Liberia: Senator Taylor Complains Colleague For “Inciting” Violence In Grand Cape Mount

Rep. Mohammed Dosii & Sen. Simeon Taylor

MONROVIA – The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Lands, Mines, Energy and Natural Resources, Senator Simeon Taylor, has blamed the recent violent clashes between aggrieved citizens and police officers assigned at the Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) on alleged inciting comments made by his kinsman Representative Mohammed Dosii of the governing Unity Party (UP).

By Obediah Johnson

At least two persons were reported dead and several others injured and hospitalized when aggrieved citizens of Bangoma and Kinjor staged a violent protest, demanding improved working conditions and increment in salaries, amongst others.

Police fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse the crowd which previously setup road blocks, burned down a police station, several machines belonging to the company, vandalized a vocational school, the homes and properties of some peaceful citizens who were reportedly against their action to stage a violent protest to stall the operations of the company.

Following the incident, Senator Taylor filed a formal complaint against his colleague Dosii to the Plenary of the Liberian Senate.

In his communication dated February 29 and addressed to Senate Pro Tempore Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Senator Taylor claimed that Representative Dosii was on February 24, 2024 seen in a gathering in King Jor, urging and rallying the citizens of Grand Cape Mount County to engage in a county-wide protest against the company.

“In the words of Hon. Dosii, he pleaded with the citizens to stage a protest that will bring all activities of the company to a standstill. Regrettably so, there is a violent protest ongoing in King Jor at the moment, just days after the call. Madam Pro Temp and distinguished Senators, I urge this body to take this issue on the part of Hon. Dosii very seriously, as his actions have led to the alleged loss of lives and wanton destruction of properties.”

He stressed the need for the Senate to liaise with the House of Representatives to have his kinsman show cause for his action in inciting the citizens to engage into a protest action that resulted to the loss of live and the damaged of properties worth thousands of United States dollars.

A video in the possession of FrontPage Africa shows Representative Dosii was heard calling for the protest to be staged across the entire county.

“The armed men they brought here, we will keep the peace but we are not afraid of armed people. We got almost 80,000 Cape Mountaineers and you bring 10,000 armed men-what you doing? We will keep telling them to stop intimidation. We are not forcing Bea Mountain against their will.”

“We don’t want for the protest to be Bangoma protest, Kinjor protest or Masakpa protest; we want it be Cape Mount protest. Under the watch of the new caucus, we will hold together and fight for Cape Mount. If the Legislature wants to expel us, they can go ahead and expel us.”

He accused the company of not living up to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed with the government, but hiring armed security officers to intimidate citizens and protect the interest of foreign investors.

But speaking in an exclusive interview with FrontPage Africa over the week end, Senator Taylor termed as “grave and condemnable” the violent protest which was staged by the locals in the county.

He said though many lawmakers hailing from the county have been exerting efforts to mitigate the impasse between the company and the aggrieved residents and employees in relations to a 38-count petition presently to the caucus, Representative Dosii has been allegedly engaged into fueling tension within the concession area.

He stressed that opposition lawmakers supposed to be the ones orchestrating plans to make the government unpopular by instigating violence, instead of a UP lawmaker doing so.

“The violent in Grand Cape Mount was actually caused by a lawmaker. When I went Kinjor, I couldn’t get down because my colleague Dosii has sold me to the people. He has told the people that the company has given us money and is building houses for old lawmakers. This accusation is in the minds of the people.”

 “You can solve problems without being violent and I strongly believe that the culture of violence is condemnable and we need to stop that.”

Senator Taylor observed that the alleged action of his colleague Representative Dosii is a misuse of power intended to put the citizens against other members of the county’s legislative caucus.

“The reason why the people gave people power is to allow exercise the voice of the people in a respectful and most civilize manner. I have written against Representative Mohammed Dosii already for breaching the peace. He provoked violence and incited the people.”

He added that Representative Dosii was elected to lead his people and as such, he should desist from acts which have the propensity to cause chaos and confusion in the county.

According to him, the situation in the county would generate into a tribal conflict if actions are not taken to address the wrong.

The Bangoma issue

Senator Taylor maintained that citizens of Bangoma have been raising issues with BMMC pertaining re-location, after they had already sold their land to the company without the consent of their lawmakers.

He pointed out that the citizens initially agreed for the company to purchase 600-acres of land for their relocation, but they are now complaining that the land purchased cannot host them.

They also complained of the lack of land to bury their deceased relatives and loved ones, farming and recreational activities.

He disclosed that following the issue raised by the citizens, the caucus took a decision to invite authorities of the company to the Capitol Building to find solution to the issues.

Incomplete government

According to him, lawmakers from the county were unable to timely and adequately present the citizens’ plights to the relevant authorities due to the incomplete nature of the government.

“The government is just being formed. We don’t have Ministers and Deputy Ministers for some of the ministries and agencies. We as lawmakers have oversight responsibility, but we don’t have prosecution or implementation powers.”

He disclosed that until the government is “well seated and formed”, lawmakers from the county cannot move forward in finding immediate solutions to the concerns raised by the citizens.

However, Senator Taylor stated that the caucus is exerting efforts but some citizens still hold the perception that “we are not working and decided to erupt into violence.”

He observed that many of those who formed part of the violent protest were not in the employ of the company.

He noted that violent acts would lead to the shutting down of concession companies operating in the country and scare away investors and as such, citizens should always find amicably solutions to their grievances instead of becoming violent to print Liberia ugly to the outside world.

Senator Taylor said Liberians should continue to engage their leaders and hold dialogue with investors who they have problems with, instead of taking the law into their own hands.

Increment in SDF

He used this medium to disclose that the caucus, in the past managed to negotiate for increment in BMMC Social Development Fund (SDF) to Grand Cape Mount from US$200,000 to US$1.5M annually.

He said the money would be distributed US250, 000 to each of the four affected communities the company is operating in.

“Maybe we can make it better by negotiating but not by coming as a new lawmaker to cause violence and people losing their lives and properties. You can’t be fighting or advocating for people and you killing them or tearing their community down.”

Senator Taylor wondered why some of his colleagues are not giving him the needed support as the Senate Chair of Lands, Mines, Energy and Natural Resources to mitigate the situation by working along with them and other line government ministries and agencies.

 “Bea Mountain may not be doing everything right, but there is a way to mitigate those wrongs to rights. The citizens have the right to protest, but their protest should not lead to embarrassing other people by vandalizing their houses. I am not against protest, but I am against people getting involved into protest and destroying other people houses and properties. Dialogue around the table is the way forward now.”

He said the sustenance of peace and stability in Liberia should be the paramount concern of all Liberians, regardless of political affiliation or tribe.

He called on citizens of the county to remain calm and peaceful as the caucus is “negotiating and engaging” in their interest.

Meanwhile, the Liberian Senate is expected to take action on the communication from the Grand Cape Mount County lawmaker this week.

The current situation may likely ignite division among members of the county’s legislative caucus thereby depriving citizens the opportunity to benefit from developmental initiatives and other basic social services.

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