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 VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid