Groups of civil society organizations in Liberia with some commonalities in objectives and goals are calling on the Government, mainly the President and Vice President to show a united leadership in the fight against the Coronavirus instead of presenting themselves as individual politicians seeking favor from voters.
Those CSOs include the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD), NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-Liberia), Accountability Lab Liberia and Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).
CENTAL’s Executive Director, Anderson Miamen, who spoke on behalf of the groups, called on the President and Vice President to lead by example in fostering and promoting a national fight that rallies the support of all stakeholders.
“The President and Vice President cannot be running individual projects when they should be leading a government of actions and efforts to which all Senators, Representatives, civil servants and even ordinary citizens and development partners can form a part,” said Miamen.
Mr. Miamen said the Fight against the Coronavirus Disease should be de-politicized, stating “the Ministry of Health, National Public Health Institute of Liberia and other relevant bodies must be adequately capacitated to lead the fight, void of undue political influence and interference.”
He said at the moment, they strongly believe that their roles are being undermined by the increasing involvement of the Monrovia City Corporation in Contact Tracing and Surveillance gathering with no prior experience and capacity of recruits.
“Non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, traditional and religious leaders, community leaders and the media played key roles during the Ebola fight and must be recognized by the government and provide the opportunity to contribute. The Leadership and essential staff of CSOs must be equally allowed to work, as they play vital roles in creating awareness, providing valuable inputs to government as well as independently monitoring and reporting on key trends and decision-making processes around the fight,” Miamen said.
Mr. Miamen said the government has to subsidize the costs of electricity and water by providing gasoline or fuel to reduce the burdens of cost and instability of current to enable Liberian families access these basic social services.
“We do recognize that government does not have the capacity and resources to fully implement all these measures. Therefore, it must work with funding partners to source money and other resources to implement these recommendations,” he said.
He called on the government to, in consultation with Commercial Banks, place moratorium on payment of loans and interests by creditors to commercial Banks for the period of 3-months. According to him, this will alleviate the pressure and economic impact on businesses.
“We wish to remind the government of its accountable responsibility to itself, citizens and development partners contributing valuable resources and inputs to the process. Updates to the public must include resources received and how they are expended, while mechanisms and frameworks that should be accessible to the media, civil society and partners must be established and maintained to ensure availability of basic and timely information to the public about ongoing efforts and resources received for the efforts,” he said.
As state of emergency takes effect though without concurrence of the Legislature yet and security forces are spread out, Mr. Miamen cautions that, while the government enforces these measures using the national army and other security apparatuses, the human rights of citizens and other residents must be fully respected and protected.
He reiterated calls for all Liberians and residents to fully respect instructions from government and health authorities to protect themselves and others during this period.
“We must all observe the social distancing rules and avoid actions that undermine the fight against COVID-19, which cannot be won without collaborative and well-coordinated efforts of all concerned. Also, civil society recommits to remaining constructively engaged with the Government to forge a united, concerted, well-coordinated and citizen-driven fight against the deadly Coronavirus in the Country,” he said.