Liberia: As June 7 Protest Looms, the President, His Critic Look to Simmer Tension in Rare Face-Off

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Monrovia –– Representative Yekeh Kolubah doesn’t mince his words. In fact, he has not for the past few months. Since the early days of President George Manneh Weah’s presidency, Kolubah has been a thorn in the president’s side, reminiscent of the days of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, when Rep. Acarous Moses Gray went toe-to-toe with former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.


Rodney D. Sieh, [email protected]


Just as Gray had made several efforts calling for the impeachment of Sirleaf, Rep. Kolubah has been of her successor.


Since last August, Rep. Kolubah has been flirting with an impeachment bill against the President, triggered by what he termed alleged violations of the Liberian Constitution by the President. “What is best in the interest of the Liberian people is that the President, Ambassador George Weah should be impeached on grounds that he has violated all of the laws of the country,” Representative Kolubah told legislative reporters at the time. “The President is telling the Liberian people to hold their heart and be patient with his administration but then he is building all of his properties around here, I think he should be holding his heart and stop building and address the needs of the Liberian people,” Representative Kolubah stressed.

So, when the District No. 10 lawmaker honored an invitation to clarify a recent comment he made to supporters, in which he said President Weah would be removed from office in three months, many expected a lot of fireworks to go down. But by the end of day Monday, Rep. Kolubah not only honored his invitation by appearing at the Ministry of Justice, he made the ultimate faceoff with his nemesis, President Weah for the first time at the president’s residence on Rehab Road.

Talk Show host Henry Costa, one of the June 7th Protest organizers say nothing has changed despite meeting between President Weah and Rep. Yekeh Kolubah. “Nothing will stop our protest on June 7th. If the President thinks that by meeting Yekeh today, everything is great, he’s wasting his time. Nothing has changed. We will stay the course.”

Monday’s meeting was just as important for the President as it was for Kolubah – and for obvious reasons, coming on the heels of threats from some former rebels branding themselves as “generals” and issue threats to Mr. Kolubah, talk-show host Henry Costa and other critics of the government.

Additionally, over the past few days, tension has been in the air over a pending June 7th protest coupled with dwindling economic outlook and rapidly rising and fluctuating US exchange rate which has captured the attention of international stakeholders who have been quietly working behind the scenes to press both the government and the opposition to find common ground.

Late last week, Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo, the Resident Coordinator of the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) in Liberia acknowledged to the Liberian News Agency (LINA) that international partners have been pressing the government, as well as the opposition to promote dialogue aimed at easing brewing political tension. “We are telling government to open the political space, because we had a meeting with President George Weah on Monday, April 15, 2019, and we met with all the collaborating political parties on the means of peaceful dialogue. What Liberia needs now is dialogue. That is, all hands should be on deck,” Mr. Ajisomo told LINA.


Rep. Kolubah stated that he had nothing personal against the president because the two of them had never interacted before. His main concern, the lawmaker averred, was to draw attention to how the speaker was running the affairs of the lower house by now allowing those who oppose him to perform their duties. “I was transferring aggression because of Chambers attitude toward him and other lawmaker while raising my opposition to the way the government was being run,” Rep. Kolubah reportedly told the President.

The Ambassador also urged Liberians to protect the key elements that bind them, including the rule of law, democracy, and respect of other people’s opinions. He also urged citizens to engage in “constructive criticism” of the government with a view to preserve the country’s peace and stability, “even amid political and economic issues.”

So, Monday was poised to be a busy day for Kolubah – and a rather monumental one for the President.

Prior to his meeting, Rep. Kolubah spoke to the VOA Daybreak Africa’s James Butty about the unexpected. “We don’t know what will be discussed there but I received a communication citing me to appear there. So, I’m going to respect the justice ministry and respect the rule of law, meet the minister and we will start up from there. Anything got to do with me going to court for what I have said is in line with the constitution, I am going to respect it.”

Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean had sent the lawmaker a communication in which he underscored that threats of violence and statements/comments insinuating change of government outside the constitutionally-recognized democratic process, constitute violations punishable under the Penal Code. “It is in this light that we are seeking clarification of your statements/comments, so as to swiftly resolve any misconception, which has the propensity to undermine and threaten the peace and stability of the country.”

In particular, the MOJ was particularly keen to know what the lawmaker meant when he made the following comment: “We will move and they will solve the problem; too much, enough is enough… when you need us tomorrow, we will be available to tell this president, this squatter, will soon be leaving in less than three months because he does not able this country anymore. If they want violence, we will give them violence”.

Yekeh at MOJ: A Matter of Clarity

The lawmaker clarified to the VOA and prior to his meeting at justice that every word he uttered was in line with the constitution. “So, I have not gone wrong in any way. For me, I said, the President will be gone in three months, I was making reference to the bill of impeachment that I have because I think in my mind and by law, the impeachment bill will go on the floor in two to three months, we will be finish with the impeachment of this president.”

Prior to the meeting, Rep. Kolubah and his team demanded that Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon be booted out of the meeting. At the end of the meeting, Rep. Kolubah told FrontPageAfrica that it was all about maintaining the peace. “We talked peace,” the lawmaker said.

