Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thank you President Sirleaf

Gbarpolu County Citizens in the Diaspora
242 Gravelly Run Branch Road
Clayton, Delaware 19938
Tel: 302-389-8785
Email: Gbarpolu@yahoo.com
December 29, 2009

President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Executive Mansion
P.O. Box 9001
Capitol Hill, Monrovia
Republic of Liberia

Re: Paved Road in Belle Yalla

Dear Madam President:

We write to extend compliment of the seasons to you, your family, and your administration. We also take this time to say thank you for fulfilling your promise to connect Belle Yalla to other parts of Gbarpolu and Liberia via a paved road.

For more than 162 years, the name Belle Yalla was mostly thought of as a notorious prison camp used to incarcerate tax invaders and political opponents. When you made the promise in May 2007 to construct road in Belle Yalla, a lot of people thought your promise was just a mere political rhetoric. Their skepticism was based on previous political disappointments in Liberia. You fulfilled your promised!

The fulfillment of your promise is a huge courage not only to the people of Belle Yalla or Gbarpolu County, but to Liberia as a whole. We are sure this road development will deliver social transformation to Belle Yalla and help erase the ugly or negative image about Belle Yalla.

From all indications, your administration is proofing to be ready for a system of transformation touches various aspects of the Liberian society, from consciousness to economy, from politics to values, from technology to organization, and from culture to community, with the goal to rebuild our nation’s image so as to stimulate growth, and provide opportunities for local and national involvement in productive activities in Liberia. In this respect, road, ‘one of which matters most to residents of Belle Yalla and the Belle District’ after more than 162 years, has finally been addressed.

We see that your administration’s approach is giving the counties the opportunity to identify, select, plan, and implement their own projects. This approach is very important in community development. It explains why the country as a whole is now realizing the current level of development.

Madam President, if Chief Boatswain, Chief Bambu Zinnah, Chief Karvee Gbagbar, Chief Karvee Weedor, Chief Mbargulomeh Youngar, and Chief Gbomblee were alive today, we believe they would all be beating traditional drums in your honor. For years, these chiefs witnessed local dwellers struggle to construct roads with locally, made materials while the central government relaxed in the Executive Mansion and ignored the interest of the people they claimed to represent.

But you showed the people of Gbarpolu, Liberia and the rest of the world that your administration is determined to develop Liberia. Nothing could be more serious than risking your health and life and the lives of foreign dignitaries by walking over two pieces of log (Mischief Bridge) and going the distance you walked in one of the world’s thickest forests.

Again, as we say in Belle parlance, “mu mama tegbelegba” (Thank you very much).

Yours truly,

Sam K. Zinnah
On behalf of Gbarpolu County Citizens in the Diaspora

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


You are invited to attend my graduation party scheduled for December 19, 2009.

Day: Saturday
Time: 8: 00 PM to day break
Venue: 242 Gravelly Run Branch Road
Clayton, Delaware 19938

Contact numbers: 302 241 1442 (cell) 302 389 8785 (home)

Sam K Zinnah

Friday, December 04, 2009

King Saoboso legacy reawakened

Contee Road, MD.

Full Story coming shortly

Friday, November 27, 2009

What might happen in 2011

By: Tolo Bonah Corfah

The CDC is laughing all the way to the bank, as she bagged the result of the just ended Montserrado senatorial by-election. In fact the pundits and Liberian political observers are calling the senatorial bi-election a prelude to the 2011 presidential and legislative elections. But, is it? Did the Liberian electorates give any sign of what will happened in 2011?

From all indications, the 2005 general and presidential elections were dominated by the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC); by grabbing the most legislative seats in the national legislature (both Senate and House of Representatives). The Unity Party (UP) was able to wrestle the presidency from the CDC in the run-off presidential elections. The two political parties at the helm of power in Liberia have failed dismally to deliver to the people; while the Unity party led government was busy from the start with “downsizing and rightsizing” on the one hand, the CDC controlled legislature was busy collecting “cold water” from would be investors and demanding government to pay their rents.

After more than four years, the Liberian people have yet to see the fruits of the votes cast in 2005. While the Unity Party heads the most “corrupt” government in the history of Liberia, the CDC controls the most “inept” legislature in the history of Liberia. Although the CDC controlled house and senate have enacted some laws, in my opinion, they have not enacted any laws that have impacted the lives of the average Liberians.

Is the just ended senatorial bi-election in Montserrado any indication of what to expect in 2011? You bet it is. In my opinion, it is an indication that the Liberian people will not make the same political mistakes that were made in 2005. If any politician thinks that a bag of rice and some flimsy party T-shirt will get them votes in 2011 as was done in 2005 will be in for a shock of their lives. If it were so, Clemenchue Uray of the Unity Party would be dancing all the way to the bank today. He was dishing out free food, money and party T-shirts at all of his rallies. The Liberian people ate his food, took his money, and wore his T-shirts, but still did not vote for him.

Yes, the just ended senatorial bi-election in Montserrado County, the most populous electoral county in Liberia was a referendum, but it was not a referendum on the Unity party alone, it was also a referendum on the leadership of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). The CDC as a majority party in the legislature failed to set the legislative agenda of the country. The CDC failed as a political party when it sold its political power, the power of the MAJORITY for a few pieces of silver. As a majority party, the CDC failed to secure the leadership of the lower house of congress; I am talking about the speakership of the house, but instead they sold it to Edwin Snowe. The CDC acted like the hungry man who was invited to eat, but instead of taking a seat and a spoon said that they should put his in his hand.

So, to conclude I agree with Geraldine Doe-Sherif; the 2011 election will be a “Tsunami”, but this tsunami will not only sweep the ruling Unity party from office, it will also sweep the house of representatives of those “cold water” representatives. The Liberian people elected them to serve, but instead, they decided to line their pockets first.

Thanks for the space and may god richly bless Liberia.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Open letter to Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele

Alvin Teage Jalloh
Attorney & Counselor at Law
320 MacDade Blvd, Suite 105
Collingdale, PA 19023
Office: 484-494-8821
Email: jallohlaw2@yahoo.com
Licensed in PA, NJ, & D.C.
November 26, 2009

The Honorable Olubanke King-AkereleMinister of Foreign AffairsRepublic of LiberiaMonrovia, Liberia

Re: Biometric Passports; Government’s Obligation to Pay Costs for Certain Liberians

Dear Minister King-Akerele:
On behalf of Non-Resident Liberians, a grassroots movement of Liberians living worldwide, I respectfully seek your assurance that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recognizes the protected rights Liberians have in their non-biometric passports, and will honor its obligations with Liberians whose expiration dates in their non-biometric passports fall beyond the April 30, 2010, date the Ministry recently announced as the blanket expiration date for existing, non-biometric passports.
As you are aware, on or about November 2, 2009, the Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministry), introduced biometric passports for Liberians, and announced that existing non-biometric passports will expire on April 30, 2010. The Ministry has since failed to say whether it will make reasonable compensation to Liberians whose expiration dates in their non-biometric passports fall beyond April 30, 2010. While the Ministry is acknowledged for its introduction of the security-enhanced passports, it is wrong--legally and socially--to arbitrarily deprive Liberians, whose expiration dates in their non-biometric passports fall beyond April 30, 2010, of the property rights they have in their non-biometric passports.
Article 13(b) of the Constitution of Liberia grants every Liberian citizen the right to enter and leave Liberia at anytime, and carries with it the right to a Liberian passport. Once the Ministry issues a passport to a Liberian citizen--that Liberian has a constitutionally, protected property right in his or her passport--and no regulation, legislation, or decree can abrogate a right that is protected by the Constitution.
By announcing that the April 30, 2010, expiration date applies to Liberians whose expiration dates in their non-biometric passports fall beyond April 30, 2010, the Ministry is attempting to deprive Liberians of a constitutionally protected right, and may only do so in according with due process of law. Article 20(a) of the Constitution of Liberia prohibits the government from depriving any person of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege, or any other right without a hearing and a judgment consistent with due process of law.
Moreover, pursuant to the laws of contract in several jurisdictions, the Ministry most likely entered into valid contracts when it sold non-biometric passports to Liberians at prices ranging from US$20.00 to US$250.00. The Ministry could, therefore, be liable for breach of contract if a court determines that the April 30, 2010, expiration date detrimentally affects the right of a Liberian to use his or her non-biometric passport.
Because of the importance of the matter involved, and in view of the Ministry's public announcement that existing non-biometric passports will expire on April 30, 2010, I respectfully ask that your office provide an assurance that the Ministry recognizes the protected rights Liberians have in their non-biometric passports, and will either offer proportional discounts towards the purchase of the security-enhanced biometric passports, or pay the costs of the first set of biometric passports for Liberians whose expiration dates in their non-biometric passports fall beyond the Ministry’s recently announced April 30, 2010, expiration date.
Without an adequate assurance, Non-Resident Liberians maybe compelled to seek judicial redress, including but not limited to filing actions with the Supreme Court of Liberia, and separate actions for breach of contract in the United States of America, where some of its members submitted their passport applications and fees to the Ministry.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. Please contact me if you have any question or need additional information.

