Liberia: Citizens Differ with Pres. Weah on Opposition Members Threatening Democracy
MONROVIA – Liberia’s peace and democracy is threatened, especially on social media – that’s what the President of the nation believes and he thinks members of the opposition are responsible; that’s what he told other world leaders at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.
He said, “We are beginning to witness the emergence of a creeping threat to our democratic space, and to our hard-won peace and stability. Some individuals, within and out of our country, particularly those who have lost democratically-held elections, have resorted to incitement, threats of violence, misuse of social media, and hate speech, with the aim and objective of achieving power through undemocratic means.”
His assertion is regarded by many citizens of Liberia as a complaint against Liberians or the opposition members to the international community. Some think it is mediocre on the part of the President.
The President’s statement at the UNGA is not the first of its kind. On June 6 this year, President Weah threatened that anyone who publicly insults him would not walk freely in the streets of Liberia.
“Those that constantly insult the President, I want to be clear; after this, there will be no citizens in this country, I can defy you that will ever insult the President and think you will walk on the streets freely,” he said.
He made the statement at the dedication of the refurbished Du Port Road market when he was warning against inciting citizens against the government. It was just a day before the June 7 protest – one of the biggest the nation ever experienced since the end of the war in 2003.
He, however, did not come clear on what he considers as an insult in a country that had enjoyed over a decade of free speech, freedom of expression and a free press over the last 12 years before his regime under former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
So, Liberians believe that President Weah should be mentioned the issues that they believe is actually threatening the peace of democracy of the country. They named economic hardship, lack of jobs, massive slashing of salaries, poor medical facilities, corruption, amongst others which he should be addressing.
Below is what some Liberians say:
Success Jackson, resident of New Georgia Estate: “When the bulk of the citizens are not being paid; when money is scarce, how can they buy food to eat? How can they be transported, when no jobs the country is stagnated and all of those things undermined the democracy. If the President does the things he is ought to do by paying the people on time then everything will go smooth. But the people are not being paid on time so how will their children go to school?
What good is it when you do not have money? Money plays an essential role in life, without money you barely make it in life. And with that, the people will begin to cry and they will worry and they will settle for anything.”
Siaffa Kanneh, UL Students Leader: “The President just showed the international community that he is not capable of handling this country. Freedom of speech is one of the things that makeup democracy. So, for the President to go and leave the major issue that we are confronted with currently, it is sadden. Why complain your citizens to the international community?”
More beside, it is the government that is undermining herself. The President himself publicly stated that people wanted to kill him and that demonstrates that we do not have a safe ground here and that also undermines our democracy.
This is the reason why no investment is coming to this country. No investor wants to come to a country where a President’s safety is not guaranteed. Critics help to put you on the right path; Madam Sirleaf governed this country for 12 years and elements from the very CDC party that was in the opposition by then issued statements that threatened the peace and stability here.
You ever saw Madam Sirleaf going to the international community to say that they were undermining her government? His statement shows that he is heading the country in the wrong direction.”
Varney K. Fanhbulleh, Member of CEIO: “It is good that the President flags to the international community what is unfolding on ground. We are seeing people who served this country for 12 years and nothing they did to improve the lives of the Liberians people. Now, they are coming out every day and castigating and sending derogatory comment against this government and I think it was from that background that the President decided to flag the information about the behavior of those people out there.
Gone are those days where the sitting government elected by the people and somebody own selfish political quest will bring war in this country. The bad economic situation cannot undermined our democracy. We understand the busy services of human but the government inherited a bad economic and thing will not just change overnight.”
Elisabeth Haba, Dash Washer: “The hardship in Liberia is making people confuse and they are just talking all sorts of things out of the way. Things are hard; see me in the cook shop washing dashes to survive. I got four children and my husband is working at the Ministry of Health but he cannot get paid since July.
My children are not in school, all of them are sitting at the house. President Weah has to do something about this situation. The economic situation is causing a problem in this country. Schools are open and other people children are in schools but because my husband cannot takes paid my children are sitting at home.”
Gadeh Moses Hopeyellomi, Via Town Resident: “Going on the social media and using all sorts of bad languages on our leader is not the right way. Protesting every day is not the right way to address your leaders. If something is going on wrong in the country we need to use the right channel for the government to address our burning issues. It is true that the economic situation is not good; we know that sometimes hunger causes lots of temptation and mix feeling and you know that empty bag cannot stand. A hungry man is an angry man.”
Matennah Cole, Resident of Carey Street: “Majority of the citizens are not happy with the present-day situation. The hardship, no jobs and all of that cannot rest the minds of many Liberians. When you are a leader and people begin to cry, it is not a good sign. He’s a young man who has been striving all the way down the line to come to this stage, he supposed to see to it that the largest population which is the youths have the right education and let the people get their pays so that they can be able to take care of their family because when the people are crying and President Weah is sitting and looking, it does not bring peace to the mind of the people.”