from MULBAH WESSEH in Monrovia, Liberia
MONROVIA, (CAJ News) – THE killing of three people and injury of 20 others have marred a widely-endorsed electoral exercise that catapulted Liberia into a beacon of democracy in the continent.
The tragedy occurred in the capital, Monrovia, when a vehicle rammed into a crowd of Unity Party (UP) supporters celebrating the victory of president-elect, Joseph Boakai.
The casualty toll after the incident at the UP Headquarters is forecast to rise as it remains unclear whether the act was intentional. Investigations are ongoing.
UP believes the unidentified driver willfully drove into the crowd on Monday night.
The Jeep was said to be plate-less and had its lights switched off.
UP leaders have since suspended all celebratory gatherings until further notice.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends affected by this devastating, wicked and barbaric act of domestic terrorism, leading to loss of precious lives,” Lansana Fofana UP Assistant Secretary/ Press, Publicity and Media, said.
The party has urged authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation to determine the cause and hold those responsible accountable.
“It is crucial that justice is served, not only for the victims and their families but also for the broader community, as we strive to maintain trust, stability, and respect for the rule of law once again in Liberia,” Fofana said.
This incident occurred after the National Elections Commission (NEC) declared the opposition candidate Boakai the winner of the run-off presidential election with 50,64 percent of the vote.
In power since 2018, incumbent, Geoge Weah (Congress for Democratic Change, CDC) polled 49,3 percent and conceded defeat ahead of the release of the official results.
International observers have stated the election took place in a generally free and fair manner, including the second round of the election last Tuesday.
In the first round on October 10, Weah took 43,83 percent of the vote, ahead of Boakai who amassed 43,44 percent. This was the closest contested election since the end of the second civil war in 2003.
The conduct of elections and Weah’s conceding defeat were a welcome development in the West African region grappling with disputed poll outcomes and military coups in recent years.
“As we acknowledge the results, let us also recognize that the true winners of these elections are the people of Liberia,” Weah said.
His ascension to the presidency was remarkable. He had a stellar football career in Europe’s top leagues and was crowned World Player of the Year in 1995.
UP has dismissed as “fake news, false and misleading” a statement attributed to Boakai purporting the new government would in its fight against corruption target the outgoing Weah administration.
“The UP wishes to however reiterate that the President-elect, Joseph Nyuma Boakai remains fully committed to the campaign promise of aggressively tackling corruption without prejudice to a particular government,” Amos Tweh
UP National Secretary General, said.
The new government in Africa’s oldest democracy has to deal with graft, high unemployment and economic challenges plaguing the country of 5,4 million people.
The African Development Bank projects the economy to grow by 4,3 percent in 2023 and 4,8 percent in 2024, driven by expansion in mining, services and agriculture.
Inflation is forecast to edge to 8,2 percent due to election-related speculation in 2023 but to ease to 6,5 percent in 2024 due to a stable exchange rate and calm after the election.
– CAJ News