Liberia’s President and former football star George Weah has suspended his deputy information minister, Eugene Fahngon, for fuelling ethnic divisions by referring to descendants of freed slaves as “Congo Liberians”.
Mr Weah’s government was committed to a “one country, one people” policy, with zero tolerance for “divisive politicking or tribalism”, his office said in a statement, announcing Mr Fahngon’s suspension with immediate effect.
Mr Fahngon said on social media that an anti-government protest planned for 7 June had been orchestrated by so-called “Congo Liberians”, a reference to descendants of freed slaves who returned from the US to found Africa’s first independent republic, AFP news agency reported.
“I will not go for the June 7 demonstration. It is the Congo people who are behind the June 7 demonstration,” Mr Fahngon was quoted as saying.
In a statement, the US embassy in Liberia condemned his comments as “irresponsible”
It urged all Liberians to “reflect on their role in constructively contributing to development and sustaining peace” as the country prepares to celebrate National Unification Day next week.
Around 250,000 people were killed in Liberia’s civil war, which lasted from 1989 to 2003.
Although founded by freed American and Caribbean slaves, Liberia is mostly inhabited by indigenous Africans, with the slaves’ descendants comprising 5% of the population.