— Says ALJA
The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas says the massive turn-out of Liberians on June 7, 2019, in response to the Council of Patriots’ (COP) street protests dubbed, “Save the State,” orchestrated against President George M. Weah and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led government’s woeful governance of Liberia, manifests that all is not well in the country politically and economically.
ALJA says the protest, which brought together thousands of Liberians of various religious, political and social dispensations including some hardcore loyalists of the ruling CDC administration insinuates that the President and the CDC leadership are under-performing; and they are not meeting the people’s expectations in the areas of economic management, rule of law and political governance.
The Association in a press release issued on June 11,2019, thanked the COP and the protesters for the civility and political maturity demonstrated on June 7th in portraying their disappointments to the President, CDC leadership and the international community about Liberia’s worsening economic condition and poor governance.
ALJA noted that the protest was held without any semblance of hooliganism or vandalism contrary to the apprehension expressed by many in the government and the international community that it would had resulted to another crisis and the break-down of law and order in the country
Also, ALJA extended thanks and appreciation to President Weah, the Liberian government, the Economic Community of West African States and the United Nations for their individual and collective roles played in making sure that the people’s rights to free assembly, movement and speech were respected and exercised during the protest without any major hindrance.
The Association said what transpired on June 7th demonstrates that Liberia’s nascent democracy is getting stronger; and the Weah administration must be applauded for the tolerance and political maturity exhibited.
However, the Association condemned the administration for restricting internet access to the country during the protest and described the government’s action as an act of censorship, which has further damaged its credibility at home and abroad. ALJA says it views Liberia’s Information Minister Eugene Nagbe’s justification for the shutdown as a charade. Minister Nagbe is reported to have stated that the shutdown was temporary and it was due to security concerns.
ALJA said the people have spoken loud and clear that they are unhappy with Mr. Weah’s stewardship; and urged the President and the CDC to listen to the people’s cries and begin to take the necessary corrective actions that would consolidate and sustain the country’s peace and stability.
Although, the Association said the COP failed to present to the Liberian government its most publicized and awaited petition, which provides a litany of prescriptions for concerns raised by the people, the massive outpouring of Liberians on the streets of Monrovia and its environs, should convince President Weah and the CDC leadership that they are under performing; and it is now time they double up and begin to do better in terms of political governance.
ALJA has also called on the leaders and the ruling CDC to take note of the concerns raised by the people; and begin taking the needed corrective measures to ensure a better Liberia for all. The United States-based Liberian journalists further cautioned the President and the ruling CDC to begin taking concrete actions that would help curtail the ongoing brazen thievery and other forms of malfeasance in the government.
ALJA said Liberians are concerned about what happened to the US 25 million dollars mop-up exercise fund, which was intended for the rejuvenation of the ailing Liberian economy.
The Association says Liberians also; want the President and the CDC government to stop the practice of selective justice in the enforcement of laws of the country.
The Association maintained all Liberians are equal before the law; and they should be treated equally whenever a crime or accusation of infringement occurs.
ALJA said it is unfair for the government to continue with the aggressive prosecution of some former executives of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) including past Governor Milton Weeks and Deputy Governor, Charles Sirleaf, for their alleged roles played in the Bank’s printing of 16 billion Liberian dollars without prior authorization from the National Legislature while Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah, CBL’s Governor Nathaniel Patray, and others linked to the dubious implementation of the US 25 million dollars mop-up exercise fund are being shielded from justice.
ALJA said despite being in receipt of a plethora of evidence and reports compiled by the US based accounting firm, Kroll Associates Inc, the Presidential Investigative Team (PIT) and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) which indicate wide-spread falsehood in the implementation and management of the mop-up exercise fund, President Weah and the CDC administration are still carving out plans aimed at vindicating Minister Tweah, Governor Patray and members of the Technical Economic Management (TEMT) from their exposed theft of the people’s money.
In a related development, ALJA has termed President Weah’s recent reinstatement of the Deputy Minister of Information for Press and Public Affairs, Eugene Fahngon, at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs (MICAT) as another slap in the face of good governance.
ALJA says Deputy Minister Fahngon’s reinstatement in the wake of the June 7th street protest dubbed Save the State, further manifests the Liberian Leader’s non-commitment to the principles of good governance and the rule of Law.
The Association maintained it is preposterous for the President to reinstate Mr. Fahngon, who is notorious at home and abroad for polarizing Liberians via Facebook messaging about happenings in Liberia on the day the people were in the streets of Monrovia protesting against him and his administration for reported bad governance.
ALJA said it acknowledges that Mr. Weah has the constitutional authority to appoint and dismiss at will, but he must exercise such right with caution making sure that Liberia’s national interest is not subjugated to personal interest.
The Association said Deputy Minister Fahngon’s return to the Information Ministry would further exacerbate the government’s poor relationship with Liberians at home and abroad given his style of divisive public relations.