Alvin Teage Jalloh, Esq.
Counsel for Non-Resident Liberians

Thursday, November 19, 2009

United Nations News

Source: UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary 18 November 2009

Nov 18, 2009 (CharlesTaylorTrial.org/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Prosecutors spent much of today's cross-examination of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, reading out statements by other West African leaders condemning Mr. Taylor Liberian rebel group for crimes committed against Liberians and members of international humanitarian agencies, including American Catholic nuns and peacekeepers during his country's civil war. In a 1992 statement read by lead prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders condemned Mr. Taylor's rebel group (the National Patriotic Front of Liberia - NPFL) for their actions against West African peacekeepers serving in Liberia under the banner ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The ECOWAS leaders had "warned all warring factions against the commission of war crimes" in Liberia. The statement alluded to the killing of civilians, peacekeepers and American Catholic nuns during "Operation Octopus," an operation launched by Mr. Taylor's NPFL on the Liberian capital Monrovia in October 1992.
International Clips on West Africa
Uncertainty Over Toxic Chemicals in Conakry
Dakar, Nov 18, 2009 (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The recent upheaval in Guinea has thrown into question the status of toxic chemicals discovered earlier this year at several sites throughout the capital Conakry, according to UN experts. The products, which can be used to make or refine narcotics, were found in buildings near people's homes; they are inflammable and pose a public health threat. Instability following a military crackdown on demonstrators has blocked UN drug and crime experts from visiting the sites since August. "Beyond the fact that these are products that can be used for making narcotics, they are substances that have a very high toxicity level for the population," Alexandre Schmidt, West Africa head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told journalists in the Senegalese capital Dakar on 16 November. "So there is a public health problem there.

Cote d'IvoireCôte d'Ivoire: Decree signed approving army ranks of former rebels Source: Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA) Date: 18 Nov 2009-Ivory Coast’s President Laurent Gbagbo signed a decree assigning military ranks to former rebels of the New Forces who fought against the government in a 2002 failed coup. “This concern, said Defence Minister Michel Amani N'Guessan, adding that the move was “a big step towards peace”. Gbagbo signed the decree in Mankono, north-west of the capital, on the first day of a visit to the Worodougou region, controlled by the New Forces since 2002. The President was accompanied on the visit by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, former rebel leader, and the military chief of general staff, General Philippe Mangou. The assignment of ranks is based on a principle of “harmonizing” the former fighters with those of the loyalist army, under a peace accord signed last December in Ouagadougou (‘Ouga IV’) that foresees the fusion of the forces into an 8,000-strong Integrated Central Command (CCI).
Sierra Leone

UK's Blair encourages investment in Sierra Leone
Source: English General News Date: November 18, 2009 LONDON_ Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that Sierra Leone has recovered from its brutal civil war and now offers opportunities in agriculture and tourism, with millions of hectares of arable land and kilometers of untouched beaches. Blair said Sierra Leone's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has reduced corruption and made the country accessible to foreign investors. Koroma fired one of his ministers for corruption earlier this month and has promised to make the government more transparent. "Progress (in Sierra Leone) is no longer measured by an absence of conflict," Blair said. He said Sierra Leone is improving the reputation and efficiency of its mining industries and becoming known as a country that promotes religious tolerance between its Christian and Muslim populations. Blair was speaking at a London conference aimed at encouraging investment in the west African country.
Local Media – Newspaper
Professor Tarpeh Dismisses Media Report of Alliance with UP Run-off
(The News, The Inquirer, Heritage, The Analyst and Public Agenda)

· The Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) candidate in the first round of Montserrado Senatorial by-election, Professor Wilson Tarpeh has dismissed claims that he had endorsed the Unity Party’s candidate, Clemenceau Urey for the run-off.
· There have been media speculations that Professor Tarpeh and Independent candidate, Alhaji Kromah had pledged their support to the Unity Party.
· A group claiming to be supporters of some political parties including the Alliance for Peace and Democracy had endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Urey for the run-off.
· Mr. Tarpeh in a statement issued in Monrovia said the so-called allegiance was the work of unscrupulous individuals exploiting money and other economic gains under the pretext of supporting contending parties in the by-election run-off.
· Observers say the latest denial by Mr. Tarpeh is a blow to the ruling party which has been frantically trying to woo candidates that accumulated considerable votes during the first round of the by-election.
· The University Professor came in third place with 16.3 percent of the total votes cast.

UNFPA Launches State Of The World Population
(The News)

· The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched a report on the State of the World Population under the theme “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate.”
· Vice President Joseph Boakai launched the report which highlighted the human angle of climate change by exploring the connections between population dynamics and climate change.

Election Observers Disappointed In NEC…Cautions NEC Ahead of Runoff
(The News, Heritage, The Analyst)

· The Liberia Civil Society Election Observer Coalition has expressed disappointment over what it termed as the poor coordination by the National Elections Commission (NEC) that caused general irregularities across the process.
· In a release issued in Monrovia Tuesday, the group said as a consequence of the level of confusion during the first round of the by-election some voters did not exercise their franchise.
· The election monitoring group said while this level of disorganization caused much disappointment and disillusionment, the coalition however believes that such problems were not sufficient to constitute fraud, least to disqualify the process.
· The coalition especially regrets the quite low turnout for the elections and further challenged candidates and the NEC to exert all efforts to convince more voters to participate in the remainder of the process.

Opposition Politician Wants Rerun Of Senatorial By-election
(New Democrat, Liberia Journal, Public Agenda)

· Opposition Politician Togba-Nah Tipoteh has called for a re-run of the November 10 Montserrado County Senatorial by-election.
· According to Dr. Tipoteh, a re-run was necessary because the by-election was not credible and did not meet the basic standards acceptable to the Liberian people.
· The opposition politician has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to reconstitute the National Elections Commission (NEC) saying all elections including 2011 can only be successful under a reconstituted NEC supervised by the international community.
· Meanwhile, though full scale campaign has begun for the run-off, the National Students Intellectual Council (NASICOL) has detected a discrepancy in the final results of the first round of the Montserrado Senatorial by-election.
· The student group claimed the total votes given in the official result were less than the total valid and invalid votes announced by the commission. They claimed the discrepancy amount to 355 votes.

Former President Taylor Admits CIA Links
(The News, New Democrat, Heritage, Daily Observer, and Liberian Express)

· After the cross-examination of former President Charles Taylor got off to a stumble last week over the use of “new evidence”, he admitted to sharing information with the United States Central Intelligence Agency which he accused of plotting his downfall.
· Mr. Taylor who denied suggestions that he was a CIA agent however said his defunct rebel group the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) exchanged information wit the CIA and the collaboration and exchange continued into his presidency.
· The former Liberian President is standing trial in The Hague for alleged supporting the former Sierra Leonean rebel Revolutionary United Front during that country’s civil war.

