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
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 ( 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'IvoireCĂ´te 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.