-Presents ‘Ten Commandments’ to gov’t this Saturday
By Tina S. Mehnpaine
The probability of countering the protest actions of the Council of Patriots (COP) by the Independent council of Patriots (ICOP), which appears to be an extreme opponent of the Henry Costa-led group, appears no longer feasible; therefore the ICOP has drawn up a new plan to now engage the government.
The ICOP’s initial plan could no longer work as the COP had already held its mass citizens action, which did not end as peacefully as planned. This, therefore, compelled the ICOP, being a splinter of the COP, to emerge with their own protest, which is professed to be quite different from its originally announced protest.
Established by former Montserrado County Representative, Rufus Neufville, who was reportedly expelled from the parent body, the ICOP, at a press conference a fortnight ago announced plans to hold a counter-protest against the COP on grounds that the COP was undermining the peace; however ICOP’s counter-protest plans fizzled out as COP’s January 6 protest went on.
On January 6, the COP presented a 5-count petition to the Government of Liberia, much of them reiterated from an initial exhaustive list of demands presented during the COP’s June 7, 2019 “Save The State” protest.
The ICOP now says that, on Saturday, January 11, it will present what the group describes as its “Ten Commandments” to the government of Liberia, “for prompt action”, though the venue is yet to be decided.
“We will stage a peaceful protest this Saturday to present a petition containing ‘Ten Commandments’ to the government for prompt action,” Neufville said at a press conference held in Monrovia recently.
He added that the petition will basically focus on the interest of the young people, the fight against corruption, and speaking for the ordinary people.
Neufville said mobilization is ongoing to triple the number of protesters brought onto the streets on June 7, 2019. The protest in June last year is still considered the last peaceful gathering of Liberians since the cessation of hostilities in the country.
He boasted that thousands of Liberians will assemble from across Monrovia and its environs to Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, the ICOP has taken the Government of Liberia to court for apparently denying the group its right to stage a protest on Saturday, January 11. In a press conference held at the grounds of the Temple of Justice on Thursday afternoon, ICOP chairman Neufville said it was unfair that the government would allow the COP to stage its protest and subsequently deny the ICOP from doing their own. According to him, the communication from the Ministry of Justice said the January 11 date chosen by the ICOP for their protest would not be ideal.
Therefore, the ICOP, through their lawyers, had prayed the Supreme Court of Liberia “to interpret Article 17” so as to determine whether the government has the right to determine the time and venue of a protest.
It may be recalled that on December 30, 2019, the original date of the COP’s protest before was postponed, Rufus Neufville alleged in a news conference that some leaders of COP allegedly received money from the Government of Liberia to call off the protest; even though the protest was rescheduled and held.
All those mention in Neufville’s bribery allegation, including Henry P. Costa, chairman of the COP, Unity Party chairman Wilmot Paye and the Government of Liberia, categorically denied the allegation, declaring that what Neufville said bore no truth.
“Over time as a result of our pressure, they quickly changed from Weah step down to step up,” the ICOP chairman scoffed.
The latest action by the COP on January 6 was a result of the Weah Administration’s failure to respond to the petition presented on June 7.
Up to this date, the Weah Administration has yet to respond to the June 7, 2019 petition, although President Weah has promised to address the concerns therein via his upcoming annual address to the joint session of the Legislature on the fourth working Monday in January.
Meanwhile, the ICOP condemned the use of teargas and hot water against peaceful protestors by state security officers last Monday on Capitol Hill, adding that those protestors were peaceful Liberians who assembled to demand answers from their government.
The ICOP believes, however, that the leadership of COP is not fighting in the interest of the ordinary Liberians but for their personal interests. ICOP says its own set of petitions dubbed — the “ten commandments” will be reveal to the public by Friday, January 10.
He said it was because of the ICOP pressure that forced COP to change its mantra from “Step down” to “Step up”. He also said if the crowd on January 6, 2020 was as large as the crowd that assembled for the June 7, 2019 mass protest, police would not have fired teargas on peaceful citizens.
Chairman Neufville mention the first commandment in their petition “All of those in government that worked in past government should submit a clearance report from the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission, saying that they were not involved into corruption.”
“If you do not want to make somebody a king don’t give them a crown” ICOP chairman said.