Police Boss Against Low Salary For Police…Wants Salary Augmented To US$300
(The Analyst)

· Police Inspector General Marc Amblard wants an increment in the salaries of police officers saying it would help prevent bribe taking and corruption in the force.
· The minimum take home salary for officers is US$90 per month but the Police Boss wants the amount augmented to US$300.
· There has been mounting public outcry and criticism of the police for not performing well.
· Critics say the failure of the police to perform their duty well has resulted into many communities in and around the city serving as breeding grounds for crimes and other criminal related activities.

New Citizen’s Identification Card Underway
(The Inquirer)
· The Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and partners have held series of discussions aimed at establishing a National Registry Framework (NRF).
· The NRF is part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ 90-day deliverables in the poverty reduction strategy.
· As part of the strategy, the Ministry would design and endorse a policy framework and standard operating procedures for a National Biometric Identification System.

Ex-LURD Leader Sekou Damante Conneh Arrives
(The Inquirer, Liberia Journal)

· Reports say the ex-leader of the disbanded LURD rebel movement Sekou Damante Conneh is in the country.
· Mr. Conneh reportedly arrived in Monrovia Tuesday through the Liberia-Sierra Leone border.
· Earlier this year he was detained in Conakry, Guinea but was later released by the military junta.

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
Government Announces U.S. $ 1.6 Billion Agro Investment
· The Liberian Government has announced a US$1.6 billion investment agreement with a leading Indonesian Agro Company, the Golden Agro Resources.
· The Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Richard Tolbert said the agreement when finalized, would enable the company investment in the oil palm industry of the country.
· According to Mr. Tolbert, the investment by the company would be carried out in Southeastern Liberia and would create thousands of jobs for Liberians.
· He said the company intends to build about 20 oil mills and a refinery that would purify the oil.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

UNFPA Launches State Of The World Population

New Citizen’s Identification Card Underway
(Also reported on Truth FM, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Ex-LURD Leader Sekou Damante Conneh Arrives
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Togba-Nah Tipoteh Wants Rerun Of Senatorial By-election
(Also reported on Truth FM, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Children Parliament Against Delay In “Angel’s” Murder Case
· The Liberian Children Parliament says it is worried about the continuous delay in the trial of the Angel Togba’s murder case.
· The Speaker of the Parliament Stephen Kalimu described the delay as a total violation of the Liberian Constitution which calls for speedy trial of persons accused of committing a crime.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Radio Veritas (News monitored today at 09:45 am)
NEC Begins Civic And Voter Education Campaign
· The National Elections Commission (NEC) has begun a vigorous civic and voter education campaign for election workers.
· The campaign is in preparation for the run-off senatorial by-election for Montserrado County slated for Tuesday, November 24.
· Meanwhile, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) has pleaded with Liberians mainly registered voters to remain calm and peaceful during the run-off by-election.

Truth FM (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Strange Disease Hits Jorquelleh District, Bong County
· Reports from Bong County speak of an outbreak of a strange disease affecting residents of Jorquelleh District.
· According to reports the disease causes sore to develop on the foot of an individual which later becomes complicated.
· Eyewitnesses say over 200 persons have been affected so far.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Emotional facebook reunion

By: Sam K. Zinnah

Clayton, Delaware. On October 25th, 2009, am member of the 52nd national legislature of the Republic of Liberia made an emotional discovery of her sister who she last saw in 1979 in Liberia. According to Representative Alomiza Ennos, her late father left Liberia in search of better life and future for her children. Before leaving Liberia, her father left she and her other sibling with a friend. She said her father had been trying to get VISA to the US but was denied several times before finally getting the VISA at last. Not wanting to mis the opportunity, Dan Ennos (the father) decided to leave his children with a family friend and make use of his American dream. He left Liberia with the plan of settling down in the U.S and later sending for his children. After arriving in the U.S. the perception about the U.S. became a mere dream as he got to meet the reality of hustling for documents and struggling to meet his survival.
In the process of acquiring legal status in the U.S., Dan Ennos was left with one of two options, “to marry a U.S. citizen and get his Status or be deported after his VISA expired”. Dan Married and had Kids in Washington DC. His dream of sending for his children from Liberia began sinking as his American wife spent most of her time being drunk. Still very concern about his Liberian children, Dan Ennos took his three year old to Liberia to see her other brothers and sisters. His three year old American born Okama Ennos (three year old in 1979) met her sisters for the first time in Liberia.
In 1989, ten years after visiting Liberia, Dan Ennos was still in the process of bringing her children to the U.S, a civil war “which became one of the world’s brutal” broke out in Liberia. According to Alomiza Ennos, her father fell died after seeing a video of the brutality that was going on in Liberia during the civil war.
His American Born Okama Ennos was left to struggle in meeting the expense of her survival and education. For decades, Okama have been wondering if her siblings survived the war in Liberia or not.
In 2005 after 14 years of blood bath in Liberia, a democratic presidential and legislative election was held. In that election, Alomiza Ennos emerged as one of the winners of the 14 electoral districts in Montserrado County in Liberia. While on an official visit in Washingto DC recently, she came across Sam K Zinnah and asked if there was any way she could locate her missing sister. Mr. Zinnah suggested facebook, upon arrival in Delaware at Sam Zinnah’s resident, Mr. Zinnah turn on his laptop and log onto his facebook account. In the sear bar, Mr. Zinnah typed in “Okama Ennos”. A historic photograph of Okama and her late father appeared, Rep. Alomiza Ennos screemed at the top of her voice and ran into tears. She cried for few minutes and anxiously asked “how can I talk to her”?. After few days of facebook communication between Sam Zinnah and Okama Ennos, a telephone call finally came from Okama Ennos who currently lives in South Carolina. The long awaited moment was finally at hands. Both sisters cried on the phone and later began comforting one another. A big reunion is underway. Thanks to facebook.

Friday, September 11, 2009

United Nations News

Source: UNMIL News

Vietnam has called on every party in Liberia to work together to promote national reconciliation and hold constructive talks to find a long-term solution to its internal conflicts. During a United Nations Security Council debate on the situation in Liberia and the operations of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on September 9, Ambassador Bui The Giang, Vietnam’s permanent deputy representative at the UN, praised Liberia’s quest for peace, its economic stability and modernization, improvements in social welfare and its solutions to humanitarian issues. The Vietnamese official reaffirmed his support for the Liberian Government’s efforts to reduce poverty, increase security, eliminate its proliferation of weapons and reintegrate demobilized soldiers back to the community. He highlighted the necessity to step up moves between Liberia and its neighbors to counter drug-trafficking and organized crime.

Benin, Liberia to Strengthen Defense, Economic Cooperation
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) – Liberia and Benin signed four agreements to strengthen economic and defense ties, the presidents of the two African nations said. The four pacts were signed yesterday by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Beninese counterpart Thomas Boni Yayi at a press briefing in Benin’s main city, Cotonou, during Johnson-Sirleaf’s two-day visit to the country. Yayi visited Liberia two years ago when the two presidents pledged to strengthen scientific, economic and technical cooperation.

Taylor Did Not Order The Assassination Of RUF Commander Sam Bockarie, He Says
Sep 11, 2009 (CharlesTaylorTrial.org/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Charles Taylor today said he did not order the the assassination of one of Sierra Leone's top rebel commanders during the country's civil war, and dismissed as "lies" allegations that he knew that Sierra Leonean rebels were recruiting fighters in Liberia in areas controlled by Mr. Taylor's own fighting force. In a day of testimony focused on refuting prosecution witness testimony against him, Mr. Taylor told the Special Court for Sierra Leone "I did not order the killing of Sam Bockarie." Mr. Taylor was responding to the testimony of the 37th Prosecution Witness, a Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insider and mining commander who testified under protective measures, using the pseudonym TFI-367. In his testimony from August 20 to September 1 2008, Witness TFI-367 explained that a relative of Sam Bockarie's wife had told him that Mr. Taylor ordered the assassination of the RUF commander and his entire family because Mr. Taylor was concerned that Mr. Bockarie knew too much about his involvement with the RUF.

