By Olando Testimony Zeongar
MONROVIA – United States ambassador accredited to Liberia, Michael A. McCarthy, has cautioned political parties in the country against a repeat of what he calls political disruption of a church service, which he terms as “nonsense.”
It is recalled, on Sunday, 21 May, thugs believed to belong to the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), mostly drawn from one of the Coalition’s constituent member party, the former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, disrupted an ongoing worship service when they stormed the premises of the Christ Chapel of Faith Church of Nimba County Senator and Evangelist Prince Y. Johnson, the former political leader of the MDR (Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction).
The violent CDC supporters told reporters at the time that they stormed the Christ Chapel of Faith Church to disrupt the worship service in defense of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, who they had thought Evangelist Johnson would have called out in his sermon on that day, in reaction to denigrating comments Vice President Jewel had earlier spewed out against the Nimba senator.
Using his official Facebook handle, Evangelist/ Senator Johnson had earlier posted that during the service that was disrupted, he would have responded to allegations levied against him by VP Jewel.
During the duration the thuggery at the Christ Chapel of Faith Church lasted, the ruling party goons uncontrollably and loudly shouted pro-George Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor slogans, while also intimidating Johnson, a former warlord, with the establishment of a war crimes tribunal to prosecute crimes committed during Liberia’s decade-plus internecine war.
Minutes later, Evangelist/ Senator Johnson and the church leadership abruptly adjoined the worship service and he hurriedly left the church premises, leaving several adult worshippers and scores of children undergoing Sunday School lessons at the time, shocked, but also terrified.
Howbeit, U.S. envoy McCarthy, at a media roundtable on Wednesday, while congratulating political party leaders, civil society organizers, and international dignitaries on signing the Farmington River Declaration (MRD) last month, pointed out that his commendation was not without a caveat, adding, going forward, he expects all parties to avoid a repeat of the nonsense witnessed two weeks ago with the political disruption of a church service at the Christ Chapel of Faith.
McCarthy observed that signatories to the Farmington River Declaration made a clear commitment to prevent violence, cooperate with law enforcement agencies, expand voter education, avoid inflammatory language and disinformation, and accept the official election results, among many other elements.
He called on political leaders in the country, cautioning that if their signatures to the MRD mean anything, they are being depended on to honor and uphold those high standards invoked in the Declaration.
“The true test of this commitment will be the execution of a free, fair, transparent, and peaceful election process over the next 19 weeks,” he emphasized.
On 4 April, the National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia, in collaboration with its international partners including United Nations and ECOWAS, led a process that witnessed several stakeholders including political and civil society leaders, as well as international dignitaries, and representatives of registered political parties in the country signing the Farmington River Declaration in a bid to reaffirm commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections slated for later this year on 10 October.