Liberia: Claims, Counter claims Following Mysterious Burning of Unity Party Chairman’s Home Heightens Political Tension


MONROVIA – The burning of the house of the newly minted Chairman of the opposition Unity Party Rev. J. Luther Tarpeh has sparked an exchange of accusations from the government of President George Weah and the former ruling party.

Minutes after the incident on Friday, the Unity Party issued a press release, accusing the ruling party of being behind the incident.

“Reported government-hired arsonists attacked Unity Party Chairman’s home, days after armed men believed to be agents of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change tailed the vehicle of the chairman and party executives to identify locations of their homes.”

“The attackers believed to be operatives of the government of Liberia threw several petrol bombs during the early hours of August 12, 2022 in the fence of Chairman Tarpeh which is believed to have led to the fire.”

The Unity Party said it feared that democratic gains made during her twelve-year stewardship of Liberia has significantly retrogressed under the CDC -led government.

“The bad memory of Liberia’s dark days are again surfacing, where opposition leaders and critical voices in the country are constantly humiliated, and in some instances found dead with no outcomes of government announced investigations.

The government, however, rejected the Unity Party accusations, saying that the fire incident didn’t bear the signs of an attack by the Coalition of Democratic Change.

“The government is deeply troubled by allegations contained in a press release from the UP alleging that the government sponsored the incident. The party in the release said the government hired thugs to commit arson.”

Information Minister Ledgerhood Julius Rennie called the claim unfair and irresponsible, bearing no element of truth. He said the Administration of President George M. Weah is not in the business of physically attacking its political opponents. “What do we stand to benefit from the action”, the minister retorted.

He said President George Weah is a man of peace who ascribes to the democratic process, respect for human rights, and the rule of law; and is running a responsible government that does not engage in acts of gangsterism.

The government, the minister said, empathizes with the victim, Rev. Tarpeh, who himself told journalists that he does not yet fully understand what led to the fire outbreak. 

However, contrary to the UP Chairman’s statement, the party’s secretary general, Amos Tweh, had already sweepingly accused the government of committing the unfortunate act even before the arrival on the scene of investigators from the Liberia National Fire Service and the Liberia National Police. 

Tweh’s remarks were “disappointingly” contained in the party’s release.

“The government wishes to emphasize that it has an internationally acclaimed democratic record, while also being led by an icon of peace, and will do nothing to taint its reputation. It’s high time political actors refrain from incendiary rhetoric that could undermine the country’s hard-earned peace, as we move to general and presidential elections next year,” Minister Rennie added.

“These creeping and unwarranted acts of provocation and bellicose political maneuverings will not distract the government from the course of development meant to improve the livelihood of ordinary Liberians.”

The government, Minister Rennie said, is only interested in solidifying the country’s peace and building upon its democratic gains and therefore calls on all political parties, their cohorts, and supporters to join in this national endeavor.

Liberians divided on opinions

Liberians, meanwhile, have been weighing in on the incident since Friday, with some accusing the government of masterminding what they suspect as arson attack on Tarpeh’s home, while others believed the reaction of Unity Party in the aftermath of the incident was only intended to scapegoat the government.

Rannie Toddeh, a Liberian, said: “You people are the very masterminds behind all of this, but the truth shall reign. You guys are capable of doing anything just to come back and continue your broad day looting but the people of Liberia will continue to reject you. For a Tarpeh of a Reverend to allow himself to be used in such a manner, heaven must be bleeding with regret to have such a man continue to exist and parading as Reverend. These are sad times for our country. We know them and we know them very well, even by names.”

Ben Harris, another Liberian, said: “It’s very easy to accuse people, but it is difficult to prove. If you ask these UP people to bring forward pieces evidence. Absolutely, nothing you will get.”

Obediah Karr, a Liberian, added: “Who else is noted for the act of hooliganism and barbarism if not CDC government? And their blind supporters will come in their defense because they’re all shenanigans. But CDC will get her rewards, no crime goes unpunished.”