AFRICA/LIBERIA - Pre-Election Clashes in Foya

Friday, 6 October 2023

Foya (Fides News Agency) - Twenty years ago with the peace agreements signed in Accra, Ghana, one of the bloodiest pages of African history came to an end: the dual Liberian civil war. "The memory of the conflict, of the violence, of the refugee camps, of the dead, is still very much alive," Father Lorenzo Snider, a missionary in Foya, in northwestern Liberia, writes to Fides Agency. Many were optimistic about the country's future and the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for October 10. And instead, right here in Foya, the homeland of Joseph N. Boakai, the main opponent of President George M. Weah, tensions have increased, leading to violent clashes between supporters of the two opposing political camps last week."
The priest from the Society for African Missions reported clashes that occurred just days before the presidential election. "A day of celebration and the return of some citizens who had emigrated to the United States turned into tragedy," the missionary wrote. "After being rushed from neighboring counties, a hundred police officers remained on the scene. The bodies of two people killed with stones and sticks, several injured led to growing social tensions. Many people, driven by fear and the memory of the war, left the city. Leaders of political forces alternately called for moderation and dialogue and blamed their opponents. As investigations continue to determine the dynamics and responsibilities, our community wonders what steps must be taken to reconcile and restore unity. Supporters of opposing candidates participate in the same liturgical gathering and are called to make a choice each time between division and unity, between hatred that divides and accuses and love that unites and forgives, between the demands of the Gospel and those of the party, and now between forgiveness and revenge. Between those who have saved the lives of political opponents, using their person as a shield, and those who have succumbed to violence, to the point of killing the opponent who has become the enemy, humanity has once again shown its greatness and, as it were, its misery."
"During this time," said Father Snider, "our faith community in Foya gathers daily to pray for peace, to pray the Rosary and to celebrate the Eucharist, as recommended by the Episcopal Conference of Liberia."
The country, ravaged by civil wars between 1989 and 2003 and the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016, which recorded a total of 4810 deaths out of 10678 confirmed cases (see Fides 11/5/2015), has about five million inhabitants
(LS/AP) (Fides News Agency 6/10/2023)