Caution Not Threat -McGill Clarifies, But Insists Protest Organizers will be held Liable if it goes Violent
As opposition political parties and their supporters increase their mobilization for street demonstrations and protests on June 7, 2019, the ruling establishment is keeping an Eagle’s eye on the political landscape. Caught between allowing the demonstrations in fulfillment of its constitutional responsibility on the one hand and jealously ensuring the hard-earned peace of Liberia is not sacrificed on the platter of fluid constitutional dictates on the other, the establishment is playing the middle-level game: protests are welcomed but there will be consequences for anyone engaging into violence during the exercise. The former Chairman of the Coalition party, State for Presidential Affairs Minister Nathaniel F. McGill accentuated this position in a telephone interview with this paper during the weekend. He however clarified that while he maintains his position that Government will hold liable protesters who go violent, he did not issue threat as was reported in the media but rather a caution to keep would-be violators of the peace accountable for their actions. The Analyst reports.
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs pointed accusing finger at the heads of the Liberty Party, Unity Party, All Liberian Party and Alternative National Congress of being the masterminds of the pending protest.
“I reiterate that if they put people in the streets in the name of protest and it result to violence these parties leaders will be held liable.”
In the wake of threats by four main Liberian opposition parties to stage street demonstrations June 7, The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel Farlo McGill has sent out caution to the would-be demonstrators to eschew violence and ensure that no one goes awry and disturb the peace of Liberia.
Speaking to the Analyst over the weekend, Minister McGill who is the Chief of Office Staff of President George Manneh Weah said Government does not have any qualms against plans by groups of citizens to assemble and protest.
He said the right to assemble and protest is a constitutional right and that Government would do absolutely nothing to curtail that right.
“Our only caution is, those who are planning the demonstration must beware that to every right, there is a responsibility,” he warned. “Let it therefore be crystal clear to all and sundry that if the Jun7, 2019 protest march goes contrary to its objectives and turned violent, there will definitely be consequences.”
He said it has been gathered that the heads of four opposition political parties, Liberty Party (LP), Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) are the masterminds of the planned street demonstrations and there will be held liable by the Liberian Government if anything goes wrong.
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs said in a phone interview that while there is the right of any Liberian to protest, violators of the peace and stability of Liberia would not go unpunished.
“Nobody should underestimate this government,” he asserted further. “This Government was elected to protect life and properties and the peace and stability of this country. So we will not sit idly and allow anyone threaten the peace and go with impunity.”
He continued: “Those who want political power must follow to the democracy process. Nobody will be allowed to get power undemocratically or extra-constitutionally. This will not happen. So, if you want power, wait for 2023 and compete for the process that gives political power.”
Speaking rather furiously about the opposition planned street demonstration, Minister McGill said: “That nonsense that they are planning to do against the peace and stability of this country, we will not allow it. Anybody who wants power must wait for democratic election which is scheduled for 2023. It is the right for the people to protest but if you cause any violence we will deal with you. You must just get your permit to get out; but if you do not have permit under law you will not be permitted to get on the street to protest.”
He accused the heads of the Liberty Party, All Liberian Party and Alternative National Congress for organizing the pending protest.
“They are now four parties. We know this because they are doing every planning at Unity Party headquarters,” McGill said. “And it is unfortunate that Joseph Boakai, who was vice president for 12 years without interruption will facilitate the planning of street demonstrations, with potential for violence, as a way to get political power.”