With about 11 more days to the much-publicized “Weah Step Down” campaign by the Council of Patriots (COP), a breakaway group of the COP — the Independent Council of Patriots (ICoP), and widows of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), have jointly detested the upcoming campaign.
The COP is headed by provocative talk show host Mr. Henry Pedro Costa, who is expected to return to the country today, Thursday, December 19, 2019. Up to late yesterday evening, Henry Costa had posted that he had landed in Accra, Ghana and is planning to continue to the Roberts International Airport today.
Speaking at the start of a community sensitization initiative in the Doe Community on the Bushrod Island near Monrovia, the Chairman of ICoP, Rufus Dio Neufville, called on planners of the upcoming protest to abandon their quest and use the democratic process, because President George Manneh Weah was elected through popular votes of the people.
Mr. Neufville, a former Representative of Electoral District #8 and an expelled member of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), asserted that while he or the ICOP does not support the government in totality owing to the prevailing economic situation, any attempt to call on the President to step down forcibly is ‘treasonable’ and it undermines the peace and stability of the country.
He noted that continued violence does not only affect the ruling class but rather increases hardship on the suffering masses and, as such, it would continue to scare away potential investors from coming into the country. Members of the COP have however assured the public that the protest will be peaceful as it was on June 7.
“We are not in total support of the government; we are not saying that the government should not work for the people, but what we are saying is that we don’t want any more violence here. Our people must follow the law, because there are laws and procedures on the book on how to remove a sitting President,” Neufville stated.
He said the ICOP is going to take the sensitization initiative into 35 different communities within Monrovia before the 30th of December in order to speak to the minds of Liberians so that they are not misguided.
Neufville was a staunch supporter of the Council of Patriots, but withdrew his support right after the June 7 protest that gathered mammoth crowd this year. He has always accused Henry Costa and other members of the COP of corruption, stressing that Costa is “after personal enrichment at the expense of members of the COP.” In a counter view, members of the COP had also accused him of secretly recording voices of members of COP and leaking same to the government.
Madam Musu Kermue, Vice Chairlady of the AFL widows, also frowned on the December 30 protest on grounds that it has the propensity to escalate into further violence that could undermine the current peace process. Musu, however, did not state who or what will spark the violence, although organizers of the planned protest have assured the public to conduct themselves peaceably.
Madam Kermue, who claims she felt the pinch of the 14-year civil crisis, pointed out: “We don’t want our children to feel the pain that we went through.”
“President Weah was elected by us, the very Liberian people, and in case of anything, we should also remove him the same way because we have the power to do so. It is better that we remain quiet and eat our dry rice in peace than to engage ourselves in violence to tear our country apart. We want peace because peace is the answer,” noted the spokesperson of the AFL Widows.
Also in remarks, the chairman of the youth of Doe Community, Mr. Lorenzo Weah, condemned the protest.
Like Mr. Neufville and Madam Kermue, Weah said continued violence does more harm than good to the country because it carries the country back as it scares away investors.
“We are not going to sit and allow our country to slip down the dream. We, too, are going to speak to the consciences of our people; letting them know that demonstration is not the way forward,” he added.
Doe Community is one area that the administration of President George Weah prioritized for road building when he (Weah) took over from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The community hosts a statute of President Weah and many residents feel elated by the road development.