Did Veep Boakai Encounter Protesters In U.S.?
By Alva M. Wolokolie
The office of Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has categorically refuted media report that he was hurriedly escorted out of a town hall meeting with Liberians in Pennsylvania, USA. It has been reported on allafrica.com and the Nigerian Sun Newspaper on Wednesday, June 26, 2013 that four protesters to the annoyance of participants at VP Boakai’s town hall meeting with Liberians in Pennsylvania made their presence felt with placards accusing the Unity Party led Government of malpractices.
The online Nigerian newspaper said the demonstrators accused the Government of corruption, illegal detention of 19 Grand Gedeans, unconstitutional and tyrannical rules.
The protesters, representing three different groups, were initially allowed into the Christ Lutheran Church on Saturday, June 22, but were escorted out by reinforced officers from the Upper Darby Police Department after it became apparent that their voices were drowning remarks being made. The protesters initially, like all participants, kept quiet until the Vice President completed his opening statement, the paper said.
Even though booted out by the police to the satisfaction of the audience, it did not silence the demonstrators as they were heard outside the building high pitching their grievances to those who would listen. The spectacle attracted bystanders and the neighbors. Generally, the atmosphere in the hall was one of serenity with occasional applauses, a sign of approval for points being stressed.
Earlier, according to the online media network, Mr. Boakai told Liberians in the Diaspora that President Ellen Sirleaf personally supports Dual Citizenship, saying most in foreign parts escaped the war to return in a short period of time but their children and the quest for higher education kept them longer than they expected.
Mr. Boakai said he and President Sirleaf will make the case for Dual Citizenship as Liberians in the Diaspora have done well for the country through remittances sent home during the peak of the civil war.
He said it was in recognition of this extraordinary contribution to the survival of the country that the Liberian community in the United States was elevated to the 16th county with the Ambassador near Washington, D. C. as its Superintendent.
On development in the country, Mr. Boakai said the Government was determined to make rural Liberia accessible through roads and named the ones under construction as the Monrovia-Gbarnga Highway, as well as in River Gee, Nimba, Maryland, Grand Gedeh, among others.
On the widely publicized dishonesty in Government, Mr. Boakai acknowledged that there was corruption in the Government, but said a mechanism to help fight the disease was in place.
But a former Liberian Journalist, Gibson Jerue residing in South Dakota, USA told a local radio station yesterday via telephone that VP Boakai was forcefully placed at the back door of the town hall where the meeting was held due to inability to address the plight of the Liberian protesters who believed that the government has failed the Liberian people.
In his reaction to the allegation that VP Boakai was guided to escape through the back door of the town hall, the Policy Analyst in the office of the Vice President Mr. Anthony Kesselle said the information is a concocted story disseminated by Mr. Gibson Jerue who is impersonating as a journalist that attended the program in Darby, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Kesselle said the Vice President was even aware of the protesters before his arrival at the town hall. But he felt that it was the right of individual to demonstrate and express their concerns.
As a result of that, Kesselle told the audience via radio that he did not hesitate and decided to attend the meeting because hundreds of Liberians were already there awaiting him.
Kesselle explained that upon their arrival, they met two persons standing outside of the town hall holding placards with captions written “Free the 19 Grand Gedeans, Ellen’s government is not legitimate”.
He narrated that VP Boakai read the comments on the placards and he was immediately ushered into the hall through the entrance that is usually used for guest.
While in the town hall after the Vice President has spoken to the Liberian community and honored by them, the protesters decided to move indoor because they felt unattended to.
Still not satisfied with their slogans and battle cry before and after the VP’s arrival, the protesters number swelled from two to four in the town hall with lots of utterances disrupting the program.
Mr. Kesselle indicated that it was at that point that the organizers of the program who had earlier prevented them from entering the hall, complained to the police who were already on assignment in that community.
“Immediately the police came in the hall and told the guys that the action was going beyond peaceful protest and asked them to leave,” Kesselle stated.
Kesselle said the VP used the same entrance of the hall to depart the ceremony and not hurriedly done as it has been reported.
“Gibson Jerue has been a campaigner to revoke the Nobel Peace Prize from President Sirleaf. He has been writing several articles telling the world why President Sirleaf is against Grand Gedeans. Infact, he was not even at the program; he lives in Dakota which is thousands of miles away from Pennsylvania. He wrote the story based on rumor that the VP was forced out of the hall at the back door. These are people hiding under the banner of journalist in the US doing dirty things to create bad image of his own country,” Kesselle explained..