Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Importance of Dual Citizenship to Liberia's Economic Development

By: Edmund Zar- Zar Bargblor

This article is a contribution to the present debate among Liberians with reference to dual citizenship. The focus of the discussion of this presentation is about economic benefits, relevant to the attainment of US citizenship by Liberians. Subsequently, I will endeavor to highlight some of the essential attributes of dual citizenship and why its implementation in post war Liberia is a necessity.

Dual citizenship in some intellectual circles is perceived as the expression of two major tendencies that are observed in the world today. There is on the one hand globalization, transcendence of all borders, emergence of common identities, multiple new identities that didn't exist before. Another attribute points to the return of nationalism, very often associated with the collapse of empires and old state entities, like the Soviet Union. In dual citizenship, these two tendencies interrelate in a very interesting way. However, for simplicity of definition, dual citizenship or dual nationality is simply an individual being a citizen of two countries or a legal status by which a person is a citizen of two countries. For example, if you as a Liberian relocate to the United States and become a naturalized US citizen, you have dual citizenship. Dual citizens can carry two passports and essentially live and travel freely within their native and naturalized countries.

Bella Consultants (a Consultancy designed for processing dual citizenship applications), emphasized: "dual citizenship is becoming more common in today's increasingly interconnected economy. Countries such as India, the Philippines and Mexico are now seeking the advantages of dual citizenship by liberalizing their citizenship laws. These countries have realized that dual citizenship has the advantages of broadening a country's economic base, fostering trade and investment between the dual citizen's two respective countries".

There exists a prevailing perception among Liberians, that when a Liberian becomes a naturalized US citizen, the individual loses his Liberian citizenship. This point of view is indeed incorrect. According to Bella Consultants, naturalized US citizens are not legally obligated to give up their citizenship of their country. The United States has never ordered any newly naturalized citizens to present themselves to their native country's embassy in order to formally renounce their original citizenship. Legally, there is nothing in the Constitution and there are none from the United States Supreme Court preventing the United States (via the State Department) from requiring all naturalized citizens to officially renounce their citizenship to their native country as a condition for naturalization.

The opponents of dual citizenship debate always draw one's attention to the oath of allegiance that one is required to declare.

The opening lines of the Oath of Allegiance are meant to give the United States sovereignty over the newly naturalized citizen. The important thing to remember about the oath of allegiance is not the renunciation of your original citizenship, which the US does not enforce, but to remember the allegiance and fidelity you swear to the United States of America. The oath is a promise one made to be faithful and true to the laws of America. The Oath is also a demonstration to everyone of one's loyalty and commitment to defend and protect the United States of America at all times. In essence, an individual Liberian who obtained United States Citizenship is still a Liberian, especially on Liberian soil. It is hypocritical to advocate for the adjustment of Liberians' status on TPS to that of US Permanent Residency or naturalized US citizenship and at the same time condemning others seeking the presidency of the Republic of Liberia for obtaining and having dual citizenship. If dual citizenship is such a bad idea, why are Liberians endeavoring through US Congressional hearings on Liberia, to adjust the status of Liberians presently on Temporary Protective Status (TPS)? Mark Fritz of Los Angeles Times wrote: "Scott Wasmuth, the director of a nonprofit refugee relocation agency in New Jersey, deals with a particular type of immigrant said that there are people from Liberia who have managed to survive seven years of merciless combat by avaricious warlords. Or families from Bosnia purged from their homelands by their fellow citizens. They are different from most immigrants in that their lives were so threatened, their living conditions so deadly, they were granted political asylum. To these immigrants, Wasmuth said, U.S. citizenship is more than a passport, economic benefit or immigration status one notch above green card. Citizenship should be about ideals."In the last seven years according to Mark Fritz, Colombia, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and most recently, Mexico -- the suppliers of some of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in America -- have allowed their nationals to become citizens elsewhere without losing their original nationality. New leaderships in South Korea and India have expressed support for the same idea.

Mark Fritz explained that Upscale Australians in the United States have been pressuring their government to allow dual citizenship so they can become Americans without losing their native status. Economic is the main motivation here, avoiding the stiff estate taxes that the U.S. government imposes on foreigners operating in the United States.

There is a large degree of evidence of naturalized US citizens operating in official capacities in their former country of origins. Mark Fritz reports on some examples of tacit US support for dual citizenship:
• Previous years, when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced an end to a decade-old ban on U.S. travel to Lebanon, she referred to the hardship the ban was causing to thousands of Americans with dual Lebanese citizenship. A man with U.S. and Lebanese citizenship runs Beirut's Marriott Hotel and Casino.
• Also, the U.S. State Department and Slovakia rescinded an old treaty, thereby enabling "the citizens of both countries to hold dual citizenship," the Slovak Embassy in Washington said.
• Washington protested when Israel threatened to revoke the residency rights of Palestinian Americans in Jerusalem unless they surrendered their American passports. In that case, the U.S. was in effect acting to protect dual allegiances.
• The State Department said that as far as it can tell, Hussein Mohammed Aidid, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, is still a naturalized American citizen as well as Somalia's most powerful warlord.

All Africa.Com. an internet on line news medium reported on July 21, 2010:
“Abuja — Many years after the Liberian civil war, over 250,000 children born by Nigerian soldiers who were part of the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peace keeping force in Liberia are still roaming the streets of Liberia, wallowing in poverty and searching for their fathers.” If the population of Liberia is about 3,000,000 people, this number of children is over 8 percent of the nation over all population. These children if come of age will demand for the citizenship of both Liberia and Nigeria. In essence, they are Nigerians and also Liberians. The International institute in the State of
Rhode Island reported years ago, that there are about 15,000 Liberians within Rhode Island and its environs. Let‘s assume that half of this number, each decided to have a child, collectively they will have 7,500 children. There are hundreds of Liberians in New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Washington, DC Metropolitan areas, and other parts of the United States. And these numbers don’t include those born in Europe and other parts of the world.
The question that needs to be answered by the detractors of dual citizenship: will it be fair to deny any of the children born of Liberian parentage from enjoying Liberian citizenship, because, they have dual citizenship?