International Clips on West Africa
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone UN Mission Office burgled

The Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York was broken into last night by unknown person(s) and cash and equipment totaling several thousands of dollars stolen. The discovery was made at 8:45 am today Thursday 10th September, when the first set of workers arrived for the routine work at the 245 East 49th Street Mission in New York. The Receptionist and Office Manager had both commuted on the same train from Mount Vernon but split up on the train before their point of disembarkation. On her arrival at the office, the Receptionist said she met the gate and the main entrance door unlocked, and thought that perhaps the manager or, one of the officers may have reported for work earlier as they were busy making preparations for the President and his delegation’s arrival for the United Nations General Assembly’s 64th Session scheduled to be convened next week.

Survivors blame captain for S.Leone boat tragedy
TOMBO, Sierra Leone AFP— The captain of a ferry that sank off Sierra Leone leaving more than 200 people feared drowned ignored warnings that it was about to capsize, survivors said Friday. A senior police officer meanwhile said the main cause of the disaster appeared to be overloading. Police said only 38 people were known to have survived after the ferry, the Teh Teh, overturned and sank in just a few minutes after a storm suddenly blew up on Tuesday night. Estimates of the numbers on board ranged from 268 to more than 300. Witnesses and officials said 37 bodies had been brought out or washed ashore.
Cote D’ivoire
Compaore to visit Cote d'Ivoire next Tuesday


Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire - Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore will pay an official visit to Cote d'Ivoire 15-18 September, according to a statement issued by the Ivorian presidency. According to the statement, which was read on the national television by the general secretary of the government, Tyéoulou Félix, the visit of the Facilitator of the inter-Ivorian dialogue will begin in the country's political capital, Yamoussoukro, where the first joint Council of Ministers of the two countries would be held.

Local Media – Newspaper
National Elections Commission Releases By-election Timetable
(The Inquirer, The News, The Informer, Daily Observer, New Vision, Heritage, National Chronicle)

· The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released the timetable for the pending Senatorial by-election in Montserrado County.
· Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, NEC Chairman James Fromoyan said the by-election will be held on November 10 and put the cost of the election at US$1.2 million.
· Chairman Fromoyan said nomination of candidates would run from September 12 to 26 while the final list of qualified candidates would be published on October 14, 2009.
· Montserrado County has a total of 496,508 registered voters throughout its 14 electoral districts.

“H1N1 virus” Suspected in Liberia
(The Informer, National Chronicle)

· The Liberian Government has reported the first case of Swine flu or Influenza A, H1N1, in the country.
· Health Minister Walter Gwenigale said an expatriate with the Buchanan Renewable Energies in Grand Bassa County is suspected to have brought the virus into the country.
· Minister Gwenigale said the British national who was treated in London of the virus and returned to Liberia in August 2009 but is still found to be infested, is reported to have spread the virus to seven additional staff of the company.
· The Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) are sending a team to Buchanan Friday to carryout awareness exercise and treat anyone found with the symptoms.

UN Envoy Briefs Security Council on Progress, Challenges in Liberia
(Public Agenda, The Analyst, New Vision, The Informer, The Inquirer)

· The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has briefed to the United Nations Security Council on activities of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) over the last six months.
· In her briefing on the Secretary-General’s 19th Progress Report on Liberia, SRSG Løj drew the Council’s attention to the Partners’ Forum and highlighted the critical work that is still needed in the Rule of Law sector.
· The UN Envoy also outlined the latest proposals for Phase 3 of UNMIL’s drawdown, as recommended by the Technical Assessment Mission.
· Members of the Security Council expressed support for the work of UNMIL and are engaged in negotiations on the renewal of UNMIL`s mandate before the end of September.
· Meanwhile, a Liberian Government delegation led by Justice Minister Christiana Tah has participated in a Justice and Security Sector Partners’ Forum.
· The security delegation presented details of the Ministry of Justice, LNP, Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization strategic plans at the Forum.

State Transfers alleged Pakistani Human Traffickers Secretly
(Daily Observer, New Democrat, The Parrot)

· [SIC]Latest reports say the State has secretly removed from the Monrovia Central Prison six alleged Pakistani human traffickers.
· In an interview, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, Colonel Chris Massaquoi confirmed the transfer of the suspects from the South Beach prison to the custody of the National Security Agency (NSA).

GAC to Investigate Domestic Claims…Secretariat Constituted
(The News, Public Agenda)

· The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has reconstituted the Secretariat of the Permanent Claims which is to receive and investigate all claims again the Republic of Liberia.
· A GAC release said the commission has put in place a vigorous and efficient model and system of control to shortly begin to receive all claims with all supporting documents.
· The Commission will independently determine the validity and the amount of all claims against the country to ensure that claimants are legitimate to receive government payment.

Nation-Wide Address System Launched
(The News, The Analyst)

· The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications have launched a nation-wide address project aimed at providing the necessary framework that would lead to the introduction of a national address system. The project valued at US$1.5 million is expected to last for two years.

Former President Taylor Denies Ordering The Assassination Of RUF Commander
(Liberian Express, The News, Daily Observer, The Analyst, Heritage))

· Former President Charles Taylor said he did not order the assassination of one of Sierra Leone's top rebel commanders during the country's civil war
· Mr. Taylor dismissed as "lies" allegations that he knew that Sierra Leonean rebels were recruiting fighters in Liberia in areas controlled by Mr. Taylor's own fighting force.
· He was responding to the testimony of the 37th Prosecution Witness, a Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insider and mining commander who testified under protective measures using the pseudonym TFI-367.

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
“H1N1 virus” Suspected in Liberia
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

State Transfers alleged Pakistani Human Traffickers Secretly

National Elections Commission Releases By-election Timetable
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Legislature to Submit Threshold bill to President Sirleaf
· The Senate has instructed its Executive Committee to liaise with the Lower House to submit the “controversial” threshold bill to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
· The Senate took the decision Thursday after it endorsed a letter from the Lower House informing it of the concurrence vote on the threshold bill.
· Earlier, confusion erupted in the Senate as three Senators attempted to prevent the submission of the bill to President Sirleaf.
· But majority members of the Senate rejected the call by the three Senators and voted to submit the threshold bill to President Sirleaf for possible approval.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Government to Enforce Property Tax Collection
· The Ministries of Justice and Finance have reportedly launched a new effort to collect government taxes from real estate property owners indebted for more than 3 years.
· Government Senior Tax Prosecutor said the indebted property owners have been notified and given a 21-day period to settle their arrears.
· Counsellor Aaron Kparkillin said the failure of property owners to pay their taxes violates the tax laws and is an attempt to strangulate government.
· Counsellor Kparkillin warned that properties of people who fail to comply within the given period would be confiscated.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Health Ministry Launches Human Resource Census
· The Health Ministry has reportedly launched a human resource census for health workers across the Country sponsored at the cost of over US$90,000.00 by the World Bank.
· According to Assistant Health Minister for Planning, Kpangbala Sengbe, the census seeks to identify every health worker in the country.
· Minister Sengbe said the census result would also help in the development of good policies to improve the health care delivery system.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Government Orders a Halt to Publication of Unregistered Newspapers
· Government has reportedly mandated all printing presses in the country not to print any newspaper that is not registered.
· Information Minister Laurence Bropleh said there are laws on the books that prohibit the printing of newspapers not registered with Government.
· Minister Bropleh said the move is not intended to muscle the press but to ensure regularities are upheld.
· He said the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) was aware of the regulation and does not think the Union would oppose it.

