In The Wake Of Lawlessness: NTGL, UNMIL Blamed
November 2, 2004
Barely three days to the dissolution of all warring factions
in the Liberian crisis, the situation took another dimension by wooing into
fore, a religious trend that cost lives and property damage within the city
of Monrovia and its environs.
Earlier reports received from the city suburb of Paynesville, indicated that there was a scuffle between Mandingo elements and some other tribes in the area over a parcel of land situated in the market premises on Thursday evening.
Eyewitness accounts informed The FORUM that the riot which started around the Paynesville Redlight Market early Thursday night spread into the neighborhood of Jacob Town where worship shrines – churches and mosques were set ablaze. The Calvary Assemblies of God (AG) Church, Lutheran Church and the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses and other churches were burnt down that evening.
Informed sources told The FORUM that citizens in the area during that early evening hours called on the UNMIL peacekeepers and NTGL security personnel to swiftly move in and contain the situation but to no avail.
Also, an ELBC reporter who was on the scene made an “SOS”
call on the radio that Thursday night for the government security as well
as peacekeepers’ intervention immediately but nobody could go to the
Jacob Town to cordon the area. The reporter who was giving on the spot report,
said he could see some former fighters of Liberia United for Reconciliation
and Democracy (LURD) using guns in the riot. This overnight riot extended
into Friday morning when it reached to crisis point where the whole city
engulfed into arson attacks by people believed to be sympathizers to Christians
The situation which became somehow uncontrollable, as the residents in Monrovia were moving helter-skelter amidst rioters stoning another, prompted the NTGL Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant, to announce an immediate curfew, urging the residents to leave the streets at once. He empowered UNMIL peacekeepers to maintain peace and other which many consider to be belated.
The Chairman, in his impromptu address said, “we have intelligence reports that this was planned, coordinated and financed by certain misguided individuals who do not want to see the end of the disarmament. We will make sure that nothing will happen to stop us from holding a democratic election in 2005.” Up to now, people are waiting to get names of these misguided individuals who sparked up this riot that killed about 16 persons, wounding hundreds of people and damaging several properties.
Before the curfew could be imposed, some religious leaders from both the Christian and Moslem communities went on the Radio Varitas talk show and appealed to their followers to refrain from carrying out the acts of banditry as the people from both religion coexisted for over a century.
This appeal did not yield any fruitful results as the situation degenerated Sunday morning when Christian worshipers in the Jacob Town area became the target by some Moslems gangs. Two persons got killed and one was seriously wounded as they were on their way to Ark of the Covenant Church that Sunday morning.
This eventually prompted the peacekeepers to step up their operation in the area to arrest the trouble makers. This process yielded some fruitful results when the Ghanaian UNMIL peacekeepers arrested about one hundred LURD former fighters along with their General, Philip Kamara. The peacekeepers discovered cache of arms and ammunition at the premises of Gen. Kamara.
One would certainly believe that the city of Monrovia was heading to an anarchy given the volatile situation in recent days. The incessant rigmarole within LURD leadership as regards to the changing of Sekou Damate Conneh to that of Kabineh Ja’neh, who is serving as Justice Minister on LURD’s ticket. The controversial election did not last for a week when this riot sparked up.