The All Liberian Conference of Diaspora Leaders, representing the major Liberian regional umbrella organizations around the world has observed with grave concern the growing political tension in Liberia characterized by incendiary rhetoric and occasional threats of violence.
The Diaspora leadership representing the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); the European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA); the Union of Liberian Associations in Ghana (ULAG); The Federation of Liberians in Australia (FOLICA); Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS); and the Coalition of Concerned Liberians (CCL) issued the call in a joint statement at the close of a recent summit in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, USA.
The leaders made specific reference to the recent threat by a band of former warlords against a legislator, Montserrado County District #10 representative, Yekeh Kolubah, which was later clarified and rescinded. They also commended the organizers of the June 7 rally for their pledge to conduct themselves peacefully with respect to the rule of law.
“While the Diaspora Leadership recognizes that free expression of views and assembly are cardinal to the democratic process, it is also aware that the use of confrontational languages in the public space have the potential of creating misunderstanding and a hostile environment,” The Diaspora leadership noted.
They further issued a call to all Liberians, including the government, the opposition and the media, as well as those on social media to be mindful of the fact that the nation is still emerging from years of instability. “Let us be mindful of our recent past and help strengthen our fragile democracy by maintaining an enduring environment of peaceful co-existence. In so doing,” the Diaspora leaders noted, “we must tone down the rhetoric as it is time that Liberians begin the process of talking with each other, rather than talking at each other to discuss national issues. We must reckon with the fact that there will always be divergent of views. Hence, tolerance and sobriety are key requirements in expanding the democratic environment.”
The Diaspora Leadership Group then called upon Liberians to never again see violence as a pathway to resolving political problems. Rather, politicians, advocates, and citizens should take the constructive path organizing peacefully using the rule of Law to advance their political agenda.
June 7 Protest
Meanwhile, the Diaspora Leadership Group is particularly pleased that organizers of the June 7 protest have emphasized their commitment to the rule of Law and pledged that the event will be peaceful. Similarly, the Diaspora leadership Group also welcome the expression by the government that it will uphold its obligations under the law by ensuring that Liberians exercise their right to freely assemble and petition their representatives in a peaceful manner.
The Diaspora Leadership Group applauds the decision of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) NOT to stage a counter-demonstration against the June 7 protestors on the same day. This decision is not only wise, but largely removes any miscalculation that could lead to potential violence amongst protestors.
Disassociation From Sanctions Call
In a related development, the Diaspora Leadership Group strongly distances its various organizations from a call made by few Liberians who styled themselves as “US Citizens and US Taxpayers” for the United States government to stop economic support to Liberia. The independent group recently made the call when they visited a Legislative staffer in the offices of the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Diaspora leadership believes that at a time when Liberians at home are facing tremendous economic challenges, such a call by this group for an economic embargo on the Liberian people is unconscionable and may increase the suffering on ordinary Liberians. Meanwhile, the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA) has already taken the necessary actions in the corridors of the U.S. Government to counter what they described as an unwarranted request.
Leaders of Liberian Diaspora organizations present at the summit included: Vamba Fofana, President, Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA); Kingston Washington Wleh Sr., President, The European Federation of Liberian Associations (EFLA); Willie Kim Kamara, President, Conference of Liberian Organizations in the Southwestern United States (COLOSUS); John F. Lloyd, National Chairman, Coalition of Concern Liberians (CCL); Mohamed Salia Dukuly, President, The Federation of Liberian Communities in Australia (FOLICA), Inc.; and Julia Mardea Richards, President, United Liberian Association in Ghana (ULAG).