News / Africa

Planned Friday Rally Invokes Liberia’s Violent Past

Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.
x
Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.
Liberian police advance past burning barricade as they chase opposition party supporters in Monrovia, Nov. 7, 2011.
James Butty
In Liberia, the month of April has been violent in recent history.  

On April 14, 1979 a rice riot left about 50 people dead.  A bloody April 12, 1980 military coup killed President William R. Tolbert, Jr., and a week after on April 20, 13 former ministers of the Tolbert government were executed by firing squad.  

This year, various Liberian activist groups have called for a mass gathering Friday (April 12) to draw attention to what they say is the declining living condition of Liberians.  

But, the government has vowed to protect the peace and stability of the nation.  The police have said the organizers must get a permit before holding the protest. The military has been placed on standby to back up the police in the event of trouble.

Amara Fofana, deputy national secretary for media and advocacy of the Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia said the planned demonstration is protected under the constitution.

“We intend to assemble on April 12 to actually inform the government everything is not well, even though the president [Ellen Johnson Sirleaf] is winning all the international awards, but we are saying that everything is not bread and butter as people may perceive it.  You get over 65 percent of Liberians that go to bed with hunger; you have over 70 percent of Liberians that live below the belt of $1.00 [a day],” he said.

The government has vowed to protect the peace and stability of the nation. The defense minister has put the military on standby to back up the police, just in case.
Butty interview with Fofana
Butty interview with Fofanai
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Information Minister Lewis Brown echoed the warning of Police Director General Chris Massaquoi that the organizers must first get a permit before holding the protest.

“We have a duty, as a government, to continue to ensure the peace and security of the demonstrators and also of those who wish not to participate in that demonstration.  In that regard, our law provides that those who would wish to participate in any such process that would require occupying the public space should present themselves and make a request for a permit,” he said.
Butty interview with Lewis
Butty interview with Lewisi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Brown said the government has issued such permits in the past, and he sees no reason why the government would not wish to do the same for the organizers of the planned April 12 protest.

He said while the government respects the constitutionally guaranteed right of the protesters, it also has the responsibility, given the history of the month of April, to maintain peace and stability.

“As a government, you have to hope for the best, but also plan for the worst.  Then, also, there is the psychosis in our country about the month of April.  A lot of tragic experiences occurred in our country in the month of April.  And so, it is sadly a month of difficult reminders.  We just as a government want to be responsible and make sure that democracy is about orderliness,” Brown said.

Fofana said the organizers of the planned April 12 event do not need a permit because their event is not a demonstration, but rather a peaceful assembly.

He accused the government of double standard when he said the Christian community gathered recently to petition members of parliament without a permit.

“Are we not Liberians?  Or again, are you trying to introduce what they call sectionalism and the class system?  Of course, we are going to oppose it in the full concept of the rule of law of the Republic of Liberia,” he said.

Fofana said government and other mediators have been holding talks with the organizers and security officials to find the way forward.  But, he said the group will defend the interests of the Liberian people.

A previous version of this story mistakenly noted the rice riots occurring in 1989.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Abstrusity from: Liberia
April 09, 2013 12:01 AM
I feel discomfort with the tone of this article, as if the writer framed it to suggest things are fine in Liberia.The use of (meaningless) quotes from the Liberian government, and the suggestion of a democracy, with fully functional institutions is just wrong. There is no "peace'' and there is no ''stability'' in Liberia; the place is literally hell on earth. In fact, more than halve of the population in Liberia has consumed human flesh; Even the capital remains without mains of electricity and running water to this day; And more than halve of the population is illiterate... to name a few. All I ask is to take things into perspective. A demonstration permit should not be the issue, blatant corruption and extortion should.

by: Kerk from: CA, USA
April 08, 2013 3:44 PM
For a point of correction, the "Rice Riot" that killed about 50 people happened in 1979. I thought your article is great but need this little but necessary clarification.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs