Liberia: Justice Ministry Issues Stern Warning Ahead of Planned Protest against Pres. Weah
Monrovia – Liberia’s Ministry of Justice has reemphasized the law prohibiting public protest/march without permit in the wake of planned protest against President George Manneh Weah’s failure to declare his assets.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The protest, planned by the Student Unification Party (SUP), a political student movement, is scheduled for Thursday, July 26, 2018 when Liberia shall be celebrating her 171st Independence.
The protest was announced in a release listing a litany of missteps on the part of the six-month-old government led by the former international soccer star.
The release: “In this pro-masses pursuit, we call on all Liberians to wake-up and join SUP to demand good governance on July 26, 2018. If President Weah does not declare his assets before or on July 25, there will be a mass protest on July 26, 2018. We call on marketers, pen-pen riders, motorcyclists, taxi drivers, and the masses to join us on July 26, 2018. If you cannot join us, we call on you to boycott the National Independence Day Celebration.”
“SUP is calling for a national boycott of the Independence Day celebration because it is worthless. There is nothing to celebrate when extreme poverty, economic hardship, and police brutality are on the increase.”
President Weah and the entire cabinet have failed to declare their assets since ascending to power in January this year.
Section 10.1 of The National Code of Conduct requires that “Every Public Official and Employee of Government involved in making decisions affecting contracting, tendering or procurement, and issuance of licenses of various types shall sign performance or financial bonds and shall in addition declare his or her income, assets and liabilities prior to taking office and thereafter:
a. at the end of every three years;
b. on promotion or progression from one level to another;
c. upon transfer to another public office; and d. upon retirement or resignation.”
President Weah came under immense criticism during his early days in office for carrying out simultaneous construction and face lifting of three of his private properties, yet refusing to declare his assets.
Public condemnations of his refusal were reignited when the President of neighboring Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, declared his assets before the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben-Kaifala, in line with Section 119 (1) of the ACC Act of 2008.
The said section stipulates that: “Every public officer shall, within three months of becoming a public officer, deposit with the Commission a sworn declaration of his income, assets and liabilities and therefore not later than 31st March in each succeeding year that he is a public officer, deposit further declarations of his income, assets and liabilities and also while leaving office”.
Meanwhile, whilst the students might have chosen the auspicious occasion to have their call for transparency and accountability heard, the Ministry of Justice which heads the Liberia National Police might not allow their assembly, the country’s Justice Ministry has warned against taking to the streets without permit.
A July 25 statement from the Ministry stated:
“The general public is warned that, consistent with the Act Requiring the Obtaining of Permits for Public Marches and Demonstrations, approved February 10, 1975 and Section 22 of the Liberia National Police Act of 2015, any person or group of persons wishing to stage a march or demonstration must first obtain a permit from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) before staging such a demonstration. The MOJ notes that to date, no application or request for a permit to demonstrate or to hold a march has been made by any person or group of persons.
The MOJ wishes to stress the need for all Liberians to abide by the laws of Liberia in the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly, so that there is no disruption of normal traffic, business activities, and free movement of people. We encourage all persons or group of persons desiring to stage a peaceful march or demonstration to strictly comply with the law relating to public marches and/demonstrations.”
The statement was signed by Justice Minister Cllr. Frank Musa Dean.