-But not without preconditions
The Council of Patriots CoP, the political pressure group that organized the June 7 protest, which brought the nation to a standstill—bringing thousands of Liberians unto the streets to voice their displeasure about the manner in which the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government is handling the state, have accepted President Weah’s call for dialogue on strengthening the country’s bleak economy.
But CoP’s acceptance of the president’s pronouncement did not come without some daring preconditions. Key among these being the dismissal of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, also heads of the Economic Management Team, and Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Governor Nathaniel Patray.
These top government officials, the CoP said, have proven to be inept, corrupt and incapable of offering a solid economic blueprint that will resuscitate the ailing economy, and alleviate the “hardships faced by our people.”
This action, when taken, the group believes, will restore confidence for Liberians to embrace the called dialogue. CoP is assuring Liberians that there are smart measures and viable solutions in reviving the broken economy, but there must exist a political will and commitment from the President and his government to put such measures into action.
CoP has meanwhile pledged to offer a helping hand to Weah and his government, if and only if it operates in good faith. “We are open to dialogue and will work on our terms and conditions, as well as the agenda for any engagement, while we await the government,” the group said.
President Weah, two days ago, offered to engage in a national dialogue or announced a call to various sectors of the society to engage in a round-table discussion with national stakeholders.
In response to President Weah’s prerecorded nationwide address, CoP added: “Thankfully, the president now agrees with us that the economy has worsened, but there are smart measures and viable solutions to address this situation if there is political will to do so.”
The statement was signed by CoP’s spokespersons, Abraham Darius Dillon and Henry Pedro Costa.
“Tweah and Patray have proven to be inept, corrupt and incapable of offering a solid economic blueprint that will resuscitate our ailing economy and alleviate the hardships faced by our people,” the statement read.
It added, “These actions do not require a national dialogue, but the political will, which we believe is lacking in this President.”
The CoP may not be a political party or one of the renowned civil society organizations (CSO) in the country, but is now being hailed as a key advocate for good governance and the voice of the Liberian people. Headed by opposition characters with a support base that appears to transcend the political divide, the CoP appears to have won the admiration of many in the public. The group now echoes the voices of a distressed Liberian population, if the June 7 protest is anything to go by.
The President’s call for a national dialogue came barely four days after the mammoth display of national discontent over how the affairs of our nation are being managed.
Though details of the proposed dialogue remain unknown, CoP noted that the Liberian people have won a major milestone by knocking on the doors of a “recalcitrant government” that has resisted all attempts to dialogue.
“This is a welcome development as a victory for the Liberian People. The CoP will offer a hand to the government, if and only if it operates in good faith,” the group said.
Meanwhile, CoP has frowned on the government for shutting down the Internet, harassed and threatened citizens and some civil servants who were desirous of forming a part of the protest — a move the group believes undermines freedom of speech and of assembly.
“The government engaged in tactics to undermine the freedom of assembly, and freedom of movement on June 7, 2019. It illegally interrupted access to the Internet, intimidated and harassed citizens, threatened civil servants and other public sector employees, and even ordered that schools and businesses be opened,” the statement said.
It added, “The people disobeyed, and this form of civil disobedience exposed the weakness of the government.”
“There are confirmed reports that some individuals are being dismissed, and or being threatened at work places in government, and some of our colleagues and innocent citizens are still behind bars on trumped-up charges. All attempts to follow the law are being undermined by draconian tactics being deployed by state prosecutors.”
The group also added that the decision to charge and arrest Representative Yekeh Kolubah, a sitting lawmaker must be revoked.
“The Liberian people will no longer sit by and watch hopelessly the reckless self-enrichment and ostentatious display of ill-gotten wealth by the president, and the inner circle of his administration. Liberians will no longer sit by and hopelessly perish without any solution in sight after more than 14 months of this administration,” CoP statement noted.