Monrovia – Just sixteen days to the June 7 Save the State Protest in Liberia, international stakeholders including the United Nations, the Economic Community of West African States ECOWAS and the African Union are continuing to mediate in a bid to ensure a smooth protest while encouraging and commending the government of Liberia and the Council of Patriots for the recent meeting held on Unification Day, March 14, 2019.
On Monday, representatives from the UN, AU and ECOWAS met with the following members of the COP in a meeting that reportedly lasted nearly two-and half hours.
The organizers reportedly presented the stakeholders a laundry list of demands which FrontPageAfrica has not been privy to.
Open to Dialogue; But No Compromise
A source privy to the discussions said a wide-range of issues were on the table. “The meeting was attended by the AU, ECOWAS and the UN. We met and discuss issues relating to the protest. We maintain that no amount of discussions will change the June 7 peaceful protest. The three bodies asked if they can mediate in a dialogue and we said no problem once said dialogue is not intended to water down the protest or compromise June 7,” said the source.
Dialogue has been a central theme in recent days. At last week’s meeting between the President and COP, Ambassador Babatunde Olanrewaju Ajisomo, stressed: “When we are dialoguing, we need to be bold, when we are dialoguing; we need to be mindful of our language. Our language should be civil, our language should be polite, our language should be constructive and our language should be cordial.”
Some political observers say while behind the scenes calls for mediation is key, the momentum preceding June 7 has moved beyond the organizers with many in support of the protest resigned to making a statement in pushing President George Manneh Weah to act in addressing issues of corruption, greed and waste in government.
This was reportedly made clear Monday in COP’s meeting with stakeholders. The source explained that discussions also centered on security issues relating to the protest – the routes we will be taking and the assembly. “We made them to understand that the protest is not about us personally but about the Liberian people who are feeling the pinch of bad governance, unabated corruption, violations of the laws of Liberia, refusal to taking actions against those implicated in squandering the US25 million meant for mopping up excess LRD from the economy, the 16 billion issues, the continuous increase in inflation and more.”
In recent days, the three bodies have been working the clock and tightening the screws around the details surrounding the upcoming protest.
In a joint statement late last week, the UN, AU and the Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia commended the Weah-led government and people of Liberia, “the Council of Patriots”, and other Stakeholders for the inclusive dialogue held last Tuesday, which coincided with ‘Unification Day’.
The three bodies stated: “We welcome the dialogue as an indication of the willingness of all Parties to continue to work to reach amicable and encompassing political agreements. We wish to emphasize that any prolonged political disagreement in Liberia will undermine peace, as well as worsen the prospects for improved socio-economic development. We therefore reiterate the need for inclusive, transparent and continued dialogue on the planned 7 June protest, without denying Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution, which guarantees the right of all Liberians to lawful, peaceful and orderly assembly and association. The United Nations (UN), the African Union Liaison Office in Liberia (AU) and the Office of the Special Representative of the ECOWAS Commission in Liberia (ECOWAS) wish to renew our continued support to this process and our firm commitment to supporting the people and Government of Liberia in all their endeavors for a peaceful, stable and prosperous country.”
Mr. Yacoub El Hillo, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Liberia is hopeful that the June 7 protest will be peaceful. “I say this out of confidence that June 7 is going to be peaceful because the leadership of the Ministry of Justice, my brother Minister Dean, we have had several sittings in the last several months.”
Interventions from the UN, AU and ECOWAS have triggered the ECOWAS Commission to dispatch a delegation to Liberia for talks with the Weah-led government and organizers of the June 7 protest.