Recent media reports speak of a group of concerned citizens of Grand Gedeh County threatening to stay away from the July 26, 2016 Independence Day Celebrations to be jointly hosted by Grand Gedeh and Maryland Counties.
The “Grand Gedeh County Council of Elders” (GGCCE) says it will boycott Liberia’s 169th centennial celebrations due to the prolonged detention of 13 of their kinsmen who were charged in 2013 by the Liberian Government for mercenarism in La Cote d’Ivoire. The GGCCEE is calling on government to organize a speedy trial of the 13 jailed Grand Gedeans, otherwise its members would boycott this year’s July 26 programs. At the time of their arrest and subsequent trial, state prosecution witnesses that included LNP officers, Ivorian security personnel and some Grand Gedeh citizens had accused the detained of being directly responsible for the cross border attack in Ivory Coast in 2011 that left seven United Nations Peacekeepers from Niger dead. Although the defendants denied their involvement in the Ivorian crisis at the time, they were, however, found guilty; after which the defense took an appeal for final redress to the Supreme Court. Of course, we are equally concerned about the fate of the 13 incarcerated Liberians awaiting resumption of the Supreme Court hearings. But in this matter, Liberians must not allow sentiments to overrule common sense. Has it ever occurred to anyone, why among all Liberians residing in towns and cities bordering Liberia and La Cote d’Ivoire, only the accused were fingered by Liberian and Ivorian state security personnel and even some citizens of Grand Gedeh? Is the GGCCEE threat of boycott sanctioned by all citizens of Grand Gedeh County including the County’s Legislative Caucus? People in this country should understand that majority, if not all of the citizens, are completely tired of war, rumors of war, or any signs of insecurity. People want to be get on with their lives after undergoing 14 years of wanton destruction, coupled with the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak. Does the GGCCEE sincerely believe that all of the Grand Gedeans living in Grand Gedeh (not Monrovia-based Grand Gedeans per se) do not wish to experience the level of development that the July 26 celebrations would bring to their county? While we emphasize with our jailed brothers, we urge the GGCCEE to work along with the relevant institutions within the three branches of government to find a middle ground. But in so doing, the interest of national and regional security should not be sacrificed at the altar of expedient sentimentality. Liberia belongs to all of us. Grand Gedeh is definitely part and parcel of Liberia.