In the wake of jittering among Liberians regarding a planned June 7 protest, the United Nations expresses confidence that all Liberians want to fight for peace and not any other war, ruling out fears that protesters’ assembly next month could spark conflict here. He urges the government to allow the protest.
“June 7 is a good thing,”UN Resident Coordinator Yacoub El Hillo, said adding, “and actually a demonstration that the Government of Liberia [recognizes] at all time that there is an enshrined right in the Constitution for peaceful protest.That’s why June 7 is actually supported, and June 7 should be allowed to take course. June 7 should be given to the people of this country to actually petition their government in a peaceful, orderly and organized way that is conducted in close coordination with the appropriate authorities in the country.
Addressing a peace dialogue called by President George Manneh Weah with protest organizers Council of Patriots (COP) on Unification Day, 14 May, the UN Resident Coordinator, saidin spite of all the sensations thataccompany June 7, he believes that it is another peaceful day where Liberians will be given the opportunity as given them by the Constitution to convey their message.
Under the leadership of Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, Mr. El Hillo says several meetings have been held in the last several months with the protest organizers for a peaceful protest.
Further, he says under the leadership of President Weah, all Liberians want to fight for peace and not any other war, stating that peace is paramount and priority.
Mr. El Hillo expresses believe that all Liberians including government, the opposition and civil servants are on the same side of getting the country move forward.
He believes that the dialogue between President Weah and the COP sends a message to the world that today, Liberians are choosing the force of logic to solve their difference, and not the logic of force.
Allegations of corruption, the poor state of the economy and a US$25m mop – up exercise are among many other reasons why opposition and critics of President Weah’s regime are sayingtheywillprotest and make demands for somereformshere.
However, the first dialogue with the COP did not see the discussions ending now, as the group’s official spokesperson and official of opposition Liberty Party Abraham Darius Dillon briefly asks President Weah at the dialogue for protection of the protesters comes June 7.
Dillon says the COP will present its grievances to the president and the government during its protest beginning June 7.
But the outcome of the meeting did not please President Weah, though he leaves a room for further dialogue with the COP.
In an effort to persuade the COP, President Weah raises concern on the economic consequences incurred every time protesters get into the streets.
He informs the COP that paving a community road costs about three to four hundred thousand dollars; but it costs the government US$1m plus to guard protesters when people get into the street.
He laments that this money could be used to fix community roads instead of putting security in the street.
President Weah indicates that as long “we” continue to protest, there will be of course, economic consequences, urging the COP to be mindful that this is also helping to bring the economy down.
He says his government inherited a bad economy and he has been trying to revamp it, citing the issuance of three executive orders to tackle economic issues, among others.
Besides, President Weah is concerned that if going in the street will not be chaotic, it will also disturb businesses. By Winston W. Parley