Analysis Of The Planned June 7 Protest In Liberia: A Look At Power Struggle In Liberia And The Elements Of Fear
This article looks at the planned June 7 protest in Liberia by major opposition parties under the banner of “Council of Patriots”. The paper reviews the issues surrounding the protest and analyzes data and observations on the past history of protests or demonstrations, and on the power struggle in Liberia. The article takes this research approach in order to understand the fundamental reasons for the protest.
Geoge Weah, the second Liberian president of full native parentage, came to power in January 2018 after his party, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), overwhelmingly won the 2017 Presidential Election. Many members of his cabinet are young, while some are older with unique qualifications in public and private sector high professional capacities. (Nyanfore, D.K, ‘Analysis of the George Weah Cabinet’, 2018) Most Liberians viewed his election with high expectation because, under the 12 years of the Sirleaf administration, her government squandered opportunities (VP Boakai) and misused over the US $17 million in international aids and investments into the country. Under her leadership, the country GDP performed poorly. A consequence of this performance was an acute social and economic hardship in Liberia. Her son Robert Sirleaf mismanaged the National Oil Company losing millions of dollars.
Further, the exchange rate of the US dollar increased as the country balance of payment reduced due in part to the sharp drop in the prices of rubber and iron ore on the global market. An international report stated that under her administration, the average Liberian lived on less than the US $1.25 a day. Despite her effort to maintain peace and allowed free speech and press in the country, prices of common commodities increased. Most Liberians felt that her administration was not improving the living condition.
A Washington Post article by Agnieszka Paczynska discusses the situation further.
“During Sirleaf’s tenure, Liberia made progress in rebuilding the country after 14 years of brutal and devastating civil war. But in several areas, Liberians feel that progress hasn’t come quickly enough. …. In 2015 only 26 percent of Liberians thought the nation’s economic situation was fairly/very good, a drop from 34 percent in 2008. Liberians generally looked unfavorably on the government’s effectiveness in delivering education, jobs, improved roads and higher living standards for the poor. And most saw public officials as corrupt”. (Washington Post, November 13, 2017)
The Post’s graph below shows the country’s growth domestic product (GDP) during her presidency. Accordingly, when she came into office, the GDP was a little over 12%, but by the end of her 12 years in power in 2017, the growth decreased significantly to 4%, though the economy did better from 0% in 2015. However, the decrease in 2015 was due largely to Ebola, which was not her fault.
With this economic reality, the article states that Liberians will face economic hardship “no matter who replaces Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as Liberia’s president”. It goes further to warn that whoever is elected, “he’ll face serious challenges running the country. Citizens don’t think the government has been doing an effective job as it is in difficult financial straits. The need for foreign investment conflicts with rural Liberians’ land rights and economic security”.
Certainly, the Liberian people did not realize this factor or the incoming Weah government did not foresee the weight of the problem and the drastic need to tighten their belts. Consequently, the Liberian people expected an immediate change in their conditions when Weah came into power. He was the president for change and for hope. Disappointing to Liberians, under his 18 months of his presidency, conditions have become worst, causing a double-digit inflation rate of 28%. The prices of needed foodstuff and other goods have increased tremendously. Example, the exchange rate for the US dollar has gone up. It is currently 190LD or 195LD to a US dollar; a cup of rice is 50LD from 40; a half bag of rice is 2750LD from 2300; “a pack of peppers is 20LD from 10 or 15 depending on size, and a plastic bag of cold water is 10LD from 5.” The results are financial difficulties and the reduction of social services.
The government took some steps to address the problems. For instance, in mid-2018, it reduced taxes/tariff on 2000 major imported commodities and infused $25M into the economy. But the measures earned little or no result. The S25M mop-up was problematic and questionable of its impact. A recent audit report appears to put blame on the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) for mismanagement of the funds. Last year, a $16 million LD was reported missing. Critics and opposition accused the Weah government and Sirleaf administration to have stolen the money. But Kroll Associate Inc, a US auditing firm hired by the US government, reported that no money was missing, but the CBL printed extra money without authorization. The government jailed CBL officials responsible, including Charles Sirleaf, Former Sirleaf’s son. However, the opposition complained of the imprisonment.
Last year, the government invited all opposition parties to discuss the way forward, but the major opposition parties now supporting the protest complained then that less important opposition parties were also invited and that there was inadequate time given to speak. Abraham Dillon, Liberty Party vice chair, walked out of the meeting.
