Liberia: Bravo Et Bon Courage Votre Excellence!

Photo: allAfrica
George Weah campaign poster.
opinion

Make no mistake about it, ahead of the planned December 30 protest date, supporters and key figures of this government have been engaged in discussions on what to do or how to handle the planned December 30 protests. From information gathered by this newspaper, hawkish voices calling for the use of force and violence to quash the protest have appeared loudest, leaving a distinct impression that a bloody hell awaits protesters on December 30, 2019.

News, fake or real, of a cabinet meeting reportedly held on Monday have gone viral on social media and the news appear to convey the impression that President Weah held his ground firmly rejecting suggestions by some to create a bloody hell on December 30. However, attempts by this newspaper to obtain official confirmation of this report proved unsuccessful although a highly placed source (name withheld) told the Daily Observer that President Weah had indeed gone against the wishes of some top advisors calling for blood on December 30.

From history, this newspaper recalls that 40 years ago, President Tolbert found himself in similar straits with a planned mass protest in the wings and with an array of hawkish officials led by Justice Minister Oliver Bright leading the pack. The veteran Liberian journalist and pamphleteer, Albert Porte would later recall in his publication, "The Day Monrovia Stood Still" his pleas for restraint on bended knees at the feet of the President fell on deaf ears. President Tolbert, looking him in the eye, angrily retorted that "Government cannot afford to look weak".

In the aftermath of the brutal suppression of the demonstration with over two hundred persons killed, according to unofficial accounts and millions of dollars' worth of property destroyed, a rueful President Tolbert, apparently having realized that his government's response was a total clusterfuck (disastrously mishandled), would insist he did not give shoot to kill orders but rather instructed the security forces to shoot at the lower extremities.

Only a year later he was overthrown in a bloody coup d'etat, victim of a hatched conspiracy by those in his inner circle in concert with the CIA according to Dr. Neil Hahn. Some of those in President Weah's inner circle were also in the inner circles of both Tolbert and Doe. Somehow, and by some means, they have wormed their way into President Weah's inner circle and the fruits of their advice have become clear for all to see. Under their watch, nothing appears to be working and nothing seems to be in the works to get things going.

And should the Liberian people turn out in their numbers on December 30, it will not be at all surprising given the level of economic hardships which continue to bite harder by the day and to which this government has appeared either insensitive or incapable of addressing. Currently, a major issue of concern is the artificial drop in the value of the US dollar against the Liberian dollar while, at the same time, prices continue to rise. Most Liberians transact business in Liberian dollars. Imported goods are priced in US dollars and this means with the exchange rate at 190 Liberian dollars to one US dollar, one has to spend more Liberian dollars to purchase US dollars and this is causing additional hardships for the ordinary man and woman.

And truth be told, failed policies, both fiscal and economic, are responsible for this. And truth be told further, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel Tweah, in the perception of the public, is chiefly responsible for the economic and financial mess in which we find ourselves, although the Daily Observer is well aware that former President Sirleaf's adoption of a neoliberal and neoconservative economic agenda for Liberia as well as unbridled corruption under her watch laid the basis for the woes currently afflicting the economy.

As like fools rushing in where angels fear to tread, this government steadfastly refused to conduct an audit of what was being inherited. And they did so in a "Kukujumuku" (a highly compartmentalized and secretive) type arrangement wherein pledges were made and concessions extracted. Whatever those concessions involved remain unknown but it is known that rather than placing the interests of Liberia as first and foremost priorities, instead the protection of President Sirleaf's personal interests was placed as first and foremost priorities on President Weah's agenda.

For example, no questions have yet been asked to date about the US$50 million stolen from NOCAL under the watch of Robert Sirleaf and for which the former President declared she took responsibility. Since she has not proved courageous enough to restitute the amount or provide some explanation, President Weah should consider it his duty and obligation to demand explanations because he is now harvesting the bitter fruits.

And he is not being helped at all by those around him. They are instead enriching themselves and pretending to him that everything is all right when everyone knows that nothing is working or appears to be working. And they include the likes of the Baghdad Bobs who interpret every fart as some sort of divine wind. Thus, it is not surprising that that they advocate the use of violence because they fear that public protests could endanger and threaten their perks and privileges

But the threatened use of force and violence to quash the December 30 protests will certainly prove to be the spark to the tinderbox that could unleash another vicious cycle of violence with unforeseen and unintended consequences. Thus, the word should go out to officials of this government to stop playing with fire. Should these officials by their reckless conduct provoke violence that spills out of control they will be held to blame. And they will be held accountable in a big way.

The Daily Observer thus welcomes and commends President Weah for his bold stance taken to eschew violence. Bravo et Bon Courage Votre Excellence!

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