Rissian, China, and Cuba Sentiment Increases in Liberia: EFF Seeks Strong Ties, Espouses Communist Ideals amid Election Turmoil

The group of political youngsters mimicking the Economic Freedom Fighters believe Liberia should be a communist state and have therefore disclosed plans to hoist the flags of Russia, China, and Cuba at their headquarters.

Under the banner – Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL) – these youngsters led by Emmanuel Gonquoi – argue that there is no law that forbids them from choosing their foreign allies.

“There is no political law and there is no constitutional requirement that determines who our friends are. We are under our party’s mandate to determine who our friends are. We have decided that our friend is Putin or Russia – he’s our friend – we don’t care about Joe Biden, we don’t care about who Sunak is, we don’t care who Macron is…,” Gonquoi said.

He added, “We strongly believe that a nation under communist rule is the best way forward because we don’t need a government that would always side with the West that continues to exploit our resources without giving back to our country. We believe strongly that our allies would be defined by our foreign policy. We are saying to you that in the coming days, the national youth command of the EFFL will be welcoming and hoisting the flags of Russia, the flag of China, the flag of Cuba, and all progressive forces at our headquarters.”

Gonquoi who is a strong supporter of the Unity Party Joseph Boakai’s presidential bid is making these assertions as Liberia has less than two months to elections that has already seen some campaign violence between the Unity Party and the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.

His call for communism and establishing strong ties with Vladamir Putin comes at a time when the West Africa region has seen an increased military overthrow of democratically elected governments including in Burkina Faso and Niger with suspicion of Russia’s involvement.

It’s well known that Russia runs sophisticated digital disinformation campaigns in Africa, including in Niger, a key Western ally and home to large US and French bases — and since the coup, junta leaders have revoked military cooperation agreements with France, the country’s former colonial master.

Russian flags on the streets of the capital Niamey have become one of the symbols of the military coup in Niger. Media footage has also caught sight of slogans on posters saying “Down with France, long live Putin”.

Since 2020, the Sahel region has witnessed a series of five military coups, accompanied by an additional unsuccessful attempt. Notably, during 2019-2020, the presence of mercenaries affiliated with the Russian private military company “Wagner” was observed in Mali.

In 2020, in the aftermath of Burkina Faso’s second coup of the year, a significant development occurred. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the enigmatic figure at the helm of the Wagner Group, a clandestine Russian mercenary organization, swiftly extended his congratulations to the emerging junta leader. Through a communication shared on Telegram, Prigozhin lauded the actions of the mutinous soldiers, deeming their actions as imperative.

Coincidentally, on that very day, Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin political analyst, took to public forums to assert that the Russian populace had played a role in supporting Capt. Ibrahim Traore, the newly anointed leader of the coup. Furthermore, Markov envisaged that Burkina Faso’s novel military leadership would opt to establish ties with Russia for assistance, diverging from the conventional choice of seeking aid from their former colonizer, France.

Condemning ECOWAS

In a strongly worded statement, the EFFL expressed concerns about the potential catastrophic consequences of military intervention in Niger, highlighting the regional ramifications of such a move. The organization criticized ECOWAS for what it perceives as a decline in its leadership role and effectiveness over the years.

The EFFL raised questions about ECOWAS’s response to issues such as rampant corruption, electoral malpractice, and the dire plight of citizens seeking better opportunities abroad. The organization pointed to instances of governments stealing election results and extending their terms in power without meaningful intervention from ECOWAS. Moreover, the EFFL highlighted the lack of progress towards the implementation of a single currency regime intended to foster economic growth and free trade within the region.

The EFFL urged ECOWAS to revisit its core principles and avoid becoming a puppet of colonial powers. It called on the regional organization to exercise self-examination and take steps to strengthen its role as a force for positive change. The organization urged citizens across the region to unite against excessive Western influence that might undermine the progress of African democracies.

Beating Drums of Violence in Liberia

Meanwhile, the EFFL has vowed to be intentionally civil disobedient while at the same time accusing the country’s security apparatus of being politically controlled by the regime.

Gonquoi referenced the recent clash between supporters of the ruling CDC and the Unity Party which he supports. According to him, supporters of the ruling party blocked the Unity Party’s standard bearer in a traffic jam when he was on his way to his campaign headquarters to address a major press conference.

“That situation was sad and does not represent the country we want to build,” he said.

He added, “We the Economic Fighters of Liberia want to inform the international community that going forward that the Government of Liberia including the security apparatus has become a partisan force and we will then resort to putting into place by putting into place self-security measures by utilizing the DORs [Declaration of Readiness to Proceed] within the EFFL to provide security for opposition leaders.

“Going forward, we will no longer take instructions from national security actors, including the police.”

According to him, the DORs consist of ex-combatants from Charles Taylor’s ATU and other rebel factions and retired soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia.

“Going forward, the only group of people we can trust to provide security for our country and to provide security for our leaders would be the DORs of the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia and we strongly believe that our DORs being former security personnel who have gone through gorilla training have the requisite credential to provide security for our leaders.”

Also, in response to the clash between the two political parties, Amb. Boakai declared that the party will not tolerate intimidation or fear tactics from the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) during the election period. Boakai emphasized that the Unity Party, known for its commitment to peace, will not allow the CDC thugs to undermine their campaign. He asserted that no individual possesses a monopoly over violence.

Boakai asserted, “Unity Party will not sit idly by and allow the CDC to trample on us. Nobody holds a monopoly over violence. During President Weah’s campaign kickoff, there was a casket displayed, falsely claiming it was meant for me.”

No Election Security Funding?

Gonquoi’s rants and Boakai’s statement come amid growing concerns over the government’s delay in allocating funds for the security sector. Gonquoi, a prominent figure in Liberian politics, has voiced his frustrations, raising alarms about the potential impact of this funding delay on the security of the pending elections.

The government had earmarked a crucial US$4 million for election security, a responsibility that rests solely with the Government of Liberia. International partners, while supportive, have indicated that they will not cover the funding shortfall. A senior diplomatic official emphasized the urgency of the situation, urging the prompt release of the promised funds to ensure a secure and stable electoral process.

Against the backdrop of these concerns, a recent USAID assessment report from December 2022 has cast a spotlight on Liberia’s ongoing struggles to overcome the lingering effects of a prolonged and devastating civil war. The report underscores the nation’s challenges in political, security, institutional, and social realms.

The USAID assessment team conducted surveys well in advance of the October elections, revealing a mixed picture of the electoral landscape. On one hand, there were positive indications of early pre-campaigning activities by political parties and candidates. However, the report also revealed uncertainty among respondents about the potential for peaceful elections, given that official nominations were yet to be made and individual contests were still taking shape.

The report also addresses the broader socio-economic context in Liberia. Despite progress in peacebuilding, economic recovery, and democratic governance since the end of the civil war in 2003, significant challenges persist. Notably, the national reconciliation and peacebuilding process remains incomplete, a concern shared by many Liberians and human rights advocates. The report further highlights deep-rooted socioeconomic inequalities and frustrations among the populace due to unfulfilled promises of economic improvement.

President Weah’s pledges to prioritize the needs of the less fortunate and champion indigenous Liberians have faced criticism for not translating into tangible changes for the majority. This situation has given rise to tensions and divisions within Liberian society, as the administration’s efforts to provide state employment to Indigenous Liberians have ignited power struggles between different factions of the elite class. Young people, too, continue to face challenges in accessing education and employment opportunities, further contributing to societal divisions.

Source: Front Page Africa