Trouble is brewing in Liberia following recent closure of Roots FM, a radio station deemed as anti or too critical of the government of President George Weah. The move has galvanized opposition political parties into an alliance to protest what they called government provocations.
Parties in the alliance includes former ruling Unity Party (UP), Liberty Party (LP), the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and the All Liberian Party (ALP). Liberia local newspaper The New Dawn reported on Monday that, the group met on Friday 11 October and demanded immediate restoration of all equipment taken from the radio station.
“We therefore call on President Weah to immediately and unconditionally reopen Roots FM and restore all of its equipment and facilities. We look forward to quick action, as the alternative left for our political parties will be to lead a peaceful, nonviolent, direct and sustained mass action.”
Liberia government has been unhappy with Talk Show Host Henry Costa who is the main voice on Roots FM for being too critical and harsh in discussions on officials of the government.
On their part the opposition argues that a pro – government station that uses terrible language against oppositions remains operational.
Speaking on Friday, Mr. Wilmot Paye of the Unity Party, warned that government will soon realize that it has crossed the red line of opposition’s patience and tolerance. “It cannot continue to act lawlessly under the guise of applying the law.”
Mr. Paye explains that Liberians and the world were awakened on Thursday, 10 October by an act of violence and vandalism meted out against Roots FM, an independent radio station, in quite an unprecedented manner.
Before it was shut down, the facilities and premises of the station were vandalized by armed police, causing panic in central Monrovia as businesses closed over fear of violence.
“If what we have seen so far is the basis for the action by the Liberian Government, then that is totally wrong and unacceptable,” Paye continues.
He argues that the government’s action is intended to give undue advantage to Freedom FM which is reportedly owned and operated by National Security Agency (NSA) Deputy Director for Special Services Mr. Sam Siryon.
Mr. Paye noted that Freedom FM has been preaching hate messages against government critics and inciting violence in many instances which happen eventually.
He called on regional group ECOWAS Commission, African Union, United Nations, European Union, and the Government of the United States of America to view this latest move by President Weah and his government as an attempt to suppress freedom of speech.
The Unity Party chairman intimates that the move by the Liberian government is an attempt to suppress all forms of dissent and criticism ahead of next year’s senatorial elections.
“Those elections will be held nationwide, that is why the four political parties cannot sit supinely and allow President Weah to institute measures that will jeopardize Liberia’s peace and democracy,” he says.
Paye laments that instead of addressing the governance’s malaise and the economic hardship that Liberians are forced to bear under the insensitive government, it makes no sense to employ oppressive means that will only destroy Liberia’s image further.
The opposition argues that, the Weah regime has lost the confidence and trust of its own citizenry and Liberia’s bilateral and multilateral partners for its inherent incompetence.
“Even as we speak to you, many children are not in school for this academic year and are doubtful about their future simply because their dispossessed parents cannot afford to pay their fees,” Paye adds.
He states that food prices have soared inflation is climbing at an alarming rate, which means the economic situation in Liberia will only continue to worsen in the coming months and years.
The tough – talking UP Chairman pointed out that President Weah and his officials continue to mislead the public that they are “harmonizing” salaries to promote fairness. On the contrary, Paye claims that the main objective of government’s harmonization exercise is to retain the thousands of people illegally added to the government’s payroll.
He says while in theory the government appears to be implementing earlier recommendations by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the truth is that the move is intended to deceive Liberia’s partners. He claims that the government has no clues of what to do in order to revive an economy it has destroyed completely.