EFF Leader, Government in Verbal Clash at Firmington Signing

MONROVIA-At the brink of the signing ceremony of the Farmington Peace Document, a war of words erupted between the Government of President George Weah and the newly elected Political Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), Commander-In-Chief, Emmanuel D. Gonquoi, over the EFFL’s Leader denial of entry into the venue of the signing of the Farmington Declaration, by Elite Bodyguards assigned to the Liberian president.

On April 4, 2023,  the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia, in collaboration with its international partners, including United Nations and ECOWAS, invited Political Leaders and Representatives of registered Political Parties in the Country to sign the Farmington Declaration in a bid to reaffirm commitment to non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections slated for  October 10, 2023.

It was this ceremony that was hosted at the Farmington Hotel, in Margibi County, outside the capital, Monrovia that CIC Gonquoi, being the Political Leader of the newly certificated party, the EFFL, had gone to attend along with some of his party’s representatives, including Secretary- General elect, Julu Johnson that gun-carrying state security officers prevented him from entering the hall where the Farmington Declaration was expected to be signed at the time.

Multiple sources divulged that elite security guards assigned to President Weah allegedly denied CIC Gonquoi entry into the venue for the signing of the Farmington Declaration on the ground that he arrived late.

Although the sources’ claims have not been independently verified, they also disclosed that pleas from NEC Authorities for the EFFL newly elected Political Leader to be allowed entry was turned down by the state security officers from the presidential bodyguard unit, the Executive Protection Service (EPS).

Following his denial by the elite bodyguard unit assigned to President Weah, Gonquoi drove back to Monrovia, and told reporters about his ordeal at the hands of officers assigned with the Liberian leader, indicating how he felt humiliated and unjustifiably denied entry into the hall for the signing of the Farmington Declaration.

But the Government of Liberia, through Deputy Information Minister Jarlawah Tonpo, later referred to Gonquoi’s assertions, as being “a black lie from the belly of the Devil.”

According to Deputy Minister Tonpo, CIC Gonquoi arrived at the venue of the signing of the Farmington Declaration allegedly two hours and thirty minutes late, when former Vice President and Standard Bearer of Unity Party, Ambassador Joseph Boakai, was already delivering a statement on behalf of political parties in the country.

“Emmanuel Gonquoi arrived with his battle cry and what have you, with his group at 1:30,” said Topon, who claimed that contrary to the EFFL Leader’s assertion that he was harassed by state security officers, nobody ever harassed him, but that state protocol officers rather informed him that the hall was jam-packed and that there was no space left to accommodate the EFFL Political Leader.

Howbeit, Gonquoi, on the other hand, has termed as lies, the Government’s side of what transpired between him and state security officers on Tuesday, at Farming Hotel.

He attributed the alleged action of the EPS Officers to deny him entry into the venue of the signing of the Farmington Declaration, to fear from their bosses that he would have been critical of the signing process, having previously told a local radio station that he would have done just that if he had gained entry into the hall.

He debunked the government’s claim that he arrived at the time former VP Boakai was already delivering a special statement on behalf of political parties, indicating that he arrived in time at the venue where the Farmington Declaration was scheduled to be signed and that he was duly processed by a NEC female protocol officer, who he said even tried intervening for the EPS officers to let him into the hall when he was being prevented by the state security officers.

“How can you say I arrived late, when the secretariat processed me, gave me tack, gave members of my delegation tack – me and Musa Bility arrived together, and the rest of the other people,” Gonquoi noted, adding that after he was processed and when he was about to enter, it was when he was approached by some EPS officers, who he said prevented him from doing so and told him the party t-shirt (EFFL t-shirt) he was wearing, was not permitted to enter the hall.

Gonquoi continued, “How can you say I arrive late, but the EFFL’s Secretary General-elect, who rode along with me on the same vehicle, arrived along with me at the venue, should enter, only because he was not wearing an EFFL regalia?”

He disclosed that EFFL Secretary  General-elect, Johnson then declined to enter, unless the leader of his party was allowed entry as well, a request according to him, which was not granted by the EPS agents.

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