As society becomes more global and integrated, the value of Dual Citizenship and a second passport is increasingly becoming a necessity. The comforts of being an American Citizen, at the same time maintaining one's original nationality, provides an individual with an abundance of benefits and set of liberties. Economically, Liberia stands to benefit. Dual citizenship provides access to financial investment rights (property, securities, retirement, social security benefits, etc.). American citizenship provides access to adequate medical benefits, including potentially free healthcare, especially for those reaching the age of retirement. Accesses to educational benefits, including potentially free higher education are all possibilities within the reach of Liberians who enjoyed dual citizenships. And most importantly, provides opportunity for children of Liberian parentage to travel freely and reconnect with their cultural background and strengthen the fabric of their African heritage. Never before in the history of Liberia, has the need for international assistance become so urgent and essential. The need to change is apparent; the need to seek and identify individuals whose expertise and experiences transcend the day-to-day norms of the Liberian society is a responsibility, which all Liberians cannot afford to ignore. Is one thing to talk about 163 years of independence, is another to know that Liberians' years of national sovereignty have yet to match the scope of their national development. Currently, developments of road net works, water system, health care facilities, education system, telecommunication facilities, etc. are in a deplorable state of affairs. The endorsing or advocating the development of multiple national attachments should be viewed in terms of national development and economic strategy. Dual citizenship would help Liberian businessmen/women to transact and move freely, especially in and out of the United States. Even the Republic of Ghana has realized the economic benefits of dual citizenship and continues to encourage its citizens since December 1, 2002, to obtain dual citizenship.
The ideals of Free Enterprise and Democracy are complementary. The development and sustaining a strong middle class is essential to attainting stability in Liberia. Dual citizenship has the propensity to bring this about. The future seems to provide a great promise; Dual citizenship will help to democratize the politics of Liberia. As illustrated above, there are hundred upon hundred of children born to Liberian nationals presently residing in the Diaspora. These children with their dual nationalities and exposures could help Liberia to navigate her destiny through the twenty-first century. Democracy indeed, is built on informed citizen participation, especially those who have lived and practiced it in developed countries. The ideal of democracy is meaningful participation of an engaged and informed citizenry. Dual Citizenship is undoubtedly, one of the ways to foster Liberia's future economic development. Leopold Senghor of Senegal was correct when he said: "To build a nation, to create a new civilization which can lay claim to existence because it is humane, we shall try to employ not only enlightened reason but also dynamic imagination."

About the Author;

Edmund Zar-Zar Bargblor is an Educator within the Providence School Department, Providence, Rhode Island. He is a graduate of Cuttington University College, Liberia, Howard University, Washington, D.C, and Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. Mr. Bargblor is a former Vice President of the Liberian Community Association of Rhode Island and President of the African Catholic Community of Rhode Island. He can be contacted at
All rights reserved: No publication of this document without the official notification/permission of the author.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

United Nations News

Source: UNMIL daily news summary

UNMIL Boss to Lecture at IBB
[The Inquirer]

• The Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) of the United Nations in Liberia, Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has accepted an invitation from the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB) Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Liberia to serve as a visiting lecturer during this current semester.
• Ms. Løj will bring her experience to the IBB Graduate School stemming from over 33 years of experience.
• For the first time in the history of the graduate school, someone with the esteem of the SRSG who currently heads the UN Mission in Liberia is a visiting lecturer at the school.
• Her first lecture brought together professors, students from other universities to come and witness first hand Liberia’s SRSG lecture on UN Peacekeeping Operations: Some Lessons from the UN Mission in Liberia.

Local News on Liberian issues

Threshold Bill Case Partially Withdrawn From High Court
[The Inquirer]

• The group of lawmakers who took the Legislature to the Supreme Court on the threshold bill has withdrawn their case.
• The decision followed days of consultations with the complaining lawmakers.
• Senate President Pro-tempore Cletus Wotorson made the announcement Thursday during the sitting of the Senate.
• The lawsuit by the lawmakers was in connection with what they considered the illegal treatment given the first veto by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the threshold bill.
• Meanwhile, Senator Wotorson says discussions are ongoing with the other complainant, the Concerned Setor Youth to withdraw the case.
• The case by the group represented by one James Doe has already been forwarded to the full bench of the Supreme Court with a conference slated for May 28.
• The group is contesting the 2008 census which it claimed was poorly conducted and must not be used to set the threshold for constituency representations.

Government Condemns Ex-AFL Widows’ Protest Action

• The government has condemned the protest action by aggrieved ex-Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) widows in Monrovia, demanding unpaid benefits supposedly owed them by the government.
• The ex-AFL widows, in what seems to be an unwavering protest action, are demanding over US$5 million in unpaid benefits to their deceased husbands.
• The women have been staging sit-in-action for the last two days at major streets and intercessions in Monrovia to draw the attention of the government and the international community.
• But at a news conference Thursday Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Jerolinmek M. Piah, said the action by the aggrieved ex-AFL widows was obstructing the normal flow of traffic thus infringing on the rights to movement of other people.
• “We want to condemn the action of our mothers and sisters. Their action to block traffic is in violation of other people’s rights,” Piah said.

