Alvin Worzi and Robin Dopoe
Hundreds of stores in Monrovia and its surroundings did not open for business because of the planned protest held throughout the city yesterday, September 24, demanding the Weah Administration to restore the alleged “missing” L$16 billion.
Earlier, the leadership of the protesters called on concerned citizens, students, marketers, and farmers to suspend all activities and join the campaign to call on government to bring the country’s money back.
However, many business owners did not open their stores and shops, either in solidarity with the protesters or out of fear of potential violence that have often characterized protests in Liberia. And though there was no incidence of violence recorded, many protesters, who later went in search of food, were dismayed that even restaurants and cook shops remained closed throughout the day.
As far as Po River, Bomi County, the impact of the protest was felt, as people stayed at home instead of going about their normal business activities. The protest also affected the transport business, as many people opted to stay home, forcing taxi and bus drivers to drastically reduce their fares for the day in order to still win passengers.
The campaigners under the banner “Bring Back Our Money” dressed in their red, khaki, white and black paraded the streets of Monrovia, chanting various slogans. “We want our money now, this is not about party, and we will not compromise this L$16 billion issue. Crooks, bring back our money. Bring back our money, We did not see such a scandal under President Sirleaf, Weah bring our money back,” they cried.
Some were brave enough to determine how safe or dangerous it may be on the streets but, as the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia had earlier warned its citizens most people stayed away from the action and the route of the protest march.
So it was that many business centers in Monrovia did not open in anticipation of the planned protest to “Bring Back Our Money.” Schools were closed for the day in Monrovia.
The protest march was peaceful, despite the all-day raining. The Liberia National Police (LNP) was deployed as an escort “for the protection” of the protesters, as earlier promised by the Ministry of Justice.
People on social media debated as to whether there were even more than 1,000 protesters in attendance. It was also claimed that many in attendance were members of the now opposition political blocks, such as the “alliance” between the former ruling Unity Party, Liberty Party, and the Alternative National Congress.
Though the crowd available proved well over 2,000, the protesters were more concerned about the message they were sending to the Government of Liberia and its international partners, namely the United States Embassy, the European Delegation office and the United Nations.