Friday, September 04, 2009

UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary 3 September 2009

Source: English General News Date: September 03, 2009

Liberia's defense minister says police have arrested six Pakistani men who tried to enter Liberia on fake U.S. passports with possible intent to carry out terrorism. Defense Minister Brownie Samukai says the men were arrested earlier this week at the international airport. In a radio statement late Wednesday he said one of the suspects removed his phone's SIM card and swallowed it as he was being arrested. Samukai did not give further details on what Liberian authorities believe the men were trying to do, where the men are being held or what charges they may face. Officials say they believe the men's U.S. passports were fakes.
International Clips on West Africa
Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, Police Named in Armed Robbery Scandal


The Head of Media and Communications in the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) has denied allegations from residents in Freetown that night patrol police personnel were part of the armed robbers who has been terrorizing peaceful residents at night. Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Ibrahim Samura on Tuesday 1st September 2009 described the allegations as unfortunate, baseless and unfounded. The Sierra Leone Police is a professional force tasked with an obligation to protect the lives and properties of the citizenry and also that of maintaining law and order,” ASP Samura told the Awareness Times newspaper in a telephone interview. He stated that the presence of the police was highly visible at night, which according to him was an effort aimed at maintaining peace and rid the country of armed robbers. “Police personnel have been deployed in all areas across the country that are prone to armed robbery attacks,” he noted, adding that the police were very active in conducting condone and random searches.

Guinea bans political debates on radio, TV
CONAKRY (Reuters) - Authorities in Guinea have banned live political chat shows, the latest sign of political unease after violent demonstrations and accusations of phone censorship deepened a row over delayed elections. The military junta that has run the world's top bauxite producer since a December 2008 coup is facing mounting opposition and criticism after it delayed until 2010 elections which the military leader has not ruled out standing in."The National Communications Council (CNC) has decided to ban, until further notice, politics from all types of interactive broadcasts in any language," said a statement read on state television. A senior source in the CNC, which regulates all media in Guinea, told Reuters that the ban was a result of "pressure from the entourage around the head of the junta".

Local Media – Newspaper
Government Gets Six Vehicles for Police Operations
(The Informer, The News)

· The Governments of Ireland, Germany as well as the United Nations Peace Building Fund have donated six vehicles to the Liberia National Police (LNP).
· The donation is to enhance internal security as the country moves toward consolidating peace.
· Handling the keys of the vehicles to LNP authority, the Chief Technical Advisor of the Security Sector Reform at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Napoleon Abdullai said the donation was part of their efforts to build the capacity of the LNP in fighting crimes.
· Deputy Police Inspector General for Administration Samuel Dakana lauded the donors and said that the donation was timely especially at a time when the LNP is gearing up to resume a rigorous exercise.

Criminals Leaving From Guinea To Liberia…As UNMIL, LNP Hold Security Meeting (The Inquirer)

· Lofa County Superintendent Galakpai Kortimai says he has observed the influx of criminals coming into the country from neighboring Guinea.
· In an interview, Mr. Kortimai said the influx of criminals has led to the increase of armed robbery, burglary and other crimes in the county.
· The Lofa Superintendent said he had begun holding series of meetings with the people of the county to discuss the influx of these alleged criminals and the increasing wave of crimes in the county.
· Meanwhile, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the Liberia National Police Detachment in the county over the weekend convened a special security meeting with the people aimed at addressing the security needs of the county.
· During the meeting, it was agreed that a watch team consisting of 15 persons from each quarter be forwarded to the security forces to help monitor the security situation.

Police Patrol Chief Indicted for Theft
(Daily Observer, New Democrat)

· The Chief of Patrol of the Liberia National Police (LNP) along with several other police officers to be identified has been reportedly indicted for theft.
· Inspector Darlington Williams and other LNP officers had been indicted by the grand Jurors of Criminal Court “A” at the Temple of Justice for their alleged involvement in the theft of more than US$9,000.00 and other properties.
· Hearing in the case is ongoing.

Court Seeks Substitution for Taylor’s Lawyer
(New Vision, Heritage, The News, The Monitor, National Chronicle)

· Reports from The Hague say the Special Court for Sierra Leone has taken a decision which could change the course of Mr. Charles Taylor’s direct examination.
· The court ruled on Wednesday that the Defence Team finds a substitute for its ailing Lead Lawyer, Courtenay Griffiths if he’s not available in court by next week.
· The trial has been postponed for another two days. But Defence Lawyer, Morris Anyah said that Mr. Griffiths has the personal responsibility to lead Mr. Taylor’s testimonies.
· This is the third time Mr. Taylor’s trial has been postponed because of the illness of Mr. Griffiths.

Foreign Ministry Comptroller Dismissed
(The Informer, Daily Observer, New Democrat, Heritage, National Chronicle, New Vision)
· The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed, with immediate effect, Mr. Osman Kamara, Comptroller of the Division of Finance for Administrative reason.
· The Ministry says Mr. Kamara failed to perform his duties in keeping with the standard of a Comptroller of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
· But the wife of Mr. Kamara has since dismissed the allegations arguing that her husband was competent.

GEMAP Ends This Month in Liberia

(Heritage, New Vision)
· The Governance and Economic Management Assistance Programme (GEMAP), is to formally end its operation in Liberia on 30 September 2009.
· The co-signature arrangements for the USAID-funded advisers at the Roberts International Airport (RIA), the national Port Authority (NPA), the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC) and the Ministry of Finance Department of the Budget will cease.
· However, the IMF and the World Bank will fund the retention of advisers with co-signature authority at the Ministry of Finance and the central Bank of Liberia.

Senate Breaks Silence on PUL Bills
(Daily Observer, the Inquirer)

· Despite persistent pressure from the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) for the passage of three media bills before the National legislature, the Liberian Senate says it received only one bill, an Act to Establish an Independent Broadcasting Regulator for Liberia.
· The Senate however said the bill contained lots of flaws that needed to be dealt with before its passage.
· The lawmakers said considering this, the Senate cannot pass the bill until certain amendments are made in the Acts that established the Ministry of Information, Liberia Telecommunication Authority and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication.
· The three bills before the Legislature for passage include the Freedom of Information and an Act to establish an Independent Broadcasting Regulator.

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
Star Radio (News monitored today at 09:00 am)
Defense Warns Against Releasing Six Pakistanis from Jail
· The Ministry of National Defence says any attempt to release six Pakistanis arrested recently at the Robert International Airport (RIA) would pose security threat to the country.
· In an interview, Defense Minister Brownie Samukai said the manner in which the Pakistanis entered the country has created serious security concerns.
· Minister Samukai disclosed that during the security screening at the RIA one of the Pakistanis took a sim card from his mobile phone and chewed it.
· The Defence Ministry reaction comes in the wake of reports that various law firms in Monrovia have filed habeas corpus petitions for the Pakistanis and several Liberians.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

US Naval Ship In the Country
· A United States Naval vessel, HSV Swift is in the Country as part of the Africa Partnership Station (APS) with several on board to conduct training and assistance programs.
· While in the country, the APS will conduct variety of health care delivery services including health education.
· The mission will also conduct advanced lab education at several medical facilities including the John F. Kennedy Medical Center and Redemption Hospital.
· During the deployment, the APS will construct two medical wards at the Redemption Hospital and begin work on the Liberian Coast Guard Pier.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Hearings on Investment Act Start at Legislature
· A team of government representatives has described the draft Investment Act of 2009 as a major instrument to improving the Liberian economy.
· The government team said the Investment Act would support the development of a vibrant private and public sector by attracting foreign direct investment.
· The team said the Act would also improve the accountability, efficiency and transparency of how government deals with investors.
· The government representatives made the comments before the joint Legislative Committee, conducting public hearings on the draft Investment Act of 2009.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Court Seeks Substitution for Taylor’s Lawyer
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

WAEC Cites Reasons for Mass Failure of Students in 2009 exams
· The Monrovia office of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) has identified several factors responsible for the massive failure of students in its exams this year.
· The head of WAEC, Professor Thomas Gaie cited the lack of qualified teachers, and sub-standard schools operating in the country as some of the contributing factors.
· Professor Gaie also identified the lack of conducive learning environment and poor disciplinary measures as factors that contributed to the mass failures.
· Professor Gaie said Liberia might not participate in the West African senior schools examinations scheduled for 2011 if the factors are not carefully reviewed.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Truth F.M. (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Foreign Ministry Comptroller Dismissed

