Following a violent situation in Foya City, Lofa County over the weekend, calm has finally returned to the provision city.
In the wake of the violent incident which claimed the lives of at least four persons in Foya, Lofa County, the Government of Liberia imposed an overnight curfew late Friday night in FoyahCity and surroundings as the situation worsened following a fluid of deadly violence earlier in the day.
Early, Friday morning, reports emerged from the Northern Liberia county of Lofa’s Foyah District, of deadly clashes between supporters of the opposition Unity Party and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and that at least four persons are feared dead.
This figure still could not be independently verified due to continuing tension and overnight curfew which has been imposed.
Our correspondent in the county quoting eyewitnesses disclosed that the violence erupted when hundreds of supporters of the opposition Unity Party gathered early Friday morning to welcome a team of citizens of Foyah residing in the Americas.
According to eyewitnesses, these citizens recently returned to canvas for their tribal man, former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai. According to the reports, it was during this time of the welcome that they allegedly came under sustained “attacks” from some unidentified persons, who were said to have been housed in the hotel of incumbent Montserrado County, District Number 5 Representative Thomas Fallah. Fallah is now contesting for the Representative seat in Foyah District on the ruling CDC ticket.
According to eyewitnesses, the incident led to supporters of the Unity Party retaliating bringing the clashes into an uncontrollable scene.
By mid-day according to report, the violence had spread throughout central Foyah, particularly alongside the Shalom Road leading to the hotel of Rep. Fallah. Eyewitnesses told this paper that they saw two unidentified dead bodies believed to be supporters of the Unity Party.
At the sub-station of the Liberia National Police, officers were seen calling for reinforcement from its Voinjama detachment before dark as they weren’t able to contain the situation.
Back in Monrovia, Police spokesman, Moses Carter, acknowledged the violence in Foyah and told this paper that officers of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) Voinjamadetachment were headed to the scene to beef up the police unit currently stationed in Foyah District.
Carter further said that the government will provide details on the Friday incident at a major press conference expected later this morning Saturday, September 30.
Unity Party’s Campaign spokesman, Mo Ali, told this newspaper that the incident is intense and could speak little about ongoing clashes as it was difficult to get party officials in Lofa County, including Foyah.
He reaffirmed that at least four persons are feared dead from preliminary reports from the district.
Lofa County’s District #4 Representative Francis Nyumalin also declined to speak elaborately on the situation due to the fluidity of the situation.
The clashes come barely a day after U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken threatened to impose visa restrictions on persons instigating violence during and after Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative Elections slated for October 10, 2023.
In a release issued late Wednesday evening, Secretary of State Blinken announced the new visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for those undermining democracy in Liberia.
The Chief US diplomat further said the US will impose visa restrictions on officials who were allegedly involved in the manipulation and rigging of the electoral process, as well as those involved in alleged acts of intimidating voters, election observers, and civil society activities.
“Under this policy, the United States will pursue visa restrictions for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Sierra Leone, including through the manipulation or rigging of the electoral process; intimidation of voters, election observers, or civil society organizations through threats or acts of physical violence; or the abuse or violation of related human rights in Sierra Leone,” Mr. Blinken said in a statement.
The policy, which takes effect in advance of the upcoming election, will affect officials of the government and others who are or will be involved in the manipulation and rigging of the electoral process, as well as those involved in alleged acts of intimidating voters, election observers, and civil society activities.
In a swift reaction, the government of Liberia has welcomed the United States Government visa restriction policy.
In a statement by Information Minister, Mr. Ledgerhood J. Rennie, the Government of Liberia stated that it welcomes the latest United States Government’s visa restriction policy intended to target those who undermine democracy in Liberia.
“This policy, the government believes, further reinforces President George M. Weah’s expressed commitment to building a more democratic society – grounded in respect for the rule of law, free expression, and association, as well as the holding of free and fair elections.”
“This was the central theme of his address to the UN General Assembly last week and during various conversations with U.S. stakeholders – including U.S. Charge d’Affairs Catherine Rodriguez.”
“The Government believes the U.S. statement, coming at a time when incendiary rhetoric by politicians have been on the rise, will aid its efforts to calm public anxiety around the upcoming democratic exercise,” Information Minister Legehood Julius Rennie read a statement from the Liberian Government.