Israel Akinsanya, a former chairman of the opposition Liberty Party, talked about “managing expectation” when he joined Weah’s party. But perhaps the party did not listen to his call. Some observers said that Weah made a big mistake when he, a few months after his inauguration, announced to the nation that the country was broke. Yet he conducted no audit on the Sirleaf government. Pundits viewed that he may have made a deal with Sirleaf to let her off the hook. The All Liberian Party Political Leader Benoni Urey remarked that Sirleaf gave the presidency to Weah, which to mean that Weah did not earn the office. With some administrative missteps, the opposition seized the opportunity to criticize Weah and the administration of being incompetent. With the exception of Former Vice President Joseph Boakai, the leaders of the opposition are of the settler background. Their continuous criticisms of every try of the administration, and their inability to offer alternatives have earned them the name, “lazy opposition”. The Post article is correct that whatsoever effort the government would make it would be inadequate.
THE CASE FOR AND AGAINST THE PROTEST
The protestors alleged that the Weah led government does not practice good governance, that the regime violates the constitution, is creating unbearable economic hardship, is corrupt, is incompetent, is looting the Liberian treasury, and the president, in addition to being unqualified, is surrounded by sycophants. Weah is being accused of building private apartment complexes in the midst of hardship and has not answered the allegation. To the protestors, the economic condition will reach to a state of chaos and they must do something. So they called themselves “Council of Patriots” to “Save the State”. They also claim that their protest is to bring the problems to Weah’s attention and to the attention of the international community. Seemingly, their central complaint is the rising double-digit inflation in the country. They have set June 7 to protest as their right as stipulates in the Liberian Constitution. The constitution guarantees the right to free and peaceful assembly of citizens to appeal to the government for a redress of their concerns. Protest planners vow to protest daily and give no time it would end.
However, other Liberians differ on the issues, arguing that the government is addressing many of the concerns, particularly the economic hardship. They say that these problems have been in existence in previous administrations and that the Weah government inherited them. They maintain that the government needs time, for it has been in power for just a year and six months. They point out, also, that many of those calling for protest are past government officials who misused government funds, which resulted in the current problems. They indicate that the opposition parties backing the protest leadership failed at the ballot box in the 2017 Presidential Election and are using the protest to gain power. They say that the apartment buildings are FIFA properties arranged with Weah prior to the election for the housing of the association’s football academy participants in Liberia. They question the sincerity of the protest planners, asking, “Where were they when the country was under extreme economic condition under Sirleaf administration? Why did not they protest to save the state? Where were they when Robert Sirleaf mishandled the oil millions and bankrupted the company? Did they protest and ask for his resignation? Did they protest to ask for former President Sirleaf to resign?
HISTORY OF PROTEST AND POWER STRUGGLE IN LIBERIA
Protest against the Liberian government is relatively new in Liberia. Historically, demonstrations against a sitting regime were discouraged. Specifically, the Tubman administration disallowed anti-government protests; the regime encouraged and entertained public marches which praised the government, and thus, created a culture of impunity, sycophancy and what is now called in Liberia, “gravy seekers”. Tubman was of the Americo-Liberians/Congo stock also referred to as the settlers. They settled in the country in the 1820s. This group controlled the government since the inception of Liberia as an independent and sovereign state in 1847. Under the True Whig Party structure, the administration stopped efforts for multi-party democracy, as it crushed the United People Party in 1951. The government stopped the party from contesting the election that year and stopped any protest against the administration. UPP standard bearer, Didwho Welleh Twe, a Liberian indigenous, was forced into exile. The settler group made all efforts to hold native Liberians from the presidency. The party key leaders were harassed and jailed. (Thorgues Sie VS. The Republic of Liberia, 1954) Subsequent opposition in the 1954 Election was also stopped; key opposition leaders were killed while many were arrested and put imprison. Tubman went to become the longest sitting president of Liberia under a one-party state.
President Tolbert, who succeeded Tubman, though permitted the registration of another political party and allowed demonstrations, the ruling settler hierarchy saw the move suicidal and called for a tougher stance against protests and progressives. The progressives during that time advocated for social, economic, and political democracy. I proudly participated in the demonstrations of 1975 and 1979 in the United States against the Tolbert regime. We protested for justice and for the killing of unarmed demonstrators in the Rice Riot of April 14, 1979. We demonstrated against the unjust killing of Liberian citizens by the government soldiers. We were not supporting any political party but were standing up for human and constitutional rights.
