OP-ED: Why the Weah Step-Down Protest is Undemocratic and Unconstitutional

Liberia is still wiping off the dust from the more than 14 years of uncivil war. The years of bloodbath destroyed the entire nation’s economy and is still having its toll today – this is why a political machination in the form of the ‘Weah Step Down Campaign’ that seeks to dethrone a government is frightening.

While it is true that the constitution gives Liberians the right to freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly and association, the protest calling for the stepping down of a democratically elected President, who is just two years into his six-year constitutional tenure has no backing in the law, hence it is unconstitutional.

The Weah Step Down campaigners may have legitimate issues confronting the growth and development of Liberia, but the right guaranteed under the constitution is to assemble and petition the government, and not to demand a legitimate president to step down.

It is no secret that Liberia is stressed, and the economic outlook is gloomy. As it stands, the president, George Manneh Weah, has to take concrete actions and inflexible decisions in the interest of the suffering Liberian people.

Liberia Meeting IMF’s Significant Prior Actions

We have to applaud the president for changing the guard of command at the Central Bank of Liberia. The government will no longer borrow from the CBL, according to President Weah. Massive clean-up and reduction in the government wage bill have commenced, thanks to the president.

Recently, the Central Bank announced a new monetary policy targeting the bank’s exchange rate regulation and interest rate-based framework. The International Monetary Fund has reached a staff-level agreement with Liberia on an economic and financial program that could be supported under the extended credit facility.

One of the key condition precedents of this agreement was for Liberia to take “significant prior action in the fiscal and monetary areas,” something which the CBL has already started, as evidenced by the new exchange rate-based framework policy that is in full swing.  The CBL will soon welcome a new governor to lead a team of technicians in a more strategic direction.

Step Down is Illegal

Protesters have a right under the Liberian Constitution to assemble and petition the government and their leaders. While protests can aim to be ‘nonviolent and peaceful,’ they can end up in violence and chaos. Civil disobedience is not a moral weapon in the fight for justice.

In Sudan, over 800 people died protesting the removal of the president. Every time there’s a protest, hundreds of thousands of people die or are affected.

Gandhi believed those who break the laws must take full responsibility for their actions. The campaigners must remain peaceful and be cautious of the fact that the government is under a huge obligation to protect life and properties and ensure peace and serenity across the country.

Liberia’s ugly past of over 14 years of uncivil conflict dealt us a great blow. The country’s infrastructures in education, health, and the economy were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of our citizens lost their lives.

The peace and security of Liberia are paramount

The peace and security of the state are of most significant to President Weah and the Liberian people. The safety of every Liberian is also of more importance to the state. Maintaining the peace is of more value to all Liberians, including the opposition, than any chaotic protest that could send us packing.

Members of the opposition should join the Alternative National Congress’ political leader, Alexander B. Cummings, to reinforce calls for the Council of Patriots to abandon the protest. We know just the thought of a protest sends shocks into the spines of every Liberian and particularly investors who are keen on bringing development to Liberia.

I also call on members of the international community, Liberia’s development partners – the U.S., U.K., Sweden, African Union, and ECOWAS – to join all Liberians and the government in challenging the Council of Patriots to let peace reign, thereby supporting government’s plan for economic growth and development.

Featured photo courtesy of Lloyd Massah

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