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

Looking At President George Weah’s Warning to Koijee, Others

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)
Yesterday this paper and many others highlighted a story in which President George Manneh Weah threatened to suspend officials of government that are in the constant habit of making incendiary comments that have the tendency to derail the existing peace and stability under his leadership. The President’s warning was disclosed by Deputy Presidential Press Secretary, Smith Toby during the regular press briefing on Tuesday.

Mr. Toby informed news conference that the President will not tolerate any form of violence in Liberia- citing the counter protest as indicated by Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, stating further that President Weah condemned the July 31, 2019 violence that ensued between the supporters of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the supporters of the four collaborating opposition political parties at the Liberty Party’s headquarters.

The Liberian leader, in the strongest term, condemned recent counter protest statements spewed out by Monrovia City Mayor, Jefferson Koijee, a statement which reportedly propelled the Wednesday violence that led to the inhumane flogging of Police 102 and other uniform officers at the CDC’s headquarters.

Adding, “The President condemned any counter protest in the strongest term, and
warned any officials of government making statements that have the inclination to derail the peace, will be suspended indefinitely or dismissed,” Toby disclosed. “Any official appointed and serving in this government is not allowed to speak on behalf of the CDC; those caught doing so will be suspended. Officials of government whose comments have the tendency to undermine this government will also be suspended,” Toby said.

It can be recalled that Mr. Koijee told press conference that he was going to deploy men to counter any would-be protesters in the country.

Many believed that the inciting and threatening statements of Mayor Koijee, who is also chairman of the Youth League of the CDC that ignited or fuelled the violence that led to the attack on the Liberty Party’s headquarters in Sinkor, while its partisans and supporters of Darius Dilloh were rejoicing for his (Dillon’s) victory.

First, let me thank President Weah for this latest move in the wake of reckless, irresponsible and careless statements from some officers of government, something, I also believe has the propensity to fuel tension, violence and conflict in a country that experienced years of patricidal conflict.
Sometimes certain words like ADVICE and WARNING are used interchangeably, but they carry certain meanings or messages. For example if someone uses the phrase,” you are not from a home, but a house.’ That person is not looking at the physical structure, but good or well-behaved manners. Home means good manners, while house means bad manners.

Likewise, the words “ADVICE” and “WARNING,” may seem the same in terms of their meanings or definitions. But technically they have different implications. Warning is more serious than an advice. In a situation of advice, it is that ‘you take it or leave it.” But in the case of warning, as President Weah has done, it is not “you take it or leave it.’
Again, in the situation of “WARNING,” it is that one MUST abide, or else, if one fails to act properly and prudently or fails to desist, there would be some consequences, possibly, dismissal or removing from office for trying to endanger the peace and stability the country enjoys presently.

Sadly to note, sometimes people argue that the Constitution, which is the Organic Law of the country, guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of the press as well as freedom of assembly. But all of these freedoms go with certain responsibilities and conditions. This is why it is said that, “freedom is not absolute; it goes with responsibilities.”

Unarguably, I agree that the government came to existence on the platform of the party. But when the government is formed; there is a demarcation between the government and the party.

People in the party should not create the situation that would suggest a parallel administration or engage in acts like reckless, misguided and irresponsible statements detrimental to the society.

Once again, let me commend the President for this WARNING. It is timely too at this time when lawlessness is said to be on the rise.

What matters now is for the President to match his warning with practical steps and actions if the rule is broken, to send a message that no one would be allowed to throw monkey’s wrench into the PEACE the country enjoys now.

I Rest My Case.

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