MONROVIA – Liberians continue to weather the harsh economic storms exacerbated by local bad governance and global economic downturn; and, equally, as the people bear the brunt of the Coronavirus pandemic which has limited their ability to fend for themselves in the wake of restrictions posed by the COVID-19 State of Emergency protocols, latest attempt by the Government of Liberia to increase surcharge on data calls is generating anger amongst the already impoverished population. Left with no option to make government reverse such draconian, the Council of Patriots (COP) has finalized plans for a nationwide protest against government’s brazen attempt to suffer the already suffering citizens, The Analyst has gathered.
According to COP Chairman Henry Pedro Costa, who addressed the media from his United States residence in Delaware via social media, yesterday, through zoom, Liberians are completely fed up with the impotence of the Weah government, which has not formulated means of expanding the economy, but is rather bent on imposing insufferable taxes on the citizenry whose purchasing power has drastically dwindled since President Weah assumed power in 2018.
Addressing the issue of the lukewarm climax of the June 7, 2019 protest, in comparison to the planned protest against government’s attempt to increase data call surcharge fees, Mr. Costa said the planned protest will be completely different from the June 7 protest.
“The people are already suffering. The last thing this government should be doing is to make life unbearable for the Liberian people. We are going to do a surgical, insurgent-style protest. We’re not announcing the date, we’re not announcing location, we’re not requesting for appointment. We’re going to get out and protest until Weah makes a decision and announces that decision that he is not increasing surcharge on data calls,” said Costa.
“We’re using a different mode of protest because the old mode has not worked. So we want to be radical, we want to be different. That is why we are staging the protest in communities, at various junctions where people live; because it makes it easier for the people to come out,” said Costa.
He said the change in strategy and tactics is to take away the advantage of the only water truck that the Liberia National Police currently possesses, as well as dislodging the advantage of the few teargas they use to spray peaceful protesters.
“We will leave them neutralized, so that we can overwhelm them. That is why we will disperse all over the place and we will be protesting at multiple locations. They are going to be overwhelmed and we’re going to disrupt normal flow of traffic in all those areas to make sure nothing moves. We are going to be peaceful, but it will be civil disobedience -Justina Taylor style,” said Costa.
Public Reaction to the Planned Protest
Some Liberians who had earlier sympathized with the Council of Patriots, especially during its June 7 protest, have expressed serious reservations about Mr. Costa’s call for another protest, given the haphazard manner in which the last protest was conducted. Many believe that the organizers of the June 7 protest had relied too much on diplomatic engagements, leaving the crux of the protest withering.
Says Moses Sonkaley of Ganta, Nimba County: “Look at what is happening in the United States and the world over the killing of George Floyd. Did the people ask government for permit before protesting? If we should take the COP people serious, they need to be serious about this protest.”
“Why is this government so heartless? We are already suffering then they want to add on our suffering. This is worse than death,” maintains Susanna Gbangay of Clara Town.
“We are prepared to tell George Weah that enough is enough. All the money they eating, still they can’t feel sorry for us. The baby that says the mother will not sleep, itself will not sleep,” says Joseph Okai of Gardnersville.
But others are not so happy about another protest
“If Henry Costa is serious for us to protest, let him come back home. Costa is a fraudster. He dumped his staff who helped him to get the laissez passer that he used to travel to Liberia with for the June 7 protest. Costa is just riding on the people’s innocence to gain popularity and get money to support his flashy lifestyle,” says Obadiah Weah of New Kru Town.
“We are waiting for them to protest. We will be ready to scatter them,” says a member of the CDC Youth brigade who refused to provide his name.