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Liberia: Weah-led Government & Council of Patriots Must Find Common Ground

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THE MUCH-HYPED June 7 Save-the-State Protest has come and gone and while President George Manneh did not get to have the list of demands hand delivered from organizers of last Friday’s protest, there are a lot of issues to ponder and much more lessons to be learned. 

LOST IN THE SPECTACLE of it all is the fact that Liberia remains deeply divided along ethnic, political and class lines.

WHILE THOUSANDS took to the streets to protest the Weah-led government’s handling of the economy and governance, thousands more stayed home – or showed up for work, either following orders from the President to observe the day as a regular working day, or simply to stand in solidarity with the government that they are happy with the way things are – and that those criticizing the president are simply not being fair to him.

THE COMMON thread in all of this is Liberia, a nation which in a few days will turn 171 years-old, an age no other African nation has reached and one whose history has been plagued with enormous obstacles and challenges that it continues to be lingering in a recurring state of one uncertainty after the next.

ALL LIBERIANS must take pride in the way the June 7 protest turned out. There were no handshakes between President Weah and members of COP, no toasting of champagne glasses signaling a united front but most importantly, not a single blood was shed and no family is mourning the loss of a friend, loved one or family member as a result of violence.

THE OFFICERS of the Liberia National Police must take credit for the way they handled themselves and protesters too must hold their heads up high for resisting the urge to react to threats and intimidations that preceded June 7.

MEMBERS OF THE international community, including the United Nations, African Union, ECOWAS and key stakeholders must be commended for guiding the process leading to Friday’s protest and encouraging both the presidency and the COP to dialogue.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, the former British Prime Minister is famously remembered for saying:  ‘Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war.’ Now that the petition is in full view of the public, regardless of whether President Weah has received it or not, it is important to keep the dialogue going. 

BOTH SIDES must continue to work together to ensure that some common ground is reached.

LIBERIA HAS COME  a long way, after surviving a brutal civil war, a deadly Ebola virus outbreak and years of uncertainty having taking a toll on the country which has endured too much pain and suffering, too many heartaches and heartbreaks, too many misrule and bad governance – and wasting so much to corruption and greed.

THERE’S ALWAYS room for improvement. The Weah-led government must take heed to the fact that the people have spoken. 

WHETHER IT WAS one protester or 100,000, the fact of the matter is, a large segment of the Liberian population is not happy with the way things are going and how the government is handling the affairs of state.

THIS IS NO TIME for who said what, when and where or why didn’t COP or President Weah do this, that or the other. 

WHILE SOME appear disheartened that COP did not get to deliver its petition to the government, the blames are simply too many to go around. ECOWAS says it is disappointing, “that, with all the elaborate mediation efforts and arrangements made by the Government, Local and International Stakeholders, the petition that was to be delivered to the Government, could not take place.”

COP, TOO is unhappy that the government failed to live up to its end of the bargain by having an elected, and not appointed members of government receive the petition.

COP, TOO is unhappy that many of the protesters had to go through rigorous security and identity checks and threats and intimidations.

AS THE ENTIRE world watched and monitored what was unfolding in Liberia last Friday – and what will eventually unfold in the coming days, both the government and COP owe it to Liberians to continue to dialogue.

LIBERIA CANNOT afford to return to the dark days when critics and student leaders were beaten and jailed, when critics had to endure the wrath of a tyrant wielding a military decree banning anyone from insulting him. 

LIBERIA CANNOT afford any more moments of uncertainty. This is why President Weah and the Council of Patriots must work toward achieving the common denominator, which is Liberia, a nation full of promise but equally filled with hate; a nation full of hope but forever finding itself teetering on the brinks of uncertainty.

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