The MOJ would later issue a statement in which it said that the lawmaker had disavowed any intent to incite citizens and undermine the peace of the country, telling authorities at the MOJ that his remarks were misrepresented. The lawmaker however requested to be given a week to do a formal response to the content of the letter from the Minister of Justice, given the bereavement of the Legislature, occasioned by the death of Hon. Adolph Lawrence.

A key issue in play prior to the meeting with Rep. Kolubah was, how would the government respond to statements made by the former rebels who rain threats on Rep. Kolubah.

In a statement Monday, the MOJ, on behalf of the government, acknowledged the retraction and apology the ex-combatants who threatened the lawmaker. “The Government wishes to clarify that members of the group do not form part of the security apparatus of the country and are therefore, not state actors. The Government warns that it will not hesitate to apply the full weight of the law against private citizens who usurp the functions of national security institutions or actors. All peace-loving citizens are advised to heed to this warning. Members of the public are encouraged and advised to go about their normal business and be assured that the Government is firmly in control of the peace and security of the nation.”

But even after the meeting at Justice, Kolubah maintained his vow to introduce bill at the Legislature for the impeachment of President Weah. He told reporters afterwards, he will do everything to ensure it is placed on the House’s floor upon that body’s return from its Easter break. According to him, the Liberian Leader has violated the laws of the country and should be impeached as in the case of Former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh.

While promising to refrain from making comments that could undermine the peace of the country, Representative Kolubah vowed to remain critical on the CDC led government.

Yekeh & Weah: Transferred Aggressions

By mid-afternoon Monday that FrontPageAfrica gathered from a source that a surprising follow-up meeting was in play, this time between the President and Rep. Kolubah, bolstered by a delegation of the Independent Legislative Caucus.

With the expectations lowered after the lawmaker’s meeting at justice, the meeting with the President presented a rare opportunity for both men to air the grievances.

According to sources privy to the discussions, the President was the first at bat, expressing his unhappiness over the manner in which the lawmaker had rained insults on him since he assumed the mantle of authority.
The President, one source said made it clear to the lawmaker that he has no intentions of stifling free speech or the press, issuing an inaugural-day pledge in which he pledged to preside over a nation where each and every Liberian would be free to air their views without fear or favor and recalled how some critics were imprisoned during the previous administration of President Sirleaf.

The President went on to say that he is not against criticism but minus the insults – because as he reportedly put it, according to the source, “we are all leaders”.

Rep. Kolubah used his time to address a number of issues on his chest. In particular the wave of attacks from surrogates of the President and the manner in which House Speaker Bophal Chambers was running the affairs of the lower house in the national legislature.

Rep. Kolubah stated that he had nothing personal against the president because the two of them had never interacted before. His main concern, the lawmaker averred, was to draw attention to how the speaker was running the affairs of the lower house by now allowing those who oppose him to perform their duties. “I was transferring aggression because of Chambers attitude toward him and other lawmaker while raising my opposition to the way the government was being run,” Rep. Kolubah reportedly told the President.

Follow-up Meeting Planned

In response, the President reportedly said, the issue at the lower house are all parliamentary issues and it was not his business to interfere. The President promise to intervene and bring to an end the attacks from forces within his party on the District No. 10 lawmaker.

Rep. Kolubah, according to the source requested a follow-up one-on-one meeting with the president at a later date due to the upcoming funeral of the late District No. 15 Representative Adolph Lawrence.

Members of the independent caucus then pledged to stay off the radio pending the follow-up meeting with the President but reiterated the position that their key concern was Speaker Chambers. “If Chambers does not change his attitude, they said they would continue their resistance. But for now, they agreed to stay off the radio and will release a statement to the public but will not get on the media until the next meeting,” the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the meeting said late Monday night.

The June 7th Murmurs

For the immediate future, it is unclear what the President’s meeting with Rep. Kolubah Monday would do to plans by organizers of the June 7th, Save the State protest. But Talk-Show host, Costa, in a Facebook live Monday night, declared that nothing has changed.

“We are not asking the President to step down, we will give him long list of demands – key of which is the removal of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah – that he must meet. This is the beginning of a long protest.”

Mr. Costa accused the President of presiding over a poor economy and creating unnecessary enemies. He cited the recent arrest of Oliver Dillon, brother of one of the protest’s organizers, Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon who is also Vice Chair for Political Affairs in the opposition Liberty Party. Mr. Dillon reportedly killed a robber in self defense as noted by the charge sheet of the Liberia National Police but the matter has reportedly been politicized.

Mr. Costa said no member of the organizing committee will meet with the President because of his refusal to heed to the cries of a large number of Liberians feeling the pinch of the economy. The President will face the wrath of the Liberian people, said Mr. Costa. “Nothing will stop our protest on June 7th. If the President thinks that by meeting Yekeh today, everything is great, he’s wasting his time. Nothing has changed. We will stay the course.”

Rep. Kolubah agrees: “My going there does not suggest that I am not going to talk critical national issues. I want to make this clear. The president will not stop me from talking about national issues because I was elected to advocate for the Liberian people.”

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