By Olando Testimony Zeongar
MONROVIA – At long last, the Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), has signed the Farmington River Declaration (FRD), following a standoff that ensued between state security officers and the CIC of the EFFL, Emmanuel D. Gonquoi, an incident that prevented the political party from affixing its signature to the peace pact on the official signing date, 4 April 2023.
It is recalled, elite security guards assigned to President George Weah, on 4 April, denied CIC Gonquoi entry into the Margibi County venue for the signing of the Farmington River Declaration, which seeks to reaffirm commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections slated for later this year on 10 October, on the ground that the leader of the EFFL arrived late.
Following his denial by members of the elite bodyguard unit, the Special Protection Service (EPS), assigned to President Weah, Gonquoi and scores of representatives drove back to Monrovia, and he later told reporters about his ordeal at the hands of gun-toting security personnel assigned with the Liberian leader, indicating how he felt humiliated and unjustifiably denied entry into the hall for the signing of the Farmington River Declaration, even though the Government of Liberia through Deputy Information Minister Jarlawah Tonpo at the time, refuted the EFFL CIC’s assertions, as being “a black lie from the belly of the Devil.”
But following several claims and counterclaims, coupled with interventions from several quarters including from within the circle of Liberia’s international partners, EFFL’s CIC Gonquoi, on Wednesday, at the Headquarters of the National Elections Commission (NEC), signed the document of peace, with NEC’s Director of Political Affairs, Ignatius Wisseh, who presided over the ceremony indicating that the Commission was grateful to the party for finally affixing its signature to the document that espouses a non-violent election in 2023.
Howbeit, immediately after the signing ceremony, EFFL’s Gonquoi told journalists that even before the official signing date of the Farmington River Declaration, the governing CDC had and continues to undermine the spirit and intent of the document.
Gonquoi, who divulged that his party affixed its signature to the Farmington River Declaration based on the engagements of friendly partners and actors within what he called the electoral territory, claimed the EFFL is aware of some inconsistencies with FRD.
Even though, Gonquoi noted that his party has qualms with the FRD, he reiterated that his party signed the document based on the fact that those he referred to as international friends reached out to the EFFL, indulging the party that with all its reservations, it should have gone ahead and sign the document so that the institution would be distinguished.
“We believe strongly that the document is not even being respected by the ruling party. We believe strongly that the document has consistently been undermined, [and] there was no justification to even sign it, because the document is not taking any effect,” Gonquoi maintained, adding that his party signed the instrument so as to have dispel the already growing notion that the failure of the EFFL to sign the FRD would have rendered the political institution a violent group.
He added, “We are aware that the document itself is meaningless at this point, because the document is being consistently undermined. But, because people believe our radicalism can be interpreted as violence, we want to distinguish ourselves to say to people, no, we are not violent – we will signature the document, but we are aware of the lapses of the document.”
Gonquoi continued: “We try to distinguish ourselves and make people to understand that the EFFL is not a violent political institution. The EFFL believes in and subscribes to the doctrine of peace – however, you don’t take us for granted.”
He then sent out a caveat that those who believe they can threaten the peace and democracy of Liberia can be assured the EFFL will not such people a resting place.
“We will ensure we bring sanity and hygiene to the politics of Liberia. Anybody who believes you can undermine this process, you have us to contend with.” Gonquoi emphasized.