Sunday, April 26, 2009

UNMIL Daily News summary

UNMIL Public Information Office Complete Media Summaries
24 April 2009
Newspaper Summary
Four Opposition Parties Want Legislature Pass Threshold Bill
(The Analyst, The Inquirer)

· The leadership of four opposition political parties have requested the National Legislature to pass the new Population Threshold Bill currently before it. The four parties - Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), Liberty Party (LP), the National Democratic Party (NDPL) and the National Patriotic Party (NPP) - said the census has been conducted in line with the constitution and therefore wanted the lawmakers to pass the threshold bill which is intended to establish electoral constituencies in the country.
· On Wednesday, former President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Isaac Nyenabo said the preliminary census results submitted to the National Legislature cannot be used to enact the threshold bill saying it would be legally wrong for a national law to be based on initial results which are subject to changes.

Justice Minister Explains Controversial US$500,000 Capital Flight from Central Bank
(Heritage, Daily Observer, The Analyst, The Inquirer)

· Justice Minister Philip Banks has disclosed the US$500,000 that reportedly vanished from the Central Bank of Liberia vault was put in government’s coffers.
· Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Minister Banks said the amount was confiscated from a Nigerian national at the Roberts International Airport in 2006.
· The Minister said when the man was arrested by security officers he had the amount plastered to his skin.
· According to Minister Banks, the money was ordered confiscated by the court and placed in government’s coffers saying it is currently being used for security operations in the country.

For WFP Container Disappearance at Port…LSP Director Suspended Indefinitely
(Daily Observer, Liberian Journal)

· Liberia’s Seaport Police Director Ashford Peal has been suspended for time indefinite as a result of the disappearance of three containers and 450 bags of rice over the last few days from the Freeport of Monrovia.
· During a visit to the Freeport of Monrovia Thursday, Internal Affairs Minister and Acting President Ambulai Johnson confirmed that Mr. Peal had been suspended for time indefinite, and four other persons dismissed pending investigation into the matter.
· Minister Johnson said the relevant authorities were conducting investigation into the circumstances surrounding the WFP containers and the 450 bags of rice and that an official report will be forwarded to the President upon her return. Meanwhile, reports say the containers belonging to the WFP are still missing while a truck carrying the consignment of rice has been arrested and is in police custody.

Regional Maritime Rescue Centre Inaugurated in Liberia
(Daily Observer, The Analyst, The Inquirer, New Democrat)

· The Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre has been inaugurated in Monrovia.
· Speaking during the inauguration, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Efthimios Mitropoulos described the newly established Monrovia Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Liberia as a difficult task saying it will require what he called undiminished vigilance, high standard of professionalism and sharp reactions.
· Also speaking, Maritime Bureau Commissioner, Binyan Kesselly renewed Liberia’s commitment to professionally manage and operate the centre.
· According to Mr. Kesselly, the establishment of the centre places Liberia in a ready position to meet the challenges posed by the growing maritime trade in the sub-region.

World Bank Approves US$44M
(Daily Observer)

· The World Bank Group has approved an (International Development Association) IDA Grant of forty-four million United States Dollars (US$44m) equivalent for Urban and Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project for Liberia.
· The development objective of the project is to support Government’s goal of improving road access in Monrovia and targeted rural areas, as well as improving institutional structure for technical management of the road sector. The Urban and Rural Infrastructure Rehabilitation Project will finance several critical components of transport infrastructure around the country.

Radio Summary

Star Radio (News culled from website today at 09:00 am)
Justice Minister Clarifies how US$500,000 confiscated from Nigerian National was used
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Regional Maritime Rescue Centre Inaugurated in Liberia

Executive Wants Legislature Use Preliminary Census Result to Pass Threshold Bill

· The Executive Branch has called on the National Legislature to use the data submitted by the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS).
· Speaking at a regular press briefing Thursday, Acting Information Minister, Cletus Sieh said the current preliminary results of the census would make no difference to the final draft accusing some lawmakers of using the issue to stall the Threshold process.
· On Wednesday, Former President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate, Isaac Nyenabo said the preliminary census results submitted to the National Legislature cannot be used to enact the threshold bill saying it would be legally wrong for a national law to be based on initial results which are subject to changes.
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Government Re-arrests 35 of the Escapees from the Zwedru Correction Palace

· Government says 35 of the 40 inmates who broke jail at the Zwedru Correction Palace in Grand Gedeh County have been re-arrested.
· Acting Information Minister Cletus Sieh said the inmates were re-arrested following a rigorous operation launched by the Joint Security.
· Acting Minister Sieh said efforts are underway to re-arrest the remaining five who are at large.
· He said most of those re-arrested are hard core criminals who are capable of causing havoc in the country.
(Also reported on Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Boat Accident Leaves Two Dead

