Africa

Liberian Students Urge President Weah To Declare Assets In Keeping With Law; Threaten Protests

Student March Led By SUP in Monrovia

Student groups in the small West African nation of Liberia say they condemn the latest crackdown on students by the Mayor of the City of Monrovia.

In a press statement issued late on Tuesday in the capital Monrovia and copied to the local and international news media outlets, the Student Unification Political Party (SUP) of the state operated University of Liberia said, “…it is with utter regret and outmost displeasure, we, over 2.3 million Liberia youths and students through the Student Unification Party (SUP), the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY) and the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) categorically and vehemently condemn the flogging and subsequent arrests of student and youth leaders on the order of Monrovia City Mayor Jefferson Koijee…”

SUP Activists Addressing the Press

The student groups, in their statement , said they were informing Liberians and the international community that the George M. Weah Government “…has become severely brutal against peaceful students, youth leaders and armless civilians..”

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According to the press statement, under the signature of student activist Martin K.N. Kollie who recently led a small pop -up protest against the convoy of President Weah in the Paynesville suburb of the capital Monrovia are calling for President Weah to declare his assets in keeping with law on or before July 25 or they will stage a mass protest on July 26th.

The government of Liberia printed into handbill on June 20, 2014, “An Act of Legislature Prescribing a National Code of Conduct for All Public Officials and Employees of the Government of The Republic of Liberia” in line with the 1986 constitutional requirement to curb certain vices which are inimical to the economic and social well-being of our common patrimony.

” Part 10.2 of the Code of Conduct also made provision for the repository of all declarations as quoted below:

“The declaration of personal interest, income, assets, liabilities and the performance bond as may be required shall be lodged with:

In the Legislative Branch, with the Secretary of the Senate and the Chief Clerk of the House of Representative;

In the Executive Branch, with the General Auditing Commission; and

In the Judicial Branch with the Clerk of Supreme Court; and in the event such receipt shall be notified to the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission (LACC)…”

SUP Sec General and Activist Martin Kollie

Student groups are increasingly becoming disenchanted with with new national government which was inaugurated in January, 2018.

Monrovia Mayor Jefferson Koijee

In challenging the authority of the Monrovia City Mayor, SUP student activists declared that academic campuses of the state operated University on Capitol Hill near the seat of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislative branches of the Liberian government and its suburban Fendall facility are “No Go Zone” for the Mayor and the Liberia National Police (LNP). They have vowed to resist police presence on their campus.

Flag of Liberia

The statement from students called for a national boycott of National Independence festivities scheduled for July 26, adding, ” …there is nothing to celebrate when extreme poverty, economic hardship, and police brutality are on the increase…” Liberia, the oldest independent African country, is celebrating 171 years of independence on July 26. Various official programs have begun in and around the capital Monrovia.

It is unclear if the call for a national boycott of Independence anniversary activities and a mass protest will be headed.

Police Chief Patrick Sudue

The latest students agitation spilled into the open at formal program for a “dialogue” between youths and students and President Weah in Monrovia on Monday. Some students objected to the recognition of another student faction at the program citing illegitimate leadership of the other student group. Pandemonium ensued leading to police beating and arrests of some student leaders including Flomo Mau, head of SUP, Augustine Tamba of FLY and Amos Williams, Abigail Freeman and Seawon Liewaye by police. The student groups are calling for the unconditional release of their leaders and have accused the police of the use of disproportionate use of force against them.

Reports just received say the students arrested have now been released by police without charge. The Liberian Justice Ministry and police have yet to officially comment on the matter.

SUP Logo

Meantime, some supporters of the current government are accusing the students of attempting the foment a civil crisis to embarrass the government.

Students at the state University and others have a history of political advocacy for rights and freedom in Liberia since the 1970s.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine