Having failed on Friday, June 7 to deliver its grievances to the Government of Liberia, protesting citizens under the banner, Council of Patriots (COP), on Sunday, June 9, 2019, held an elaborate press conference to read its petition containing what many call a laundry list of demands to the Government of Liberia. Failure to deliver the statement to government representatives Friday was greeted with mixed feelings by the public, since it was to climax the nearly three months of campaign to hold the protest. Now that it is finally read, pundits believe it brings to an end the “Save the State” campaign which the Council of Patriots and its supporters had embarked in the last several weeks. The Analyst reports.
The Council of Patriots, which organized the “Save the State” protest in Monrovia Friday, June 7, has finally made public its grievances read at a press conference 48 hours after the main event.
The COP could not deliver the grievances enveloped in a petition because Government did not heed their extraneous demands for the release of four individuals they claimed were their members but kept in police cell for the alleged involved in the brutalization of a Liberian citizen.
Government representatives who had gone at the scene of the protest to receive the petition of the protesters refused the request of COP, saying it would be a contravention of the rule of law, one of the issues for which the protest was being held.
However, nearly two years later, on Sunday, June 9, 2019, the Council of Patriots called a press conference to make their grievances known through the petition.
“We are proud to be Liberians today because we have demonstrated to all at home and abroad that we reject bad governance, poor leadership and the reckless plundering of our country,” said the first part of the statement read by the protesters’ spokesman Abraham Darious Dillon. “The Council of Patriots extends its prayerful gratitude to the Almighty for a peaceful assembly and continues to pray for God’s wisdom as we all collectively seek to save the state from failing.”
he said the COP was grateful all Liberians and friends of Liberia for their support and to “Liberian patriots” who he said trooped from all walks of life, and despite their political, religious, ethnic, social, professional and other backgrounds to demonstrate that our diversity will not prevent us from uniting around what is good for our country.
“They protested in silence, in their homes and on our streets. They said ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!,” Dillon said.
On Friday, June 7, 2019, Dillon said, Liberia made history against all of the suspicion, threats, intimidation and arrests, adding: “The unprovoked actions of Government to undermine our peaceful assembly by even stooping as low as preventing and denying Liberians, business People, international organizations and even their own partisans, of using the Internet and social media. Despite humiliation through all kinds of security checks and patrol, Liberians, were determined to make a statement to the world. We, Liberians, made that statement together. All Liberians are Patriots and love our Dear Country and will not rest till we offer our best.”
The “Save the State” Petition
In the principal statement of petition of the Council of Patriots read by a proponent of the protest, Henry P. Costa, the group repeated the refrain of Citizens’ right to freely, peacefully and lawfully assemble to petition their Government and elected Representatives to take action or avert any negative action as appertain to the welfare of the Liberian State and People.
Acting under the banner of the Council of Patriots (COP), they protesters said their protest was necessitated by the deteriorating economic conditions will continue to worsen mainly because of the intransigence of President George Weah and senior officials of his administration.
According to the COP, the CDC-led administration including the leaderships of the three (3) Branches of Government have ignored calls, cries and concerns from citizens on all matters of State, and have instead chosen to prioritize their individual and personal interests and/or aspirations above the national interest, as evidenced by, for instance, the continuous flagrant violation of the Liberian constitution and laws including the recent unconstitutional removal of Associate Justice Kabineh Jan’eh in spite of public outcries and disapproval.
They also mentioned the suppression of press freedom and rights, freedom of speech through threats against the BBC’s Jonathan Payleyleh; continual molestation and harassment of Roots FM; denial of basic rights to Isaac W. Jackson, Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the IMO; denial of operational license to Punch FM; and the conversion of the Liberia Broadcasting System-owned and operated ELBC into a partisan propaganda organ and the construction and acquisition of scores of luxury private buildings by the President in the wake of his refusal to publicly declare and publish his assets.
The COP’s petition demanded electoral Reforms, the immediate commission of an independent investigation into the hasty impeachment of Associate Justice Kabineh Jan’eh, which has undermined the integrity and independence of the Judiciary at a time when Liberians are craving for justice and commence immediately, in collaboration with the Liberian National Bar Association, an overhaul of the Judiciary, including the reconstitution of the Supreme Court Bench and to launch an immediate independent investigation into the mysterious death of Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Assistant Director Matthew J. Innis which occurred at the same time reports from two forensic audits into the missing billions of newly printed Liberian banknotes were released and extend same to other questionable deaths.
COP also called on the George Weah administration to establish a Court to address Claims, Corruption and strengthen Criminal Court E which is responsible to try Rape cases; to demonstrate respect for human rights, human dignity and Press Freedom through the comprehensive review of our laws that restrain the exercise of basic freedoms especially the media freedoms and for the the immediate disbanding of the Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT) and the criminal prosecution of its members for complicity and involvement in the illegal conduct of the US$25m infusion and mop-up exercise.
“In this regard,” said COP, “special reference is made to Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and CBL Governor Nathaniel Patray for which they must be dismissed and prosecuted for criminal culpability under their direct charge the bogus mop-up exercise was conducted and missing billions mismanaged.”
The protesters also called for the immediate demobilizing of all former fighters re-deployed into various entities/security agencies thus reigniting fear, creating a threat to peace and undercutting the restructuring of our national security sector; and to investigate how such a violation of the peace agreement of 2003 have been allowed to occur.
COP further called on Government to immediately establish a Task Force with clear mandate to implement the Recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), particularly the recommendation for establishment of a war and an economic crimes court in Liberia without delay (The Government of Liberia should make a request to the United Nations for such a court before July 26, 2019).
The protesters also stated: “Immediately ensure direct budget allocation for the implementation of TRC related recommendations; immediately take steps to curb, through public denunciation, reprimand and/or condemnation all anti-peace, fanatical, sectionalistic, tribalistic and divisive utterances by officials, friends, associates, political actors (whether of the CDC or otherwise) which seek to promote division and disunity in violation of the Liberian constitution; Immediately address the return and re-deployment of ex-fighters and generals into our security apparatus in complete violation of the Accra Peace Agreement, efforts to implement security sector reforms and address the question of impunity.
The Council of Patriots called on Government to immediately implement the comprehensive audit of all government ministries, agencies and parastatals of the period of this Administration and legally address past audits; immediately conduct a comprehensive audit of all expenditures on Liberia’s Foreign Reserve Account and the National Budget; conduct a comprehensive audit of all and any of the dozens of personal infrastructure and/or building projects undertaken by President Weah at several locations in Montserrado County since he assumed office including the purchase of private jet and yacht.
The “Save the State” Campaigns said for the purpose of transparency, President George Weah and his officials should immediately make public (publish) “assets” they are reported to have “declared” to the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC) and ensure that they are verified.
The Council of Patriots demands the implementation of the stated issues in their petition within a month or they would decide on the next course of action. They did not say what that would be. See page 6 & 7 of this edition for the full text of CoP’s petition.