Three leading Civil Society Organizations in Liberia (Center for Transparency and Accountability, Institute for Research and Democratic Development and Naymote Partners for Democratic Development) are deeply concerned over the peacefulness of the impending June 7, 2019 protest and call on all stakeholders involved, including Council of Patriots and the Government of Liberia to sustain the peace; ensure respect for the rule of rule, human right, and free movement of citizens during the protest to avoid any provocation that could lead to violence and destruction of lives and properties. Collectively, with the support of development partners, Liberians suffered for the peace we currently enjoy. So, we must continue to jealously guide and protect, individually and collectively, through our actions and deeds.
The recent June 3, 2019 violent situation on Broad Street involving supporters of Representative Yekeh Kolubah and disadvantaged youths largely believed to be against the planned June 7 protest; tension between rivalry political groups at the University of Liberia; and the increased negative social media campaign are counterproductive and undermine the rule of law and peace and stability of the nation. Although stable and peaceful, there is a strong possibility of reverting to conflict, if Liberians are not careful about their decisions and utterances; no matter which side of the political spectrum they find themselves.
While we unconditionally support exercise of the rights of citizens, especially organizers, supporters and sympathizers of the June 7, 2019 protest, as guaranteed by Article 17 of the 1986 Liberian Constitutions, we want to encourage all would-be protesters to do so within the confines of the law. We strongly encourage organizing body of the protest, the Council of Patriots to exert full leadership and control over their members protesting in solidarity with or under their auspices.
Meanwhile, we strongly encourage the Liberian Government to continue to respect the constitutional rights of would-be protesters seeking to civilly and peacefully express their grievances about ongoing developments in the country. The onus is on government to lead by example in maintaining and sustaining the peace, in part through exercising extreme caution and civility in dealing with the protesters.
In view of the above, we wish to recommend the following:
That Liberian National Police and other security forces remain professional, respect human right and the rule of law, and refrain from the use of excessive force against unarmed protesters.
We call on the media, government officials and protest organizers to be conflict sensitive and ensure that peace, stability and democracy are sustained and guaranteed in Liberia.
We call on the international community, especially ECOWAS, AU, UN, EU and the American Embassy to closely monitor the situation in Liberia and hold anyone who will instigate violence accountable for their action (s)
We wish to indicate our opposition to any form of undemocratic regime change, using protest or other unorthodox means permeating through social and other media platforms.
We encourage the government, political actors, protesters and all stakeholders to continue to dialogue and adhere to the democratic principle and norms of the society
Finally, we call on President Weah and the government of Liberia to be more responsive to the plights of Liberians, ensuring that the current economic hardship, corruption and other vices are timely addressed.
We want to remind all Liberians, particularly the protesters that Liberia has undergone enormous period of strife and the enormity of sacrifices made by Liberians and the world at large to bring peace and stability into this nation is priceless. We therefore cannot allow ourselves in any form of shape to tread the path that lead this country through those very tempestuous years of carnage destruction which is one the very reason why we are where we are at this juncture.