President George Manneh Weah appears paranoid and jittery amid planned protest by a group of citizens, calling on partisans of his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and all well-meaning Liberians to remain resilient, terming opposition and critics’ plan to stage a protest beginning June 7 as “machinations and trickery to divert attention from ongoing national developments.”
However, President Weah had earlier acknowledged that Liberians have right under the Constitution to protest and subsequently called on the Ministry of Justice to provide protection for would-be protesters and the citizenry at large.
According to an Executive Mansion release issued in Monrovia Monday, 20 May, President Weah’s call came on Friday, 17 May in New Kru Town at CDC’s primaries to choose candidates for the pending Montserrado County Senatorial and District #15 Representative By-elections.
The President in an apparent turnaround says the June 7 protest is a ploy shrouded in hypocrisy only to distract Liberians’ attention from many positive interventions his government is making to improve lives and develop the country.
Allegations of corruption, the poor state of the economy and a US$25m mop – up exercise are among many other reasons why opposition and critics of the regime are planning to protest to demand reforms here.
A latest report released by the General Auditing Commission (GAC) on the US$25m mop -up is stirring debate among Liberians, as some fears that it appears to put more burden on the Executive Governor of the Central Bank Nathaniel Patray, who co-chairs a Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) headed by the Minister of Finance and development Planning, Samuel Tweah.
The pending June 7 protest has been causing panic among Liberians after a dialogue between President Weah and protest organizers under the banner Council of Patriots (COP) ended in a deadlock in Monrovia on Tuesday, 14 May.
The COP’s planned protest is endorsed by Liberia’s four collaborating opposition political parties, and it insists on presenting its grievances to President Weah during the protest.
But President Weah questions the moral justification and significance of street protest being organized by detractors under the hallowed pretext of “Save the State”.
He acknowledges challenges in the economy here which his government is endeavoring to ameliorate, but argues that it does not amount to total collapse of the state.
“Yes, there are challenges, but what we are doing here is to cover the dark holes that have been dug,” says the President.
“Today, they are accusing you for the economy that was bad under their leadership,” President Weah continues, in an apparent reference to his predecessor, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
“But let me say that the only reason any Liberian will get into the street is simply because they were defeated and don’t want you to lead”, he informs cheering partisans.
He argues that the planned protest was a mere display of frustration against the CDC-led government for performing to expectations far more than his predecessor did in 12 years.
“What they are doing is to stop you from doing what you are doing,” he further argues, and explains: “It is intended to stop you from paving the community roads. It is to stop you from connecting the country with paved roads. They do not want to see you modernize the huts poor people who have been living in squalor since the founding of the country. It is to stop you from improving the education system.”
Weah says his government is giving opportunities to Liberian-owned businesses in keeping with the promise that “Liberians will not be spectators in their own economy.”
Meanwhile, President Weah calls on partisans of the ruling CDC to stand together during these trying times to lend support to candidates that will contest on the party’s ticket during the 2 July by-elections.
He describes Montserrado County as stronghold, heartland and cherished territory of the CDC, which must be shown during these elections, and urges all CDCians and members of the Coalition for Democratic Change to come out and support their candidates against any opposition candidate to prove the party’s supremacy in the county that has a population of over one million people.– Press release