That the George Weah led government is dire straits is open fact. The question is what is this government doing to address the situation given all that is obtaining? From what it appears, rather than devising long term solutions to address the problem, quick fixes are instead being proffered as the solution. But as this newspaper has warned in previous editorials, quick fixes just do not work and this is a lesson which should have been learned from the previous administration which was noted for making policies on the fly.
As things currently stand, civil servants are demanding payment of salary arrears else they would stage a go-slow. This is against the backdrop of a planned mass protest set for December 30, 2019. It is being speculated that the GOL has brought in some cash to alleviate the situation. The Daily Observer has sought to no avail confirm reports that Liberian dollar banknotes were printed in Russia and brought into the country recently along with some US dollars believed to have been arranged with help from sources in the US.
Whether such will go far enough to assuage angry concerns of civil servants and the public at large remains to be seen. According to Senate President Pro Tempore, Albert Chie, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has promised to provide help not immediately but in February next year. But the caveat to this is the demand placed by the World Bank to have government restitute funds (illegally taken) to the tone of US$11,800, else there will be consequences, which were not specified. But Finance Minister Samuel Tweah is fully aware that failure on the part of any country to meet World Bank benchmarks means the IMF will not provide lending assistance.
Thus, It appears unlikely that the IMF will provide the promised assistance in February in the event of failure on the part of this government to the World Bank demands for restitution. In the opinion of the Daily Observer, these are worrying signs which should claim the immediate and urgent attention of this government. However its officials do not appear to be seized of the urgency of the situation. They appear to be more fixed on aborting or taking the wind out of the sails of the December 30 protest that apparently nothing else seems to matter.
Already the United States Embassy near Monrovia has announced a placement of restrictions on the issuance of non-immigrant visas but even more dire are reports that the United States Government is pulling out Peace Corps Volunteers from the country. Daily Observer confirmed earlier that the pullout of Peace Corps Volunteers has affected 12 out of Liberia’s 15 counties. From the background of experience, such reports would suggest that such a move is being taken in anticipation of an outbreak of violence in order to mitigate potential risks to the safety of US citizens in Liberia.
According to a security expert, the likelihood of violence erupting on December 30 cannot be considered far-fetched because, according to him, government officials at the highest level of government appear to be possessed of a siege mentality. And given that most of the current crop of officials appear to be oblivious of the lessons of recent and contemporary Liberian history, they could encourage the unleashing of violence not being aware of the consequences such would entail.
As the countdown to December 30 continues, this newspaper would urge and encourage officials of this government to follow closely developments of the pullout of US Peace Corps Volunteers from Liberia. This newspaper would urge President Weah to place the brakes on hawkish elements in his close company and tread lightly on December 30. He should be mindful that he is about to face a monumental challenge and the longevity of his government may depend on how he responds to these pressing challenges. He should studiously avoid those who encourage him to use the “any bush shake, fire will blaze” approach to the impending crisis.
President Weah should read the writing on the wall!