“It is important we dialogue, because we know what happened… in 1979.” -Pres. Weah
President George Weah on Tuesday, May 7, 2019 held a five-hour-long meeting with Senators on Capitol Hill in an apparent bid to abort the planned June 7 “peaceful protest.” The meeting also considered issues of interest and concerns arising from the Council of Patriots, organizers of the June 7 protest.
Two of advisors to the Council of Patriots, Bomi County Senator Sando D. Johnson and Gbarpolu County Senator Daniel F. Naatehn, were among senators who met President Weah yesterday in the Senate new chambers, and discussed germane issues of interest, which they claimed are driving the planned June 7 protest.
Following the meeting, the President informed scores of journalists that he will not stop anyone from protesting or demonstrating, but that it is important to dialogue, because protest breeds unexpected fallouts, making reference to the April 14, 1979, “Rice Riot.”
President Weah, while en route to greet the leadership of the House of Representatives after a long meeting with the Senate, said: “We met the Senate and talked about the economy, the protest and other issues of importance to the State.”
He added, “It is important we dialogue, because we know what happened, for example, during the April 14, 1979 protest.”
In a related development, the Daily Observer has reliably learned that the President is expected to also hold another round of dialogue with the House of Representatives on Thursday, May 9, 2019.
It may be recalled that on April 14, 1979, the “Rice Riot” was the proverbial straw that unleashed 25 years of violence, mayhem, anarchy, death and destruction in Liberia. The riot was organized by the Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL), headed by then political activist, Gabriel Baccus Matthews (deceased), against the backdrop of a proposed increase in the price of a 100-pound bag of rice from US$22 to US$26.
A year later, 17 non-commissioned officers of the disbanded Armed Forces of Liberia staged a bloody coup that violently witnessed the overthrow of the Grand Old True Whig Party (TWP) of the then Liberian government, for which President William Richard Tolbert Jr., was killed on April 12, 1980.
Senate concerns and Interests
Also, the Senate President Pro Tempore, Albert T. Chie, told journalists that the Senate meeting with the President was in the spirit of the Liberian Constitution, which calls for coordination among the three branches of government.
“The cardinal purpose of the meeting was to exchange ideas on governance where the Senators presented to the President issues of national concern and interest, including justice and security; the economy, issues of the planned June 7 protest, status of the investigation report on the L$16 billion, and the US$25 million intended to mop up excess Liberian dollars from the market.
Sen. Chie said the discussion also captured the withdrawal of the Tenure Bill, Assessment of the performance of current government officials, including government of inclusion.
Additionally, he said the issues surrounding the United Nations letter regarding the management of funds, proposal for a national reconciliation conference and information dissemination from the government to its citizenry were also highlighted during the meeting.
“The President thanked the Senators for the meeting, which was held under the atmosphere of cordiality and mutual respect and he committed himself to the resolution of the issues raised in the interest of the Liberian people of which he is the head,” Pro Tempore Chie said. He added; “We believe the Executive Mansion will provide more details on the Tuesday’s meeting with the President.”
Senate’s Secret Dialogue
Chie made a startling disclosure to journalists that the Senate also had a discussion with two of three advisors of the Council of Patriots, which include Senators Sando Johnson, Daniel Naatehn and Oscar Cooper. According to the Senate President Pro Tempore, the two senators (unspecifed) stated reasons that have prompted the planned June 7 protest and that those issues which were raised were also discussed with the President.