Liberia: What Does Joseph Boakai Really Want – Weah Removed?
MONROVIA – The planned campaign to demand the resignation of President George Weah through a mass protest is being supported by the country’s former Vice President, Joseph Boakai.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
Boakai came second to Weah in the 2017 presidential elections, ending the 12-year of the Unity Party which was headed by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Boakai never received Sirleaf’s support in that election.
The economic hardship under the soccer legend, George Weah’s administration cannot be underrated, it is very visible, yet the government insists the challenge currently faced by the administration was inherited from the Sirleaf-led regime, though it has further denigrated.
The government has expressed hopes that by February 2020, the country would begin to get on track.
However, a group of Liberians with political influence under the banner of ‘Council of Patriots, believe the hardship in the country is as a result misrule and mismanagement under Weah’s administration and are planning to hold a sequel to a mass protest held on June 7 this year dubbed ‘Save The State.’
The June 7 ‘Save The State’ protest was organized to bring the government’s attention to the economic hardship and demand President Weah to take some decisive steps that they believed would remedy the situation. One of such demands on the President was the removal of Mr. Samuel Tweah as Minister of Finance – a demand that is yet to be considered by the President.
Members of the Council of Patriots believe Min. Tweah should be prosecuted for his ‘inability’ to account for US$25 million that was ‘infused’ into the economy under his supervision.
June 7 Save the State protest was unarguably the biggest peaceful protest in Liberia’s history since the end of the war.
June 7’s sequel – ‘Weah Step Down’ – which is slated for December 30 is already drawing ire amongst the public with many describing the protest as an unconstitutional means of demanding a President to leave office.
“It is against the foregoing that I urge all sides to exercise restraint and to work within the confines of the Constitution. As regards the December 30th Protest, it is important that aggrieved group of citizens exercise their constitutional right of assembly and freedom of expression. The government must perform its obligation to provide security and protection. On the go-slow by civil servants, government must meet up with its obligation. These patriotic citizens have played their part. They deserve the dignity of their labour and the right to provide for their families.“– Joseph N. Boakai, Former Vice President, Libria
Even the former Vice President who is renowned in the country for being a peaceful man has made public his support for the protest to be staged and called on the government to allow the protest.
In a statement by him over the weekend, the 75-year-old who seems to still eye the presidency said, “I have observed that recent events in our country seem to be taking on their own momentum. Liberia appears to have become a rudderless ship adrift on a turbulent sea hurtling towards disaster”.
Boakai added: “Civil servants, teachers and other professional groups are demanding salary arrears or they would initiate go-slow action. Groups of people under the banner of the Council of Patriots have called for a STEP DOWN CAMPAIGN beginning December 30, 2019. The Liberian people and the world continue to demand full accountability and action regarding the missing L$16 billion and the US$25 million allocated for mopping up excess liquidity.
Economic hardship continues to impact lives throughout the country. The banks are failing their obligations to depositors. Families are sleeping hungry while students are being thrown out of school for non-payment of tuition and fees. Overall school enrolment has drastically declined compared to previous years while hospitals and healthcare facilities are struggling to attend to the sick due to lack of basic equipment and supplies. Businesses are closing. Inflation is running high while unemployment defies gravity.
In the face of this mounting crisis, the people and our partners look up to the President for assurance. But, the President has failed to address his people and has instead deferred to surrogates who have resorted to inflammatory language to find scapegoats and to add fuel to the fire.
The government has requested the printing of additional money in the face of structural deficiencies and governance abnormality highlighted by both the PIT and Kroll Reports. Moreover the government has not given convincing reasons nor has it put in place adequate guarantees for accountability.
“I have observed that recent events in our country seem to be taking on their own momentum. Liberia appears to have become a rudderless ship adrift on a turbulent sea hurtling towards disaster”.– Joseph N. Boakai, Former Vice President, Liberia
We are all sitting on a tinderbox.
It is against the foregoing that I urge all sides to exercise restraint and to work within the confines of the Constitution. As regards the December 30th Protest, it is important that aggrieved group of citizens exercise their constitutional right of assembly and freedom of expression. The government must perform its obligation to provide security and protection. On the go-slow by civil servants, government must meet up with its obligation. These patriotic citizens have played their part. They deserve the dignity of their labour and the right to provide for their families.
We must not overturn the apple cart.
Liberians have demonstrated that they are capable of conducting peaceful protests. Equally, Government has proven its ability to provide security and protection for all.
Let each and every Liberian play his or her part to preserve this sacred heritage of ours. The Republic of Liberia is bigger than any one individual. Let us all work together.
May God bless Liberia and may it continue to be the glorious land of liberty.
Permit to Protest Denied
Liberia’s Justice Minister and Attorney General has warned organizers of the December 30 “Weah Step Down” campaign that the plan is “unconstitutional and bespeaks treason,” while stressing that the government has no legal authority to grant permit for the conduct of the pending protest.
In a December 2, 2019 letter addressed to the Council of Patriots, Minister Frank Musah Dean cited several Constitutional provisions, arguing that the planned protest is in violation of the law.
Wrote Cllr. Dean in the opening paragraphs of his letter to the COP: “We have taken due cognizance of the several public pronouncements emanating from the hierarchy of the Council of Patriots (COP), characterising the assembly as the beginning of a “Weah Step Down” campaign.
“We are further aware that, in preparation to execute your planned objectives, you have solicited and received funding from individuals both within and without Liberia, some of whom may not be citizens of Liberia.”
Citing Article I of the Constitution, which gives inherent power to the people, the Attorney General stressed that the people are to decide the leadership of the state through elections, adding that “there is no provision for “Weah Step Down” Campaign in the Constitution and/or statutory laws of Liberia”.
He continued: “You will note that His Excellency George Manneh Weah was duly elected President by the people of Liberia, certificated on January 4, 201 8 and inaugurated on January 22, 2018 for a six-year term. Any removal prior to the expiry of the six-year term of the President may occur only by impeachment, as provided under Article 62 of the constitution.”
He then described the plans of the COP as treasonable and violates Article 76 of the Constitution.
“Your mobilization of individuals and resources, both within and without Liberia, to execute your “Weah Step Down” campaign is unconstitutional and bespeaks treason, an offense against the internal security of the state,” Cllr. Dean wrote.
Article 76 of the Liberian Constitution describes treason as a crime against the state and shall consist of levying war against the Republic; aligning oneself with or aiding and abetting another nation or people with whom Liberia is at war or in a state of war; acts of espionage for an enemy state; attempting by overt act to overthrow the Government, rebellion against the Republic, insurrection and mutiny; and abrogating or attempting to abrogate, subverting or attempting or conspiring to subvert the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other means which attempts to undermine this Constitution.