NEC Releases Timetable for River Gee By-election
[Front Page Africa, In profile Daily, The Informer, The News, Public Agenda, Daily Observer]

• The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released the official timetable for the pending River Gee County District Number Three by-election.
• The release of the timetable followed a notification the Commission received from the House of Representatives declaring a vacancy in the House as a result of the death of River Gee Representative Albert Toe.
• NEC Chairman James Fromayan told a news conference Thursday, the River Gee by-election is scheduled for Tuesday July 20 and announcement of official results from the first round would take place on July 23rd while a possible run-off date would be set for August 3rd, 2010.
• According to Mr. Fromayan, individuals wishing to contest the process would begin filing their nomination letters from May 27 to June 10.
• The NEC Chairman said replacement of lost or damaged voter cards is June 12-22, while political campaign would begin June 26 to July 18, 2010.
• The release of the election timetable was done simultaneously with the issuance of the writ of elections as required under section 4.3 of the new Election Law of 1986.

CDC Caucus Dismisses Merger Speculations
[Front Page Africa, Heritage, Daily Observer]

• The Legislative Caucus of the opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has ruled out any possibility of a merger with the ruling Unity Party (UP).
• The Chairman of the Caucus said the CDC as a grassroots political party will not join the UP under any circumstance.
• Montserrado Representative Rufus Neufville made the statement in reaction to reports that the party has merged with the ruling UP describing it as black lies and work of detractors.
• Representative Neufville said contrary to the reports the CDC is strategizing to defeat the governing UP in the 2011 elections.
• He also confirmed the arrival of CDC political leader George Weah into the Country.

Immigration Bureau Dismisses Six Officers
[The Inquirer, Heritage, National Chronicle, The News, Daily Observer]

• Authorities of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) Thursday dismissed with immediate effect six of its officers for facilitating the escape of six Bangladeshi nationals.
• The six Bangladeshis were being held for human trafficking.
• Speaking at a news conference Thursday, Immigration Commissioner Chris Massaquoi said the escapees have been rearrested following a swift and vigorous search operation.
• Commissioner Massaquoi said officers which include Major Solomon Geh, Captain Yancy Karlu, Major Paul Dweh, Augustine Kollie, Captain Roosevelt Weaye, and offer Emmanuel Berrain have been charged with conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
• The BIN boss said the six officers have been turned over to the Justice Ministry for persecution.

LTTP Supports University of Liberia’s Teachers College
[Front Page Africa, In Profile Daily]

• The Liberia Teacher Training Project (LTTP) says it would work with the William V. S. Tubman Teachers College at the University of Liberia to increase its capacity.
• LTTP Chief of Party said increasing the capacity of the college will enable it extend its services and speed up the human resource development.
• Dr. Johnson Odharo speaking Thursday when his entity donated assorted items to the college noted the venture will be a huge capitol investment.
• The items which include three Dell Desktop computers, a Printer with cartridge, one Dell laptop computer and a Dell projector with screen is put at over US$4,000.
• The money to procure the items was provided by the United States Aid for International Development, USAID.
• Receiving the donation, the dean of the college, Professor Euphemia Abdullai expressed gratitude to USAID and LTTP for the gesture.

Opposition Politician Accused of Donating Expired Medical Supplies, But…

• The chief medical doctor at the Jallah Lone Medical Center in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County has accused Dr. Togba Nah Tipoteh of distributing expired medical supplies at the hospital.
• Mr. Massabory Kamara claimed the medical items donated to the hospital by Dr. Tipoteh a fortnight ago were expired since almost three years and as such, had no medical value.
• Mr. Kamara, who is also the County Health Officer of Gbarpolu, asserted that the donation by the veteran opposition politician was not properly done and described the donation process as lacking what he calls total verification.
• He also asserted that the donation by Dr. Tipoteh has the propensity to destroy the lives of patients at the hospital if they were not observed carefully before use.
• But Dr. Tipoteh commenting on Mr. Kamara’s accusation described the action of the chief medical doctor to reach the press without consulting him as premature.
• He said Susuku, which is the main distributor of those items, has covered other counties in the country without any problem that has been alleged by the Jallah Lone Medical Center.

Star Radio (News monitored today at 09:00 am)
Threshold Bill Case Partially Withdrawn From High Court

Bong Lawmaker Wants Increment in Allowances for Education and Health Workers
• Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor has called for an increase in the allowances of education and health workers in the country.
• In a letter to the Senate, Senator Taylor proposed a two million dollar allotment to target the allowances of education and health workers in the draft budget.

Auditor General Exposes River Gee Representative, But…
• Auditor General John Morlu has released a strongly-worded letter in Monrovia warning River Gee Representative Elijah Seah against interfering in audit matters.
• In the four-page letter, Mr. Morlu warned Representative Seah to stay clear of all audits of the General Auditing Commission (GAC).
• The communication is in reference to a meeting negotiated by Representative Seah through the River Gee County Legislative Caucus with the Auditor General to get the basis of his request to the President to revoke the induction of River Gee Development Superintendent, Alexander Yeaher.
• The letter detailed how during one of the meetings, Representative Seah allegedly made a one-on-one proposal to Mr. Morlu in the fraud case involving Mr. Yeaher.
• The Auditor General claimed he rejected the proposal by Representative Seah something that prompted the lawmaker to leave his office in anger though he did not elaborate.
• He also described as a sad commentary, the intervention of the River Gee Legislative Caucus in audit matters with the aim to protect Mr. Yeaher.
• But Representative Seah said the letter by Mr. Morlu is intended to blackmail him and vowed never to stay clear of GAC audits once a River Gee citizen is accused.
• According to him, the meeting with Mr. Morlu was intended for Mr. Yeaher to be heard and given a copy of the audit reports which indicted him of fraud.

