News24

Liberia opposition vows to hold rally

2012-11-06 17:37

Monrovia - Liberia's main opposition party has vowed to hold a rally on Wednesday to mark the one-year anniversary of a deadly police shooting of their members, despite government banning the gathering.

"Our right to gather cannot be denied," said Congress for Democratic Change spokesperson George Solo, adding that the rally would go ahead as planned.

"How can you say to your citizens, members of the CDC that you killed on 7 November...you don't even have the right to get together to grieve your people."

The opposition party was informed in a letter by the ministry of justice that they were neither allowed to parade through the streets of Monrovia, or gather in front of their headquarters where the shooting took place.

On the eve of a run-off presidential election last year, opposition candidate Winston Tubman, 70, called a rally in support of his poll boycott.

He claimed a first round had been riddled with fraud despite the poll being given a clean bill of health from some 4 800 observers.

Deaths

Riot police struggled to contain the angry protesters who surged onto the street to hold an unauthorised march, throwing stones, and panic quickly broke out, with police firing teargas and later live bullets into the crowd.

The presidency said one person was killed, however the United Nations Mission in Liberia has said there were two deaths. The opposition puts the figure much higher.

The shooting and poll boycott cast a pall over the election in the war-scarred nation only eight years after the end of a 14-year conflict that killed 250 000.

Nobel Peace Prize-winning President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was re-elected with a landslide 90.7% of votes.

Her co-laureate social worker Leymah Gbowee recently quit as head of Liberia's reconciliation commission, saying it had failed to progress and slammed Sirleaf for not clamping down on graft and nepotism in the country.