Monrovia — The Over Seas Advisory Council (OSAC) of the U.S. State Department has cautioned that the Government of Liberia's reaction towards Monday's protestors and the orderliness will play a major role in determining scale, duration, and potential escalation of the protest.
OSAC could not overrule the possibility of what is intended to be a peaceful protest from escalating into violence. The Advisory Council, therefore, urged that "given limited or reduced local security and emergency response capabilities, security managers should review their duty of care to foreign and local staff, including understanding what organizational resources they can provide to protect their personnel and operations. Ensure sufficient supplies including food, water, and fuel are available in case of prolonged unrest or disruption of commercial services. Contingency plans should include accountability protocols, shelter-in-place scenarios, use of redundant communications systems, and crowd avoidance techniques. Many in-country private-sector organizations have bolstered physical security measures to deter crime and are reviewing these in light of potential unrest."
The State Department Over Seas Advisory further indicated that though there would be heavy security presence in the streets, the heightened security would not necessarily mean increased ability to respond to incidents and emergencies.
On December 26, the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia issued a demonstration alert to its citizens within Liberia and those traveling to Monrovia. The U.S. Embassy advised its citizens that the protest "even events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence".
The alert stated: "Demonstrations are expected to take place on December 30. Multiple groups are expected to demonstrate on different issues facing Liberians in various areas of Monrovia. A heavy police presence and/or road closures are possible.
"Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests. Monitor local media for updates. Keep a low profile."
Created in 1985, the Diplomatic Security Service's (DSS) Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) promotes security cooperation between the State Department and U.S. private sector interests around the world.
The council comprises of 34 representatives from companies, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies concerned with overseas security. The Director of DSS serves as the council co-chair.
OSAC provides the latest safety- and security-related information, public announcements, travel advisories, terrorist group profiles, country crime and safety reports, and more to its constituency of more than 4,600 U.S. companies and organizations with overseas interests.