Liberia's Council of Patriots, an activist group led by a popular radio host, has organized a rally against President George Weah. Anti-government se
Liberia’s Council of Patriots, an activist group led by a popular radio host, has organized a rally against President George Weah.
Anti-government sentiment has been rising over a deepening economic crisis. Thousands of protesters in the Liberian capital Monrovia on Monday rallied against a deepening economic crisis in the impoverished country. Riot police were deployed as a precaution to assure the safety of those demonstrating. About 3,000 people rallied outside Monrovia’s Capitol building carrying banners reading “March for Justice”.
The Western African nation is still traumatized by back to back civil wars and the 2014-2016 Ebola crisis. Inflation is rampant, according to the World Bank, and civil servants regularly go unpaid.
President George Weah — who took office in January 2018 — was under growing pressure over his management of the crisis. Henry Costa, chairman of the Council of Patriots (COP) youth activist group had been calling for Weah to step down, saying that he is incompetent to lead Liberia. However, many criticized the move as undemocratic. Now they want him to fire his entire economic management team.
“They have performed dismally and created the worsening economic situation we are in,” Costa told the Associated Press news agency.
Monday’s gathering was the second mass demonstration against Weah’s handling of the economy in less than a year. In June protesters demanded to know what happened to $25 million (€22.3 million) his government withdrew from Liberia’s Federal Reserve account for infusion into the economy. A presidential probe later discovered discrepancies and allocations.
Liberians are increasingly angry over the state of their country. Many are disillusioned by Weah’s government after depositing all their hopes on the former football star for a prosperous, corruption-free Liberia. Weah had no previous experience in politics when he came to power by winning over 70% of the vote in a runoff in December 2017.
Young Liberians, the president’s principal constituency, are turning away from him. Civil servants are particularly upset by the government’s failure to pay salaries and pensions. According to the Civil Servant’s Union, more than half of the 73,000 public service workers across the country were not paid their full salaries in November and December, despite the government’s promise to do so. The delay is the result of limited liquidity in banks, which has put restrictions on the amount that can be withdrawn in the local currency.