By Winston W. Parley And Jonathan Browne
Imprisoned former president Charles Ghankay Taylor’s key ally, now Bomi County Sen. Sando Johnson, pleads with the planners of the 31 December “step down campaign” against President George Manneh Weah to abandon their quest to avoid a recurrence of killings, rape and destruction of properties here.Sen.
Johnson reminds Liberians through local broadcaster Prime FM Thursday that during Liberia’s decade – long civil crisis, mothers and sisters were raped and killed in buses and cities, warning against a recurrence of the ugly past.
“We went through long civil crisis in this country. You know exactly what happened to us here; our mothers, our sisters were raped and killed in the bushes, even in the cities. Do we want recurrence of those ugly past? I will say no!” Mr. Johnson responds.The Weah step down campaign is being planned by the Council of Patriots (COP), the same group that organized the June 7, 2019 protest against the regime to demand reforms in government.
Lead campaigner and talk show host Henry Costa, has bitterly intensified his criticism against the regime, amid a recent move by the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) – led administration to shut down his radio station, Roots FM.But the Bomi Senator, who took part in the June 7 protest, however distances himself from the call by the COP for the president to step down, based on his own calculation of the national security implications that are attached.
“I’m not condemning them; they are Liberians. They have the right to peacefully assemble, but not to say the government must step aside. Because, then you don’t have feeling for the people because it will be chaotic. People will die. People’s properties will get destroyed. And no good leader will want that to happen,” he argues.”For the sake of peace, for the sake of Mama Liberia, they should abandon the December 31 step down campaign,” Johnson pleads.
He further calls on Liberians not to turn out or support the step down campaign, warning that it is not good for the country.Rather than staging protest for Mr. Weah to step down, Sen. Johnson stresses the need for more dialogue with the government, appealing to his colleagues in the COP to do away with the campaign for the sake of the peace of the country.He says he took part in the June 7 protest because it was not meant to call for anybody to step aside, noting that he will not take part in anything that is violent.
Sen. Johnson suggests the need to apply a different approach by engaging the CDC – led government and make recommendations to the administration on what the regime should do.Where the government fails to listen to its people, he also recommends the need for protesters to wait until the 2020 senatorial election and the 2023 presidential election to use the ballot to change the government.
“So I’m calling on everybody, all Liberians from all walks of life to abandon December 31. It is not in the interest of the people who are protesting, it is not even in … the interest of the country. So I’m not going to sit down and say the President must step aside,” he adds.
He concludes that nobody should overlook President Weah, saying the President has popularity and fanatics and that asking him to step down would invite chaos.