The opposition Alternative National Congress or ANC has condemned the move by riot police to disperse protesters using teargas canisters and hot water resulting into injuries.
On Monday thousands of protesters led by the Council of Patriots or CoP came under intense teargas firing and hot water pouring after an attempt by riot police to prevent them (protesters) from cooking in the streets turned nasty.
The protesters had gathered as planned after resisting calls from Ambassadors of the United States, European Union, ECOWAS and UN Residence Coordinator to set their protest date over the weekend of January 4.
The protest was relatively peaceful from the morning hours till late evening until the protesters decided to cook on giant size coal pot in front of both the Executive Mansion and the Capitol Building the home of the National Legislature.
“This is an act of tyranny and a clear trademark of tyrants who subject their people to fear, suffering, injury and death,” the opposition ANC said in a press statement issued late Monday after reports that what was described as a peaceful protest had ended in chaos.
“We strongly condemn today’s act of violence by the Government of Liberia against peaceful citizens participating in the Jan 6, 2020 protest organized by the Council of Patriots. This government, having informed citizens of the provision of security for the duration of the protest, failed to do so when it chose to use the same security to launch tear gas and spray hot water on our people.” The party lamented.
It said the act on the part of the government is intended to abrogate the constitutional right of assembly guaranteed to citizens of this nation and sets the precedence for future use of arbitrary decisions to revoke the constitution in part or in whole. “It is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,” the ANC added.
The party said it found the excuse given by the government through the Ministry of Information that the use of force was necessitated by the cooking of food for protestors on the side of the street at the protest site unfounded.
“It is common sense that where large groups of people are gathered, there will be the need to provide food and water to them. Hence, in our December 28, 2019 press release, we called on the government and the COP to negotiate the logistics of the protest which also covers the provision of food and water. Had these logistical issues been discussed and agreed upon, the violence which occurred today may not have happened. The government bears full responsibility for inflicting harm and injury on its citizens who for hours remained peaceful during their protest. The right of peaceful assembly given to Liberians as prescribed in our constitution cannot not be abrogated by any government unless under a state of emergency.” Said the ANC.
The party said it was also concern over media reports indicating that the Liberian National Police (LNP) had confiscated guns and other illegal items from the vehicle of its Lawmaker Rep. Yekeh Koluba.
“While it is the right of the police to investigate crimes or the allegations thereof, we want to let them know that we will not accept any attempt to frame our partisan or innocent citizens of crimes with the intent to quiet them through bogus charges and imprisonment. The opposition will not be silenced,” the party warned.
“We will continue to hold this government accountable and where necessary, exhaust all alternative measures to ensuring that they address the plight of our people. Again, Liberia is all we have and as a party, the ANC shall continue to guide against the government’s misuse of its power and authority to oppress our people or any attempt to derail our peace,” it concluded.