Bassa Institute of Nursing Bill Introduced in House
• A bill seeking the establishment of the Grand Bassa Institute of Nursing Studies has been introduced in the House of Representatives.
• The bill is under the sponsorship of Grand Bassa Representative Baron Brown.
• Representative Brown said if enacted the bill would pave the way for people with interest in the nursing in Grand Bassa to acquire the required basic medical training.
• According to him, the institute will educate young people to become mid-wives, physician assistants and registered nurses.
• Representative Brown said it was important to pass the bill to make the health sector more viable and meet the medical needs of the Country.
• The bill has meanwhile been sent to the House Committees on Health, Judiciary and Ways, Means and Finance for review.
(Also reported Radio Veritas, Sky FM, and ELBC)

Information Minister Off to China
• Information Minister Cletus Sieh has left the country for Shanghai, China to participate in a meeting of World Expo 2010.
• The meeting is of the Steering Committee of the World Expo 2010 of which Liberia is a co-chair.
• The thirty-two nation committee meeting is expected to deal with issues surrounding the Expo 2010 which takes place sometimes this year in China.
• Minister Sieh is expected to preside as Liberia has been asked to chair the Shanghai meeting.

NEC Releases Timetable for River Gee By-election

CDC Caucus Dismisses Merger Speculations
(Also reported Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

LTTP Supports University of Liberia’s Teachers College

New Higher Education Curricula Validated
• Senior stakeholders in the higher education sub-sector have validated the revised and synchronized curricula for universities and colleges in Liberia.
• The newly standardized curricula would be used for freshman and sophomore students at various institutions of higher learning in the country.
• The chairman of the committee constituted to draft the curricula Arnold Hill, President of the Liberia Baptist Theological Seminary said the new curricula have created the space for the smooth process of education.
• According to Mr. Hill, the curricula would allow students transfer from one institution to another without difficulty.
• The Director General of the National Commission on Higher Education Dr. Michael Slewion expressed satisfaction over the validation.
• Dr. Slewion said the new curricula would be enforced beginning the next academic year.

Radio Veritas (News monitored today at 09:45 am)
Immigration Bureau Dismisses Six Officers
(Also reported Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

Truth FM (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Rights Activist Says Claims of Sexual Harassment Is Political
• A rights activist, Rev. Emmet Hoff has termed claims of sexual harassment against Auditor General John Morlu as politically motivated.
• Rev. Hoff, a former commissioner of the Township of Johnsonville said the allegation of sexual harassment is intended to weaken the General Auditing Commission’s (GAC) ability to fight corruption in the country.
• The rights activist said it is important for the government to begin taking decisive action on the audit reports instead of what he calls fighting back.
• He however concurred with the GAC that the claim of sexual harassment by the Auditor General is being sponsored by the Executive Mansion and the Finance Ministry.

International Clips on Liberia

Supermodel Campbell must testify in Taylor trial, prosecutors say

The Hague - Supermodel Naomi Campbell should be forced to provide incriminating evidence about an alleged "blood diamond" gift she received from former Liberian leader Charles Taylor, who faces war crime charges in The Hague, prosecutors said Friday. Prosecutors at the Special Court for Sierra Leone were told about the gift from actress Mia Farrow, who was also present at a reception at Nelson Mandela's South African home in 1997 attended by Campbell and Taylor. Farrow told prosecutors that Campbell had told her about being woken up in the middle of the night by "two or three men" and being given a "large" rough diamond on behalf the former president. Campbell has not denied receiving the diamond, but told the Oprah Winfrey Show on May 3 that she did not wish to be involved in the case. "He has done some terrible things and I don't want to put my family in danger," according to an ABC television transcript quoted in a subpoena request dated May 20. Prosecutors say that evidence about the gift is "central" to their case since "it supports the Prosecution allegations that the Accused used rough diamonds for arms purchases for Sierra Leone." Prosecutors in The Hague say the notoriously temperamental supermodel should be forced to provide the evidence in court since their "repeated efforts to interview Ms Campbell about this event have been unsuccessful." A number of phone messages and emails sent to her solicitor went unanswered, prosecutors said. "Ms Campbell's consistent refusals to speak to the Prosecution voluntarily and her statements that she does not want to be involved in the case justify the Trial Chamber's issuance of a subpoena," prosecutors have told judges. The judges must now decide whether to grant the request for a subpoena - a writ issued by a court authority to compel the attendance of a witness at a judicial proceeding. Were Campbell to defy such a writ, she could faces charges of contempt of court.

Business Opportunity for Small and Minority Businesses in Liberia
PR Log - Global Press Release Distribution

American small and minority owned businesses will have a chance to learn about conducting business on the global market. American small and minority owned businesses will have a chance to learn about conducting business on the global market. “Runway Liberia” Trade and Tourism Exhibition presented by Lonestar Cell-MTN, the number one cellular service provider in Liberia, West Africa will take place on Friday, July 23, 2010 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Silver Springs, MD. Liberia has made great strides in economic development since 2005 and is actively promoting its interest in having American businesses participate in its economic re-development. Liberia, a nation slightly larger than the state of Ohio, with a population of approximately 3.4 million people is rich with natural resources such as iron ore, rubber, timber, tin, gold and diamonds. In recent years, the Government of Liberia has reported that it has discovered sizable deposits of crude oil along its Atlantic Coast. Agriculture is one of the largest sectors in the country. Liberia produces coffee, cocoa, sugarcane, rice, cassava, palm oil, bananas, plantains, citrus, pineapple, sweet potatoes, corn, vegetables and beverages. Runway Liberia is committed to building a brighter, prosperous and sustainable future for Liberia.

