Liberia: Planners of December 17 Gathering Says the Rally Will Stand

Monrovia — The opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) has blamed President George Manneh Weah for the latest attacks on its Campaign Chairman Lewis Brown by some unknown persons in Monrovia, with a caveat not to tolerate any harassment or intimidation of planners of its peaceful rally scheduled for December 17.

Last week, the CPP announced that it will stage a peaceful rally under the captioned “We Tired Suffering” to call President Weah and his government’s attention to the growing wave of sufferings, extreme hardship, societal ills, and bad governance vast majority of the citizens are encountering.

But Mr. Brown, who is the Chairman of Team Cummings and one of the Chief Architects behind the rally, has been verbally attacked by scores of government officials and hierarchies of the ruling party since the rally was pronounced.

Team Cummings, which comprises of several personalities, is the campaign team of the opposition CPP of Mr. Alexander Benedict Cummings.

The attacks took different dimension when scores of unknown young people stormed Voice of Liberia radio station on the Capitol Bye-Pass in Monrovia to attack Mr. Brown when he appeared as guest.

Several youths holding sticks, and other deadly weapons stood before the premises of the station using disparaging words against Ambassador Brown and chanting slogans in favor of the government.

He was rescued by some community dwellers following the arrival of some officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) on the scene.

But addressing a news conference in Monrovia on Tuesday, December 6, the Deputy Campaign Chair of Team Cummings George Wisner claimed that President Weah is allegedly using the Secretary General of his Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) party Jefferson Koijee to instigate acts of violence against peaceful Liberian citizens.

Koijee is the former Youth Chair of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC). He’s currently the Mayor of Monrovia.

He maintained that President Weah ignited the “flame” against Ambassador Brown as evidenced by his move to abuse his office by negatively charactering Ambassador Brown at one of his church regular services due to different political views.

Delivering his regular sermon at the Forky Klon Jlaleh Family Fellowship Church on the Roberts field Highway, outside Monrovia on Sunday, October 2, President Weah, for the first time, disclosed reasons for recalling Ambassador Brown as Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

He also referred to Ambassador Brown as a “rebel.”

The president claimed that Ambassador. Brown requested to go to Nigeria to serve as Ambassador, but he refused to send him. This, the Liberian leader added, is making Ambassador Brown unhappy.

Ambassador Brown, former Information Minister, was named Liberia Permanent Representative to the UN by ex-President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf few months to the expiration of her second term.

He was retained following the inauguration of President Weah in 2018 but recalled seven months later.

“I sacked him because he failed to listen to the government of the day and the good practices of diplomacy. He doesn’t know the difference between America and Liberia. He doesn’t know that America is our traditional partner. In the ministry, that man was asked to vote for America; he voted against America. He thinks he’s a rebel. He was sacked and he is now making lots of statements against the government,” President Weah stated.

But Mr. Wisner observed that lieutenants and supporters of the Liberian Chief Executive are now acting upon the mischaracterization of Ambassador Brown to attack and harm him due to his decision taken to embrace and support Mr. Cummings for the Liberian presidency.

He said though the violent act permeated by the youths was directed at Ambassador Brown, it has the propensity of igniting “a chain of reaction” that will undermine Liberia’s peace and security.

“We want to on behalf of the Standard Bearer of the CPP and all members of Team Cummings condemn this callous attempt on the person of Ambassador Lewis Brown and call on all conscious leaders, civil society leaders, the religious community and our international community to join their voices in condemning this act. What happened last night remains on the feet of President George Weah and his lieutenants now led by the Secretary General of the CDC Mr. Jefferson Koijee.”

“Let us remind the public that everything rises and falls on your leadership. Mr. Weah as President of the country, who took an oath to protect and defend the constitution and every citizen of Liberia, neglected his responsibility when he singled out a citizen of Liberia- Ambassador Brown because of his preference to support a rival candidate to Mr. Weah”

Mr. Wisner observed that in the past few days, Mayor Koijee has allegedly initiated calculated ploys to intimidate and harass opposition actors, especially those from the CPP.

He said the party is fully aware that government has no “moral weight” and as such, Liberians are determined to decide.

“They cannot frighten us, but what is scaring is that this President who has taken an oath will not only ignite a flame that has the potential to undermine the peace and security of the state but will remain silent when his supporters and key lieutenants issue these kinds of statements and threats of intimidation to silence the opposition.”

He noted that the Liberian leader and his government are under constitutional obligation to protect freedom of speech and assembly.

Mr. Wisner emphasized that these tenets are non-negotiable in any democracy around the world.

