POSITION STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC COALITION (NDC) OF LIBERIA ON THE JUNE 7TH PROTEST MARCH TO “SAVE THE STATE”
The National Democratic Coalition (NDC), Liberia’s social democratic party, unequivocally declares its support for the “June 7th — Save the State” Protest and calls for a constructive engagement by the government of Liberia that will eventually serve the best interest of our country. Principally comprised of the New DEAL Movement and the Free Democratic Party who are signatories to the historic Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement of August 18, 2003, the NDC suggests that the outcome of the June 7, 2019 protest to “save the state” should consider the following: (1) sustain the building of the peace, (2) solidify the stability of postwar democratic Liberia, (3) highlight the economic disparity and mismanagement of the country, (4) protect the constitutional order as well as foster justice and equality for all before the law, (5) bring relief to suffering Liberians, and (6) promote the collective pursuit of national social economic development.
The NDC is not oblivious to the avoidable mistakes, insensitivity, and financial malpractices of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Government to which the mass suffering of Liberians has been attributed in recent times. The NDC has witnessed with serious concern the appointment
by the Weah administration of unqualified and incompetent individuals into government positions, the arranging of bogus loans (the ETON and EBOMAF Loans), the unprovoked attack against the Press and individual journalists, the banning of student democratic activities and violation of academic freedom, the government’s onslaught on the independence of the Judiciary, the government’s inability to account for missing millions of dollars, awarding of contracts without proper bidding processes, the government’s unauthorized use of Donor’s funds, and the unrestrained and repeated violation of the constitution.
In the view of the NDC, it is hard to defend the Weah administration. On the other hand, it is also very difficult to justify the excesses of past Liberian governments who bear equal responsibility for the corruption, exploitation, oppression, and the abuse of our growing democracy. Obviously, these abuses have set into motion the continuous governance and leadership crises in Liberia. The past leaders of Liberia cannot be excused from the problems of today because the bad developments of today are a by-product of misrule in the past.
This makes it necessary for all patriotic Liberians to sit down and rethink, redesign, and reconstruct a democratic Liberia for better services to the country and all of its citizens. We need to reconstruct an impartial governance system that will be of better service to the country and all of its citizens, not just for a selected few. We must design new institutional, governance, and policy frameworks that will work for the interest of all Liberians and the practical transformation of Liberia.
As Liberians rally to the call of the new generation to “Save the State,” the NDC admonishes all well-meaning Liberians and our international partners to be guided against opportunism or the entitlement mentality. This opportunistic tendency is usually intended to hijack the people’s struggle.
Historically, there is a tendency for some to position themselves only to play the heroes’ part when the masses have struggled to redeem themselves. In this period therefore, let the legitimate and realistic demands of the suffering Liberian people be allowed to determine the nature of the engagement with the Liberian government for political freedom, press freedom, academic freedom, women’s rights, equal rights for all before the law, and socio-economic justice.
At this critical juncture, Liberians need to be reminded that the ability to oppose government does not necessarily translate into the capacity for effective and efficient administration of government. We Liberians need to be warned, we need to be vigilant, and we need to be cautious of the possible disconnect between the ability to oppose government and the capacity to govern. We must remember this simple truth at this critical turning point in the democratic history of this glorious country of ours. Beware of those who yesterday supervised the misrule of our country, created the governance crisis, and manufactured the vicious circle of poverty that continues to brutalize the daily lives of the Liberian people.
Admittedly, the failure of the current Liberian Government is partly linked to the refusal of the Weah administration to critically review and address the corruption and abuses by some officials of previous governments, including those of the recent Unity Party Government. Some of these officials have skipped from one political party to another seeking greener pastures through corruption and compromise of moral values of trustworthiness, loyalty and integrity. These same individuals helped the criminalization of the state, concentrated on the enrichment of a few, violated the constitution with impunity, and privatized donor money. These same individuals are once again positioning themselves in elitist political arrangements and presenting themselves as the main opposition to bad governance. This is all due to the reckless administrative and fiscal behavior of the Weah administration which is very much the same as those of past government administrators.
Therefore, as the suffering Liberian people galvanize around the June 7th “Save The State” Protest we must continue to build up the credibility of the protest movement by guiding against institutions, entities, and individuals that have not yet accounted for their active part in the political and economic destruction of Liberia. Let the “Save the State” protest allow the genuine and authentic representatives of the Liberian people to play their rightful roles in putting forward the realistic and legitimate demands of the citizens of Liberia.
Fellow Liberians and members of the international community, it is the position of the NDC that the wrongs of today’s government does not make the wrongs of yesterday’s governments to be right. We should not allow the wrongs of yesterday’s governments to be ignored so soon. We cannot allow the control of political power to swing between groupings of political parties that are allies of corruption, misrule and economic destruction. As part of its responsibility, the National Democratic Coalition will continue to expose the deception that comes with the commercialization of politics. The NDC will continue to expose the dangerous mechanisms by which poor Liberians have been cajoled and duped over the decades.