· Two persons are reported dead following separate accidents in Grand Bassa County.
· The first death occurred when 19 persons onboard a sinking boat jumped into the sea to swim ashore.
· The 19 persons including crew members were on board the MV Jeffery sailing from Monrovia to Maryland County.
· The other death occurred when an ambulance dispatched to transport the victims form the boat to Buchanan for treatment involved in an accident.
· Police accounts say the accident occurred when a motorcycle collided head on with the ambulance leaving the motorcyclist dead.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Keeping Africa's Turnaround on Track

By Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
President of Liberia
Thursday, April 9, 2009
(Source: Washington Post newspaper)

For more than a decade, much of Africa has been moving forward. Economic growth is rising, poverty is falling and democratic governance is spreading. But the global financial crisis threatens to undo this progress by reducing investment, exports and aid just as they should be expanding to build on these successes.
While international attention has been understandably focused on events in Darfur, Somalia and Zimbabwe, countries across the continent including Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique and Liberia have been quietly turning around. Economic growth rates regularly exceed 5 percent in many nations. Since 2000, 34 million more African children are in school. More than 2 million Africans are on lifesaving HIV/AIDS medicines. Malaria deaths have been halved in Rwanda and Ethiopia, and the disease has been virtually eradicated in Zanzibar. Poverty rates are falling fast, from 58 to 51 percent across the continent in just six years, according to the World Bank.
The key to this progress is stronger African leadership and more accountable governance. Today, more than 20 African countries are democracies, up from just three in the 1980s; they have competitive elections and improved human rights, and their news media are much freer. These efforts have been supported by increasingly effective development assistance from the United States and other partners.
Consider what has happened in my country, Liberia. After 14 years of devastating war, we faced enormous challenges but had precious few resources. Our democratically elected government has worked with international partners and a growing number of private investors to turn things around. In the past three years, we have doubled primary school enrollment nationwide, refurbished hundreds of health facilities, and begun rebuilding roads and generators. We have taken steps to root out corruption and remove unscrupulous officials. Growth has exceeded 8 percent per year. And, most critical, we are at peace. We are restoring our once-vibrant nation, and the crucial component -- hope -- has already been revived. Without international support, we would not have made this progress and would be at much greater risk of returning to war.
The economic crisis threatens the progress in my country and elsewhere on our continent. An estimated $50 billion in income could be lost in Africa during the next two years. Declining remittances, trade flows and investment could undermine new businesses, throw millions out of work, and increase tensions and instability. The crisis -- which Africa did nothing to cause -- demands a strong response. African nations must do their part by continuing to address corruption, eliminate red tape and reduce obstacles to private-sector growth. But just as industrialized countries need a stimulus, African economies need a boost to keep their progress on track. The Group of 20 meeting last week produced a helpful first step. Going forward, five additional steps are critical.
First, the G-20 pledge to provide the International Monetary Fund with new resources must be fulfilled, and the IMF needs to get those resources to countries quickly and without onerous conditions.
Second, the World Bank and the African Development Bank must better leverage their resources; aggressively front-load support; and better target growth, jobs and safety-net programs. The International Finance Corp., the World Bank's private-sector affiliate, must be especially creative in keeping private investment on track.
Third, bilateral partners must build on their promises to increase aid and make it more effective by reducing bureaucratic delays, speeding disbursements and better aligning programs with African priorities.
Fourth, export credit agencies must use their resources to attack risk and other barriers to trade finance, such as liquidity issues.
Fifth, all countries must resist protectionist pressures so that trade can be the critical engine for restoring global growth.
The citizens and leaders of donor nations should recognize how important their assistance has been to the new leadership in Africa and how appreciative most Africans are for this partnership. Critics say that African economies are shrinking, that poverty is rising and that failing aid is the culprit. But this argument is at least a decade out of date. Africa's turnaround is real, the evidence indisputable. Africans themselves have been the key to this reversal, but more effective aid has played an important role. Reducing aid would slow private-sector growth, stall poverty reduction, and undermine peace and stability in countries that are struggling to become part of the global economy.
It would be a cruel irony if, just as Africa began to succeed, its prospects were cut short by a crisis beyond its control. Strong action by African governments and robust support from the international community can keep Africa's recovery on track. Both should continue to do their part.
The writer is president of Liberia and the author of "This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President."

Friday, April 03, 2009

UNMIL Daily News

UNMIL Public Information Office Complete Media Summaries
3 April 2009

Newspaper Summary

(The Inquirer, New Democrat, National Chronicle)

· Addressing a news conference in Monrovia Thursday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj reassured Liberians that the drawdown plan or scaling down of the UN’s peacekeeping operations in Liberia will proceed in a cautious and gradual manner to ensure that the gains made in consolidating peace in the country are not put at risk.
· In her recent report to the Security Council on UNMIL, SRSG Løj maintained that Liberia’s security situation was relatively stable, but still characterized by underlying fragility and needing to be monitored closely.
· The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) is in the midst of the second phase of its drawdown during which troops levels are to be reduced by nearly 1,500, and further modifications could be made during the third and final segment which kicks off this September.

