President George Manneh Weah’s office has branded protesting students as rude, saying he couldn’t meet them because of their behavior, a day after the presidential motorcade forcefully drove through kids who had blocked the main street and demanded the president to speak with them about their teachers’ unpaid salaries.
Presidential Press Secretary Mr. Isaac Solo Kelgbeh told local broadcaster Prime FM on Wednesday, 16 October that President Weah authorized relevant authorities from the Ministries of Education, Finance, Gender and Youth and Sports to meet with the students instead.
“The president did not meet the students because of their behavior. Yes, they were rude. His life was, he was at risk and so the security advised you cannot meet them because you do not know what will happen next,” Kelgbeh says.
“If you were in a convoy and you are being attacked with stones – they threw stones at the convoy. They did. So if they were peaceful and any day they become peaceful and they want to see the president, like he has done with other groupings, they will see the president,” Kelgbeh explains.
He argues that Mr. Weah couldn’t see the students because it was not healthy for his security “according to his security advisor.”Quoting a release from the Ministry of Education, Kelgbeh says the teachers in question “are now receiving their August and September salaries.”
The situation outside the President’s office on Tuesday was terrifying as several students were rushed to hospital during the latest protest after riot police fired dozens of tear gas canisters to disperse protesting public schools students.
The protesting students, mainly from public schools within the city center erected road blocks in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the office of the president sits temporarily, thinking that President Weah’s convoy would have stopped to allow him interact with them.Instead, the convoy drove through the crowd of students to the amazement of the protesters and many who had witnessed the situation.
This prompted the students to resort to throwing stones, while the police responded by firing tear gas canisters to disperse the protesters.But the police’s action did not stop the protesting students, as they soon gathered in front of the Capitol Building and interrupted the free flow of traffic.
However, the police continued to fire more tear gas, prompting a running battle between both parties on the main boulevard near the Liberia National Police (LNP) headquarters and the Capitol Building.Angered by the police tear gas, the students ran to a nearby private school owned and operated by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church, where it is believed most government officials have their children.
The public school students justified their engagement with the private school students 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, as police further responded with the firing of more tear gas canisters and left many students unconscious.
The victims were taken to hospital. One of the parents name withheld, called this paper and sent multiple photos of her daughter who was taking treatment at the government run John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital.
But Mr. Isaac Solo Kelgbeh says it’s quite unfortunate that people are blaming the injuries of the students on state securities, arguing that he hasn’t seen anyone condemning the students for throwing stones at the president’s convoy. By Winston W. Parley