By Morrison O.G. Sayon
The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs & Tourism has taken serious exception to recent statement attributed to Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson that government gave US$30,000 to the planners of the April 12, 2013 demonstration to cut off their protest.
Addressing the regular press briefing of the Information Ministry on Thursday, Information Minister, Lewis Brown said government did not offer a dime to the demonstrators. Min. Brown said offering money to Liberians who were planning to protest peacefully against their government is not just wrong, but shameful.
“Never and ever will this government trample on the rights of its citizens by bribing them to cut off their planned demonstration or protest when it is to be done peacefully because the Constitution of Liberia provides a peaceful assembly of citizens,” Minister Brown said.
The MICAT boss added that government cannot build a democracy if it stops the people from exercising their constitutional rights. “We are not afraid of demonstration and our concern has been the protection of the rights of others who are not part of the demonstration; we want others’ rights to be respected,” he stated.
He said,” There was no winner neither a looser in the April 12 planned demonstration as the citizens have the rights to exercise and tell their leaders how they feel. Our position was just to maintain the peace which we have enjoyed for the past ten years but not to stop people from demonstrating or protesting against the government,” Brown added.
Recently it was reported in the media especially on a social website, Facebook that Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson alleged that the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf-led government bribed the demonstrators an amount of US$30,000 to cut off the planned April 12 demonstration though Minister Jackson has since denied the statement attributed to him.
But in his defense, Minister Brown said Mr. Jackson did not make the statement attributed to him but was just defending Mr. James Sirleaf’s character. James Sirleaf is one of President Sirleaf’s sons.
At the same time, Minister Brown has disclosed that President Sirleaf is to meet with several youth groups in the country and according to Minister Brown, the meeting will be closed to the media as the President has planned to meet with the youths to hold a heart-to-heart dialogue relative to some of the critical issues being raised in recent times by the young people of Liberia.
The Coalition for the Transformation of Liberia (CTL), one of the planners of the April 12 most publicized planned demonstration is expected to be part of today’s meeting with President Sirleaf at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.