Zor Zualay Citizens call for peace and reconciliation

By Jemuel Davis/Internews Fellow |

Karnplay-Citizens of Zor-Zualay town are calling on the Liberian Government to initiate what they call “peace and Reconciliation awareness” in their community ahead of the April 23, 2024 Senatorial By-election in Nimba County.

The awareness, according to the townspeople, will aid the settlement of the election violence that took place in their town between supporters of the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change during campaigns for the 2023 presidential runoff election.

Speaking to reporter in Zor-Zualay town Saturday April 13, 2024, the town chief, Zoe Dahn, said since the incident occurred last year, little or nothing has been done to restore peace between the supporters of the two political rivals.

Town Chief Dahn meanwhile indicated that the people of his town are still living with the pain and scars of the attack, noting that such ugly past still hinders peaceful coexistence among his people.

The town chief wants Peace and Reconciliation awareness be organized to eradicate fear among the inhabitants before, during and after the By-election in Nimba County this year.

“We want peace in our chiefdom. It is not about Zor-Zualay alone. There are other communities like Guagortuo, Dulay and other towns where the people are not speaking to each other because of the 2023 elections. Our communities, especially Zor-Zualay, were peaceful until politicians set us against each other”, Town Chief Dahn averred.

Mr. Dahn was not the only person concerned about the long standing dispute in that part of Nimba County. The youth leader of Zor-Zualay town, Mr. Mark Varsee, is also calling on the youth of his community to shun violence and discourage the repeat of the 2023 impasse between supporters of politicians in their Zor Chiefdom. Mr. Mark Varsee however blamed politicians for manipulating the youth to instigate violence during elections.

“…since the violent incident between supporters of the Unity Party and the Coalition for Democratic Change last election in our town, those politicians involved are nowhere to be found. Even to talk with community people whose daily hustles were disturbed are still feeling hurt because they felt that their right to movement was violated. They want their leaders to come and talk to them, but to no avail. …we are therefore talking to our young people not to tolerate any politician who will want to use them to stir up violence”, the youth leader intoned.

He meanwhile lauded the Center for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP), with support from the United Nations Peacebuilding (Peacebuilding Fund) and the UN Migration, for conducting a daylong stakeholder Dialogue, but said more needed to be done to restore peace in the area.

Held under the theme: “A reconciled society for sustainable growth”, the dialogue was intended to promote peaceful election and strengthen security protection before, during and after the 2024 Bi-elections in the Grand Gedeh County’s electoral district #1 and Nimba County’s electoral district #3 respectively.

“I thank the CECPAP people for the one day dialogue held with my people in Zor-Zualay town. I believe this will have positive impact on the community, but government, especially our senator and the vice president, need to come here and talk to our people, Mr. Varsee averred.

The youth leader then assured the community dwellers that his leadership will work with the requisite security authority to ensure that the young people of his town peacefully participate in the 2024 Senatorial By-election in Nimba County.

However, the women leader of Zor-Zualay town, Madam Alberta Zeagban, has expressed disappointment in the failure of the local authority of Gbehlay-Geh Statutory District (the statutory district that hosts Zor-Zualay town), the Nimba County local administration and the government of Liberia to initiate peace talks with parties involved in the 2023 electoral violence in their town.

“The leaders of our county, especially the senator, our vice president, our representative and our children from the CDC need to come here and make peace. They wasted blood here and it was not to be so”, Madam Zeagban noted.

The  violent clash between supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change, led by former representative candidate, Anthony W. Quiwonkpa, the son of the late General Thomas Quiwonkpa, and the Unity Party Alliance led by Senator Prince Y. Johnson and now vice president Jeremiah Kpan Koung, erupted on Friday November 10, 2023 in Zor-Zualay town, days before the November 14, 2023 presidential runoff election. The incident left 12 persons critically injured from both sides. But ever since, little or nothing has done to restore the peace the community people once enjoyed. According to reports, certain family members are not allowed to pass in certain quarters of the town and that there are reported feuds between and among families that used to share common farming boundaries because of the Zor-Zualay electoral fracas.

Vote rich Zualay town with 1837 registered voters is located around the East Nimba Nature Reserve of Mt Nimba in Zor chiefdom, northeastern Nimba County.

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