International Clips on West Africa


World court 'satisfied' with Guinea massacre probe

Guinea (AP) - The head of an International Criminal Court mission to Guinea says the judge investigating the September massacre of more than 150 people at a pro-democracy rally is working independently and free from official interference. Amadi Bah told reporters Friday that 200 people have been interviewed about the massacre, including women who were raped. He says he is satisfied with the progress of the investigation and is confident Guinean authorities will find and punish those responsible. A U.N. commission investigating the deaths has said the killings and rapes may constitute crimes against humanity and may have been ordered by officials. An interim government was established with help from international mediators in the aftermath of the massacre and an assassination attempt against the junta leader now in exile.

Ivory Coast

UNOCI provides human resources and logistical support to transport grey list and documents related to the appeals process

Côte d’Ivoire/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Deputy Spokesman of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Kenneth Blackman, announced that the Mission had finished transporting the grey list to 19 regions throughout the country during UNOCI’s weekly press conference on Thursday in Abidjan. Mr. Blackman explained that UNOCI continued its support to the electoral process by providing logistical and human resources support. «The Mission had to mobilise land and air transportation for this operation with the participation of the civilian, military and police components of UNOCI» he said. Also as part of its support to the electoral process, the Deputy Spokesman announced that the Mission had transported consignments of claim forms and methodology guides for the processing of appeals to various regions. The regions included the Vallée du Bandama (Bouaké), Savanes (Korhogo), Moyen-Cavally (Guiglo), Denguélé (Odienné), Worodougou (Séguéla) and Bas Sassandra. In addition, Mr. Blackman said that ONUCI FM had provided sensitisation and information for the people concerned through it interviews and reports. «We also hope that the level of sensitisation will increase in order to give ample opportunity to those who have a right to have their names on the provisional electoral list’ » he added. Earlier, the Deputy Spokesman said that the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, Y. J. Choi, was in New York to take part in a high-level internal meeting which will discuss various issues, including the Ivorian peace process.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A tribute to elder Salia Kpissay

No one is immune from death and the pains that it brings to those who lost their love one. On May 10, 2010, the Towns of Gatima, Lowoma, Kondesu & Sasazu lost a great son, father, uncle, & grand father to the cold hands of death. On that evening, news of elder Salia Kpissay’s death spread around the world like undulating tornado in the dry desert in the Far East. As I pen this tribute in tears, I’m left with painful memories of occurrences and events leading to elder Salia Kpissay’s death. I’m also left with bunch of unanswered questions that only God can provide answers to.
When one finds him/herself in such a painful and tearful dilemma, all one is often left with are memories of painful occurrences. Some (like me) narrates or voice out their feelings while others keep those memories as precious semiprecious stone worth millions of Dollars care. Papa Salia “as he was affectionally called” viewed life in a totally prism form than lots of other people do. He most time saw and treated things in a very special way that probably no one will do after he’s finally laid to rest.
Today, I pen this tribute in a special way in memory of an elder who opened his doors to students who were faced with the daunting task of struggling to meet the expense of their survival and education in a very far away town of Gatima in what used to be called Lower Lofa County (now Gbarpolu County).
Many days we roamed the hallway of elder Kpissay’s home in search of daily bread. In those difficult times, he usually reminded us that he did not define family as those he biologically fathered. He often told us “as long as you are willing to add value to yourself (by going to school), you are one of mine”.
When I received the phone call about elder Salia Kpissay’s unexpected and untimely death at about 11:20 pm eastern standard time (3:20 am Liberian time) on that quiet night, the night became darkened and unending, revealing all the struggles he personally helped encouraged us to successfully pass through. He thought us to begin each day with a new enlightened way so that we would find in solitude the answer to his many traditional proverbs.
I managed to but could not hide my emotion from my two young kids who were with me when I received the phone call. I sat in complete disbelieve that I will never forget or escape.
Elder Salia Kpissay, you are physically gone today but those of us you leave behind will never be the same, we will walk around and through Gatima with out your physical guidance. Now you are on your own, we are here alone.
In the great beyond, you will march with your eyes so bright; your thoughts will become untangle. Today, your wise words, your generosity, & your courage have led lots of us across the world with pride and strength to cope with any form of difficulties. You left behind a dent that will never be filled in your absence.
May the Lord Almighty lead you through eternity & light perpetual shine on you.

By: Sam K Zinnah, APA, OND, B. Sc, candidate for M.B.A.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary

Source: UNMIL News

A visiting UN Under Secretary-General Special Adviser on Innovative Financing for Development, has held talks with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to solicit her government’s support for UNITAID.
• UNITAID is an organization launched by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and the UK in 2006 to help fight HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
• Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy said the UN finds it necessary to help UNITAID in its endeavor to combat the diseases.
• Mr. Douste-Blazy said UNITAID would ask the Liberian government to place one US Dollar on every plane ticket to support the global initiative.
• The UN Under Secretary-General Special Adviser said the one US dollar on the plane ticket will augment funding for the achievement of MDGs four, five and six.
• He said UNITAID is trying to bridge the gap between poor and rich countries mainly in the area of health.
• In response, President Sirleaf welcomed the initiative describing HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis as major challenges to the health care delivery system of the country.

Local News on Liberian issues

Senate Suspends Threshold Debate, Honors High Court Citation Today
[Daily Observer, The Inquirer, The News, The Analyst, New Democrat, The Informer, Heritage]

• The Senate has endorsed a citation by the Supreme Court to suspend all further debates on the controversial population threshold bill.
• The Senate took the decision Tuesday after a heated debate erupted on the merits and demerits of the citation issued by Justice-In-Chambers Kabineh Jan’eh.
• In the citation, Justice Jan’eh mandated the Senate to stay all further proceedings on the threshold bill based on a petition against the National Legislature and other parties.
• The petition relates to a complaint filed by a group identified as Concerned Sector Youth represented by one James Doe against the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, National Elections Commission and the National Legislature.
• The group claims the results of the 2008 National Population Census among other things were marred by flaws and inaccuracies.
• Meanwhile, the Senate says it will attend Wednesday’s conference called by the Justice-In-Chambers with the petitioner of the writ of prohibition.

