-Says Liberia’s past is too bitter
Ahead of the planned June 7 protest in the country, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf cataloged the importance of holding dialogues to settle differences rather than taking the streets with protests.
In an interview with LBS Director General on Thursday, May 9, 2019 with LBS Ledgerhood Rennie, on the Bumper Show, Madam Sirleaf said while peaceful protest is fundamental and a constitutional rights for the citizens, care must be taken not to allow sentiments to override the objective of the planned June 7 “peaceful protest.”
Though the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) chairman, Mulbah Morlu recently accused her of being one of the architects of the planned June 7 protest, the former President said she preferred dialogue to protest, taking cue from the country’s history.
“Peaceful protest is a fundamental and constitutional right, which must always be protected and should not be denied. But let us remember our experience, and how quickly things get out of hands. Let us remember how quickly the unexpected can occur,” she said.
She said Liberia belongs to everybody, and that everyone should have equal rights to access equal benefits.
Sirleaf added, “What can and should change is the current course. Therefore, we call upon the government to demonstrate the willingness for change and choose the path in these cross-roads that lead to the peace and stability that you have learned over all these years.”
“Our government has the primary responsibility for this, and I am glad that our Senate has taken some actions in recent time, and that President Weah, who must lead this effort is also beginning to take some steps toward this objective,” she said.
About the challenging economic conditions, Sirleaf said the George Weah-led government should not be solely blamed, “because there is a challenge that is beyond our collective national capacity to address those cardinal issues.”
Sirleaf said people should understand that reviving an economy is not an issue of pressing a button of a music player to get it forwarded.
“We can find solutions to the problems, only that we need to get people together to start thinking carefully to put together those plans that would enable us to successfully go through,” she said.
Madam Sirleaf added, “If we want the administration’s objectives to be met, I don’t think anyone can disagree with me on these points.”
The former President thinks that there is a need for Liberians to put their heads together, and that it is good for consultations to go beyond certain specific group on party lines.
“I believe that our people will respond to initiatives of peace and dialogue, for they too want a peaceful nation to achieve the objective that would move toward the security that they have long desired,” she said.
Sirleaf added, “Liberia has forever been dependent on the exportation of iron ore and rubber to the extent that in the times of high rubber prices, there has been no problem, but by the time the rubber market price drops on the world market, Liberia will experience difficulty circumstances, thus making things difficult for the country.”
“We should have done more, but also when we were faced with the same situation in the last years of our administration, we knew that economic diversification was the way to go. We are not doing enough in the agriculture sector as a country, but I think something can be done to alleviate the current turbulent economic crisis,” she said.
As the political godmother of the country who is interested in seeing President Weah succeed, Madam Sirleaf advised Mr. Weah to ask for financial assistance from the international monetary Fund (IMF) as well as other financial institutions, including the African Development Bank, rather than being afraid of debts.
She added: “I think that all Liberians, first of all should be committed to seeing a better Liberia. Liberians should be willing to contribute. I do believe that we should also have a government that welcomes the exchange of ideas, working together and listening to others, even when they are in the opposition block.”
She advised that those in the opposition also have a role to play, and therefore, should be allowed to contribute, because they will also benefit, whether good or bad.
“The will benefit or they will suffer. All of them need to put eyes to this thing, and how we can succeed together as a people, because difficulties come to every country at different times under different circumstances, which situation does not call for staging protest of any kind,” Sirleaf said.