The Council of Patriots (COP) has accepted international partners’ intervention to defer its planned mass assembly to a later date, though it disagrees with government’s assigned date of Sunday, 5 January 2020 for the assembly.
The COP told a press conference in Monrovia Monday, 30 December that it demands to assemble its supporters on Monday, 6 January because Sunday is reserved for its Christian brothers and sisters as their day of worship.
Though protesters did not assemble on Monday, 30 December as planned, but most businesses and work places did not operate normally owing to apparent fear of the unexpected.
The country has been very tense in recent weeks, especially since the return to the country of COP’s chief spokesman and talk show host Henry Costa, as a pro – government group calling itself Independent Council of Patriots (ICOP) threatened a counter – protest for 30 December.
The rhetoric have been scaring many here, particularly owing to the security implication of having two opposing groups staging protests and counter – protests on the same day.
But it took the intervention of the United States Embassy, the United Nations, the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to ensure that the authorities here and the various protest groups agree to suspend their actions on 30 December.
However, Mr. Costa told a press conference Monday in Monrovia that the COP has disagreement with the date stipulated by the government for protesters to assemble on Sunday, 5 January 2020.
“If we are to assemble, again, the date as has been proposed we reject the date. They have proposed January the 5th. January the 5th will be the first Sunday in the New Year 2020. It is a very important date for many of our brothers and sisters who happen to be of the Christian faith,” he says.
Instead, Costa says the COP is counter – suggesting Monday, 6 January 2020 for the assembly of the COP because Sunday, January 5 is not tenable and acceptable for the COP.Further, he emphasizes that the COP refuses government’s proposal for the COP to assemble at a stadium for its protest.
He clarifies that the COP did not call – off the protest, saying “it is the intrusion of our foreign friends” who have proposed the suspension of the protest.Costa explains that the four diplomats said that the Government of Liberia had indicated that it did not have the resources, manpower and logistics to provide security protection for the protesters on 30 December.
“They fear that without government security protection for thousands of people, there might be chaos,” he says, adding that “We do not reject their intervention or their intrusion.”
Costa adds that the case was made out of concerns for the supporters of the COP, and leaders of the COP were then obliged to accept the decision to suspend the protest.
“But it is not us who are making this decision. It is you the American Ambassador; it is you the European Union Ambassador; it is you the U.N. Resident Coordinator; it is you the ECOWAS Ambassador; you are the ones deciding this so please be the ones to tell the Liberian people. We will not tell them that,” says Costa.
Following these engagements, Costa says the diplomatic community concerned went ahead, drafted a statement and published it in regards to the suspension of the protest.He concludes that the statement was released upon government’s commitment that it shall provide the COP security protection when its supporters assemble.
Also speaking, Montserrado County Senator and official of the COP Mr. Abraham Darius Dillon says the COP welcomes the intervention of the international partners.He calls on Liberians to remain calm, peaceful and orderly, urging them to look up to the COP and trust the group as it leads and guides Liberians in a positive way.
“Today I believe it is the intervention of God. Too many evil things were being planned. Some of you in the media know. Most of us here know, and lot of things should have been planned. We see this as a divine intervention that some people may not appreciate today but probably later the truth and the reality will be revealed,” he says.By Winston W. Parley