LBS Director General-designate Finally Rejected
[Daily Observer, Front Page Africa, National Chronicle, Heritage]

• The Senate has rejected the confirmation of the Director General-designate of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Darryl Ambrose Nmah.
• The Senate denied the confirmation of Mr. Nmah in its closed-door session Tuesday.
• It was gathered that the once-rejected LBS Director General-designate failed to meet the required confirmation votes of sixteen.
• Although Senate President Pro-Tempore Cletus Wotorson refused to comment on the rejection of Mr. Nmah, he confirmed that one or two Presidential nominees were denied.
• Mr. Nmah was earlier rejected by the Senate on what is thought to be his poor human relations.

Justice Ministry Dismisses Newspaper Claims against Elite Presidential Guard
[The Inquirer, The News, The Analyst, Front Page Africa]

• The Justice Ministry has dismissed a Front Page Africa newspaper caption: “SSS Secret Detention of Innocent People Exposed.”
• In the story, the paper alleged that personnel of the elite presidential guard have been engaged in secret arrest, detention and torture of individuals alleged to have committed crimes.
• The article also reported that the action has become a common practice in the administration of the Unity Party-led government as was done during past regimes.
• But the Ministry of Justice in a release expressed shock at the story and called on the paper to provide evidence to support its allegations.

Double Pay For Single Job, Key Government Official Benefit
[New Democrat]

• The Finance Ministry has confirmed that a select group of cabinet ministers and other top officials are benefiting from a dual remuneration scheme wherein they are paid lucrative sum.
• The pay in lucrative sums comes from both government and the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) capacity development fund.
• Reacting to a newspaper publication, which showed Minister Augustine Ngafuan’s mansion currently under construction, the ministry’s public affairs unit revealed in a statement that the minister is amongst few cabinet officials benefiting from the UNDP’s capacity funding scheme.
• It says the minister receives US$3,000 monthly from the UNDP scheme, arguing that such earning and those from government are the sources of funding enabling the construction of his palace.
• This means that the minister and others are being paid twice for a single job.
• The statement: “Members of Cabinet earn US$3,000 per month and Hon. Ngafuan has been a member of cabinet since January 2006....”

“We Will Vote People Oriented Leaders”…Unity Party Partisans Vow
[The Inquirer, The News, The Analyst, Heritage]

• Ahead of the merger convention scheduled to take place in Ganta, Nimba County this weekend, several delegates and partisans of the ruling Unity Party are pushing for the election of what they call political faces at the hierarchy of the new political institution.
• The partisans, many of whom are youths, described the pending convention as a crucial stage where the future of the three parties forming the merger would be decided, and by extension the future of Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as President of Liberia.
• The concerned partisans, who preferred anonymity, said they are going to the convention with the aim of putting in place a leadership that would be politically attractive and people oriented.
• They also called for change in personalities and strategies; something they said can only be assured if the right kind of leadership emerges from the convention.
• Several personalities including Cllr. Varney Sherman, former Internal Affairs Minister Ambulai Johnson, Assistant Labor Minister Cole Bangalu, Maryland Senator Gloria Scott, Mr. Clemenceau Urey, Montserrado Representative Dusty Wolokolie, former State Minister Morris Dukuly, former Assemblyman Isaac Mannah, former Cabinet Director Medina Wesseh and former Unity Party Secretary General Henry Fahnbulleh are expected to vie for several positions at the Liberia Action Party, Liberia Unification Party and the Unity Party merger convention expected to run from the 6th to the 9th of May in Ganta, Nimba County.

Star Radio (News monitored today at 09:00 am)
UN Under Secretary-General Meets President Sirleaf

Senate Suspends Threshold Debate, Honors High Court Citation Today
(Also reported Radio Veritas, Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

Senate Confirms Presidential Nominees, Defers and Denies Others
• The Senate has confirmed Harrison Karwea and Soko Sackor as Minister and Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Internal Affairs respectively.
• Also confirmed were Othello Gongar, Education Minister; Mator Kpangbai, Deputy Education Minister and Jerolimek Piah, Deputy Information Minister.
• Others are Grace Kpaan, Superintendent, Montserrado County; Billy Johnson, Chief Medical Officer, John F. Kennedy Medical Centre and several Township Commissioners.
• At the same time, the Senate has put a hold on the confirmation of Assistant Information Minister-designate Isaac Jackson and Assistant Gender Minister-designate Marthalyn Dagoseh.
• Also, the Senate has deferred the confirmation of Deputy Police Director-designate Al Karlay and Deputy Immigration Commissioner Col. Robert Budy.
• Some Senators are requesting a Police or judicial clearance from Mr. Karlay who was earlier dismissed from the Police because of a fuel scandal.
• In another development, the Senate has denied the confirmation of the Assistant Superintendent-designate of Grand Cape Mount County and two commissioners of River Gee County.
(Also reported Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

LBS Director General-designate finally rejected
(Also reported Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