But the 1980 revolution toppled the Tolbert government as the administration sided with the hierarchy in 1980, ushering the Samuel Doe regime under the control of indigenous Liberians. Doe PRC, the People Redemption Council, the government came to power because of the 1979 demonstration that turned into a riot.
Doe was elected in the 1985 Election, which many observers considered fraudulent. He was the first Liberian president of indigenous background. Though his administration was credited to bring development in the country and to create a multi-party democracy in Liberia, the opposition parties protested against the election and the government, and they motivated the condition that led to the civil war: they viewed Doe as an illegal president, unqualified, uneducated, incompetent, dictatorial, corrupt, and of practicing tribalism and poor governance. They alleged that his kinsmen dominated the government. But Sociologist Dr. Konia Kollehlon wrote that the Doe administration was well balanced and appointed Liberians of all geographical regions of the country. Through misinformation, the opposition encouraged Thomas Quiwonkpa, a former PRC general, to lead a failed invasion. That incident created a Nimba-Krahn antagonism, a factor that enhanced the civil war. (Tarloh Quiwonkpa, 2013)
A key opposition leader, Former President Sirleaf, helped finance Charles Taylor, a jailed criminal, to start the war purposely to make her head of state, according to the TRC Report and Charles Taylor. The civil war killed over 250,000 people and destroyed public and private facilities. Doe was killed, Taylor later became president, and so was Madam Sirleaf. Moreover, during the war, Sirleaf and her settler partners prepared a list of individuals to serve in her anticipated administration, the majority of them was of the settler stock. Additionally, the cabinet was not geographically. It was dominated by people from Montserrado County. Byron Tarr, then secretary-general of Sirleaf’s original party, LAP, observed and wrote Sirleaf:
“Most of the proposed persons are or can be presumed sympathizer/affiliated with LAP. National reconciliation requires a broader-based government...Look at the geographic distribution. Dunn, Woewiyu, Brown, and Tarr are from Bassa; Vinton is from Cape Palmas; Banks, Holder, Sherman, Divine, Knuckles, King, Cooper, Dennis, and Grimes are from Montserrado. (Dr. Byron Tarr’s Letter to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, June 11, 1990) Thomas Woewiyu, a close friend of Charles Taylor, stated that the civil war was fought to revenge for the Congo people and to return them to power. (Thomas Woewiuyu)
I do not recollect any protests in Liberia during the Taylor administration and the Gyuden Bryant caretaker-government, but there were demonstrations in the diaspora against the war and against the Taylor regime. There were certainly many peaceful protests against the Sirleaf government in Liberia and in the US, particularly by the CDC. The Sirleaf administration did not stop the demonstrations, for they were orderly.
Mediation or dialog is often necessary when two forces or parties are in a dispute. Through mediation, they can settle their differences for a peaceful relationship. There have been mediations between the government and the protest leadership. In early May, the government and COP met. Weah said that his call for the meeting was not a sign of weakness but to dialogue for understanding and for the sake of the nation. The government requested the demands of the protest leaders, but Abraham Dillon, the spokesman of COP, refused, stating that the demands will be given on the day of the protest, and that COP wanted only protection and security from the government for a peaceful demonstration. COP also pointed out that the protest will be held on June 7 and it will be indefinite. The meeting was attended also by representatives of the international partners, including the European Union. It was unsuccessful.
In late May, Dr. Mohameh Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, visited Liberia and met with the government and COP. Again, no agreement was reached. He expressed concern that the government security capability might not be able to handle a prolonged mass protest; and he feared that the situation could be chaotic, resulting in a serious problem in Liberia and probably in the West African sub-region. Here is his exact remark after the meeting:
“I have mentioned that state capacity is a genuine issue here; Liberia is only rebuilding its security forces after the civil war in the past 12-13 years, that’s a very short time. So, any protest of long duration will task the effort of the security forces and they may not have the means to effectively police and ensure the safety of protestors for a long duration. It’s just a logistical issue. Nothing to do with whether they want to do it or not.”
