There appears to be a looming uncertainty here as Liberia’s four opposition collaborating political parties (CPP) have threatened a sustained mass action against President George MannehWeah’s regime over the closure of local radio station Roots FM which is deemed in government circle as anti- Weah.
The parties including former ruling Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP) on Friday, 11 October demanded government to immediately restore all equipment taken from Roots FM.
“We therefore call on President Weah to immediately and unconditionally reopen Roots FM and restore all of its equipment and facilities. We look forward to quick action, as the alternative left for our political parties will be to lead a peaceful, nonviolent, direct and sustained mass action,” said Mr. Wilmot Paye of UP.
The government here is unhappy with Talk Show Host Henry Costa who is the main voice on Roots FM for being harsh in his discussions against officials. But a pro – government station that uses terrible language against oppositions remains operational.
The police’s move last week to shut down Roots FM which is deemed in government circle as anti – Weah station comes over a week after Costa raised alarm here, alleging that police were refusing to release a kidnapped, raped and tortured victim Justina Taylor from a Catholic – run hospital to seek advanced medication in the U.S.Justina was released by the government following clashes between police and hundreds of protesters in Oldest Congo Town.
The latest move against Costa’s station Roots FM came Thursday, 10 October 2019 while the station’s usual morning talk show was live, with heavy sounds being heard like a gate being broken.The scene was chaotic when loyalists of Mr. Costa and well-armed riot police clashed outside Roots FM on Ashum Street, Monrovia. Also leading the scene were former rebel generals who have also gone to enforce the closure of Roots FM.
Speaking Friday, 11 October, Mr. Paye warned that government will soon realize that it has crossed the red line for opposition’s patience and tolerance.“It cannot continue to act lawlessly under the guise of applying the law,” he warns the Weah regime further.Mr. Paye explains that Liberians and the world were awakened on Thursday, 10 October by an act of violence and vandalism meted out against Roots FM, an independent radio station, in quite an unprecedented manner.
Before it was shut down, the facilities and premises of the station were vandalized by armed police, causing panic in central Monrovia as businesses closed over fear of violence.
“If what we have seen so far is the basis for yesterday’s action by the Liberian Government, then that is totally wrong and unacceptable,” Paye continues.
He argues that the government’s action is intended to give undue advantage to Freedom FM which is reportedly owned and operated by National Security Agency (NSA) Deputy Director for Special Services Mr. Sam Siryon.Paye notes that Freedom FM has been preaching hate messages against government critics and inciting violence in many instances which happen eventually.
Meanwhile Mr. Paye has called on regional group ECOWAS Commission, African Union, United Nations, European Union, and the Government of the United States of America to view this latest move by President Weah and his government as an attempt to suppress freedom of speech.
The Unity Party chairman intimates that the move by the Liberian government is an attempt to suppress all forms of dissent and criticism ahead of next year’s senatorial elections.
“Those elections will be held nationwide, that is why the four political parties cannot sit supinely and allow President Weah to institute measures that will jeopardize Liberia’s peace and democracy,” he says.
Paye laments that instead of addressing the governance’s malaise and the economic hardship that Liberians are forced to bear under the insensitive government, it makes no sense to employ oppressive means that will only destroy Liberia’s image further.
According to the opposition, the Weah regime has lost the confidence and trust of its own citizenry and Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral partners for its inherent incompetence.
“Even as we speak to you, many children are not in school for this academic year and are doubtful about their future simply because their dispossessed parents cannot afford to pay their fees,” Paye adds.
He states that food prices have soared inflation is climbing at an alarming rate, which means the economic situation in Liberia will only continue to worsen in the coming months and years.
The tough – talking UP Chairman pointed out that President Weah and his officials continue to mislead the public that they are “harmonizing” salaries to promote fairness.On the contrary, Paye claims that the main objective of government’s harmonization exercise is to retain the thousands of people illegally added to the government’s payroll.
He says while in theory the government appears to be implementing earlier recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the truth is that the move is intended to deceive Liberia’s partners.He claims that the government has no clues of what to do in order to revive an economy it has destroyed completely.
“Yesterday’s action in no way helps to allay growing fears that Liberia remains fragile and is therefore unsafe for doing business,” Paye asserts.He notes that the Government’s continuous acts of violence have only scared away investors who are reluctant because of the growing disregard for all tenets of good governance and the rule of law.
The opposition community additionally accuses government of continuously organizing and allegedly using former rebel generals, noting that this has not been helpful in alleviating the growing fears that Liberia remains fragile and unsafe for doing business.
The opposition have urged all members, supporters, sympathizers and friends of the ALP, ANC, LP and UP to continue to be peaceful, law abiding and non-violent as broad consultations are being held in order to determine their next course of action.—Edited by Winston W. Parley