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Cash for protest?

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The office of President George Mannah Weah says it has been reliably informed that leaders of key political parties here are offering vulnerable young people cash as a form of inducement ahead of the planned June 7 protest.

The opposition leaders being accuse of planning the June 7 protest includes Alexander Cummings’ Alternative National Congress (ANC); former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s Unity Party (UP); Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine’s Liberty Party (LP) and Benoni Urey’s All Liberia Party (ALP). But it is not clear if they are associated with the alleged cash payout because Mr. Toby fails to name those allegedly paying vulnerable young people to form part of the protest.

The planned protest is aimed at calling for an audit report on a controversial US$25m mop-up exercise, addressing the poor economy, removal from offices of Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, Minister of State Nathaniel McGill and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray, among others.

“So the government, the president is informed that some people in our political setting have begun the disbursement of cash to some vulnerable young people,” Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby told a press briefing Wednesday, 24 April at the RLJ Kendeja Hotel outside Monrovia.

He says those perceived to be planning the protest are all on the radio, some holding town hall meetings while others say they will be in the country soon to go from town to town and from village to village.

According to him, people are sitting somewhere who are taking 350,000 dollars to plan protest and pay protesters five dollars to put them on the streets.

“If you are a patriotic Liberian, can’t you take the 350,000 dollars and open a factory somewhere and employ the same people you want to put on the street, since in fact we’re having a bad situation in our country, according to you?” Toby says.

In response to a question if government will consider arresting and detaining protest leaders, Toby returns a question as to what one would do if people put protesters in the street that they will not coordinate and stores, houses and vehicles are vandalized.

“What you think should happen to them…? Should we let them walk, put their hands in their pockets and then sit down to their homes and enjoy just what they’ve done?” he asks.

Meanwhile, the Presidency assures that if the protest planners go by the procedures by asking the Ministry of Justice for a permit and they are granted the permit, government is under the responsibility to provide them the security.

“And we going to send a caveat here…, this country will remain peaceful. The peace of this country will not … be touched. The peace of this country will not get disturbed,” Mr. Toby says.

According to him, the Presidency does not have the specifics of what protesters are demanding because there is not yet a communication to the president stating their demands.

However, Toby says what have been heard on radios concern demands to arrest Finance Minister Samuel Tweah, removals from offices of Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray and Minister of State Nathaniel McGill, among others.

Regarding a meeting between President Weah and Montserrado County District #10 Rep. Yekeh Kolubah, Mr. Toby says it went well.

Based on Rep. Kolubah’s request for time, Toby adds that a further meeting is expected after the burial of fallen Montserrado Rep. Adolph Lawrence.
By Winston W. Parley

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