The Inquirer is a leading independent daily newspaper published in Liberia, based in Monrovia. It is privately owned with a "good reputation".

Boakai Wants Gov’t. Protect Would-Be Protesters

By Alex Yomah

Ahead of the planned protest, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai has endorsed the December 30 dubbed “Weah Step Down protest” organized by the Council of Patriots (COP).

The former Unity Party political leader speaking on scores of   trending national issues over the weekend, particularly the December 30th protest, wants government to provide protection for the would-be protesters-thereby allowing them to freely exercise their constitutional rights provided by Article 17.

Article 17 States, “All persons, at all times, in an orderly and peaceable manner, shall have the right to assemble and consult upon the common good, to instruct their representatives, to petition the Government or other functionaries for the redress of grievances and to associate fully with others or refuse to associate in political parties, trade unions and other organizations”.

Commenting on the planned protest, Boakai asserted: “As regards the December 30th Protest, it is important that aggrieved group of citizens exercise their constitutional right of assembly and freedom of expression. The government must perform its obligation to provide security and protection,”

The former Vice President’s assertion on the planned protest has been greeted with mixed views from both pro-Government and opposition folks.

 Boakai, also commenting on the planned go-slow by civil servants, indicated, “Government must meet up with its obligation. These patriotic citizens have played their part. They deserve the dignity of their labour and the right to provide for their families. We must not overturn the apple cart”.

 Boakai said Liberians have demonstrated that they are capable of conducting          peaceful protests. Equally, Government has proven its ability to provide security and protection for all.

“Let each and every Liberian play his or her part to preserve this sacred heritage of ours. The Republic of Liberia is bigger than any one individual. Let us all work together,” he said.

 The former Vice President expressed frustrations due to what he called form   and manner government is descending of recent, adding, “I have observed that recent events in our country seem to be taking on their own momentum. Liberia appears to have become a rudderless ship adrift on a turbulent sea hurtling towards disaster”.

“Civil servants, teachers and other professional groups are demanding salary arrears or they would initiate go slow action. Groups of people under the banner of the Council of Patriots have called for a STEP DOWN CAMPAIGN beginning December 30, 2019.  The Liberian people and the world continue to demand full accountability and action regarding the missing L$16 billion and the US$25 million allocated for mopping up excess liquidity,” he decried.

“Economic hardship continues to impact lives throughout the country. The banks are failing their obligations to depositors. Families are sleeping hungry while students are being thrown out of school for non-payment of tuition and fees. Overall school enrolment has drastically declined compared to previous years while hospitals and healthcare facilities are struggling to attend to the sick due to lack of basic equipment and supplies. Businesses are closing. Inflation is running high while unemployment defies gravity”. 

“In the face of this mounting crisis, the people and our partners look up to the President for assurance. But, the President has failed to address his people and has instead deferred to surrogates who have resorted to inflammatory language to find scapegoats and to add fuel to the fire”.

“The government has requested the printing of additional money in the face of structural deficiencies and governance abnormality highlighted by both the PIT and Kroll Reports. Moreover the government has not given convincing reasons nor has it put in place adequate guarantees for accountability,” he stated.

“We are all sitting on a tinderbox.  It is against the foregoing that I urge all sides to exercise restraint and to work within the confines of the Constitution,” Boakai concluded.

Contrast to the Boakai’s request for government to allow the “Weah Step down Protest” the Government of Liberia has rejected to issue any permit to organizers of the would-be protest terming such action as treasonable offence.

But one of the lead runners of the protest, Henry Costa insisted that they will protest on December 30-indicating that they need no permit to assemble. He said as citizens of the country, they are only requesting for security protection as required by the constitution of Liberia.

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