MONROVIA, Montserrado – Amid growing anxiety among citizens that the June 7 protest could have a negative outcome, the political leader of the Alternative National Congress, Alexander Cummings, has asked participants to remain peaceful and avoid provocations.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday at the ANC’s headquarters in Monrovia, Cummings said citizens have a constitutional right to protest or petition their government. However, he cautioned that such right must be exercised peacefully and within the confines of the law.
ANC is one of the four collaborating political parties supporting Friday’s protest. Cummings said Liberians are well aware of the cost of peace and stability and cautioned that no one should compromise the gains, despite the current hardship faced by Liberians and the compelling reasons for the protest.
“As we approach the much anticipated June 7 Protest, the ANC would like to admonish its partisans, partisans of the other collaborating opposition parties and all citizens, who wish to exercise their constitutional right, to remain peaceful and act within the confines of the constitution,” he said.
He maintained that it is the government’s legal duty to provide adequate security for peaceful protesters and urged the president to keep his promise to protect the lives of citizens.
He also reassured the protesters that he stands by them and will ensure that an alternative is presented for next elections. He also reaffirmed his party’s commitment to the opposition collaboration and urged protestors to also channel their anger and disappointment through the ballot box during elections.
“But today, we stand with you and by you, as you prepare to petition your government to do what needs to be done to curtail your suffering and improve your lives,” he noted.
On Wednesday, Monrovia saw a buildup of tension that produced unrests in some parts of the capital, ahead of the day of the protest, when the home of Montserrado’s tenth district representative, Yekeh Kolubah, was barricaded by armed police officers from the Emergency Response Unit. Kolubah is a prominent supporter of the June 7 protest.
Further disturbances occurred at the University of Liberia’s Capitol Hill campus and several students were arrested.
Meanwhile, Unity Party’s assistant secretary for publicity, press and public affairs, Mohammed Ali, has released the protocol for the protest.
“We will start gathering as early as 7 a.m.,” Ali wrote on Facebook on Thursday.
He said protesters coming from Paynesville, Congo Town, and Sinkor will be diverted from 12th Street through Jallah Town to Capitol Hill, while those from across the Gabriel Tucker Bridge and Central Monrovia will use the Camp Johnson Road and U.N. Drive routes toward Capitol Hill.
“There will be random security checks on vehicles and backpacks by the assigned security personnel,” he said, calling on protesters to cooperate with the security as their mission would be to ensure the safety of the protesters.
He said both the U.N. and ECOWAS would monitor the process. He also informed the public about the presence of security officers in the streets and communities beginning on Thursday tonight: “Do not be afraid as they are there to ensure that evil people do not penetrate the protest.”
Featured photo by Arrington Ballah