University of Liberia Students Lead First Protest Against Hardship in Liberia
Monrovia – Street protest led by student leaders of the University of Liberia calling on the government to make “immediate intervention” to curb the insistent surge of the exchange rate between the United States and Liberian dollars attracted hundreds of marketers in Liberia’s largest commercial district of Red Light in Paynesville city.
Report by Alpha Daffae Senkpeni, [email protected]
Organized by the Student Unification Party (SUP) of the state-run university, the protest on Friday, June 29 was the first in the country amid fears of severe inflation as the Liberian dollar massively devalues which by-product is hardship for many ordinary Liberians.
The protesters are concern about the “rising exchange rate, hyperinflation, and heightening economic paralysis that has awfully engulfed the country since Soccer Legend, George M. Weah, took over as President”.
The government is yet to adopt any measure to fix the problem, and some observers have already termed the government’s apparent inability to intervene as a laissez-faire approach, which by definition, prevents governments from controlling market forces in the economy.
But the Friday’s protest staged on the main route leading to Bong County where President George Weah was due to speak at the Cuttington University graduation ceremony and at the same time received an honorary doctorate degree, was apparently intended to get the President’s attention.
The protest created a huge traffic for over four hours, stalling the President’s convoy as hundreds of marketers also joined.
They were heard calling on the Liberian Leader to take action in order to rescue the economy and alleviate the prevailing hardship.
“President Weah must reduce the rate because we are suffering. We are dying from hardship and nothing is being done to solve this problem. This was not what President Weah promised the poor people. He didn’t promise us further hardship. He promised to get us out of this degrading situation but it is becoming even worse. Nobody is saying anything to us,” wrote Martin K.N Kolllie, Secretary General of university-based political party, SUP.
Kollie added that the government of President Weah is “intentionally ignoring the extreme hardship of the masses as a result of its refusal to find concrete and sustainable remedies to the high exchange rate, hyperinflation, and harsh economic realities the people are confronted with”.
“Weah and his government must intervene immediately; otherwise, our people could perish en masse. The price of just a gallon of gas is now L$540. The exchange rate is L$770 to US$1. SUP will not sit and allow our people to continuously decay in poverty, adversity, and hardship. This is unacceptable. We will challenge them,” he said.
Kollie then warned that “SUP will be compelled to act and rescue the Liberian people from leadership bankruptcy,” if President Weah fails to resolve the “economic nightmare.”
“We will continue this protest from Montserrado to Maryland until the government can resolve this heightening exchange rate. Today, the voices of the masses signaled that they are ready to act. The masses are becoming disenchanted and overly disappointed in this pro-poor government. SUP will lead them into history”, Kollie said.
He added that the protest is a caveat to the “pro-poor government” that Liberians are becoming “disillusioned and appalled” about the current state of the economy.
“If nothing is done to find a concrete and sustainable solution to this economic slump or quagmire, SUP will rally our people to carry out mass protest against this pro-poor government,” he said.
“Our people from Montserrado to Maryland are severely suffering and catching hard time under Weah. The price of a gallon of gas is now L$540 while the exchange rate is L$156 to US$1. Until prices fall, SUP will continue this protest. The message is fast resonating with our people. Come out and let’s act together. It is about Liberia and the future of Liberians.”