25 April 2019

Liberia: Opposition Leaders Risk Prosecution

From all indications, the Liberian Government is not taking the June 7, 2019 planned protest lightly, vowed to go after planners and organizers including leaders of opposition political parties should the protest turn chaotic.

Addressing an Executive Mansion regular press briefing Wednesday, Deputy Presidential Press Secretary Smith Toby said the government under the leadership of President Dr. George Manneh Weah is determined to maintain peace and stability that the country currently enjoys; as such, it will not allow any group of people to threaten that peace.

He said the president, as a peaceful citizen, is not against protest or criticism, but such must be done in conformity with the laws of Liberia.

Toby said once the planners and organizers of the protest go through the rightful procedure and obtain permit to protest, government will provide security for the protesters.

He warned that if anything goes wrong, the planners and organizers will be held liable, adding "we will not go after innocent people on the streets, but the organizers."

Toby told Executive Mansion reporters that as far as the government is concerned, organizers of the protest are from the four opposition collaborating parties, including Liberty Party, Unity Party, Alternative National Congress and All Liberian Party, whose leaders have not dissociated themselves from the protest.

He said until they can disassociate themselves from the planned protest, the government will make them to account if the protest turns violent.

Toby disclosed that planners of the protest have raised US$350,000, some of which they are now using to pay those he described as vulnerable people to part take in the protest.

The Deputy Press Secretary claimed that the planners of the protest are now paying people US$5 each to form part of the protest.

He said if the organizers of the protest claimed to be patriotic citizens, they should have used that amount to create employment opportunity for Liberians, rather than using it in a manner that has the proclivity to undermine the peace of the country.

"Why will you want to keep people in the streets for one month? Do you know how much it will cause you? Why can you use that money to benefit the lives of the people that you claimed to love?" he asked.

Toby said up to present, the government has not received any communication from the protest organizers as to the reasons why they want to protest.

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