Monrovia, Liberia: Council of Patriots Maintained January 6 as Alternative Date to Protest

by Contributing Writer
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Following an intervention by the International Community to defer the December 30 protest organized by the Council of Patriots to January 4, 2020, the Council of Patriots has maintained that the peaceful assembly will be held on January 6.

The Council of Patriots (COP), through its Chairman, Henry Costa has termed as ‘undemocratic and unconstitutional’ the proposing of separate dates by the Government of Liberia (GOL) and Ambassadors of the United States, European Union, United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the holding of its ‘peaceful assembly’ in the country.

The Liberian government, through the Ministry of Justice previously vowed not to issue permit to citizens to stage protests until January 30.
But following the intervention of Liberia’s international partners, the government somersaulted and a new protest date of January 5 was proposed and requested by ECOWAS, EU and the United States barely a day after a closed-door meeting was held.

However, the COP rejected the proposed date for religious reasons at a news conference held in Monrovia after the planned protest failed to take place on Monday, and announced Monday, January 6 at the new date for the ‘peaceful assembly’.

But in reaction, the EU, US, UN and ECOWAS Diplomats, in a Joint Statement issued in Monrovia on Tuesday, proposed Saturday, January 4 as the new date for the protest.

They pointed out that the decision was reached to postpone the protest after examining the various recent statements issued by the Government of Liberia and the Council of Patriots on the planned demonstration and following further extensive and encouraging discussions with all stakeholders on the postponement of the demonstration.

He noted that the decision taken by government and the Diplomats to impose a date on the COP for the holding of its ‘peaceful assembly,’ without the inclusion of the COP in the closed-door meeting held, has no constitutional backing.

Costa maintained that the COP would be setting a ‘bad precedent’ if it proceeds to accept date proposed by government for the holding of its protest. He added that citizens would be subjected to seeking the consent of the government to exercise their constitutional right enshrined in Article 17 of the constitution in the future if the COP falls prey to the current situation.

 

 

He continued: “The citizenry has the right to assemble at all times and the government has the responsibility to provide security for them at all times. That’s the reason why we paid taxes with which the military, police and para-military are raised and paid so they can provide security for us at all times”. For some times now, the government has complained about the lack of resources to presently provide security for protesters. But the COP Chairman maintained that government remains under obligation to protect its citizens, and as such, it should shoulder its responsibility to do so on January 6.

He added, “If the government has the resources to provide security for us January 4, the government should also have the resources to provide security on January 6. Anything you can do on January 4, you should be able to do on January 6. The government does not have a choice when it comes to providing security for its citizens. It is a fundamental and constitutional responsibility of the state to protect all citizens at all times.”

 

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