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The President’s Meeting:

Boycott Not Only Disappointing, But Disserviceable to Liberians

In consonance with the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, a group of Liberians under the banner of the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia and Citizens for Change recently decided to protest against the administration of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The protest was against the backdrop of growing dissatisfaction among members of the group about situations they regarded as retarding the country’s development, including corruption, nepotism, as well as unemployment, among others.

In view of the foregoing, a protest was planned/organized for Friday, April 12, 2013 (National Fast and Prayer Day in Liberia) if Madam President did not address the issues raised by the would-be protesters- something which raised a lot of concerns among the population. As the result of intervention of the Coalition of Civil Society organizations, Liberia Council of Churches, Inter-Faith Council, as well as some members of the Liberian Legislature, the April 12 demonstration by the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia and others was called off pending a meeting to address the issues.

There may have been an air of relief to many Liberians at the time when the is peace, when an official statement from the protesters was read on a number of news outlets in Monrovia and its environs, even though another pseudo group of individuals under the banner of the Grassroots Leadership rejected the suspension of the protest against the government.

On Monday, April 22, 2013, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf hosted a meeting at the Foreign |Ministry on Capitol Hill with some Liberian youth organizations to discuss a number of  issues, including those raised by the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia and Campaigners for Change.

Unfortunately, the latter refused to attend Monday’s meeting with the Presiding for a number of reasons, including the failure of the Executive Mansion to extend official written invitation to them and those who served as “guarantors” for the suspension of the demonstration. In earnest, the so-called coalition and campaigners were completely out of order and did not do justice to themselves and the people for whom they claimed to have been advocating by refusing to honor the invitation of the President.

Their grievances earlier addressed to the President would have been manifested in their presence had they been in that meeting, .i.e, they would have been better positioned to further advance their arguments as other young people who also identified with their cause buttress them to exert pressure on the President. Their decision to boycott Monday’s meeting was not only disrespect to the Office of the President of Liberia, but a complete disservice to the people of Liberia.

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Such action by the Coalition and Campaigners only suggests to many well-meaning Liberians, who may have sympathized with them, that they may be a group of individuals who were unprepared intellectually to discuss or argue their case with Madam Sirleaf face-to-face-rendering them undesirable. Our brothers should have attended the Monday’s meeting and made their case real since we and other international organizations, as well as diplomatic missions were already cognizant of their issues.

Now that they  have betrayed the cause of the people they claimed to have been working for, but their credibility/integrity may as well be at stake, especially with the general belief that their primary objective for the protest was to make “enough noise just to attract huge funding” from the government. Their action will continue to be considered as the most disappointing and disserviceable in any advocacy, and that it would be very difficult for the people of Liberia to trust them.

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