On Friday, September 29, 2023, the town of Foya, known for its tranquility, was shaken by violence as clashes between supporters of the Unity Party (UP) and the Coalition for Democracy (CDC) left at least two people dead and several injured. This incident has raised concerns about the upcoming legislative and presidential elections in 2023, deepening political tensions that have gripped the nation.
Foya is the hometown of the Unity Party standard bearer, former Vice President Joseph Boakai.
Both political parties have accused each other of initiating the attack, creating a further rift in the already volatile political climate.
According to Amos Tweh, the Secretary General of the Unity Party, the confrontation began when UP supporters were en route to welcome some diaspora members of their party. Tweh explained, “While the local citizens were on their way jubilating on the different streets of Foya, they were on their way to a specific area called Shelleo junction. Along the way, it is our understanding that one or two of our partisans on motorbikes experienced mechanical problems. This incident prompted a confrontation with supporters from the CDC led by Thomas Fallah, a Montserrado County district lawmaker who is now contesting for a district Representative seat in Foya.”
Tensions escalated as stones were thrown from Thomas Fallah’s residence, according to Tweh.
Rep. Fallah’s Account
In contrast, Thomas Fallah recounted his version of the events in a Facebook post, stating that he was at home when he heard loud chants and saw Unity Party members throwing stones in his compound and damaging streetlights. “They surrounded the compound, manhandled, and killed two partisans. Thanks to the joint security who came to de-escalate their unprovoked violence.”
Fallah emphasized that he had instructed CDC partisans in Foya to stay away from the streets to ensure a peaceful Unity Party campaign rally.
Fallah in a press conference late Friday said: “I want to make it unequivocally clear that I had taken the responsible step of suspending our campaign activities for the day. I had instructed all partisans of the CDC in Foya to stay away from the streets to allow the peaceful conduct of the Unity Party campaign rally.”
“However, what occurred was far from the spirit of peace and democratic coexistence that our nation deserves. I was at home when I heard chants emanating from members of the Unity Party at the junction leading to my compound, where the CDC headquarters is also located. These chants grew louder and more disturbing as Unity Partisans began throwing stones in my compound and destroying streetlights.”
Rep. Fallah main rival in the District is the incumbent Francis S. Nyumalin of the Unity Party.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica from Foya, Journalist Garmah Lomo explained that she was on her way from Kolahun when she saw people believed to be supporters of the Unity Party in area where Rep. Fallah’s compound is located and began engaging in stone-throwing into his fence.
According to her, they were chanting “Thomas Fallah da rogue, we’ll not vote for him”.
She said she witnessed the destruction of the street lights in the area and further explained that a motorcyclist who had a CDC campaign sticker on his bike was brutally mobbed and is believed to have died at their hands.
Rep. Nyumalin’s Account
A briefing from Rep. Nyumalin, to the hierarchy of the UP seen by FrontPageAfrica, accused Miss Angeline Sia Bundoo, a cousin of Finda Bundoo, the Executive Mansion Chief of Protocol, of instigating the violence. However, this allegation has not been independently verified by FrontPageAfrica.
According to Rep. Nyumalin, the Unity Party had organized a well-publicized program in Foya, formally requesting security from the Liberia National Police (LNP). The event aimed to welcome seven Foyan residents residing in the United States back to their hometown.
According to him, the situation worsened when CDC supporters, reportedly led by Miss Angeline Sia Bundoo, emerged from the residence of Representative Candidate Thomas Fallah and began throwing stones at Unity Party supporters.
According to his briefing to the party executives, the crisis escalated when the Foya police detail commander allegedly instructed a police aide to open fire, resulting in one reported death. The police aide was subsequently attacked and killed by an enraged crowd, bringing the death toll to two, while 27 others sustained injuries.
In his narrative, the chaos continued until the arrival of the LNP Commander of Lofa County, along with officers from Voinjama. He stated that the security personnel gathered within Thomas Fallah’s residence to provide security for Fallah and other CDC members.
He also stated that on Saturday, September 30, the LNP Commander of Lofa County requested the detention of three Unity Party leaders, Augustine B Samuka, Njamilah Saa Bornguoi, and Peter T.O. James, categorizing them as persons of interest. They were taken to the Foya police station for questioning, with an investigative team expected shortly.
Rep. Nyumalin stated that he contacted Police Inspector General Patrick Sudue, who reportedly stated, “Hon Nyumalin, you cannot dictate to the police how they should conduct the investigation,” before hanging up the phone.
The violence has prompted a series of condemnations from political parties, civil society organizations and members of the international community.
The U.S. Embassy in Monrovia issued a strong condemnation the violence and expressed its condolences to the families of the victims while at the same time calling for an immediate end to the violence.
The Embassy stated: “The United States condemns the violence and loss of life that reportedly occurred in Foya, Lofa County on September 29. We express our sincere condolences to the families of the victims and urge everyone to maintain the peace. The US Embassy calls upon authorities to swiftly bring the perpetrators to justice. Political differences must be solved at the ballot box, peacefully, and never through violence. Violence is never the answer.”
Also, in a press statement, the Liberia Council of Churches expressed their utmost disapproval of the violence and called upon all citizens of Foyah, Lofa County, to remain calm while state security forces work to regain control of the situation.
The Council of Churches, in its statement, urgently called on the Joint Security to initiate a comprehensive and impartial investigation into the incident to ensure that those responsible for the brutal acts are brought to justice.
In the spirit of the Farmington River Declaration 2023, ECOWAS and UN in a release Saturday said, the protection of human rights, and under the due process of the rule of law, called on the leaders of the Unity Party (UP) and Coalition of Democratic Change (CDC) to strongly urge their partisans to refrain from provocation and any other acts of violence.
Source: Front Page Africa