the principle of political tolerance and peaceful co-existence despite differences of political association and ideology.
It further said: “It also violates the fundamental rights of the members of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and other collaborating opposition parties to free movement and peaceful assembly as enshrined in Chapter 3, Article 17 of the 1986 Constitution of the Republic Liberia which states, “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceful manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.”
The two leaders were said to have been held hostage in Grand Gedeh county, a place believed to be a strong support base of president Weah. Those who held them under hostage said Representative Kolubah insults president Weah and considers it as an affront to the presidency. Representative Kolubah represents the people of District number ten in Montserrado county; is a former fighter and former police officer during regime of ex-president president Charles Taylor.
Chapter 3; Article 13 (a) of the constitution states that, “Every person lawfully within the Republic shall have the right to move freely throughout Liberia, to reside in any part thereof and to leave there from subject however to the safeguarding of public security, public order, public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others.”
Many citizens from Grand Gedeh see president Weah as the ‘political step son’ of the late president, Samuel K. Doe who was killed in 1990 by senator Prince Johnson. Doe came from Grand Gedeh county and he assisted president Weah to migrate to international soccer level.
The statement said;“In the face of these presenting threats to our collective peace and security, the Diocese said, silence, including from the Church or State, offers the wrong signal to the perpetrators that their actions are acceptable, and makes us collectively complicit.”
“Hence, we feel compelled to speak out against this danger, and urge the political leaders of the country, and those blessed with the authority to uphold, protect, and preserve the law, to do so without fear or favor. We cannot fail within this regard because failure to preserve the law, and protect all citizens irrespective of differences in tribe, gender or political association, is actually an invitation to the breakdown of the society and the return to lawlessness.”
In the wake of this, The Diocese is appealing to all opposition members, supporters of the ruling party, government functionaries as well as ordinary Liberians to be more civil and polite in their utterances and respect our fundamental freedoms that are enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia.
“We commend the joint security in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County for its timely intervention to provide security protection for members of the opposition who were being physically threatened, wrongfully intimidated, and rights violated.”
The statement called on the Government to investigate and report findings on the dangerous incident Thursday against members of the opposition (ANC/CPP), and take the necessary remedial actions, within the law, to ensure a recurrence never happens anywhere in our country. Such actions will provide the necessary reassurance to all Liberians, foreign residents and international investors that Liberia is peaceful, and intends to remain so.
The statement continued: “The just and proper response of the government will remind all that abuses of the law will not go unpunished as the government will act, as it should, in keeping with its constitutional responsibility, to safeguard and protect the fundamental rights of all Liberians, as well as all those residing within our borders. Finally, we call on all Catholics, and all men and women of goodwill residing in the southeast of Liberia to commend this region to the Lord in prayer for its peace, stability and development.” TNR
Alphonso has been in the profession for over twenty years. He has worked for many international media outlets including: West Africa Magazine, Africa Week Magazine, African Observer and did occasional reporting for CNN, BBC World Service, Sunday Times, NPR, Radio Deutchewells, Radio Netherlands. He is the current correspondent for Reuters. Mr. Toweh holds first MA with honors in International Relations and a candidate for second master in International Peace studies and Conflict Resolution.