Since the mysterious and gruesome death of former LPRC Managing Director Harry Greaves, there has been a deadly aura of insecurity hovering over Liberia. Ordinary citizens, government officials, opposition politicians and foreign residents are all concerned about the state of uncertainty, especially in the wake of UNMIL’s drawdown in March this year.
The scenario is reminiscent of two historic periods in Liberia: the April 1979 rice riots that led to the 1980 coup d’état, and the November 1985 Thomas Quiwonkpa invasion that spawned the December 1989 NPFL rebel incursion. During each of those periods, there was a general sense of fear and insecurity that something catastrophic was about to happen. It’s been more than 10 years since the civil war ended. Liberia has held two democratic elections. But today, the state of restlessness and unease that pervaded during the civil war period seems to be accentuating as claims and counterclaims from cross sections of the citizenry point to foul play in Mr. Greaves death, and conspiracy theories abound about government’s involvement. The manhunt for opposition politician Simeon Freeman, who claimed knowledge about a government blacklist to eliminate opposition politicians, has not helped the situation either. The arrest of activist Vandalark Patricks yesterday has now further heightened the drama of uncertainty. The Liberia National Police, in a hastily written press statement, admitted “calling in Mr. Patricks in connection to a statement he made on Sunday February 21, 2016 that President Sirleaf gave direct orders to shoot at the then CDC Standard Bearer, Winston Tubman, Vice Standard Bearer, George Weah and murdered innocent and defenseless citizens on November 7, 2011; and that the Government of Liberia hired assassins to murder Mr. Harris Greaves and eliminate other political opponents to maintain state power”. The LNP said Mr. Patricks was called in to assist security authorities establish facts surrounding his statements which has the potential to undermine the peace of state. While we concur with the police that speech which incite violence and maliciously defame the government does not fall under the category of protected free speech, we wish to call on government to exercise restraint in these trying times, especially as it exerts all efforts to bring the Harry Greaves death to closure. This government has invested too much in the democratization process to falter at this critical period, just few days to a defining moment in our national history – the 2017 presidential and general elections. In the same vein, we at the Capitol Times seize the occasion to also call on all well-meaning citizens of this country to be mindful of where we came from a few years ago. No matter how unsatisfied we are with our national leadership, we have the choice to make a u-turn in 2017 through the ballot box.