Liberia: Council of Patriots Demands likely to be Snubbed over Pres. Weah

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Monrovia – Government has announced that it will not act on any petition that it did not receive from the Council of Patriots (COP).

Presidential Press Secretary Isaac Solo Kelgbeh told a press briefing at the Executive Mansion Monday, June 10, that the petitioners were given all necessary options to present their plights but they chose not to on their own.

As a result, he said the Office of the President is not in the know of any petition, because government was not handled any copy of the petition.

“They have not formally presented their petition to the government; let’s wait until they present their petition to the government and maybe the government will act on it. What I do know is, for you to be able to honor something, you should have the tangible (document) in your hand,” Kelgbeh said.

“If a petition was read yesterday, maybe they will put it into envelope and present it to the President, but the government cannot act on that until they present their petition to the government.”

His response was against the COP’s one-month ultimatum to government to act on its recommendations listed in its petition.  

The petition amongst other things calls for Good Governance, Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law, National Peace & Reconciliation, Integrity & Accountability, Corruption, Economy, Education, Health & Agriculture, Basic Rights.

COP read their petition to the media but failed to present a copy to a government delegation designated by President George Mannah Weah on grounds that government failed to honor its own obligation that it will send Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to receive the petition on behalf of the President.

The delegation included the Dean of the Cabinet, Foreign Minister M. Gbehzohngar Findley, Cllr. Frank Musah Dean, Justice Minister, Trokon Kpui, Minister of State without Portfolio, the Security and Legal Advisor, Jefferson Karmoh and Cllr. Archibald F. Bernard.

“The government earlier announced that it had designated Vice President Taylor, an elected official, to receive our petition on behalf of the government even as it was against our earlier demand that our petition was only going to be delivered to the President. We gathered out there as early as 7 GMT to deliver our petition, waited for 11 hours on the government but they failed to live up to their own decision to send the Vice President to receive the petition,” Abraham Darius Dillon, one of the organizers said.

COP through another of its organizers, Wilmot Paye, who is the current chair of the opposition Unity Party, on the day of the protest also requested the release of some students of the University of Liberia, who were arrested by officers of the Liberia National Police on Wednesday, June 5, 2019.

Paye argued that the 48-hour requirement under the laws of Liberia for holding a person in police custody had expired and those arrested were yet to be charged by the LNP.

COP later insisted on Sunday, June 9, that the petition was not presented because the President simply did not show protesters any respect. “Our leader chose to deal with us NOT as his fellow citizens but as his subjects, NOT as his people but as his enemies,” Dillon said.

However, COP says it was putting the Weah administration on constructive notice and expect the government to respond to their demands within one month. He added: “After which we will determine a new course of action.”

But Kelgbeh stated that government has over the time given a listening ears to the petitioners by encouraging them to present their plights on the table but to no avail.

He said they requested June 7 as the day to present their petition but fail to do so, as such; government will not act on it, unless the proper procedure is followed.

Nevertheless, Kelgbeh maintained that government is still open to receiving the petition.

On the request of releasing students arrested and jailed by LNP, Kelgbeh noted that such demand is not legitimate and must not be used as a basis for not presenting petition. 

At the same time, Kelgbeh noted that government is aware of the ongoing hardship in Liberia and is not awaiting petition from citizens before addressing them.

According to him, those who constantly take to the airwaves to what he termed “instigate fears on investors” are contributors of economic hardship in Liberia.

Kelgbeh said organizers of the June 7 protest are people with notorious records and their participation in the protest created fear and scare away investors.

“When we look at people behind, the protest, those are people with notorious records and are famous for notorieties, so people were scare and the little small US Dollars we had in the country, people were running after it, so this created a rise in the rate,” Kelgbeh stated.

In another development, Kelgbeh stated that the President is currently reviewing the budget for Fiscal Year 2019/2020 but registered that the budget would be revenue friendly.

“The budget would be friendly in term of the revenue collection, meaning, the budget line will not exceed the total revenue collected as being done in the past.”

Council of Patriots

Meanwhile, the Council of Patriots Monday, June 10, went to the Capitol Building Offices of Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to present their petition but did not succeed in doing so as they were told to carry to the President Office at the  Foreign Ministry.

According to Mr. Mo Ali, who was designated by the group to present the petition, the VP informed them that she couldn’t receive the petition and that the President had requested that the petition be delivered to the Foreign Ministry but they could not succeed in doing that because the cover letter accompanying the petition was addressed to the VP.

“We will present it tomorrow because we had to go back to do a new cover letter, which we will address to the President,” he added.

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