“We did not call of the protest… but we oblige…”
In response to the 11th hour intervention by the Liberia’s foreign partners, calling for a change of date and venue for the protest that was scheduled for today, December 30, 2019, the Council of Patriots (CoP) has announced their provisional compliance with the postponement of the protest. However, the organizers have emphatically stated that the Government of Liberia’s proposed new date and venue — Sunday, January 5, 2020 at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium — are unacceptable.
Below are highlights of the CoP press conference, held today at 10 a.m. at the headquarters of Roots FM in Monrovia:
- CoP will not protest on a Sunday or Friday, out of respect for their supporters who are members of the Christian and Islamic faiths and worship on those days, respectively. They noted that their earlier protest, which took place on Friday, June 7, 2019 and said that CoP will never again hold a protest on a Friday.
- CoP will not assemble in an enclosed space (such as a stadium), for it defeats the purpose of the people airing the grievances in full view of the people who need to hear it.
- While CoP complies in principle with the rescheduling of the protest the group absolves itself of any part in the decision to postpone. “The CoP did not call off the protest; the CoP is not calling off the protest…” That this was solely an intervention by Liberia’s international partners on behalf of the Government of Liberia due to the government’s professed lack of capacity to provide protection for citizens who plan to peacefully assemble.
- CoP proposes Monday, January 6, 2020 as the rescheduled date for their peaceful protest and that it will not be in an enclosed venue.
- CoP also referred to the intervention of Liberia’s international partners at this 11th hour as “an intrusion” into the internal affairs of the state. “We do not object to intervention or intrusion, as much as we feel they are getting too much involved in our domestic affairs — that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But we hope that same level of intrusion will be made when it comes to the US$25 million [infusion]; that same level of intrusion will be made when it comes to other bread-and-butter issues like the L$16 billion; that same level of intrusion will be made when it comes to the attacks on Honorable Yekeh Kolubah, Senator Dillon, or Henry Costa or Mo Ali…”
- “We believe we have captured the attention of the International Community. Few senior diplomats will be up late at night, gathered in a room, going back and forth over our assembly. We think that, in itself, is a singular accomplishment; that today Monrovia is quite and peaceful… that nobody has been hurt and, God willing, nobody will be hurt.”