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Sime Darby $800 million contract, “another form of extortion”

By: Tolo Bonah Corfah and Sam K. Zinnah

The recently signed $800 million “United States dollars” Concession contract between the government of Liberia and the multinational conglomerate Sime Darby is raising questions in counties to be affected. Recently, the question of whether Sime Darby’s contract is development oriented or just another white wash development was raised by Son/daughters of Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu Counties. One angry looking gentleman from Gbarpolu asked “what does this contract means to poor rice and other agric-farmers in the affected counties”?
In the early 1920s Harvey Firestone, “with help from the US government” signed a dubious leased agreement with the Liberian government to cultivate one million acres of land into natural Rubber. The agreement was signed between the government of Liberia and Firestone without any import or knowledge of the local inhabitants whose land was taken. Overnight the government of Liberia and Firestone had forcibly turned Rice and Cassava farmers into Rubber planters and tappers. At the time the local inhabitants whose land had been given to Firestone for Rubber cultivation were forced to become Rubber planters for Firestone at minimum wage pay of 2 cents per day. Today, after more than 80 years in operation, the Firestone rubber tapper makes less than $6.00 a day while Firestone makes millions of dollars profit at the expense of poor or voiceless Liberians. Beside the starvation wages paid to Firestone rubber tapers, working conditions at the plantation is like what the non-profit group in Liberia, “Save my future Foundation” called “The Mark of Modern Slavery”.

Last week, the chairman of the National Investment Commission, Mr. Richard Tolbert was up on Capital Hill trying to persuade the law makers in ratifying the just signed $800 million concession contract between the government of Liberia and the multinational conglomerate Sime Darby of Malaysia to cultivate rubber and Oil Palm on 220,000 hectors of land in Bomi, Grand cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties. This land is in addition to the concession rights to the renegotiated concession rights to the B.F. Goodrich rubber farm in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount counties; which was awarded to the Kumpulun Guthrie Sendirian Berhad or KGB, a subsidiary of Sime Darby (www.anilnetto.com).
Are these investment beneficiaries to the inhabitants of these counties or just another political white wash to present fake improvement to the international community? Where is the good political governance that was promised during the 2005 elections?, the main objective for political governance in post-war Liberia should be to secure democracy by instilling checks and balances, which have been absent throughout Liberia's long history. Such political system “in a way” would limit or reduce the president or group of people’s power to no longer usurp so much power and wield such extraordinary influence over the fate of the majority and by so doing provide the conditions for sustained growth and development - not white washing old buildings, putting black water on roads and referring to them as development. The first task of political democracy in Liberia should be aimed at ensuring equal and unhindered access for all to state power, which “as history has shown” had been the most contentious issue in Liberian political life that to a large extend fueled the violence that we witnessed in Liberia for 14 years. Liberian leaders have either lacked a vision or the political will to enforce whatsoever vision they had for the development of Liberia. The Constitution, which should provide the framework for governance was disregarded and treated with discontent by the very people who should have upheld it. Liberian politicians are more talkative than doers. They bark more than they bite. Most Liberians grew under the perception, which of course is now becoming unacceptable, that only "doctors/well learned people" could govern Liberia. This explains why all of Liberia's past and present leaders had spent their energies seeking out doctorate titles, even if honorary, in order to bolster their position and create the erroneous impression that they were the custodian of knowledge.

During the 2005 general elections, Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf professed to be the best candidate for the job that was chased by more than 20 candidates. Today, the promises zero tolerance on corruption, good governance, accountability and many more are flying through the political windows as kids stand-bye and watch the reality.

While vigorously fighting to defend his job last week, the NIC chairman told law makers that Sime Darby would provide amongst other things “resettlement benefits to the locals in the concession areas and that farmers wanting to farm would seek permission from the company to operate in their area”.
The need to attract companies to Liberia that will provide jobs to the working masses of
Our people can not be overemphasized, but what Liberians need to know is; what are
the socio-economic benefits to the locals? Are the local inhabitants involved in the
Negotiations to rehabilitate them from their farm lands? What are the so-called resettlement benefits?
Are the locals going to be evacuated from their villages and resettled somewhere else?
We need to know what the environmental impact will be on the land; will it be
like Firestone rubber company that is not only exploiting the workers, but has
ignored every environmental law on the books.
It was the believed of many Liberians that this government would not take the road other Liberian governments have taken in the past, which is getting into contractual agreements that did not benefit the country or the working masses but few elite.

The need for decentralization in Liberia

In the wake of continuous extortion of county resources, decentralization of state management is high recommended. Giving more power to the regions to determine local policies and development priorities, including such areas as education, social infrastructure and human development, as well as the power to implement these policies such as forming their own budgets, financing developmental policies, collecting certain types of taxes etc.. Likewise local authorities should be held accountable for what happen in their regions and they should be made less reliant on central authorities. Local authorities should have a share in managing state assets on their territories and gaining incomes from it as well for financing projects. To avoid outright manipulation of local authorities, particularly Paramount, Clan and Town Chiefs, article 56, clause B of the 1986 Constitution be revisited and the power of the President to remove these local officials be transferred to a credible and well scrutinized National Legislature acting upon
a specific number of signatures of the local population in the respective localities of these officials, certified by the national election commission as valid. In this way, we might not have town chiefs coming to bring resolutions of support to the president out of fear of losing their jobs. Given that Liberia is a small country of less than five million and that the level of illiteracy is high, and in view of the fact that power had been the root of all evils in Liberia in as much as incumbents had feared parting with power because it will not be gotten back again, a revisit of article 50 of chapter VI of the 1986 Constitution which states that "....no person shall serve as President for more than two terms is highly recommended. It should “however”, be re-emphasized, nationally accepted (under international monitored) that no person who have held office for more than 2 separate consecutive terms should be allowed to contest further. Efforts should be made to exploit the opportunity for amendment that is provided for in article 93 of chapter XII of the 1986 Constitution.

The danger of corruption in post-war Liberia

Corruption increases the marginalization of minority groups including women. It leads to contestation of the state’s monopoly of force or radicalizes opposition to the State and most times contributing to conflict, destabilization and failed State. Most recovery programs aim at restoration of peace and stabilizing the economy through sustainable economic programs.
Corruption posts a threat to these efforts hence the need to deal with corruption from the onset of recovery. In recent years, there has been increasing attention to the effects of corruption in post conflict and recovery environments. Various studious (by; UNDP, World Bank & Transparency international) confirm that about half of the post war countries revert to war within one decade and corruption can be considered as one of the major factors that contribute to fuelling a conflict and the return to violent. Therefore, overcoming corruption in post-war Liberia is essential to restoring the confident of Liberians at home and abroad.
Post conflict reconstruction is normally characterized by large scale injection of resources in an environment where the legal and institutional frameworks are weak, fragile or inexistent and the expertise scarce. Detection of crime is very low and enforcement difficult or ignored. The surviving governing structures are weak with financial, fiscal, administrative and regulatory capacities and limited oversight is informal and sometimes criminalized sectors. These institutions are often transitional in nature, carrying very little or no legitimacy, and therefore prone to capture by the privilege elite with access to power and resources. This lack of popular participation in reconstruction is vulnerable to hijacking by local elites, which leads to corruption, waste of available and scarce resources, lack of maintenance and monitoring by beneficiaries and eventual rejection in the long run.
The main purpose of zero tolerance on corruption in Liberia should be to assist post conflict Liberia in developing anti-corruption strategies. These strategies will be used to develop programs on anti-corruption in post-war Liberia and recovery process which will be a tool that will assist affected areas.
Development will never come to Liberia if Liberians continue to rely on foreign companies to do everything. History attests to this. The Indian, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Lebanese business communities in Liberia have never productively participated in Liberia's development. In fact, they have always tended to set themselves apart from Liberia. It is now up to the government and people of Liberia to build-up the credibility to attract investors to boost the Liberia’s economy.