The ambassador expressed serious concern. Liberia’s military is not strong enough or prepared to deal with a crisis. Like in the Tolbert administration during the "rice riot", the Liberian soldiers and police were overwhelmed and therefore the government had to call in the Guinean military for help. If a never-ended protest is carried out, the sub-region and ECOWAS would be tasked, putting pressure on their capacities. Liberia, as a sovereign nation, would look bad; and she would be seen as a troubled kid. Further, Liberian economy would be affected and the people would be in fear: merchants would close their stores, market sellers would stay home, workers would stay home, and students would be afraid to walk in the streets to school.
On Tuesday, June 4th, COP, the government, and international organizations, entailing UN representative, ECOWAS president, and other partners, met and agreed that the protestors would assemble on Capitol Hill and march to Foreign Affairs Ministry and or to the UN office to present their demands. The Liberian government would provide protection and security. There would be international monitoring and observation. All persons with backpacks would be searched. This agreement and arrangement are good and hope the parties would keep the agreement.
MOTIVE AND DEEP POCKETS
Review of literature and analysis regarding the protest appears that the protest planners and political supporters believe that a mass demonstration would eventually lead to a regime change. While their points of reference are recent demonstrations in other parts of the world, they seem to find answer and comfort in the event of the civil crisis in Liberia in the 1990s. They also draw reference from other historical events in Liberia.
In the 1985 election, the opposition lost the presidency. The opposition parties found a coalition and may have viewed that another six years of waiting was too long. They realized that what they could not achieve politically could be gotten in another way. The coalition began a serial of propaganda, including social, economic, and political advocacy, specifically on the illegality of the presidential election. Their focus was President Doe. With some students and some known progressives on their side, they began lobbying internationally, particularly the US. Their move was strategic; America was and continues to be, Liberia’s greatest partner and supporter.
LAP, the leading opposition party, sent its secretary-general, Bryon Tarr, mentioned earlier, to the US to meet with US officials, particularly those dealing with Liberian and African affairs. He also met with Liberians in America, where he called on Doe to resign and vowed serials of civic actions to be taken to force him to go. The New York Times, which covered his US trip in 1986, reported the following:
“Liberia's opposition political parties, rejecting appeals for national reconciliation, called this week for Gen. Samuel K. Doe to step down as President of the West African country. Stephen Byron Tarr, secretary general of the Liberia Action Party and a spokesman for a newly formed coalition of four opposition groups, said Liberia's economic and political problems had worsened under General Doe. (The New York Times, April 13, 1986)
Tarr charged that Doe practiced tribalism and poor governance, and said that the “coalition also planned demonstrations and strikes” in Liberia. He met with US officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester A. Crocker. The coalition of opposition parties, which is here given an acronym of (COP) was composed of “the Liberia Action Party, the Liberian Unification Party, the Unity Party, and the United People's Party”. COP rejected all dialog, overture, and reconciliation efforts by the Doe government, the paper indicated.
But what Tarr did not understandably say was that COP also had a hidden plan for armed insurrection in Liberia in order to achieve their goal to the presidency. What followed later was the recruitment of Charles Taylor to implement their plan. Taylor, a former GSA boss under Doe, was jailed in America for corruption charged in Liberia. He was braved and was not afraid of Doe. Prior to working in the government, he was a charismatic Liberian student leader in the US. That was the character of person COP wanted; brave, charismatic, and fearless of Doe. The rest is history.
The 2019 COP is backed by the leading opposition parties entailing the United Party, Liberty Party, Alternative National Congress, and All Liberian Party. Their representatives in COP include Mo Ali, UP; Abraham Dillon, LP, Senator Sando Johnson, and Henry Costa, ALP; and Representative Yekeh Kelubah, ANC. Their respective party political leaders are Former Vice President Joseph Boakai, Charles Brumskine, Benoni Urey, and Alexander Cummings. They are deep pockets. With the exception of Boakai and Cummings, all other leaders “became rich and politicians by affiliation with Taylor, and are The Taylor Boys, TTB”. They associated with Taylor during and after the war. For instance, Urey, chairman of the Collaborating Parties, received funding from Taylor for his (Urey’s) mansion construction in Careyburg and was head of the Liberian Maritime Authority under Taylor. He is one of the Liberian worthy persons. He is a minority owner of LoneStar cell, one of the two telecommunications firms in the country. Brumskine was Taylor legal advisor during the war and the Senate pro-tem under the Taylor administration. Senator Oscar Cooper, a member of COP, was said to being general Peanut Butter in Taylor rebel army. Besides being a senator, he owns rubber and logging companies. Representative Yekeh Kelubah was a general in the rebel army and admittedly killed innocent people in the war. As stated before, the collaborating political parties were terribly beaten at the 2017 presidential polls.
