Liberians Hold Peaceful, But ‘Council of Patriots’ Refuses To Petition Gov’t
On June 7, several hundreds of Liberians, most of whom believed to be partisans of the opposition turned out to petition their government on numerous issues they claimed affecting the country’s economy and the nation at large, but the protesters who came out in their numbers became disappointed when their leaders could not petition the government they claim is corrupt.
Since Liberia was founded in 1822, citizens in Liberia and abroad have witnessed one of the most peaceful ever protests which took place on June 7, 2019; as the ‘Council of Patriots’ refused to present their petition to the Weah-led government on grounds that five individuals linked to the brutal flogging of a man to be released.
The protesters lauded the government of President George M. Weah for orderly conducting the protest and maintaining the already fragile peace, with the professionalism the police exhibited.
With the over nineteen counts in their leaked petition that was supposed to be presented to the government, they included another condition outside of their petition that spoke about the release of the five individuals who were arrested by the Liberian National Police (LNP) and turned over to the Ministry of Justice for further investigation, for their alleged involvement in the brutal flogging of an individual upon the alleged orders of Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
But releasing of those individuals was not considered as one of their counts for which they could not present their petition to the government, and that has given reasons for Liberians to believe that the organizers of the protest never had anything tangible to present to the government.
The protesters who were signing and chanting anti-government slogans on Friday, June 7, said they are convinced that the deteriorating economic conditions will continue to worsen, though they have refused to realize the fact that the deteriorating condition of the country’s economy is being attributed to the Ebola crisis and other challenges inherited by President George M. Weah’s administration.
Though they deliberately refused to present their petition to some high profile officials of government and the ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, the spokesperson of COP, Abraham Darius Dillon told Liberians that they are determined to help avert the worsening governance situation from further deteriorating and they were not going to leave the streets until they got response from the President.
According to the COP official spokesperson Dillon, if the people do not petition their government to avert the worsening situation as alleged, it could thereby undermine Liberia’s fragile peace and democracy, after painful sacrifices by Liberians, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), the United Nations, the United States of America, and the European Union.
Unconfirmed information permeating various quarters disclosed that the officials of COP and government of Liberia signed an MoU that either the President or the Vice President would have gone to receive the petition from the protesters at about 3:00 pm, but information says that the Vice President was designated by the President, but she was unable to receive the petition on grounds that she was sick.
After hours of negotiation on who to receive the petition, the organizers of the June 7 protest, Talk-show Host, Mr. Henry P. Costa, Bomi County Senator, Sando Johnson, COP Spokesperson Abraham Darius Dillon, along with delegates of ECOWAS, including the ECOWAS Ambassador agreed that the petition be presented to the representatives of the Government.
Those who represented the government during the protest on Friday included Foreign Affairs Minister, Gbehzongar Findley, Atty. General of Liberia, Justice Minister Musa Dean, and President Weah’s Economic Advisor, Achieboy Bernard.
Others were Special Aid to President Weah, Sekou Karasco Damaro, the Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue, and Representative Edwin M. Snowe.
Mr. Henry P. Costa who is the lead organizer of the protest told protesters that they were not leaving the protest site until President Weah came to receive their petition, but protesters summersaulted and became to leave when the Ministry of Justice refused to listen to their request to release the five individuals.
“If President Weah does not respond to our demands we will not leave the streets,” Talk-show Host Costa, as he was heard singing a popular American song “We not are going anywhere, Right here.”
Justice Minister Dean in an angry tone cited that the situation with those guys are legal issue and has nothing to do with the protest, but leaders of the protest, particularly Unity Party Chairman, Wilmot Paye argued that the five individuals are also members of the protest, as such, they have to be on the site before they present their petition to the government.
Meanwhile, organizers of the protest announced to their followers that they will be conducting a major press conference today to inform the public on their next steps in engaging the government of Liberia.
It was observed that when the protest organizers started creating bottlenecks for the presentation of their petition, the protesters gradually started leaving the protest site before they could announce that their followers should go home and come back the next scheduled day.
When the protesters were leaving the streets, some bystanders became singing songs of praises to the Liberian National Police (LNP) and the President of the Republic of Liberia, George M. Weah for the high level of professionalism demonstrated by the Police; the Police Inspector General, Patrick Sudue and his deputies did not leave the protest scene until the crowd got disbursed.
The protest took place at the grounds of the Executive Mansion and Capitol Building, the building hosting the National Legislature on Friday, June 7, 2019 with several businesses, public institutions and schools closed.
Our reporter who covered the protest observed that officers of the Joint Security forces, including the LNP, BIN, LNFS, EPS and other security apparatus were the last group to leave the scene after exercising high restraints during the protest, though they were provoked on several occasions by some protesters.