About the Authors:
Tolo Bonah Corfah and Sam K. Zinnah are sons of Gbarpolu County. They currently reside in the United States. Tolo B. Corfah is reading Multicultural Urban Education at the Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, MN. Sam K. Zinnah holds Bachelors degree in Human Services from Springfield college of human services in Wilmington, Delaware.
Tolo Corfah can be reached at corfto@go.metrostate.edu or 651-214-6204. Sam Zinnah can be reached at szinnah@yahoo.com or www.szinnah.blogspot.com.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009


By: T.Q. Harris Jr

The general reaction of Liberians to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Final Report underscores the sensitivity, complexity and difficulty in crafting a workable plan to restore normalcy to our relatively small, yet volatile underdeveloped nation. And despite the fact the literacy rate is well below 20 percent, the vast majority of Liberians already has formulated opinions regarding the voluminous document recently released by the Truth Commission. The opinions are diverse as species in the Sapo National Forest. And passions are running high.

Considering the dreadful statistics, one cannot help but wonder; how many Liberians have actually read the TRC Final Report in its entirety – and of this number - how many fully understand its content? Based on the facts, it is safe to assume that the latter is an extremely small group, not unlike the few who met in Ghana and committed the entire nation to an unrealistic peace agenda. Yet, if level heads do not prevail, the TRC recommendations, particularly those related to prosecution and debarment could reignite violence.

The truth-telling approach to national healing adopted in Ghana and touted as the best way forward has been roundly rejected. Now its leading advocates, including Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, are unhappy because the Truth Commission which they overwhelmingly supported has favored accountability and the eradication of impunity. For this, it is being severely criticized and vilified.

Though the Commission’s conclusions fall short in certain regards, they nevertheless have exposed the diabolical scheme to use reconciliation as a harmless weapon to bludgeon the truth. In its totality, the TRC Final Report confirms the recklessness as well as the unspeakable horrors visited upon defenseless men, women and children, including five innocent nuns. Now disappointment on the part of those who continue to deny these facts is manifesting as anger, resentment and - for some – speechlessness.

The notion that a truth commission is the best mechanism for healing this nation in the aftermath of the extremely brutal war is a fraud perpetrated by people unwilling to accept responsibility for acts so hideous it confounds the human mind. Therefore, those bearing the greatest responsibility for the carnage must be removed from decision-making. Their removal, however, is not necessarily an attempt to exact punishment. Rather, it creates a level of comfort for the victim and reduces anxiety; thereby eliminating fear, which oftentimes is mistakenly characterized as complacency or even stupidity.

The TRC Final Report is by no means perfect, nor a panacea. However, it is a courageous step on the long journey toward national healing, reconciliation and lasting peace. Thanks to the ubiquitous Internet; millions around the world have read the document. Now people are watching to see how Liberians are going to react.

Therefore, we must seize the moment and do what is right. Even in these darkest moments - you must believe - Liberia is being repositioned to lead Africa’s transformation. The challenges we face currently are mere opportunities to rebuild a new nation from the bottom up, embedding in its foundation rule of law and the tenets of democracy. Let us not pull back on account of lies, fear and intimidation. Because the atrocities committed in Liberia can never be forgotten; neither will the content of the TRC Final Report.

As the central and most prominent figures in the recent devastation, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Dr. Amos Sawyer must at this critical stage provide bold leadership in ending the prolonged nightmare. They must set the pace so that others may follow; because their names consistently appear at the top of every list of persons bearing the greatest responsibility for the 15-year carnage. Therefore, it is impossible to hold anyone else accountable without first getting Ellen and Sawyer to accept full responsibility for their actions.

The following are steps President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf must take to ensure the TRC report does not further divide the nation, pitting brother against brother. Also, this should help in gaining the confidence of citizens as well as the international partners. Because, realistically, the current leadership should not be handling these extremely delicate matters.

1. The President must state without delay her unequivocal support for the TRC Final Report. Also, she must in the same breath offer her resignation or state categorically that at the conclusion of her current term she will not seek public office, in keeping with the TRC recommendation;

2. The President must not delay in establishing the Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHRC) so work may begin on the TRC recommendations.

Also, considering that officials within the three branches of government have been indicted in the TRC Final Report, the President going forward must emphasize transparency by appointing a team of observers comprising of 5 – 7 upstanding citizens who will work closely with the Executive and Legislative branches, focusing primarily on long-term contractual agreements involving the State. Civil society organizations among others will be asked to submit names; and the final selection will be made by random drawing;

3. The President must side with the Liberian people in demanding cooperation from the Legislature in advancing the TRC Final Report, so its implementation may begin in a timely manner; and,

4. The INHRC must at the earliest convene a series of national conferences at home and abroad where stakeholders shall determine how best to implement the TRC recommendations, taking into account issues critical to long-term stability. At these meetings, strategies will be formulated to deal effectively with individuals known to have committed war crimes as well as crimes against humanity, but whose names are not included in the TRC Final Report.

In conclusion, Liberia at the moment is held hostage by a few individuals, including Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who have refused to accept responsibility for the senseless violence that devastated the infrastructure, uprooted and forced tens of thousands into exile, and also took the lives of thousands more. Regrettably, the prevailing culture of impunity has made it extremely difficult to take legal action against the culprits, evidenced the threats and outright rejection of the TRC Final Report. As a people, we can no longer continue on this destructive path. With every passing day the cost of reconstruction increases while Liberians fall deeper into poverty. Failing to deal decisively with those who may have violated the social contract and broken the law only threatens the fragile peace we now enjoy.

Therefore, we call on the President to show leadership by accepting the recommendation of the TRC which she vigorously supported and promoted.

Madam Sirleaf, you are uniquely positioned to end the nightmare and restore hope to this broken nation. Saving your people from themselves does not require the might of an iron lady. Rather, success is with the woman who has a humble heart, steady hands and a clear vision. It’s time ‘This Child’ demonstrates her greatness by rallying the nation to a cause greater than any one individual.

Let the sycophants not mislead you as was the case with Presidents Tolbert, Doe and Taylor. And there is no need to defend against the TRC at the Supreme Court or in any other court for that matter. Would you rather be remembered for what you did or did not do in the past, or for how you seized this opportunity to bend the arc of destiny?

The Author: Mr. T. Q. Harris, Jr. is currently the General Chairman of Liberia Contemporees United Patriotic and Strong (Contemp UPS www.contemporees.org) and CEO of the Movement STAND. He is a former vice presidential nominee of the Republic of Liberia. Call (562) 216-3177 / (562) 256-4271 or email him at liberia1@charter.net For more about Mr. Harris log in to www.friendsoftq.com

Monday, July 06, 2009

Liberia's truth panel recommends banning Sirleaf from office

UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary 06 July 2009
Source: AFP World News / English Date: July 06, 2009

MONROVIA, July 6, 2009 (AFP) - Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended Monday that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf be banned from holding public office for 30 years because of her alleged role in a civil war. In its final report, the panel investigating Liberia's successive 1989-2003 civil wars included Sirleaf's name in a list of people it accused of being "the financiers and political leaders of the different warring factions." "They (those named) should be banned from occupying public office for 30 years beginning the day of the passage of the report at the parliament," the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommended. On the list, seen by AFP, the name of Sirleaf, who was elected in 2005, was present along with those of several members of her government, including Transport Minister Jackson Doe, the elder brother of former president Samuel Doe. In a hearing before the commission in February, Sirleaf denied ever being a member of the movement led by rebel leader and warlord Charles Taylor, who was president of the West African country between 1997 and 2003.
Prosecutors: former Liberian President Charles Taylor's list of defence witnesses is excessive
Source: Canadian Press Date: July 06, 2009
THE HAGUE, Netherlands _ The trial of former Liberian President Charles Taylor could take up to four more years, if his lawyers call all their witnesses, prosecutors told judges Monday at a Sierra Leone war crimes tribunal sitting in The Hague. Taylor is due to begin his defence case next week answering 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Sierra Leone. Taylor will take the stand in his own defence on July 14, a day after his lawyers present their opening statement. Prosecution trial lawyer Brenda Hollis said at a hearing Monday that Taylor's lawyers have lined up an "excessive" list of 256 potential witnesses. However, the defence lawyers are not expected to call all the witnesses on their list to testify. Taylor's lead attorney, Courtenay Griffiths, pointed out that prosecutors listed some 200 witnesses and called 91. Griffiths told judges he has "no intention of being here another four years." Taylor is accused of arming and controlling militias from across the border in Liberia, where he held power from 1997 until he was forced into exile in 2003.