Coalition Of ‘Five’ To Monitor Education Sector
• Five civil society groups in the country have formed a coalition known as the Coalition for Transparency and Accountability in Education.
• The group comprises the Centre for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia, the Liberia Education Technical Committee and the Federation of Liberian Youths.
• Other members of the coalition include the Liberia Economic Journalists Association and the Liberia Institute for Certified Public Accountants.
• According to an official of the group Thomas Doe-Nah, the coalition would monitor targeted procurement processes in the education sector, document best practices as well as bad practices in public procurement in the education sector and make recommendations for change.
• Mr. Doe-Nah believes a fraudulent procurement process in the education sector would adversely affect the atmosphere of learning in the classrooms, noting that the coalition would advocate for government to either prosecute or blacklist companies with questionable records in securing procurement contracts.
• Former Education Minister now Executive Director of the Liberia Education Trust Dr. Evelyn Kandakai launched the coalition Tuesday in Monrovia
(Also reported Radio Veritas, Truth FM, Sky FM, and ELBC)

Liberian Embassy in Ghana Faces Logistical Constraints
• The Liberian embassy in Ghana says it is faced with logistical constraints.
• Ambassador Rudolf Von-Balmoos said the embassy has only one vehicle, making it difficult to effectively operate.
• Ambassador Von-Balmoos however said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was working on improving the situation.
• At the same time, the Liberian Ambassador has praised government for the level of support the embassy is receiving.
• Ambassador Von-Balmoos also spoke of good bilateral relationship with the Ghanaian government.
• He disclosed partnerships for support to the education and military sectors are being concluded.
• The Liberian diplomat said a pending visit to Liberia by Ghanaian President John Atta Mills will serve as evidence of the good relationship between the two West African countries.

Truth FM (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Guinea Encroaches On Liberian Territory, Hoists Flag
• [SIC] The Guinean government has allegedly encroached on Liberian territory along the border town of Yealla, Lofa County.
• The Guinean flag according to reports can be seen across the river on the Liberian side of the border.
• Local residents say the Guinean flag was hoisted on the Liberian territory during the regime of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara.
• But speaking to newsmen in Zorzor, Lofa County President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the action of the Guinean government was against international boundary laws, which declare rivers as the legitimate demarcations for neighboring countries.
• President Sirleaf said she will properly review the country’s boundary document and subsequently deal with the matter diplomatically.

Justice Ministry Dismisses Newspaper Claims against Elite Presidential Guard

International Clips on Liberia

Liberia accuses Guinea of encroaching on its territory

APA-Monrovia (Liberia): There is looming conflict between the two Mano River Union member states of Guinea and Liberia, with reports that Guinea has allegedly encroached on Liberian territory near the border town of Yeala in northern Liberia. According to a report published by a local daily here on Wednesday, the Guinean flag can be seen hoisted along the border town of Yeala on the Liberian side of the border. The report quotes local residents as saying that the flag was hoisted during the regime of junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara. The report quotes Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as saying that the Guinea government’s action was against international boundary laws, which declare rivers as the legitimate demarcations for neighboring countries. President Sirleaf said she will properly review the country’s boundary document and subsequently deal with the matter diplomatically. The Liberian president however said Liberia currently enjoys friendly relations with the government led by current leader General Sekouba Konate. A similar boundary dispute is brewing between Sierra Leone and Guinea, with the Sierra Leone government complaining that Guinea has encroached on a portion of land in Sierra Leonean territory near the border town of Koindu. Since then, the town, which once boasted of being a major international market has been reduced to a local market, as Fulas from Guinea who once invested heavily in Koindu, have adopted a wait-and-see attitude.

President Sirleaf Receives UNITAID Proposal on Financing MDGs

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday received a proposal from the head of UNITAID, a United Nations entity, for Liberia to play a role in an innovative project to finance development and help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The President was also invited to join the UN Secretary-General and other world leaders in a campaign related to the MDGs, in connection with the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Goals, scheduled for September. The proposal was presented to President Sirleaf by Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy, UN Under-Secretary-General and Chairman of the Executive Board of UNITAID. Mr. Douste-Blazy spoke of the widening gap between developed and developing countries in the health area, and said UNITAID had come up with new thinking on how to address the problem. Concerning her participation in the MDG campaign, President Sirleaf, responding, said she was already involved in various health initiatives. Her Government’s commitment to the health sector was strong. She had committed to provide free basic health care for all in all Government public health facilities. Continuing, the President noted that malaria remains a big problem in Liberia, so the fact that UNITAID was addressing that health issue was a good thing. The innovative mechanism would be examined in this light.

Visiting Liberian delegation appeals for ideas to reduce poverty

A Liberia government delegation currently visiting with Liberians in the United States says the collapse of the Liberian economy can be attributed to the sustained period of instability in the country pre-dating 1990. Long before the scheduled 3 pm start of the program on Sunday, May 2, 2010, scores of Liberians from the tri-state area of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware converged on the venue of the town hall meeting in West Philadelphia. At the kickoff of the formal presentation, two senior government functionaries in the persons of the youthful Liberian Planning and Economic Affairs Minister Mr. Amara Konneh and the Director General of the Civil Service Agency Dr. C. William Allen briefed the gathering on the implementation of Government's Poverty Reduction Strategy Program also known as "Lift Liberia". The PRS has for 4 pillars which include enhancing Peace and Security, revitalization of the Liberian economy, improvement in Governance and Rule of Law and rebuilding of infrastructure and provision of Basic Services. The anxious and attentive gathering of Liberians listened first to Minister Konneh who is the National Coordinator of the Liberia Reconstruction and Development Committee (LRDC). He told the audience that it was Government's intention to tap into the Liberian Diaspora in North America, Europe and Africa and solicit their help in moving the country forward, adding, "Your remittances totaling between $80 - $100 million dollars has significantly helped the Liberian economy."

Somali pirates hijack Russian oil tanker: EU navy

London (Reuters) - Somali pirates hijacked a Russian-owned Liberia-flagged oil tanker off the coast of east Africa on Wednesday with 23 Russian crew members on board. "At the time of the attack, the Moscow University was heading east with a final destination of China," the European Union's EU Navfor naval force said in a statement. "The ship has a crew of 23, all from Russia, and all are believed to be well."

