It was since Thursday, October 10 , 2019 when the State security Officers invaded the ROOTS FM 102.7 on Ashmun Street and seized its equipment with fruitless resistance from fans of the station and a barraged of public criticisms, a scenario which the opposition collaborating parties have jointly denounced in a joint statement. Although the government says its action was sanctioned by the Monrovia City Court which issued a Warrant of Search and Seizure, the four opposition collaboration political parties (CPP) considers the action by Government against the ROOTS FM, as “totally wrong and unacceptable.” The Opposition bloc warns President Weah against any further acts that are inimical to Liberia’s peace. They said while the country prepares to enter the ensuing 2020 election which will be even more critical for Liberia’s democracy, let it be made clear that this Government will soon realize that it has crossed the red line for our patience and tolerance. They calls on the international community to view this latest move by President Weah and his Government as an attempt to suppress freedom of speech; The ANALYST Report.
The four opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) have warned President George Manneh Weah against any further acts that are inimical to Liberia’s peace. The opposition bloc comprising of the Unity Party6 (UP), the Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All-Liberian Party (ALC) said, “As we prepare to enter 2020 which will be even more critical for Liberia’s democracy, let it be made clear here that this Government will soon realize that it has crossed the red line for our patience and tolerance.”
The four political parties in a joint statement indicated that the government cannot continue to act lawlessly under the guise of applying the law. “So far there is no outcome of acts of violence perpetrated against Mrs. Cornelia Kruah Togba in District#13 in 2013 and, most recently, against Ms. Telia Urey of District#15, respectively. In each instance scores of innocent citizens were wounded and valuable properties destroyed by arson attacks from Weah’s fanatics,” the opposition parties asserted.
Issued on Friday, 11 October 2019, the joint statement by the opposition parties is in reaction to the recent violent clampdown against “independent voices” ahead of 2020 senatorial elections. The statement was issued after the government had seized the ROOTS FM broadcast equipment and removed the station on air for what the State termed as failure to renew its license and alleged that the station has been inciting people against the state.
Furthering in their statement, the four mainstream opposition parties accentuated that the government of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) has no compunction for decency and morality, adding that is why all of its actions, policies and decisions are intended to “protect Weah’s personal interests.”
“We therefore call on President Weah to immediately and unconditionally reopen Roots FM and restore all of its equipment and facilities. We look forward to quick action, as the alternative left for our Political Parties to lead a peaceful, nonviolent, direct and sustained mass action,” they warned.
In a joint statement by the opposition political parties, they drew the attention of the ECOWAS Commission, African Union, United Nations, European Union, and the Government of the United States of America to what they deemed as attempt to suppress freedom of speech, saying further, “… freedom of speech is a fundamental right that is guaranteed by the Liberian Constitution.
In their view, and as shown time and again, they said President Weah is determined to destroy Liberia’s peace and democracy. He is taking Liberians for granted, especially at this critical time when they are deprived of life’s necessities, avowing that they will continue to speak out on matters that affect Liberia’s peace, democracy and the wellbeing of the masses of our people. Their statement also urge all Liberians not to succumb to Weah’s threats saying that Liberia cannot (and must never) become a police state yet again.
“Our four (4) political parties (the Unity Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress and All Liberian Party) oppose this action and call on the Government of Liberia to desist from employing these primitive and barbaric methods, they opposition collaborating political bloc intimated.
The collaborating opposition bloc opined that the government’s action is intended to give undue advantage to Freedom FM, which is owned and operated by the National Security Agency’s Deputy Director for Special Services Sam Siryon. The CPP group of opposition parties said the Freedom FM has been preaching hate messages against critics of the government, and in many instances inciting violence which eventually does happen.
“We are aware that when the Ministry of Justice invited Freedom FM for conference recently, Siryon refused reportedly on orders of the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel McGill. No action has since been taken against Freedom FM because it preaches Weah and places him above Liberia and Liberians.”
They indicated that notwithstanding the hate messages being broadcast by the Freedom FM, Liberians and the world were awakened on Thursday, last week by an act of violence and vandalism meted out against ROOTS FM, the government has ignore Freedom and instead attacked ROOTS FM, an independent radio station, in a quite an unprecedented manner.
“Before it was shut down, the facilities and premises of the station were vandalized. This action caused panic in central Monrovia, forcing businesses to close their doors in anticipation of what might follow,” the opposition political parties asserted.
The move by the Government of Liberia, the opposition parties said, is an attempt to suppress all forms of dissent and criticism ahead of next year’s senatorial elections, which will be held nationwide. “That is why our four Political Parties cannot sit supinely and allow President Weah to institute measures that will jeopardize Liberia’s peace and democracy,” the opposition Parties said.
The CPP indicated that “Instead of addressing the governance malaise and economic hardships that Liberians are forced to bear under a very insensitive Government that has lost the confidence and trust of not only its own citizenry but also Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral Partners for its inherent incompetence, it makes no sense to employ oppressive means that will only destroy Liberia’s image further.”
At present, the opposition bloc noted that many children are not in school for this academic year and are doubtful about their future simply because their dispossessed parents cannot afford to pay their fees. Besides, food prices have soared. And as the World Bank just reported, inflation is climbing at an alarming rate, which means the economic situation in Liberia will only continue worsen in the coming months and years, the collaborating parties averred.
They said hospitals, clinics and other health facilities are being abandoned by professionals whose salaries have been reduced in order to accommodate Weah’s fanatics and surrogates, most of whom are either unskilled or have no minimum employable capacity, the opposition parties indicated.
They further said while Weah and his officials continue to mislead the public that they are “harmonizing” salaries to promote fairness, the CPP pointed out the truth which they said has the main objective to retain the thousands of people illegally added to the Government’s payroll.
“While in theory the Government appears to be implementing earlier recommendations from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the truth is that the move is intended to deceive Liberia’s Partners. At the same time, the Government has no clues of what to do in order to revive an economy it has destroyed completely,” the opposition parties said in their joint statement.
The Thursday action against the ROOTS FM in no way helps to allay growing fears that Liberia remains fragile and is therefore unsafe for doing business, the opposition parties indicated, adding that the government’s continuous acts of violence have only scared away investors, who are reluctant because of the growing disregard for all tenets of good governance and the rule of law.
“This government’s continuous organizing and use of former rebel generals have also not been of any help to the growing fears that Liberia remains fragile and is therefore unsafe for doing business. The Liberian National police was seen yesterday (meaning Thursday) working under the instruction of a former rebel general (General Power) who himself was seen removing broadcast equipment, while ordering the police to arrest anyone in sight,” the CPP said.
The opposition parties said it is their understanding that government machineries are preparing another attack again to be led by the famous rebel General Power to close Shaita FM Radio. Already the Government has refused to grant operating license to Punch FM and is determined to silence all independent voices.
The Thursday action against the ROOTS FM, the opposition parties furthered, is proof that there are plans underway to muscle anything that resembles criticism, and it seems that Weah will stop at nothing until this is achieved.
Meanwhile, they urge all members, supporters, sympathizers and friends of the All Liberian Party, Alternative National Congress, Liberty Party and Unity Party to continue to be peaceful, law abiding and non-violent. “We are holding broad consultations in order to determine our next course of action, which will be decisive,” the collaborating political parties said.