LIBERIA NEWS :Lawmaker leads protestors at BMMC

…says information minister

LIBERIA NEWS: MONROVIA  Feb 29–The Minister of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism Minister Jerolinmek Piah said it was a surprise to be told that a lawmaker was the ring leader for the protestors against Bea Mountain Mining Company.

He disclosed at a news conference late Thursday at the Executive Mansion following the return of a government delegation from the protest scene. Due to the seriousness of the situation, the president mandated sector ministers and agencies along with the police to go on a fact-finding mission.

Also, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Fonati Koffa set up a fact-finding committee that went to the scene.

Minister Piah did not disclose the name of the lawmaker, but said after their final investigation, the name will be released.

However, at a news conference held by Hon. Mohammed Dosi, newly elected lawmaker of district number two Grand Cape Mount County he gave his blessing for the protest against the company because they deployed armed men in the operation area as well as carrying out bad labor practice. In addition to that, they claimed that the company had failed to address their concerns as it relates to the 31-point petition.

The protest led to the death of one person and nine police officers. He said, from their preliminary investigation, some of the protestors carried weapons.  He did not say how many persons had the locally made guns.

Rep.Dosil of Grand Cape Mount County speaking

On Wednesday several persons in Kinjnor Grand Cape Mount County went on continuous protest against Bea Mountain Mining Company-BMMC.

Some of their counts are the appointment of a General Manager from Grand Cape Mount County, the appointment of the former Community Relations Superintendent as Government Relations(he was fired by eh company due to his support for protest against the company as well as alleged theft of property), reinstatement of the worker’s union chairman(he resigned based on mutual agreement with the company), the establishment of a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) program(the school was established but destroyed during Thursdays’ protest) reservation of positions for Liberians per labor regulations(several top managerial positions are being occupied by Liberians at the Mines) and  Withdrawal of armed forces from the mine( But Section 12.b of the Mineral Development Agreement, calls for the deployment of armed men at the mines.  section b, states:  “In the event the Company deems it necessary to have armed guards for protecting assets in the Production Area and near other locations at which Company has or maintains property and assets, the Company shall make a written request to the Government. The Government shall provide armed guards as needed, which expense shall be borne by the Company.”

The minister said, “Individuals who were protesting were armed. “The government has security forces there. The individuals who were protesting were also armed.  As a result of that, the situation escalated. One citizen got killed,” he said.

He added that nine police officers were injured, one Emergency Response Unit (ERU) was injured in the head, and another on the leg. About 18 protestors were arrested.”

Minister Piah continued: “It will interest you to know that the police station that is attached there, was destroyed, Technical and vocational school was also completely vandalized by protesters.”

He assured the public that all would be done to restore calm. According to him, Kinjor is calm but still fluid. He said the investigative team would ascertain from the company the level of damage done by the protestors.

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