SRSG Løj Encourages Liberian Legislature to Pass Threshold Bill
(The Inquirer, New Democrat, National Chronicle)

· The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj has warned that delay in the passage of the population Threshold Bill will affect the timetable of the 2011 elections in the country.
· Speaking during UNMIL press briefing yesterday, Ms. Løj said the forthcoming elections were crucial to the maintenance of peace in the country.

Supreme Court Issues Writ of Prohibition on Elections Commission
(The Analyst, The Inquirer, The Parrot)

· The Supreme Court has issued a writ of prohibition on the National Elections Commission (NEC).
· The writ bars the commission from further proceeding into the case involving some partisans of the opposition Liberia Party (LP) and its leadership.
· The prohibition grew out of a communication served the party by NEC calling on the LP to defer its planned convention scheduled for today, April 3 to tomorrow April 4.
· The Elections Commission cited the complaint filed by some aggrieved partisans as the reason for the proposed deferral.

Ambassador Conmany Wesseh Appointed to European Union
(The Analyst, Heritage, New Vision)

· Ambassador Conmany B. Wesseh has been appointed as Liberia’s Ambassador to the European Union (EU). A Ministry of Foreign Affairs release said the decision is in recognition of Liberia’s increasingly strategic and demanding partnership with the European Union for accelerated development aimed at promoting Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).

Germans Build Liberians' Capacity in Road Engineering
(Daily Observer)

· [sic:] A German capacity-building institution is in the country to train and build the capacity of Liberian contractors in road construction to enable the Liberian firms attract better contract opportunities through professional performances. “The labeling of Liberian contractor as lacking in both professional and logistical capacity to effectively carry out road construction is fast becoming a thing of the past,” said Foday M. Kamara, Sr. president of the of the Association of Liberia Construction Contractors (ALCC).

Radio Summary
Star Radio (News monitored today at 9:00 am)
Supreme Court Intervenes in Liberty Party, NEC Exchanges

Lawmakers Vote to Release Detained LTA's Boss Today
· The House of Representatives voted today to release from further detention the disgraced Chairman of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA), Albert Bropleh.
· The House voted to pardon the detained LTA Chairman based on a motion for reconsideration but maintained its vote of no confidence in Mr. Bropleh.
· The House found the LTA Chairman guilty of perjury and ordered his detention for one month over a scandal in which he solicited and withdrew US$52,000.00 from the LTA accounts as lobby fees for the Legislature.
· In a related development, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has suspended Mr. Bropleh for time indefinite.
(Also reported on Truth F.M., Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Three Opposition Lawmakers Alarm over Unity Party Merger
· Three opposition lawmakers have criticized the merger of the governing Unity Party, Liberia Action Party (LAP) and the Liberia Unification Party (LUP).
· The lawmakers including the Congress for Democratic Change Rufus Neufville described the merger as a threat to multi-democracy saying the independence of the Legislature has been undermined.
· Addressing a news conference yesterday, the three opposition lawmakers said the merger places independent decision making at the National Legislature at risk as both Houses are headed by the LAP which is part of the governing Unity Party coalition.
· House Speaker Alex Tyler and the Senate Pro Temp Cletus Wortorson belong to the Liberia Action Party even though a Spokesman of the party said they will not form part of the merger.
(Also reported on Truth F.M., Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Liberia, Nigeria Sign Technical Agreement
· The Government of Liberia and the Federal Republic of Nigeria have signed a Technical and Manpower Assistance Agreement aimed at deploying over 100 volunteers in various professional fields to participate in the ongoing efforts by government to accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.
· Foreign Minister OluBanke King Akerele signed on behalf of government while Nigeria’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bagudu Hirse signed for his government.
(Also reported on Truth F.M., Sky F.M., and ELBC)

900 Sierra Leonean Refugees Get official Residency in Liberia

· Liberia has granted alien residency to 900 Sierra Leonean refugees who sought refuge here since their country’s civil war started in 1991.
· Vice President Joseph Boakai said the government is committed to providing maximum security for all those residing within its borders and that government was in full support of the integration of former Sierra Leonean refugees in the society.
· Vice President Boakai spoke when the 900 former refugees received Sierra Leonean passports to qualify them for the alien residency status.
· For her part, Sierra Leone’s Ambassador Marie Barnett called on her kinsmen to remain law abiding and respectful to authority.

Truth F.M. (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
UNMIL Urges Legislature to Pass Threshold Bill

Justice Minister Warns Against Burning Down Police Stations
· Speaking during the dedication of the newly constructed police depot in the Freeport Community on Bushrod Island, Justice Minister Philip Banks has threatened to arrest and persecute anyone who will burn down a police depot and other state assets in the name of seeking redress to their grievances.
· The Minister said citizens must seek legal redress to their concerns rather than resulting to violence.