ECOWAS REACTS TO PROTEST Hails Govt, Protesters but Regrets Petition Undelivered

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No international group takes greater credit in the brokering and sustenance of Liberia’s peace and stability than the regional body, the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS). While others would wait and see until reasonable damage is done, ECOWAS would always come in time. It has got much lost lives and resources to its credit in its intervention in Liberia’s crises since 1990. Even as threat of street protests filled the air and everyone else was flustered, some figuring out what to do and how, ECOWAS moved in quickly and has since remained engaged with the protagonists. At long last, the protest was held but the protesters withheld their much-expected grievances over what the regional body terms “extraneous” or unessential claims by them. Following the hectic day on June 7 and all what was put in negotiations over the last two months or so, ECOWAS has released its reaction to the protest. The Analyst reports.

 

The Economic Community of West African States through the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia has given its impression to the June 7 protest, following the series of mediation efforts and constructive engagements between the representatives of Government and organizers.

The negotiations and engagements were for nearly three months facilitated by ECOWAS, African Union and the United Nations, including the recent visits by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr Mohamed Ibn CHAMBAS, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi BROU, to Monrovia, the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia.

In a statement released over the weekend following the protest, ECOWAS Monrovia office commended H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia, for his statesmanship and officials of Government for tolerance exhibited during the negotiations and during the protest on Friday, June 7.

ECOWAS particularly hailed the Liberia’s Joint Security Services and, especially, the Liberia National Police (LNP) for the display of utmost professional conduct in protecting the civil liberties of the protesters as there was no ugly incident throughout the day.

The regional body also commended the organizers of the June 7 Protest for ensuring a non-violent peaceful assembly, for remaining orderly and peaceful right from their homes to the Assembly point at the Capitol Hill.

ECOWAS also commended the United Nations Human Rights Monitors as well as the ECOWAS Observers for their diligent and impartial role in interacting with all the parties in their various areas of deployment as well as at the Assembly Point.

In line with the arrangement for the delivery of the petition by the organizers of the protest, ECOWAS indicated that the Government sent a delegation, comprising of the Hon. Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Minister of State without Portfolio, the National Security Adviser and the Legal Adviser on Presidential Affairs to the Assembly Point.

Hon. Edwin Snowe, member of the ECOWAS Parliament, and the Special Representative of the ECOWAS President in Liberia, were at hand to witness the handing-over of the petition.

“It goes without saying that the peaceful conduct of the protesters throughout the day exemplified Liberia’s democratic maturity, tolerance and orderly nature of the people,” said the ECOWAS statement which however pointed out that in presenting the petition, the organizers of the protest insisted that the petition, upon delivery to the President, must be acknowledged by him and the acknowledgement should be brought back by the Government Delegation and handed over to the organizers of the protest at the Assembly Point.

“After consultation,” the regional body reported, “the Government graciously accepted this demand and waited to receive the petition. The Government delegation was thereafter invited to the mammoth crowd outside the Capitol Hill Premises, and surprisingly the organizers of the protest introduced an extraneous demand by informing that their petition would only be delivered upon the immediate release of the students and others that were detained by the Liberia National Police few days ago.”

ECOWAS says it is disappointing to note that, with all the elaborate mediation efforts and arrangements made by the Government, local and international stakeholders, the petition that was to be delivered to the Government, could not take place.

“In spite of this, ECOWAS will, however, want the Liberian Government and people to continue to engage in constructive dialogue for sustaining peace and stability with a view to finding an amicable means of addressing genuine concerns in line with the Constitution and the Rule of Law,” the regional body further asserted.

It added: “While assuring of its commitment to peace and stability of Liberia, ECOWAS will continue to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country.”

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