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Protesters boycott dialogue with Senate

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The planners of the June 7 protest, Council of Patriots (COP) has boycotted an interactive dialogue with the Liberian Senate because it was proposed to be held in closed doors.

Following the Senate’s failure to dialogue with the COP in-camera Thursday, 30 May on Capitol Hill, the protesters’ Spokesman Abraham Darius Dillon explained to reporters that COP rejected the Senate’s quest for closed door meeting so that it does not compromise the intent of the protest.

The COP and some supporting opposition political parties and government critics have scheduled June 7 to commence their protest to demand President George Manneh Weah to address a number of issues, key among them being the poor state of the economy and allegations of corruption, among others.

The first dialogue between the protesters and President Weah ended in deadlock this month, and international partners including the UN, ECOWAS and AU continue to make interventions aimed at preventing violence here.

COP Spokesman Dillon says the protest organizers are available for dialogue, but he demands that the meeting must be held in open session if the Senate wants to talk to the COP.Senate President Pro – Tempore Albert Chie says a communication sent to the COP, inviting it for the interactive dialogue indicated that the dialogue would have been held in executive session, meaning a closed door session which is usually held by the Senate.

Sen. Chie explains that the Senate’s understanding was that the COP had fully understood the Senate’ communication, but the protesters suddenly demanded the presence of the press upon their appearance on Capitol Hill.

He notes that the Senate could not change the COP’s view because the protest organizers say they have a mandate to hold all their discussions in public.

Days to the protest, President Weah pledges his absolute commitment to the protection of each and every right and freedom granted to each and every one under the Constitution, saying Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution deals with the rights of all citizens to peaceful assembly, as well as the right to present petitions to their Government.

However Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue says there will be no marching on June 7, vowing at a community policing meeting on Thursday, 30 May that everybody’s rights will be respected under the law on June 7.

“Nobody marching; nobody marching. Article 17 says peaceful assembly. Assembly means, the way all of us gathered here today, that’s assembly. [Did] we march to come here?,” Col. Sudue asks rhetorically as the crowd responds to him: “No.”

Col. Sudue says he warns protesters not to stop the movement of others that may want to go about their normal businesses either to the market or on the farm.“Because the law says where your right ends, it’s where another man’s right begins,” says Sudue. By Winston W. Parley

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