West Africa: President of ECOWAS Commission Due for Talks With GOL, Protest Organizers

Flashback: In May 2018, Mr. Brou visited Liberia and met President Weah who, at the time, expressed concern over the political tensions in Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Togo. Now, the table has turned.

According to information quoting reliable sources in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, is expected to pay a visit to Monrovia shortly. His visit comes on the heels of the just-ended visit to Liberia of the UN Special Representative for ECOWAS and the Sahel (UNOWAS).

Sources say the impending arrival of Mr. Brou to Monrovia is intended to send a strong message that ECOWAS desires a peaceful outcome to June 7 and will not accept anything less.

Interestingly, just over a year ago Mr. Brou visited Liberia and met President Weah, who at the time expressed concern over the political tensions in Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone and Togo.

"It is imperative that Sierra Leonean political stakeholders hold discussions to iron out differences and avoid needless quarrels or outright war. War is a terrible thing and Sierra Leoneans should avoid its resurgence", President Weah noted during Mr. Brou's visit.

The table has turned and sources maintain that Mr. Brou's expected visit is necessitated by developments surrounding the planned June 7 "peaceful protests," which many fear could turn violent in view of reports of clandestine night-time military training of men at a beach; threats of violence by ex-rebel generals, some of who were involved in the killing of UN Peace Keepers in La Cote d'Ivoire; the arming of select student groups; and the vitriolic rhetorics coming from both sides of the divide.

Sources further say that there is a general and fast forming consensus amongst regional leaders that the current crisis in the country has the potential to escalate with dangerous spillover implications for the West African subregion, parts of which are already plagued with insurgencies that are creating instability in those areas.

According to diplomatic sources, Liberia, which once was a nexus of conflict in the subregion and a net exporter of refugees and battle-hardened combatants, still has residual issues of justice and reconciliation left unresolved. With that in mind, according to sources, no effort will be spared to ensure that the country does not relapse into bloody conflict.

Moreover, statements by UNOWAS Representative, Ibn Chambas, expressing what some analysts call deep concern about the capacity of the national security apparatus to manage and handle sustained public protests of a long duration, has drawn attention.

His statement, according to sources, is but a veiled reference to suggestions that ECOWAS may be considering the possibility of introducing a standby force to back up local security forces in case should the protests continue for a sustained, and prolonged period thereby imposing strains, which the national security apparatus may prove incapable of handling.

In a related development, CDC chairman Mulbah Morlu has denied speculations, rife on social media, about a letter allegedly written by Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill to Police Inspector-General Patrick Sudue, inviting him to a meeting to discuss matters relating to information about a coup attempt allegedly being planned by organizers of the impending June 7 protest.

Meanwhile organizers of the June 7 protest have said they have a laundry list of demands, which they are going to present to the President for his action.

Darius Dillon, one of the protest organizers, they have major concerns prime amongst which is the establishment of a War Crimes Court for Liberia.

Other demands include the summary dismissal and prosecution of Finance Minister Tweah and Central Bank of Libera Governor, Nathaniel Patray, as well as all those linked to the missing billions and the US$25 million mop-up exercise, and the scrapping of the newly imposed Cargo Tracking Note (CTN).

Dillon also alluded to what the "illegal removal of Justice Ja'neh, and the appointment of an Ombudsman Committee/Commission relative to enforcement of the Code of Conduct law, under which Asset Declaration is compulsory."

At this stage, it remains unclear just how President George Weah is going to react to this laundry list of demands from protest organizers. However sources say that parting company with Finance Minister Tweah is something which President Weah may find anathema, although circumstances arising out of the June 7 protests could compel a change of heart.

But that remains yet to be seen. For now, all eyes appear set on June 7 as the nation awaits its outcome with bated breath.

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