Street demonstrations and protests, threatened or unleashed, are the palm oil with which opposition elements and their supporters eat their political food. They are traditionalized with the country’s political struggle even though they often turned violent with unsavory impacts on the country. Not a single writer of the country’s history had completed their work without mention of how protests and street demonstrations in the past cost too many citizens’ lives, including those of two presidents and left the country strayed from the trajectory of peace and normalcy. This is why, despite the Constitution’s guarantee of peaceful assemblies and peaceful protests, there are often apprehensions about them. The planned opposition demonstration of June 7 is just one of them, triggering enormous mixed reactions between those who want it and those who don’t. But the Government of the day says the demonstration, consistent with the Constitution is welcome, but that its organizers must beware that there would be dire consequences should it goes violent. The Chief of Office Staff of the President of the Republic has just released a caveat for demonstrators. The Analyst reports.
As President George Manneh Weah is about reportedly to chair a mass meeting of his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) today, Monday, April 15, his Chief of Office Staff and former Chairperson of the CDC, Nathaniel F. McGill is sounding militant but calm.
McGill who is the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs told The Analyst over the weekend that Government does not have any qualms against plans by groups of citizens to assemble and protest.
He said the right to assemble and protest is a constitutional right and that Government would do absolutely nothing to curtail that right.
“Our only caution is, those who are planning the demonstration must beware that to every right, there is a responsibility,” the State for Presidential Affairs Minister warned. “Let it therefore be crystal clear to all and sundry that if the June 7, 2019 protest march goes contrary to its objectives and turned violent, there will definitely be consequences.”
He said it has been gathered that the heads of four opposition political parties, Liberty Party (LP), Unity Party (UP), All Liberian Party (ALP) and the Alternative National Congress (ANC) are the masterminds of the planned street demonstrations and they will be held liable by the Liberian Government if anything goes wrong.
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs said in a phone interview that while there is the right of any Liberian to protest, violators of the peace and stability of Liberia would not go unpunished.
“Nobody should underestimate this government,” he asserted further. “This Government was elected to protect life and properties and the peace and stability of this country. So we will not sit idly and allow anyone to threaten the peace and go with impunity.”
He continued: “Those who want political power must follow to the democracy process. Nobody will be allowed to get power undemocratically or extra-constitutionally. This will not happen. So, if you want power, wait for 2023 and compete for the process that gives political power.”
Speaking rather furiously about the opposition planned street demonstration, Minister McGill said: “That nonsense that they are planning to do against the peace and stability of this country, we will not allow it. Anybody who wants power must wait for democratic election which is scheduled for 2023. It is the right for the people to protest but if you cause any violence we will deal with you. You must just get your permit to get out; but if you do not have permit under our law you will not be permitted to get on the street to protest.”
He accused the heads of the Liberty Party, All Liberian Party and Alternative National Congress for organizing the pending protest.
“They are now four parties. We know this because they are doing every planning at Unity Party headquarters,” McGill said. “And it is unfortunate that Joseph Boakai, who was vice president for 12 years without interruption will facilitate the planning of street demonstrations, with potential for violence, as a way to get political power.”