Gov’t vows to arrest those involved
The Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia); and Accountability Lab Liberia strongly condemn the Thursday, June 25, 2020 violent demonstration in Congo Town, especially setting up of unauthorized road blocks and burning of car tires by unscrupulous individuals allegedly associated with the Council of Patriots (COP), organizer of the June 7, 2019 protest in Monrovia.
The group made the statement on Friday June 26, 2020, in Monrovia, while indicating “we are appalled by this unwholesome act of violence, as such action has the propensity to undermine Liberia’s peace and instill fear in citizens and development partners as well as create a sense of insecurity.”
“While we recognize the rights of individuals or groups to protest and or voice out their frustration(s) about any happenings in the country, they must do so civilly and legally. We call on the Ministry of Justice and Liberian National Police to timely investigate the matter and prosecute those who masterminded and executed the violence,” the release said.
The release continued: “By the same token, we like to strongly condemn misjudged statement by the Mayor of the City of Monrovia, Mr. Jefferson Kojee, that he will form a Citizens Action Unit (CAU) that will serve as first responder to violent demonstrations/protests in the city of Monrovia.”
The release said such statement is unwarranted, counterproductive to Liberia’s peace and undermines the roles of the Liberian National Police and other state security apparatuses in the country.
The group urged Mayor Kojee to desist from making such utterances as it equally tends to ferment violence and jeopardize the peace of the country.
“We encourage all Liberians to jealously protect the Peace, as any violence and instability will worsen the already difficult economic condition of the Country,” they added.
Meanwhile, the Government warned that it will not tolerate acts of violence and lawlessness orchestrated by any group of people that seek to disrupt the country’s hard earned peace and stability.
The violent activities disrupted free movement on the Tubman Boulevard and the Old Road Community early Thursday, June 25, 2020, allegedly by some members of the self-styled Council of Patriots (CoP) group. However, the chairman of the Council of Patriots, Henry P. Costa, issued a statement over the weekend distancing his organization from the violent protest, saying that violence is not the signature of the CoP.
The protesters claimed that they gathered to protest the alleged decision by the Government to increase surcharge on internet data and calls.
Shortly after the protest, the National Security Agancy (NSA) invited Mr. Mamadou Coulibaly, Chief Executive of Orange Liberia, on suspicions that he was the mastermind of the violent protest. But in a release issued late Monday, June 29, Orange Group said “Orange Liberia stands by its policy of non-involvement in politics as it is the main rule of conduct within the Orange Group worldwide. Under no circumstances does Orange support politics nor has the company or any of its executives been involved in political actions directly or indirectly.”
The company meanwhile noted: “As regards to the issue of the imposition of surcharges to current tariffs, and as Orange Liberia’s shareholder, Orange Group has analyzed the impact of the Surcharges of the LTA Order 0016- 02-25-19 and concluded that these additional Surcharges imposed to GSM operators are jeopardizing their investments and their business continuity in Liberia.”
A release issued by the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) maintained that the Government has ordered Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Jr. to ensure that all perpetrators and their masterminds are arrested in order to face the full weight of the law.
The MICAT release said the Government recognizes that free expression and freedom to engage in political activities are guaranteed under the law, citing however, that violence will not be tolerated.
It said that those orchestrating and engaging in such acts will meet the full force of the country’s justice system.