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 ( 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