Full text: ECOWAS Statement on COP Protest

Ambassador Babatunde Ajisomo is the Special Representative of the President of ECOWAS Commission to Liberia.

Following the series of mediation efforts and constructive engagements between the representatives of Government and organisers of the June 7 Protest that was facilitated by ECOWAS, African Union and the United Nations, including the recent visits by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, and the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, to Monrovia, the Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia wishes to inform the public that the planned June 7 Peaceful Assembly took place at the Capitol Hill, Monrovia, on Friday, 7th June, 2019.

The Office wishes to commend H.E. Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia for his statesmanship, officials of his Government as well as the organizers of the June 7 Protest for ensuring a non-violent Peaceful Assembly.  In particular, ECOWAS would like to commend the Liberia’s Joint Security Services and, especially, the Liberia National Police (LNP) for the display of utmost professional conduct in protecting the civil liberties of the protesters as there was no ugly incident throughout the day.

Equally, the Office would like to commend the protesters who remained orderly and peaceful right from their homes to the Assembly point at the Capitol Hill.  Furthermore, the Office wishes to commend the United Nations Human Rights Monitors as well as the ECOWAS Observers for their diligent and impartial role in interacting with all the parties in their various areas of deployment as well as at the Assembly Point.

In line with the arrangement for the delivery of the petition by the organisers of the protest, the Government sent a Delegation, comprising of the Hon. Ministers of Justice, Foreign Affairs, Minister of State without Portfolio, the National Security Adviser and the Legal Adviser on Presidential Affairs to the Assembly Point.  In addition, Hon. Edwin Snowe, member of the ECOWAS Parliament, and the Special Representative of the ECOWAS President in Liberia, were at hand to witness the handing-over of the petition.

It goes without saying that the peaceful conduct of the protesters throughout the day exemplified Liberia’s democratic maturity, tolerance and orderly nature of the people.

However, at the point of presenting the petition, the organisers of the protest insisted that the petition, upon delivery to the President, must be acknowledged by him and the acknowledgement should be brought back by the Government Delegation and handed over to the organisers of the protest at the Assembly Point.  After consultation, the Government graciously accepted this demand and waited to receive the petition.

The Government Delegation was thereafter invited to the mammoth crowd outside the Capitol Hill Premises, and surprisingly the organisers of the protest introduced an extraneous demand by informing that their petition would only be delivered upon the immediate release of the students and others that were detained by the Liberia National Police few days ago.

It is disappointing to note that, with all the elaborate mediation efforts and arrangements made by the Government, Local and International Stakeholders, the petition that was to be delivered to the Government, could not take place.

In spite of this, ECOWAS will, however, want the Liberian Government and people to continue to engage in constructive dialogue for sustaining peace and stability with a view to finding an amicable means of addressing genuine concerns in line with the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

While assuring of its commitment to peace and stability of Liberia, ECOWAS will continue to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country.

Office of the Special Representative of the President of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia

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