The Liberian student movement's influence over national politics

Mrs Ceda Ankra

Simply a fabrication. a lie that the President excused when it turned out that one of his nominees was not a citizen.

However, the students yelled, "Over our dead bodies!" when the President insisted on keeping him in office.

After the student group's persistent protests for several days, the appointed individual resigned.

The Student Unification Party, a powerful student organization at the University of Liberia, was responsible for everything that transpired.

Since October 1970, this party has been united for 52 years.

Since 1970, the Student Unification Party has never put forward a candidate for any elections. That has been the responsibility of the Unity Party (UP), the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), and a dozen other groups. But at each political decision, SUP calls the shots.

SUP3 In the general elections, a number of aspirants for various government positions have sought the party's support. However, they have made it abundantly clear that, in accordance with the party's mandate, they are not allowed to take sides but rather must advocate for making the system work for ordinary Liberians.

This has happened to some party veterans. Dr. Mills Jones, a former presidential candidate, and Martin Kollah, a former congressional candidate, are two examples.

Despite their divergent political views, some current and former government officials have enjoyed and continue to enjoy the privilege of joining the Student Unification Party and being "veterans." Some of them are neutral while others belong to one of the two main political parties.

In addition to producing politicians, the student's party has developed the minds of thousands of Liberian statesmen, business tycoons, lawyers, diplomats, and other professionals who are currently making significant contributions to global development.

Priests and other government authorities who host served the get-together incorporate Janga Kowo, representative General; Eddie Trawally, the Ministry of Justice's Assistant Minister for Corrections and Rehabilitation; The head of the Public Procurement and Concession Commission, Roseline Kowo; and numerous others

The SUP flag was laid on top of the Liberian flag at the funerals of former Lofa county legislator Eugene Fallahkpakar and former statesman and University of Liberia professor Alhaji GV Kromah as a way to pay their last respects to party veterans.

Why is SUP so powerful? By defending the rights of students and the masses for academic freedom, unity, freedom of speech, socioeconomic justice, and peace, SUP has broken down political barriers, particularly those imposed by state actors. The party has strongly opposed Liberian anti-democratic elements.

Together with the Movement for Justice in Africa, the Progressive Alliance of Liberia, and other progressive organizations, the party was very active in the fight for the pluralistic democracy that Liberia now enjoys.

During the Accra Peace Accord, which was the final peace agreement in the second Liberian Civil War, it was also recognized for its active role in mobilizing the conflicting factions.

However, the student movement actively participates in Liberia's national decision-making process by organizing a number of protests and finding common ground with various governments.

The state-run University of Liberia has undergone numerous infrastructure and technological transformations as a result of its constant agitation, resulting in the digitalization of its entire system.

In addition, SUP has offered scholarships, mentorship, entrepreneurship, and leadership to thousands of students. The Association Building, Palava Cottages, Understudy Center, and so on. are all SUP initiatives carried out on the University of Liberia's campuses.

Why SUP? SUP's launch appeared to be in response to the alleged mistreatment of Liberian citizens, including students, by a small empire of autocrats. The University of Liberia appeared to be one of the most intimidating environments for decades, with native and non-traditional students subjected to harsh treatment.

Children from the upper and lower classes were at odds. It appeared as though education was a privilege rather than a right given the gap in academic achievement. Because oligarchs feared competition in the future, academic freedom was never guaranteed at the state-run university. Understudies looking for advanced education were denied admittance to learning offices through the establishment of vile and troublesome strategies in opposition to best practices around the world.

In order to fit in, some indigenous Liberians had no choice but to alter their original identities in order to pursue higher education and other public benefits.

However, when some university students realized that they were being treated unfairly, 1970 marked a complete shift in the country. They initiated a movement that possessed the bravery to challenge political authority in order to effect change.

Despite its limited scope as a campus-based political party, the Student Unification Party has been widely known for its support of the national cause ever since. SUP1 SUP stands against bad governance.

In SUP's history, there have been three crucial points. The first was somewhere in the range of 1970 and 1979. Under the True Whig Party, SUP stood up to the oligarchy and oligarchs who were oppressing citizens at the time and won. Between 1980-1990, the party went up against and vanquished military autocracy and dictatorship under previous president Samuel K. Doe. SUP waged a fierce battle against the Charles Taylor administration for its level of gangsterism against innocent citizens from 1997 to 2003.

The party organized a number of protests during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in response to allegations of poor governance and widespread looting of public resources. The majority of SUP protests were successful because they were frequently contacted and asked to offer solutions to the various issues they highlighted.

The party is frequently referred to by some Liberians as an opposition political party, while others view them as a disgruntled body with no interest in peace due to its militant stance.

They (SUP) have not stopped advocating for a better Liberia for Liberians, despite the numerous criticisms directed at them.

Mustapha Kanneh, SUP's Chairman, believes that the party does not support any particular political party or government and that the party's advocacy serves Liberians' best interests.

The Student Unification Party's fallen heroes and heroines have paid a heavy price in Liberia for their continued advocacy for civil liberty and freedom.

As a result of acts of violence committed by state security, some of its founding members either perished or were seriously beaten and injured.

For instance, as a SUP student leader in the 1980s, Ezekiel Pajibo encountered difficulties with the military government of former President Samuel K. Doe. He and a few other SUP members received a firing squad death sentence. Pajibo then fled into exile, where he remained for 18 years before reuniting with his family.

Urias Teh Pour, the party's former chairman, was one of those whose tenures were risky. As a result, he and other party members were sent to the notorious "Belle Yalleh" prison deep in the Belle Forest of lower Lofa County, which is now Gbarpolu County.

When they were found guilty by a court, notorious and hard-core criminals were sent to the Belle Yalleh prison.

Along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who was once a political prisoner before becoming president in 2005, some party members were also held at the post stockade.

The alleged beheading of Momulu Lavala by then-President Samuel Kanyon Doe is one example of other brutal acts of violence committed against SUP members. During the rice riot in 1979, Irene Nimpson, the women's presidium chair at the time, was shot on Broad Street in Monrovia.

The purpose of the protest, which was organized by the Student Unification Party, was to demand that the University of Liberia's administration reinstate face-to-face classes after the e-learning platform malfunctioned during the heat of COVID-19, which forced schools to close.

The Liberia National Police engaged the unarmed students with severe force during the August 2021 protest, which resulted in the use of tear gas and live ammunition. During that protest, numerous SUP members and students were subjected to violence.

One of the worst acts of violence against partygoers occurred on July 26, 2022, during the celebration of Independence Day. A counter-protest organized by a group known as the CDC Council of Patriots resulted in the brutal treatment of many of its members.

Liberian student movement SUP staged a massive protest in July 2022 titled "Fix the Country," during which they petitioned the US Embassy in Liberia to intervene in what they called despotism over economic failure, massive corruption, bad governance, and state collapse, among other alleged CDC government actions.

Mustapha Kanneh, the party's chairman, has argued that SUP militants have protected the institution from every external threat of destruction, both from previous and current governments.

“A government that has betrayed the Liberian people's interests, damaged our nation's international reputation, and is now slowly dying. A 2020 statement from SUP stated, "The student movement reveals that, today, corruption and opportunism have become a lucrative career for some political institutions and actors."


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