BECAUSE THE NATIONAL discourse preceding the June 7 protest was rather riotous and warlike, many people at home and abroad had thought the day would be an apocalypse, chaotic and disruptive. This claimed the attention of Liberians and foreign partners who, fearing the recurrence of violence and conflict characteristic of the country’s street protests, wanted the protest prevented or that both Government in charge of security and protesters wanting to air their grievances exercise utmost care, tolerance and understanding.
FINALLY, ON THE long awaited date, June 7, the protest took place with hundreds of Liberians turning out at the seat of power in Monrovia, Liberia, the Capitol Hill, expressing themselves at least in slogans and songs that were anti-Government. Indeed, the protesters contradicted many skeptics who had predicted that the protest would have been riotous, disorderly and violent. At the end of the day, the protesters were exceptionally peaceful; except for the series of issues which ECOWAS described “extraneous” demands that caused them the fruitful climax of the day—presenting their petition to the Government.
IT IS ALSO important to knowledge the exceptional tolerance of President George Manneh Weah, the Government of Liberia, particularly the Liberia National Police, for providing the enabling environment for the protesters to organize and hold the protest on June 7. There were people who described as intimidating the massive deployment of police in the streets leading to the assembly point of the protests. We disagree. The belligerent rhetoric across the aisle of the political divide that preceded the day of the protest, some threatening the purchase of arms, amongst other things, called for serious security posturing to ensure protection for not only the protesters but also non-protesters and the business community. Besides, the planers of the protest called for maximum security. One of the chief funders, Mr. Alexander Cummings, during a press conference on the eve of the protest, requested “adequate security” for the protesters. How else could the Government provide “adequate security” without the fortification of the streets of Monrovia as swarms of citizens trooped to their assembly point?
WE ALSO SAY kudos to the international community and partners of Liberia who remained engaged with the Government and protesters before and during the protest. On the day of the protest, they deployed dozens of observers in the street to monitor the situation; they were also seen mediating on the sideline issues that were developing and could have resulted into crisis.
THOUGH SHAMEFUL AND exhausting Liberian crises have been the last almost 20 years, putting exceptional stress on foreign friends, the country’s partners remain untiring. Once again, they stood with Liberia and a showdown was prevented before and during June 7. We congratulate them.
IN THE COMING days, we call on both Government and the so-called Council of Patriots to remain positively and constructively engaged with each other. We note that the COP has finally delivered its petition, and we hope that this will now bring to an end the protest saga.
IT IS OUR EARNEST plea that, going forward, the Government and the COP will continue to exercise extreme care in their future engagements with each other so that Liberia and peace and stability remain dominant target for them all. As it is rightly often said, Liberia is all we have. We must all do everything possible to preserve its peace and support its progress and development.