There were several weeks of a much-publicized protest organized by a group of Liberians. Operating under the banner of the “Ellen Step Down Campaign,” they called for President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to leave the Liberian Presidency. Reasons given for their call included what the group described as rampant corruption, nepotism in government and the failure of the government to improve the lives of the Liberian people.
It began after the Liberian leader left the country for the United Nations 68th General Assembly in New York. Later, she paid state visits to Canada, and the Caribbean State of Costa Rica, where a bust-sized statue of the first female African president was unveiled at the United Nations University’s Garden of Peace. The protest was planned for October 9, 2013, upon the President’s return, after a three-week outing.
But after weeks of intense campaigning and galvanization of their supporters, the “Ellen Step down Campaign” turned into a fiasco after President Sirleaf arrived triumphant amid cheers and jubilation, right in the presence of her detractors, who were in attendance.
As the Liberian leader disembarked Brussels Airliner 000-SFY, she was greeted with applause, chanting of party slogans, and cultural performances from the National Culture Troupe of Liberia, dispelling the notion that there was a planned protest.
Mrs. Sirleaf appeared tired from the long trip, saying upon arrival, that she had undergone a minor surgery in the US three days before. Doctors had advised that she stayed and recuperated; however, she decided to come home to her people rather than stay in the US.
President Sirleaf said, “This is the right time for Liberians to unite for an onward march for reconstruction and development of the country, especially as the dry season approaches.”
She thanked her many supporters for gathering at the airport to welcome her home, despite the fact that she normally does not like such large gatherings.
It was also reported that State Security arrested at least eight of the leaders of the ‘Ellen Step-Down Campaign’ on the morning of the planned protest.
Mulbah Morlu of the main opposition political party, the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) is one of the leaders of the Ellen Step-Down Campaign. According to Police sources, he was arrested at the Airfield Community in the Sinkor area at 1:30 p.m. on October 9, while allegedly distributing T-shirts to supporters of their campaign.
Key amongst those reported arrested were the campaigner’s public relations officer, Julius Jensen and their chief strategist, Bah-Wah Brownell as well as five unidentified organizers riding the vehicle of the campaigners who were conducting public awareness to bring out their supporters to call for President Sirleaf’s resignation.
The euphoria at the airport was characterized by praise singing in favor of the regime with the President’s supporters calling for continuity and the maintenance of ten years of peace that Liberians currently enjoy.