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Liberian Opposition Leader Charges Police with Attempted Assassination

CDC standard bearer Winston Tubman says police began shooting soon after he and his VP candidate Weah arrived at party headquarters

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James Butty

Liberia's top opposition leader says he believes he and his running mate, George Weah, were targeted for assassination during last week’s pre-election violence near his party’s headquarters.

Winston Tubman of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) said police fired live rounds at his supporters, even though they were retreating into the party compound.

He said he does not believe the police would have used lethal force had they not been authorized by someone in higher authority.

“After I arrived on the scene, within five minutes, the violence began. So, I believe it indicates that this was an attempt to get rid of me, or me and my vice president together, because otherwise they would have opened fire, or they would have made attempts to disperse the crowd much before the time I came there,” he said.

However, Deputy Information Minister Norris Tweah said the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf believes in political competition, not political assassinations.

He said President Sirleaf is forming an independent commission of inquiry to probe the November 7 violence.

“President Sirleaf is a genuine and an exemplary leader, who believes in democracy.  She does not conspire to harm citizens of her own country, not to talk about a political leader.  She believes in political competition.  So I do not know where Counselor Tubman is getting that claim from,” Tweah said.

Tweah said the commission will be headed by Roman Catholic nun Sister Mary Laurene Browne to probe the November 7 violence.

Tubman said the investigation should be headed by independent, international dignitaries.  He says Browne is a known supporter of President Sirleaf.

“I’m on record of having said that Sister Mary Laurene Browne, who is the head of the committee, is a friend of the president and one of her praise singers and I thought it would have been better had the president appointed someone more neutral,” Tubman said.

He said he had no comment on the president’s choice of Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee to head the National Peace and Reconciliation Initiative because he said he did not know a great deal about Gbowee.

Tubman brushed off criticism that he and his party are not interested in peace because of the many demands they continue to make.

“We are interested in peace and we’re doing everything possible to get our supporters to see that and to cooperate and to not become violent,” Tubman said.

He said had the National Elections Commission of Liberia responded to CDC demands before the election, the CDC could have participated in the runoff.

“And this would be much better for the country by having so many young, energetic young people brought into the political process rather than that they should remain outside of it feeling unhappy and cheated,” Tubman said.

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