The United States Embassy near Monrovia has confirmed receiving a petition from groups concerned about transparency regarding newly printed Liberian banknotes.
The embassy statement came following the convergence of a crowd of protesters at the front of the embassy on Benson Street in Monrovia on Monday, September 24.
The embassy also confirmed that it received a request from the Government of Liberia (GoL) for assistance in tracing new Liberian banknotes.
“This request for assistance was transmitted to the relevant U.S. Government agencies in Washington for further review,” the statement said.
The protest organizers said they were seeking the intervention of the United States and the European Union (EU), including the United Nations (UN), “because they are key partners that help to fund projects in the country.” Copies of the petition were later made available to the media.
Darius Dillon, one of those championing the protest, said steps taken by the government to call for experts from abroad, as well as churches and civil societies, is belated.
According to him, although the government said it began the investigation since August this year, it did not reveal anything to the public until the media recently exposed the situation.
Mr. Dillon said the government has been peddling contradictory statements whereby the City Mayor, Information Minister, the ruling Party Chairman, Justice and Finance ministers have all been contradicting one another, which does not give a sense of direction to the public about circumstances surrounding the “Missing L$16 billion.”
“We do not trust the committee set up by the President to investigate the money issue; it is not about peace talks, and there is no magical thing about the money to require zoes and churches. It was diverted and needs criminal investigation,” he noted.
Dillon said going to the international community is meaningful, because in almost everything, Liberia receives help from the United States, the European Union, China, and other friendly countries.
He said the alleged disappearance of L$16 billion in this country is scaring, and should claim the attention of the international community that provides aid to Liberia.
Regardless of the heavy downpour of rain in Monrovia yesterday, the protesters remained undeterred and presented a petition indoors at the embassy without reading it publicly due to the rainfall.
The protesting groups comprised those calling themselves Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL), the Bring Back our Money, and the Citizens Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia.
There were also teenagers among the groups, who were advocating for the restitution of the alleged missing money, claiming that the difficulties facing the country have caused a lot of them not to be in school this academic year.
Lying prostrate in the rainwater and dramatically rolling about the pavement on Benson Street, the groups later marched to the EU Delegation Headquarters and presented their petition indoor, but this time without any written response.
Lastly, they marched through Broad Street and went to the Pan African Plaza where the United Nations Headquartered on 1st Street and presented the same petition.
Meanwhile, the protest on Monday was one of the most ‘peaceful demonstrations’ ever held since the George Weah Administration took over the country early this year.
It is hard to deduce how this ‘peaceful demonstration’ was organized. Some believe that the protesters themselves exhibited a high degree of tolerance by avoiding scuffles with officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Others are also of the view that tolerance displayed by the police was due to instructions they received from the Justice Ministry.
Many stores and provision shops could not open in central Monrovia from the morning hours to midday, while many schools could not carry on their regular academic functions.
The protesters viewed their action as being in solidarity with their cause, while others attributed the peaceful protest to fear of hostilities that may have erupted.