International Clips on West Africa
Ivory Coast's SIFCA seeks to double palm oil output
ABIDJAN, July 6 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's SIFCA group will double its annual palm oil output to 500,000 tonnes over the next three years with technical and financial investment from Singapore's Wilmar International, SIFCA said. It said that the increased output and the SIFCA group's purchase of its own ship to improve regional deliveries should help reduce the reliance on Asian imports while also easing a deepening shortfall in palm oil across West Africa. 'With this project, palm oil production from Palmci (a part of the SIFCA group) will increase from 250,000 tonnes to 500,000,' Palmci Managing Director Angora Tano told Reuters at the weekend. 'Wilmar will bring its techniques and experience in boosting production from plantations and reducing factory and refining costs to make the finished product more competitive for a growing market,' Tano said.
Local Media – Newspaper
Pro-War Crimes Court Group Wants Sirleaf, Others Resign
(The Inquirer, The Monitor, Public Agenda, Plain Truth, The News)

· A pro-war crimes court group, Forum for the Establishment of a War Crimes Court for Liberia (FORUM) has called for the resignation of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and others listed in the TRC final report.
· The Forum’s National Chairman, Mulbah Morlu believes the resignation will pave the way for proper investigation.
· The Group earlier endorsed the TRC final report, describing it as the best means for moving Liberia forward.
· According to the group, the collective merits of the Commission’s findings outweigh its misgivings about some of the recommendations.
· The group however disagreed with the granting of amnesty to people it considers active combatants who committed heinous crimes.
· The group pledged to advocate for the prosecution of active combatants who were given amnesty.
· Meanwhile, the Plain Truth reports that in a “survey” conducted by the paper, citizens say the President has lost the moral authority to govern and requested her immediate resignation.

TRC Commissioner Gives Dissenting Opinion over Recommendations
(Liberian Express, New Vision)

· A crack has seemingly emerged in the final verdict of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) with a dissenting opinion of one of its Commissioners.
· Commissioner Pearl Brown-Bull disagreed with the final report and declined to sign it claiming criminal prosecution and debarment as recommended runs contrary to the Liberian constitution and other legal instruments.
· She cited among other things an Act enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in 2003 granted immunity from both civil and criminal proceedings against all persons within the jurisdiction of Liberia from act or crimes committed during the civil war from December 1989 to August 2003.
· Meanwhile, the TRC’s Information Officer said that there’s nowhere in the TRC guidelines that all commissioners have to sign before a report becomes final.

Coalition of Civil Society Group Wants Legislature Reject TRC Report
(The Monitor)

· A consortium of civil society grouping, the Coalition for Peace and Tranquility in Liberia has called on the Legislature to reject the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) final report.
· The group in a statement described the TRC report as a political document targeted at rivals.
· The coalition said the consistent division among TRC Commissioners amounts to waste of tax payers’ money.
· They said the report will further divide the people of Liberia instead of helping to bring genuine healing and reconciliation.

ICTJ says TRC Report Vital But Not Last Step
(Liberian Express, The Inquirer)

· The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia (TRC) provides a necessary foundation for Liberians to debate their past and address present and future need.
· In a statement, the ICTJ’s President Alex Boraine said the report was a necessary step but there was a need for additional measures to deal with Liberia’s difficult past.
· The ICTJ said an Independent National Commission on Human Rights, responsible for ensuring follow-up to the TRC's work, must also be properly organized and given the necessary authority.
· The International Centre for Transitional Justice assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse and has been working in Liberia since 2004 to support actors engaging in transitional justice efforts.

Consortium of Political Parties Frown at Delays to Enact Electoral Bills
(Liberian Express)

· A consortium of ten political parties in Liberia has expressed reservation over what they call the consistently failure and delay of the Legislature to enact the electoral bill ahead of the 2011 Presidential and General elections.
· In a statement, the parties made reference to the decision of the Senate to send back to the House of Representatives the Threshold Bill to additionally ensure that no county has less than two seats.

AU Summit Ends As Leaders Discuss Formation of Unity Government
(Heritage, New Vision, Liberian Express)

· The 13th ordinary session of the African Union has ended in Libya with a resolution to implement the Maputo declaration.
· The declaration called for the ten percent of the national budget of each member state to be allocated for Agriculture production. Leaders of the summit agreed to implement the decision.
· Meanwhile, the AU leaders have proposed the introduction of an African Union Authority to replace the African Union.
· The Authority, if approved, will provide for a President, Vice President and Secretaries, to coordinate affairs within Africa in a united manner.

Government Accuses UNMIL Of Drugs Trafficking
(Plain Truth)

· [SIC] Confidence between the Liberian Government and the United Nations Mission in Liberia appears to be sustaining manifold bruises with the former accusing the latter of drugs trafficking.
· The accusation comes in the aftermath of the use of over US$500,000 confiscated from a Nigerian businessman by government in 2006.
· The allegations are purported contained in an official Government statement forwarded to the House of Representatives committee set up to probe the matter.
· In the statement, The National Security Advisor, Dr. Boimah Fahnbulleh defended Government use of the money claiming that the alleged drugs found on the Nigerian at the time was stolen by an UNMIL Officer insinuating that there was a collusion between the officer and the businessman .

International Partners Support Bureau Of Immigration
(Daily Observer)

· The restructuring of the Liberian security sector has touched the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) with a flurry of international assistance in terms of capacity-building, equipment and other support.
· In a statement, the Commissioner of the BIN, Chris Massaquoi, said negotiations with partners aimed at “strengthening institutional capacity and tackling global migratory issues, particularly within the sub-region” culminated in support from the Dutch, French, American and the German Governments.

ICRC Dedicates Over US$15,000 Water Kiosk in Monrovia Suburb
(The Monitor, Daily Observer)

· The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has dedicated a water tower in the Crab Hole community in Duala outside Monrovia.
· Speaking at a brief hand-over ceremony, the Managing Director of the LWSC, Humbu Tulay, said the facility constructed at a cost of US$15,400 was done with support from the ICRC which decided to initiate a viable water project for residents in the area.
· The project was implemented by a Liberian construction company, Humbu Enterprises, under the supervision of Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC).

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
President Sirleaf Not Embarrassed By TRC Report
· The Executive Mansion says President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is going through the TRC report and would comment appropriately.
· Presidential Press Secretary Cyrus Badio said the president had been in Libya attending the AU summit and is yet to fully read the report.
· President Sirleaf is among people listed by the TRC to be banned from public office for thirty years.
· At the same time, Mr. Badio says the President is not embarrassed by the inclusion of her name in the report.
· On calls for the President to resign, he said the Executive Mansion will not dignify the call and cautioned people that the ban remains a recommendation.

Pro-War Crimes Court Group Wants Sirleaf, Others Resign
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Coalition of Civil Society Group Wants Legislature Reject TRC Report
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

LNP Training Academy Suspends Use of Firing Range
· The National Police Training Academy says it has suspended the use of its firing range.
· In an interview, Police Training Commandant James Hallowanger said the decision followed the digging of dirt from around the range by residents.
· Commissioner Hallowanger said the act was unsafe and would delay the training of officers of the Emergency Response Unit when it comes to the use of firearms.
· The Police Training Commandant disclosed the academy is also facing a serious land crisis saying people encroaching on the 100-acre of land given the Academy by the late J. C. N. Howard.
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

AU Summit Ends As Leaders Discuss Formation of Unity Government

Truth F.M. (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Consortium of Political Parties Frown at Delays to Enact Electoral Bills