The opposition believes that the protest would generate a very large turnout which would lead Weah to resign and they would form an interim arrangement headed by one of them. With Weah and probably his vice president out of the way, the opposition would then have a very good chance to achieve their presidential objective.
In a radio interview, Urey referenced this historical event in Liberia. He said that under William Coleman administration, the Liberian military killed some Liberian citizens. Because of this, the people rise up and forced Coleman to resign. He also alluded to Charles Taylor, saying that when the pressure was so much on Taylor, Taylor was forced to resign and to leave. Urey called on Weah to do the same.
While this expression attests to the thesis that COP goal is political masterminded by the opposition to achieve a political desire, what Urey did not say in his historical discussion was that Coleman stood for the common people, the native people in the interior. His interior policy for equality for all Liberians was opposed by the settler autocracy and hierarchy. The incident of the killing of 75 native chiefs was seized by his enemies to march for his resignation in 1900. Coleman’s vice president, Jacob Ross, died at the time of his resignation, so it provided a golden opportunity for his opponents to decide who to succeed the president and the VP. (See also Nyanfore, ‘Liberian Presidential History and the George Weah Presidency’, 2018)
The protest and COP are the brainchildren of Henry Costa, a radio talk show host who broadcasts his show in Liberia from his residence in America. He is a protégé of Urey. One morning in April, he announced that he would stage a protest in Liberia on June 7. He called his organization, the Council of Patriots, COP. Abraham Dillon, Mo Ali, Yekeh Korlubah, Senator Sando Johnson, and others joined the bandwagon; COP was officially formed. He also broadcasted that he would arrive in Liberia on May 16. A recent article published in Liberia by the New Dawn describes his arrival.
“On May 16, he returned to Liberia from the US with a hero’s welcome. A crowd of jobless youths paraded him in the streets of Monrovia shouting and chanting his name as their hero and leader, an act resembled of War Lord Charles Taylor entering Monrovia after the first civil war. That crowd called him, “Charles Taylor is our hero”; “Charles Taylor is our leader”. Taylor went to become one of the worst presidents of Liberia. He is now serving a jail sentence in Great Britain for a war crime. But the Monrovian welcoming crowd, mostly males, seemed not to care of the evidence indicating that the talk show commentator had engaged in blackmailing activity, which particularly in America is criminal. Some see him as a Messiah able to solve the Liberian multiple- economic problem and everyone would be happy. Interestingly, moreover, the protest group founded by him is called the “Council of Patriots”. Charles Taylor rebel group which toppled Doe was named National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL)”
Costa has a big dream; he sees himself one day as president of Liberia. He is brave and is not afraid of Weah. In fact, Weah befriended him after the election; the host rebranded his radio station and received more advertisement accounts. But within 11 months of praising Weah, he re-joined the opposition cursing and insulting Weah on the air. This looks the pathway and relatively the character of Taylor. When Taylor was recruited, he expressed no desire to be president of Liberia, but to provide the military solution and the politicians to lead the country. Perhaps, that was known to his employers. But he did not, as history shows.
With all indications, the protest will draw a large crowd, but as a leader of PATEL, a Liberian businesspeople union, pointed out, that will not be big enough to lead Weah to resign. That could be true. The crowd could be less than 2% or 0.9% of the Liberian electoral, a fraction of the voters in Montserrado County. Citizens in the rural areas and in other counties know a little or do not know about the protest. Weah received over 60% of the electoral in the run-off. To remove him from power through demonstrations would require a mass popular protest for a legitimate reason championed by credible, people-concerned individuals and backed by the military. The international community has to support the regime change through an uprising. President Trump may not. COP does not measure up to the level. Weah has to be very weak and unfit to resign for the reasons given by COP.
THE ELEMENTS OF FEAR
Fear is a part of us as humans. It is within us. We fear to die; we fear dangers, and we are afraid to fall. When we are faced with danger, we often think irrationally and act on an impulse or senselessly because of fear. BBC recently did an excellent documentary on the elements of fear. In its broadcast, it shows that fear can make some citizens make a political decision, form an opinion on others and discriminate against their fellow citizens.
