Calm Has Been restored to the mining city of Yekepa in Nimba County, north of Liberia, where community members were in engaged in a violent armed protest that left several persons injured and private property destroyed.
About Four Police officers reportedly sustained injuries in the violence while public roads and bridges were demolished. There were reports that community members used single barriers guns to fire at armed ERU officers. However, there has been no report whether or not ERU officers returned fire.
The Violence Took place in the concession area of the Acelor Mittal, one of the world’s leading iron ore companies, where protesters identified as the Tokadeh Progressive Youths for Peace and Development reportedly spearheaded the riot on the company’s property. A number of ringleaders, including those who allegedly shot at police officers, have been arrested and are currently facing investigation.
The Extent Of the damage is not known, but the Liberian government says it is reviewing the situation to make a full report to the public. In a statement, Information Minister Lewis Brown said “there is no tolerance in this society for those who act outside the law by expressing grievances through violence, destroying properties, assaulting law enforcement officers, and violating the rights of others.”
Already A Number of institutions and individuals have condemned the violence in Nimba County. The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says the violent disruption of activities at Arcelor Mittal is “unacceptable and reflects a dangerous trend in Liberia's march to peace.” The Press Union believes whatever claims community members might have, it must be discussed in an atmosphere free of fear and mistrust, as to reach logically sound and mutually beneficial decisions.
"This Sort Of violence destroys valuable investment, creates insecurity and leads to economic and even political instability," PUL President Abdullai Kamara said in a statement.
The Violence Was completely pointless because the community people are represented by their leaders at the National Legislature; therefore, it would have been reasonable to get their lawmakers involved other than resorting to violence. Violence of such nature in which arms were used undermined ten years of uninterrupted peace and creates fear amongst investors who may presume that Liberia’s march to peace is still unsteady.
Notwithstanding, The Violence is a clear indication that Liberians are bitter with their current state of affairs and could be manipulated by mischief-makers to undermine the country’s path to peace.
While We Criticize the violent action of community members, similarly, public institutions representing the Liberian government on various concessions between local people and the companies involved in the concession are under obligation to ensure that every aspect of the concession are implemented to the letter to avoid rumbling tension in the future.
We Are Of the view that the leadership role of the County Legislative caucus was limited and it seems individual members of the caucus were not in touch with their people to intervene so that an amicable solution could be reached.
The Problem Our people face is the constant lack of interactions between them and their representatives. Had the lawmakers been in touch with community members and Acelor Mittal to reach a common ground, the entire situation would have been avoided. Violence is not the way forward for our country. We urge our citizens to stop the violence and seek the path of peace.