Liberia: ‘Gov’t Will Not Succumb to Independence Day Protest’ – Deputy Press Secretary
Monrovia – Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby has sent a caveat to planners of the pending July 24 nationwide demonstration, that the government won’t tolerate their action.
Report by Willie N. Tokpah, [email protected]
The Council of Patriots (COP), which is planning the protest, has announced that they will begin protesting on July 24 and will continue until July 26 on the nation’s Independence celebrations.
The Deputy Presidential Press Secretary warned that there will be repercussions should the protest go on without a permit from the Ministry of Justice.
“If the government says they should not protest and they force it, there will be repercussions, because before you go on the street to protest, government has to give you permit,” according to Toby.
“So, we wait to see whether they will force it and what the government will do,” he added.
Toby’s statement was in reaction to the Council of Patriots’ second pronouncement to staging another mass protest beginning Wednesday, July 24.
But Mr. Mohammed Ali, a member of the COP, said he is not aware of any law requesting protesters to obtain permit from government before staging a protest.
However, he disclosed that COP will officially notify the Ministry of Justice of their planned protest.
Addressing the Executive Mansion’s regular press briefing Tuesday, July 16, the Deputy Press Secretary declared that government will not succumb to people threatening to disrupt the pending July 26 celebrations.
The government fears that staging another protest just in time with the Independence Day celebration, will keep people indoors, thus disrupting the kind of celebration the government wants to have.
Toby is upbeat about a peaceful July 26 celebration, challenging anyone to make the celebration a farce.
“The government will not sit here and succumb; the President will not get baffle by people threatening the July 26,” Toby assured.
“If some Liberians are discussing whether they will stay in or stay out, that conversation should be between them and the Ministry of Justice.”
The planned July 24 protest follows series of other protest by Liberians, who are calling on the George Weah-led administration to uphold good governance.
There have been series of other protests since the inception of Weah’s administration — the famous ‘Missing 16 Billion protest and the much-publicized June 7 protest by aggrieved citizens.
At a press conference on Friday, July 12, the Chairperson of the Council of Patriots, Mr. Henry Pedro Costa, announced the COP plan to continue a nationwide protest beginning July 24 until all of their demands are met.
“Fellow Liberians, we can all see an unrepentant dictatorship on the rise and the emergence of the Weah Clan where every business, every contract is linked to President Weah and his cronies. This is unacceptable!” Costa said.
“Today, we, the members of the Council of Patriots, announce a renewed and continued protest from Wednesday, July 24, until all of our demands are met. This will be a nation-wide protest covering all counties and a call to address all of the issues affecting our country. In announcing these actions, we renew our pledge to SAVE THE STATE and call on all Liberians and our international partners to join this long march to address the plight of our nation.”
He was joined at the press conference by some of his Council of Patriots’ members, including Montserrado County District #10 lawmaker, Representative Yekeh Kolubah.
Outside the press conference site, Rep. Kolubah told journalists that he would begin to travel to various counties to sensitize Liberians about the coming protest.
Yekeh and Henry, however, maintain that they are going to remain very peaceful with their protest actions against the government.
Nevertheless, Toby noted that issues surrounding protest is left with COP and the Ministry of Justice and that they should stand ready to face the ramifications of staging a protest without the Ministry of Justice’s approval.
Toby further maintained that instead of threatening Liberia’s peace, those frowning on Liberia’s economic situation should begin making contributions to developments in the country as well as helping others in various communities.
He at the same time assured citizens of a peaceful July 26 celebration and guaranteed government’s preparedness to provide security during the festivity.
He justified that the President did not inherit an economy that was glittering, but is working on addressing the economic hardship created by the past administration.
“The way they structured the economy and many other things have brought us where we are. The President along with his economic management team is working on finding a solution to it. The exchange rate is part of the mess that this government is trying to clean,” Smith stated.
According to him, the President is concerned about the continued rise in the exchange rate between the United States Dollars and the Liberian Dollars. At the moment, the exchange rate stands at L$201 to US$1.
He admitted that Liberians are not used to the exchange rate being this high and so the government could not provide any justification.
In a related development, Mr. Toby explained that all is set for the July 26 celebration, following several meetings by President Weah surrounding the occasion.
He disclosed that five West African Presidents from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Ghana will soon become arriving in Liberia for the Independence Day celebration.
Some of these heads of state according to the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary will come by road while others will be traveling by air.
Toby said the Duport Road Market and the Popo Beach Housing Units will form part of projects expected to be dedicated during the July 26 celebration.
Apart from the 25 housing units, Toby at the same time disclosed that government plans to build additional 69 units within the same Popo Beach Community for other inhabitants while 29 houses have also been targeted for renovation.
He also disclosed that the President plans on constructing 25 stores along the beachside of the community, aimed at boosting the business economy of the area.
“So, when these projects are completed, Popo Beach will automatically become a new city by itself,” Toby assured.