The documentary indicates how Donald Trump used fear in the 2016 US Presidential Election by saying that illegal aliens were entering America and were creating problems such as crimes, and America needed a strong president who is not part of Washington to solve the problems. If Americans do not, illegal immigrants would pollute society and eventually control America. “Let’s take America back”, he cried out, as if the country were taken by aliens. He appealed to the fear of rural Americans, conservatives, the angelicas, and the uneducated; and he achieved his political goal. (See also ‘How Trump Won’, 2016) However, while Trump was preaching fear messages and against foreign control of America, his campaign was dealing with the Russians for possible help with the election. Isn’t that hypocrisy?
But the documentary also states that fear is good because it can make us be more careful. Experts interviewed said that if we, in a fearful situation, take a minute and ask critical questions, we would control the fear and point holes into it.
Let us look at the forthcoming protest. COP says that the economic condition in Liberia under Weah is bad, and would get worst; foreign aids and investments would not come, unemployment would greatly increase, the government would be unable to pay workers, and the people would starve. Weah and his administration do not care, they are building mansions, they are corrupt, and they are incompetent and lack good governance. They, COP, are the Patriots and will “save the state”. Therefore, you should protest with them for this noble cause.
Experts would say that you would control this fear if you ask the following critical questions:
Will these things really happen? Did similar conditions happen before and did we starve to death? Is Weah really responsible for these conditions? Were the conditions existed prior? Weah has been in office for a year and halve, is that enough time to solve these entire problems? The Patriots, are they really patriots? Will they die for the cause? Will they bring their families to the protest? Where were they 13 years ago when these problems were around? Did they protest? Who is supporting them, or who are their backbones? Are the people behind them ordinary people like me or rich politicians who wanted to become president before? If they care so much about us, what have they done for us when things were tough on us? Are they some of the people who brought the civil war? If we remove Weah, will our problems be solved? Will the Patriots solve them in 18 months? After the protest, what is next?
The above questions, accordingly, would put holes into the whole issue on the protest. But many people would not ask. They will either move by what they hear or what they think they know. In Liberia, as I have observed during my visit, you can become popular or famous if you are brave, insult the president openly on the air and have access to the broadcast media and the social media. People would respect you and give you a thumb up as you walk with some bodyguards. Anyway, on the other hand, as the protest draws near, both sides are pointing at each other for inciting fear. This confirms that fear is a factor.
Protests or demonstrations are good for a democratic nation. The Liberian Constitution supports and allows the peaceful movement, assembly, and demonstration of citizens for the redress of their legitimate concerns. The protest, if it would be peaceful, should be permitted and the government should provide the necessary protection. A meaningful demonstration would make Weah and his government to know that he cannot take the Liberian people and their problems for granted. He should not also take the people support of him for fun, using the Liberian parley.
However, a protest must be reasonable and the demands should be of the general good of the nation. While other concerns may be good, one important demand is the call for the establishment of the war and economic crime court, which would be in line with the TRC report and recommendations. This request has not only been expressed by the general Liberian population, but also by the international community. In the US Congress, there is a strong possibility that the Senates would pass the bill for the establishment of a war crime court in Liberia and President Trump would sign it. Advocacy of it would bring some credibility to the demonstration. But that would affect some of the promoters of the protest. Nevertheless, as others have said, a never-ended protest would be problematic, considering the Liberian security condition.
Objective evidence has shown that the Liberian problems have been around for a very long time and President Weah is not the creator of the problems and neither is he at fault. As The Washington Post article says, neither Weah nor any of the opposition leader would have solved the problem immediately. The article also indicates that regardless who the elected president was, his effort right now would not be enough, and the people would still complain because they have been marginalized for too long.
COP is not real Patriots, and they are not to “save the state” as they professed. The state, politically, according to some theorists, is an idea, which cannot be saved but can be improved. It is a state of mind, the minds of the people who make up the state. COP may be using the word loosely for their own political goal. But even that, the background of those who created the organization, and their deep pocket supporters are there for their selfish political objective. They are attempting to achieve what they lost at the polls. And by doing so, they are using the playbook of the civil war in trying to eventually take the presidency.
Concerned Liberian citizens need to ask those critical questions on the elements of fear. These questions would help clear their minds on the protest.