Liberia: SDA Church Rejects Jan. 4 as COP Protest Date

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MONROVIA – The much-publicized and postponed protest of the Council of Patriots (COP) has been rocked with another controversy as the Seventh Day Adventist Church (SDA) operating in Liberia, has rejected the new date set aside by Ambassadors of the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

In a Joint Statement issued in Monrovia on Tuesday, the Ambassadors proposed Saturday, January 4 as the new date for the protest.

They pointed out that the decision was reached to postpone the protest after examining the various recent statements issued by the Government of Liberia and the Council of Patriots on the planned demonstration and following further extensive and encouraging discussions with all stakeholders on the postponement of the demonstration.

The Ambassadors’ statement also ruled out the holding of the protest at the Samuel Kanyan Doe (SKD) Sports Complex in Paynesville, instead of Capitol Hill, which hosts all three branches of the Liberian government.

The latest statement issued by the Ambassadors come in the wake of recent proposal made by the COP, through its leader Henry Costa, for the ‘peaceful assembly’ to take place on Monday, January 6, instead of the Sunday, January 5 proposed by the United States, European Union, the United Nations, and the  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

An executive of the COP, Senator Darius Dillon of Montserrado County told a news conference in Monrovia on Monday, that the group is taking religious tolerance into consideration by not protesting on days set aside for both Christians and Muslims to worship.

 “Liberia, being founded on a Christian principle, Sunday is a religious day in our country and to protest on Sunday is not feasible. If we to come out and demand accountability from our government, it will not be on a Sunday and we will even advice, it will never be on a Friday again – because it’s a Muslim day, since we are taking the religious aspect into consideration. The 5th of January is not feasible, we are demanding the 6th. This protest is not canceled, it is only postponed on the intervention of the international partners,” he maintained.

But the new date of January 4 proposed by the U.S, E.U, and ECOWAS’ Ambassadors did not take into consideration the worship of Adventists, who believed that God made the universe within a six-day period, and rested on the Sabbath Day.

Adventists believed that the Sabbath Day much be kept holy at all times.

The Issue

In a press statement issued on January 1 under the signature of the Gemane G. Getteh, Director of Communications, Public Relations and Religious Liberty, the SDA Church in Liberia pointed out that it has about 30,000 members in the country and as such, it members should be given the opportunity to worship on the first Saturday of the year without any hindrance.

The church maintained that though it welcomes the COP’s religious liberty of other Liberians, including Muslims and Christians, members of the SDA should also be allowed to freely exercise their most cherished freedom to worship on the Sabbath.

The SDA Church requested the change of January 4, as the date for the postponed protest, since in fact, the protest has been previously postponed by the organizers because of religious reasons.

“The Council of Patriots rejected Sunday, January 5, 2020 and proposed January 6, 2020 as the new date for the postponed protest on religious ground. They also indicated that, for similar reason, they will never again protest on Friday,” the statement maintained.

“While commending their respect for the religious liberty of Liberians who worship on Sunday and Friday, we call upon them and the Government of Liberia to also organized and respect the religious liberty of thousands of Liberians who worship their Creator on Saturday.”

Will COP accept January 4?

Unimpeachable sources within the Council of Patriots (COP) have hinted FrontPageAfrica that the group will reject the January 4 date proposed by the Ambassadors of the United States, European Union and ECOWAS at a news conference expected to take place on Thursday.

Our sources disclosed that the COP believed that ‘Peaceful Assembly’ as guaranteed in the Liberian constitution, is not negotiable.

“It is unconstitutional for anyone to determine when and where a group of peaceful citizens assemble,” one of our sources added.

The COP is expected to urge its supporters and others to peacefully assemble during the early morning hours of January 6 for the purpose of expressing their grievances to the government, and to show to the world that things are falling apart in Liberia.

Political analysts say the involvement of international diplomats to thwart the constitutional right of citizens remains unique to Liberia only.

They noted that though foreign diplomats can intervene or find means to dialogue on situations or circumstances that appear to unconstitutional, to select date and venue for citizens to exercise their constitutional right signifies a ‘smart delay tactics’ game being played to suit they and the government.

Reasons for the protest

The Council of Patriots (COP), headed by fearless talk show host, Henry Costa, wants citizens to stage a peaceful protest in demand of the full implementation of recommendations contained in its June 7 petition presented to the Government of Liberia (GOL).

Among other things, the group is calling for the prosecution of Finance and Development Planning Minister, Samuel Tweah and the former Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Nathaniel Patray over the roles played in the controversial US$25 million mop up exercise.

The group also wants government to find solutions to the immense economic constraints confronting Liberians.

COP believed that bad governance, rampant corruption, favoritism, lawlessness, rape and extra judicial activities, remain the order of the day under the Coalition for Democratic Change led-government of President George Manneh Weah.

On Monday, the COP somersaulted over its previous decision to stage the protest, following the interventions of the United Nations, ECOWAS, the United States Embassy, and the European Union (EU), through their respective representatives in Liberia.

It remains uncertain whether or not the diplomats would endorse the staging of the COP’s planned protest on January 6, or the Government of Liberia (GOL) will give the green light for citizens to exercise their constitutional right in the wake of uncertainties surrounding the timeliness of the ‘peaceful assembly’.

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