‘Respect Right to Protest’

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According to the international partners, the May 14 dialogue meeting was a signal of all parties' willingness to work together amicably on issues arising from political disagreement to agree and foster development.

— UN, AU, ECOWAS urge Gov’t

The United Nations (UN), African Union (AU) Liaison Office in Liberia and the Office of the Special Representative of the Economy Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in Liberia are urging the government to respect and uphold Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution by allowing those planning to protest on June 7 to go ahead with their planned “peaceful protest.”

Article 17 guarantees the right of all Liberians to lawful, peaceful and orderly assembly and association. The Council of Patriots (organizers of the June 7 protest), are relying this legal instrument on to organize Liberians to demonstrate their discontentment with the current governance system through a peaceful protest and present their petition to the government.

In a statement circulated on the evening of Wednesday, May 15, 2019, the multilateral stakeholders commended the government and other stakeholders, including the Council of Patriots, for the inclusive dialogue held on May 14, 2019, which coincided with this year’s National Unification Day activities.

According to the international partners, the meeting was a signal of all parties’ willingness to work together amicably on issues arising from political disagreement to agree and foster development.

“Any prolonged political disagreement in Liberia will undermine peace, as well as worsen the prospects for improved socioeconomic development,” they added.

“We, therefore, reiterate the need for inclusive, transparent and continued dialogue on the planned 7 June protest, without denying Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution, which guarantees the right of all Liberians to lawful, peaceful and orderly assembly and association,” the partners said in their statement.

The multilateral groups also expressed renewal of their continued support to the process with a firm commitment to support the people and Government of Liberia (GoL) in their endeavors for a peaceful, stable and prosperous country.

Liberia has, of late, been facing political and economic crises. Acknowledging the situation, United States Ambassador Christine Elder called on President George Weah to take steps to curtail those challenges.

Also, on May 10, 2019, heads of UN Peace Missions in West Africa held their 34th High-Level Meeting in Bissau, Guinea Bissau, where they highlighted several regional challenges, including the current situation in Liberia.

According to count four of the communiqué from that meeting, the Heads of Missions took note of the briefing on the current situation in Liberia, particularly the planned protest on June 7, as well as the dialogue with the government, pressure groups and opposition political parties, to ensure that the protests are peaceful.

The meeting, according to a release from Bissau, enjoined the people and the GoL to sustain efforts to address various political, economic and governance challenges facing the country, and reiterated the importance of the maintenance of peace and security.

They commended the UN Country Team’s coordinated support to Liberia, as well as the strong partnership between the UN, the AU and ECOWAS, particularly on conflict prevention and good offices.

The Heads of Mission then called on the international community to continue its support to Liberia to further enhance peace consolidation and sustainable development.

4 COMMENTS

  1. A wise person once said, “A man is judged by the company he keeps, and a company is judged by the men it keeps, and the people of Democratic nations are judged by the type and caliber of leaders they elect.”

    It seems Liberians are still struggling to find the right balance between maintaining the fragile peace and exercising their rights to a peaceful protest as guaranteed under Article 17th of the 1986 Constitution: ”All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations.”

    It is the responsibility of this government to quiet the political tension early in the country and not wait for the international community to take the lead in asking for a peaceful dialogue. Failure of this government to inform and to constantly update the Liberian people about the economic constraints and failure to honestly inform the Liberian people about the causes of the economic hardship and what modalities this government has in place or what workable solutions this government is taking to alleviate the economic crisis in the country could have possibly put most Liberians at ease. No one is expecting an economic miracle in a year or two, but this President was elected to solve difficult problems.

    However, complacency and failure of this government to urgently communicate to the Liberian people about the deteriorating economy, and failure to come up with sustainable economic plans, and failure of this government to perform a yearly performance evaluation on his government officials have led to these disgruntled citizens to plan this pending June 7th protest.

    This protest, though it poses a security risk, is a clarion call for this government to act quickly in finding solutions to this economic crisis before this economic cancer slowly derails the peace and stability Liberians have enjoyed over the last 16 years.

    Yes indeed, the international community has urged this government to dialogue and work out a peaceful solution in maintaining the peace; at the same time, they urged this government not to deny the Liberian people from exercising their constitutional rights to protest or assemble in a peaceful manner. It is also the government responsibility to protect peaceful protesters at the same to deal drastically with would be trouble makers from turning this “so-called peaceful protest” into a blood bath.

    There is an old saying, “What goes around must sometimes come around.” The CDC Party was noted for protesting /demonstrating during former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration. Now, “Uneasy lies the head (CDC) that wears that crown.”

    This is a protest against these evils in Liberia: (corruption; inflated salaries of Lawmakers; lack of development agenda and financial accountability; lack of productivity; financial mismanagement; high unemployment; high crime rate; high drug/alcohol addiction among teens; mob violence; ritualistic killings; high traffic deaths; high illiteracy; poor schools; government officials lavish lifestyles; lack of accountability for white collar crimes committed by government officials; lawlessness, etc.), that are prevalent in Liberia.

    Remember, “A person is judged by the company he/she keeps.” The President is also judged by the caliber of people he selects to run his government. Keeping the peace and respecting the rights of people to peacefully protest is a tough nut to crack!!

    • Alpha Corneh, as USUAL, you make no sense . Did the economic hardship just begin today or since Jan 2018 when this government came to power? So your thought that had the citizenry been reminded by the government about the very economic hardship faced by the very citizenry, the situation would have been reversed, or there would have been no talk about protest, is silly.

  2. President Weah has been in office for about a year and five months now. And during this time, barely six to seven demonstrations on various social issues have been held in Monrovia.

    If one was to compare this statistic with the number of demonstrations that occur daily in other democracies especially in the West, they would pale to nothing in comparison to Liberia’s spasmodic occurrences.
    Demonstrations within democracies predate the existence of America. They are a way of life, and they date back to the rise and fall of medieval superpowers like Greece and Rome. The contribution of Greek and Rome to modern civilization which included representative democracy, medicine and its ethics, science, the Spartan arts, and so forth did not happen overnight.

    Those advancements happened as the result of the socio-political and socio-economic tensions that brewed within those medieval societies coupled with the urgency and the demand of the citizenries on their leaders to create the optimum conditions that would better their lives.

    Their demands and the willingness of their leaders to listen became the catalyst that sparked the creative genius of their citizens, and it led to the great contributions to their societies and the world and for which they are credited today.

    One of the largest political rallies in the history of the world was the million man march led by the Honorable Louis Farrakhan. How many people that were killed? Not a single soul perished. The million man march was not the panacea or the cure-all to all the racial tensions existing in America today, but it at least brought about a sense of high consciousness about the existence of the social cancer of racism and its debilitating effects on America; and, as a result, it forced the government to start looking at the issues of social inequalities more closely; to begin to craft legislations, and to come up with creative and practical ways to address them.

    Liberians! We can do better. Let us dissociate the negative connotation of violence from the word “demonstration”. The government should listen to the people’s grievances and take steps to ameliorate their plights. And therefore, demonstrations not “coup d’tats” are a better platform for a redress of their concerns.’

  3. Point of correction in second paragraph: I meant to say, “If one was to compare this statistic with the number of demonstrations that occur frequently in other democracies especially in the West, Liberia’s spasmodic occurrences would most certainly pale.

    Thanks. And I am sorry for the oversight.

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