Several students were rushed to hospital during the latest protest against the George Weah administrationhere on Tuesday October 15, after riot police fired dozens of tear gas canisters to disperse protesting public schools’ students.
Thestudents had taken to the streets demanding that their teachers return to their classrooms, a day after public schools’ teachers here laid down their chalks in protest for unpaid salaries and wages running into months. The teachers took the action a day before a schedule test which should have taken days could begin.
The protesting students, mainly from public schools within the city center erected road blocks in front of the Foreign Ministry, the temporary office of the Liberian Presidency thinking that the President’s convoy would have stopped to allow him interact with them, rather the convoy drove through the crowd of students.
This prompted the students to resort to throwing stones, while the police responded by firing tear gas canisters to disperse them. But the action by the police did not stop them as they soon gathered in front of the Capitol Building interrupting the free flow of traffic.
However, the police continue to fire more tear gas, as a running battle ensued between both parties on the main boulevard not far from the National Police headquarters and the Capitol Building housing the National Legislature.
Angered by the police tear gas, the students ran to a nearby private school own and operated by the Seven Day Advantage Church, where it is believed most of the government officials have their children.
The students justified their engagement with the private school by saying “if they can’t be in school, then the children of state officials should also be out of school as well.”At the SDA School, a stone throwing battle intensified, the police then fire several more tear gas canisters which left many students unconscious and taken to hospital.One of the parents name withheld, called this paper and sent multiple photos of her daughter taking treatment at the government run John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
This is the third major protest against Weah’s Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC government which came to power on the campaign slogan “Change for Hope” in 2017 in less than two weeks.
It could be recalled that on Thursday October 3, riot police clashed with protesters who were demanding the release of a female whistle blower. The young lady Justina Taylor had been allegedly tortured and raped by unknown men a day after she revealed on social media alleging that President Weah had trained them and had brought arms into the country.
She named Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee as the leader of the special force which were trained in a neighboring country. But Koijee has since denied knowledge of the allegation.
However, few days later, protesters clashed with riot police and pro-government demonstrators on one hand as the police broke into the facility of the Roots FM, a station critical of the Weah government to forcibly shut it down upon obtaining a writ of search and seizure from the local court.
Led by known ex-rebel generals, the riot police broke into the offices on the radio station ejecting all the equipment forcing the angry crowd to demand that a pro-Weah station which rain insults at opposition figures including the current Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor be shut down as well.
These developments come at the time the Council of Patriots comprising several opposition parties are planning a sustained protest beginning December 30, to demand that President Weah steps down. The COP staged the first ever mass demonstration here on June 7, this year and this time around insist that it will not quit the streets till the president steps down.By Othello B. Garblah