“We cannot compromise that. This is a sacred responsibility. And we take seriously attempt on the life of Ambassador Brown and all oppositions who find themselves in similar situation.”

He cautioned that the CPP will not tolerate any intimidation and harassment from the government against planners of the December 17 rally and other critical voices.

He said the opposition will ensure that President Weah and his government uphold the constitution of the nation, or “ship out and leave the Liberian people.”

Mr. Wisner claimed that the Liberian leader continues to reduce Liberia and its citizens to nothing as evidenced by the poor manner and form in which he is steering the affairs of the state.

He said the President and his government should place keen focus on improving the living standards of citizens by addressing the growing wave of difficulties and escalation in the prices of basic commodities instead of going after critical voices and opposition politicians.

He observed Liberians are tired of the mismanagement of their resources and the misrule of the nation, but however, they do not want to return to the ugly past.

“If the mission last night was to threaten the Liberian people to abandon the rally, it has just strengthened our resolve. Let me say to Mr. Weah, Koijee and this government-don’t think your sinister plan against the Liberian people will go without consequence. The people are determined to show up; they will show up and they will rally. The Liberian people are tired and on December 17, they will show you it.”

Mr. Wisner claimed that the rally is for the Liberian people, including disenchanted and frustrated suffering civil servants, supporters of the ruling party, and others.

Killing me will not stop it

Also speaking, Ambassador Brown disclosed that the attacks were intended to intimidate and instill fear in him and other planners and citizens planning to form part of the rally.

He said the act also sent out a “notice of fear that the government is scary and worried.”

He claimed that the Liberian leader is allegedly using “kids” to get at him due to his past assertions that he (Weah) was unfit to lead the nation.

“President Weah started this. Mr. President, stop! Tell your people, your fogs to stop. You should know me by now; I said it to your face that you are not qualified to be President. You proved it in five years. Trying to kill me will never stop me from telling you this. Youare not fit to be a leader. By using little boy Koijee, you cannot frighten or scare me. You are a coward. If you man, come to my face. Don’t send kids to get me.”

“You went to your church; you lied on me in the sanctuary. Did I attack you? You have people calling me all kinds of names all around the place? Have I attacked anyone? You can spoil my name as long as you want to spoil it, the people will stand up on December 17 and you will hear them.”

Ambassador Brown observed that Mayor Koijee who was appointed to clean up the city of Monrovia has abandoned his task and responsibilities by orchestrating and perpetrating violent acts against perceived critical voices and opposition figures.

He emphasized that though members of the opposition community are helping government by creating a space for Liberians to “air their grievances” during the rally, they are being frightened and intimidated from exercising their constitutional rights.

“Little Koijee be warned-anybody on Team Cummings you touch-thousands more will stand up. But you will pay dearly. You little boy, behave yourself. Your job is to clean our city and you are not even cleaning it well.”

Ambassador Brown maintained that Liberians will not be intimidated to stage and form part of the peaceful rally to compel their government to act in their interest.

Despite being denied the use of the SKD facilities by the government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ambassador Brown pointed out that the CPP rally for Liberians will take place at the “space paid for at the SKD.”

He observed that the government is planning politics to deny citizens the right to peacefully assemble at the stadium for the rally.

He said it remains the responsibility of the government to provide protection for its citizens during the event.

Will beat you like “old drum”

“You disappointed people President Weah. You disappointed even your own bodyguards and securities. Shame on you and we will take it from you democratically. We will go to elections, and we will beat you like old drum. You don’t deserve a second term.”

Ambassador Brown said despite the high level of intimidation and harassment being meted against him and others, he will remain in Monrovia and will not move to exile.

He vowed to visit popular places in Monrovia and its environs to galvanize the support of the citizens for the rally.

“President Weah I dare you!! Stop abusing and misusing little children. You are misleading them. People paid too high for the price of democracy here. I received calls from some of my friends that we should “leave this thing and that we are not dealing with normal people”. We will make them normal because, abnormal people should not have power.”

“This is a coward play. Citizens should turn out. You have nothing to fear. I defy and dare them. We will have our peaceful rally and the government should make sure it is peaceful. We will be in the forefront.”

Ambassador Brown said the CPP remains resolved to stage its peaceful rally, but called on other opposition political parties, civil society organizations and others who are suffering to form part of the event void of any political affiliation and “taking glory.”

Speaking further, Ambassador Brown warned that with the consistent change in the electoral calendar of the pending elections by the National Elections Commission (NEC), the government should bear in mind that the October 2023 elections will not be postponed affording President Weah the opportunity to stay in power above his term.

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