President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has dissolved the controversial task force under Madam Mary Broh, the embattled Acting City Mayor of Monrovia, for apparently flexing her muscle after a brief clash with Muslims who were breaking their day-long fast over the weekend.
The incident on Benson Street provoked an uproar among Muslims and some Christians who described the Mayor’s act of using baton-carrying members of the task force to disrupt the traditional rituals of the fasting Muslims as ‘barbaric and ruthless’.
In the meantime, President Johnson Sirleaf has expressed disdain and repugnance over the action of Mary Broh when the latter ordered the Special Presidential Task Force to raid the area along the Benson Street Mosque in a routine clean-up exercise.
Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Wleh Badio, quoting President Johnson Sirleaf, said the ‘uncalled for action’ of the Task Force, led by Madam Mary Broh, affected some members of the Muslim Community who were preparing to break their fast.
Badio made these disclosures yesterday at the Executive Mansion’s weekly news briefing held at the Foreign Affairs Ministry on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.
According to him, the President has been identifying with Liberian Muslims by distributing rice to various mosques in Monrovia and its environs, as they celebrate the Holy Month of Ramadan. But the incident on Saturday, August 29, 2009, threatened to overshadow that gesture.
At the same time, Badio said during a well-attended meeting with representatives of the Muslim Community and the National Muslim Caucus, President Johnson Sirleaf offered an apology for the incident.
The Liberian Chief Executive has also accepted a request for a meeting with representatives of Muslim groups in the country following the Fast Month.
Muslim leaders in the country have also requested a meeting with the President to discuss issues of concern.
Meanwhile, the Executive Mansion said President Sirleaf had dissolved the Broh-led Special Presidential Task Force with immediate effect. Madam Broh and her team had used the Force to demolish makeshift structures and market stalls to the discomfiture of their owners.
The Task Force, according to a briefing note issued by the Press Secretary’s Office, is not necessary; ‘now that the structure of the Monrovia City Corporation (MCC) is in place’.
At the same time, eyewitnesses, in separate interviews with the Daily Observer on Monday, expressed dissatisfaction over the action of Madam Broh and the now disbanded Presidential Task Force, last Saturday, “when they wasted food and other eatables belonging to Muslims who were breaking their Fast”.
According to the eyewitnesses, the move of the Task Force provoked anger and annoyance from the Muslim Faithful, but the situation was swiftly and professionally put under control by gallant officers of the Liberia National Police who later arrived at the scene.
Other eyewitnesses said the action of the Presidential Task Force was aimed at discouraging indiscriminate throwing of waste materials near the Benson Street Mosque and other nearby areas where some of the fast breakers were seen throwing dirt onto the principal streets.
Others, too, are of the opinion that such an act was a potential source of violence; something, they say, Liberia, which has just graduated from 14 years of armed conflict with unimaginable negative impacts, was not prepared for.