UN Official Meets Weah, COP

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…As June 7 Draws Nearer

As the much-talked about June 7 ‘Save the State’ protest draws nearer, the international community, led by the United Nations is moving between twist and turn to ensure that Liberia remains peaceful.

On last Friday, the UN dispatched Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) to Liberia to meet with President Dr. George Manneh Weah, including the organizers of June 7 protest under the banner ‘Council of Patriots’ (COP) as well as officials of the four opposition collaborating political parties, Unity Party, Liberty Party, All Liberian Party and Alternative National Congress (ANC).

Dr. Chambas is said to have had separate meetings with the president, organizers of the protest and the four opposition parties which highlighted the need to preserve Liberia’s fragile peace and democracy that the international community invested so much in.

Organizers of the protest who attended the meeting with Dr. Chambas include Senator Sando Johnson, Spokespersons Darius Dillon and Henry Costa, Mo Ali, Rufus Neufville and Rev. Sanjee Stepter.

During the meeting, Dr. Chambas is said to have raised concerns about the number of days the protest is intended to last.

He told COP that the entire West African sub-region is concerned about the upcoming protest for which he was dispatched to meet with relevant stakeholders.

Commenting on the duration of the protest, COP representatives said the duration of the protest will depend on how the government responds to their demands.

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According to an insider in the meeting, Dr. Chambas told the protest organizers that the international community invested so much to restore peace and stability to Liberia during the 1990 civil war, and while the UN respects the rights of the citizens to exercise their constitutional rights, all parties should work to maintain peace.

During the meeting, organizers of the protest were said to have raised a number of crucial issues to the UN envoy which included the violations of the laws of Liberia including the constitution by the government as well as the ‘failure’ of the government to address the current economic problems.

The protest organizers further told the UN envoy that the government’s explanations regarding the L$16 billion and the US$25 million intended as a mop up exercise have created more questions than answers.

COP is also said to have raised the impeachment issue of former Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh with Dr. Chambas which it claims was unconstitutional, something it believes has further weaken the justice system and brings to question the integrity and credibility of that branch of government.

Organizers of the protest were said to have also accused the government for lack of tolerance to critics.

They claimed that whenever they criticize the government, they referred to us as “enemies of the state.”

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COP also raised issues regarding chatters of violence from the government circle regarding June 7.

“The noise is not from our end but supporters of the government making threats on social media,” a representative of COP at the meeting told Dr. Chambas.

The Organizers were said to have accused the government of jamming of radio stations and deliberate targeting of media institutions that are critical of government from getting contracts even from the private sector.

“The government is going after critical voices from getting jobs from the private sector,” they told the UN envoy.

They, however, informed the UN Envoy that the protest will be peaceful and is only intended to make the government understand the realities of the ‘struggling masses.”

Prior to meeting with COP representatives, Dr. Chambas met with President Weah.

During the meeting, the Liberian leader is said to have told Dr. Chambas that it is his constitutional and moral obligation to ensure that all Liberians are treated equally in an enabling and peaceful environment.

The President expressed his commitment to ensuring peace and security for all Liberians irrespective of their ethnicity, political and social backgrounds.

President Weah said he is open to do whatever it takes to better the lives of his people, but averred that this entails remaining engaged with every stakeholder who has an idea for the development, peace and harmony of Liberia.

Dr. Chambas commended the Liberian leader for his enviable leadership and urged him to continue to pursue dialogue for the good of the country.

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He promised to work with President Weah in the achievement of peace and development of Liberia.

Dr. Chambas is said to have also met with House Speaker Dr. Bhofal Chambers and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie.

Meanwhile, Dr. Chambas has urged all stakeholders to refrain from inflammatory speeches.

He also urged President Weah to continue to strive and spare no efforts to pull the country together.

The Special Representative commended efforts by all sides to ease the tension.

Though he acknowledged the constitutional right of freedom of assembly and expression as provided for in the constitution, he however, urged all stakeholders to be mindful of the fragility of the on-going democratic process and the security environment across West Africa and the Sahel and strive to keep the protest within limits and bounds.

He called on all Liberians to use the opportunities for dialogue to sit down and discuss issues and agree common approaches on how they will all pull hands together, hang heads and work together to build a stable, peaceful and prosperous country.

Finally, he reiterated the support of ECOWAS, AU and the UN to Liberia and its people and pledged to continue to work with all towards consolidation of democracy and peace building.

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