Hence, guided by the ultimate national interest of Liberia, the time has come for all Liberians (conservatives, liberals, and social democrats) to sit at the table of patriotism and allow for the interplay of ideas to determine the best way to “Save the State,” lift our people out of misery, and build a sustained democratic society for all.
For us as social democrats, we do not believe that the Weah administration has the ability to exclusively lead Liberia in the interest of the poor. Neither do we, as social democrats, believe that liberal opportunists have the ability to exclusively represent the best interest of the poor people of Liberia. In humility to the lessons of history, we thus rise up to raise strong opposition to the mere greed for power and wealth that may threaten to raise its head from any side in the emerging debate over the best way to save the state. The time has come for the spirit of unity in diversity to embrace Liberia.
We therefore call on both the opposition parties and the ruling CDC to take an all-Liberian approach to put our ideological differences aside and use the current crisis to come together, through a national dialogue, to establish the technical modalities for the drawing up of a road map for national economy recovery. The past governments fundamentally failed to take on this herculean task of reforming the current state of the Liberian economy.
Hence, in this initial official position of the NDC on the June 7th protest to “Save the State,” it is only important to call back attention to a matter that has recently been provoked around the national question — that is, the so-called “Congo” and so-called “Country” issue as possible push factors behind the protest. If we may ask: Who is Congo? And so who is Country?
The NDC is clear that the fundamental problem in Liberia is class exploitation and oppression (even though ethnicity is used by some as instruments of class domination). The struggle is characterized by Thieves versus Patriots; Integrity versus Dishonesty; Critical Minds versus Sycophants; Utopia versus Reality, and Honest Citizens versus Economic Criminals. Incidentally, the past and present governments of Liberia have not helped the situation by developing policies and programs that will address the so-called Congo-Country divide. Except that Weah has recklessly played into the hands of deception, nothing explains this neglect of the national question much more than the selective justice of the immediate postwar era, the practice of favoritism, and the double standard of the non-productive elite who only rely on political power as their only means of investment and survival.
Hence, let it be known that we are all one and the same people who share the same geographic space called Liberia. We should therefore fashion a common destiny in the interest of all Liberians. Meanwhile, because of the ugly and unsolicited behavior of certain people on both sides, it is only dangerous to completely ignore identity and cultural factors as curious phenomena and ingredients for critical reflection. These factors must be admitted into the discourse on the national question in Liberia. Lastly, as our preliminary contribution to the raging debate to “Save the State,” the NDC puts forward the following concerns and suggestions:
- The need for the CDC Government to cease all hostilities against organizers of the June 7th “Save the State” protest movement and begin constructive engagement with all well-meaning Liberians and the organizers of the June 7th Protest;
- The need for President Weah and the entire CDC Government to critically evaluate itself and begin to institute adjustments that will lead to good governance as well as effective and efficient performance; President Weah needs to terminate poor-performing and incompetent government officials and replace them with competent individuals of integrity.
- The need for President Weah and the entire CDC Administration to take immediate actions in addressing Liberia’s current economic crisis, the increasing exchange rate of the Liberian dollar, mass unemployment, increasing crimes, and improvement in the wellbeing of the Liberian people;
- The urgency of improving the healthcare and educational sectors, improve the salaries and benefits for teachers, medical workers, the police, security personnel and other low paid civil servants;
- The need for the CDC Government to devote attention to improving its behavior, participation, and performance in the regional and international systems so as to rebuild the country’s image.
- The need for the CDC government to eliminate wasteful spending and exercise respect for all integrity institutions;
Life has become extremely difficult for the ordinary citizens, while government officials swim in luxury; prices of basic commodities are skyrocketing; the exchange rate continuous to rise; the economy is taking a nose-dive; hospitals are closing down due to the lack of drugs and payment of healthcare workers; the educational system is dilapidated. Overall, the Weah government has betrayed the trust of the Liberian people, leaving the people with no hope as absolutely nothing has changed. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE, and THE PEOPLE ARE READY TO ACT NOW and TAKE THEIR DESTINY INTO THEIR OWN HANDS!
At this critical juncture in the history of Liberia, the NDC calls on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU), the United Nations, the Government of the United States, the Governments of Europe, as well as Liberia’s development partners to continue their support for good governance, the stability of the democratic process and the social economic development of Liberia. We end by saying,
“LIBERIA FIRST, THE STRUGGLE CONTINUES, VIVA AFRICA”
Signed: Dougbeh Chris Nyan/Vice Chairman for International Affairs, NDC
Approved: Alaric K. Tokpa/National Chairman, NDC
Main pic/Dougbeh Nyan VC, International Affairs, NDC/www.feedafrica