International Clips on West Africa


Guinea election won't be delayed, says junta chief

Conakry (Reuters) - Guinea's June 27 presidential election will not be delayed, the head of the West African country's ruling military junta said, amid growing concern that army factions will try to disrupt the vote. The reassurance comes under international pressure for a swift transition to civilian rule in the leading bauxite exporter, after decades of harsh military leadership spanning back to its independence from France in 1958. "No one has the power or the right within my immediate entourage, among my close collaborators, to prolong the transition or to delay elections for any reason," General Sekouba Konate said late on Tuesday on state television. "All of us are leaving after June 27, which will mark the end of our mission and our mandate," he said. Konate took over power in Guinea after former junta leader Moussa Dadis Camara was shot in the head by a would-be assassin in December and evacuated from the country for treatment.

OHCHR and Guinea sign agreement for presence

Source: United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

The UN Human Rights office and the Government of Guinea on 4 May in Geneva signed an agreement establishing OHCHR's presence in the West-African country. The new country office will work to promote and protect human rights in Guinea. The decision to establish an OHCHR country office in Guinea originates from a report by an International Commission of Inquiry mandated by the Secretary-General to investigate the 28 September 2009 violent suppression by Guinea's security forces of a mass demonstration against the military junta. The report confirmed the killing of 156 people and uncovered the rapes of women and the arbitrary arrest of political opponents as well as the looting of their homes. In view of the Commission's findings, the report recommended the establishment of the office as well as a series of reforms which were endorsed by the Secretary-General in January 2010. After signing the 'host country agreement' with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, African Integration and Francophonie of the Republic of Guinea, Mr. Bakary Fofana, the UN Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay said that "The new office will boost the UN's ability to cooperate with the Government in its efforts to promote and protect the human rights of all Guineans. It is a clear indication of the current Government's commitment to draw a line under the country's troubled history."

Ivory Coast

AU Peace and Security Council briefed on prevailing situation in Cote d'Ivoire

The Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union was briefed on the evolution of the situation in Cote d'Ivoire by the special representative of the Chairperson the Commission for Cote d'Ivoire, a statement released to media said on Tuesday. The briefing was also given to the permanent representative of Cote d'Ivoire to UN and diplomatic advisor to the president of Cote d'Ivoire, the ambassador of Nigeria, in her capacity as the representative of the country currently holding the Chairmanship of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) and the representative of the Commission of ECOWAS to the Commission of the African Union. The Council expressed its serious concern with the lack of progress in the process of exit from the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire since its meeting of March 5, 2010. According to the statement, the Council underscored the need for the country's parties to make every effort for the early completion of the process. The Council urged the parties to promote an environment conducive for the completion of this process and the holding of inclusive, free, transparent and fair elections. It particularly urged those to find solutions to outstanding issues, in conformity with relevant provisions in the Ouagadougou Political Agreement and Supplementary Agreements, the statement added.

Adviser Says President Gbagbo Not Cause of Ivory Coast Crisis

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo’s special adviser says the disarmament of rebel forces and the re-unification of the entire country are the two main conditions needed to be achieved before credible elections could be held. Lambert Bahi Serry said there is need for the international community including the African Union to help with the full implementation of the Political Agreement that was recently signed in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. “I think for the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to state that it means that they are in face with what the president has been saying over and over again that we need to have all these bodies like the African Union, the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States, the U.N. Security Council to put pressure on the signatories of the Ouagadougou agreement so that the last step the 20 percent that we have left to have free and fair elections are completed,” he said.

Sierra Leone

48 Hours Ultimatum to Leave Russia…Via Cairo and Ghana

A letter sent to Sierra Leone’s Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at Gloucester Street, from the Sierra Leone’s Embassy in Moscow written by H.E. Dr. Salieu Mohammed Turay has explained that he was not the one granted persona non- grata, but his son who was allegedly involved in a rape scandal in Moscow. According to Hon. Turay, he had warned his step son Teslime Wilson to refrain from associating himself with night clubs, friends and Russian girls. He said his step son proved to be recalcitrant and as he continues to encourage friends and Russian girls until late one night he was stopped from entering the diplomatic house with Russian girls and friends by the security. Though they were able to persuade the security officer to let them in he later called in the police who came and removed the night visitors from his residence. The Russian Ambassador further explained that preparation was made to repatriate Teslime Wilson to Freetown when he disappeared around 3.00 am, but was located at his hideout through the assistance of the Regional Police Headquarter and the Russian telephone provider, Megafon and was given 48 hours to leave Russia.

Monday, February 22, 2010

UNMIL Daily News

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, today (Monday 22nd February 2010) started a two-day visit to Liberia in order to launch a new project between his Africa Governance Initiative and President Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration The project which follows a request from President Johnson-Sirleaf will focus on the Ministry of State and will see a small team from the Initiative, under Mr Blair’s guidance, working side-by-side with counterparts in the Liberian government with the aim to build the capacity at the centre of the Liberian administration to deliver for its people. Mr Blair shares President Johnson-Sirleaf’s ambition to “Lift Liberia” and transform the country as envisioned in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy. During the visit, his first to Liberia, Tony Blair will take a part in a series of one-on-one meetings with the President. He will express his strong admiration for the President’s leadership and the progress being made. Tony Blair said: “President Johnson-Sirleaf is rightly regarded as one of Africa’s greatest leaders - that is why I am so pleased to be working with her.

International Clips on West Africa

Guinea leader Jean-Marie Dore pleads for election funds
Guinea urgently needs funds to be ready for an election due later this year, the prime minister has told the BBC. "We need to have money... [but] we will try to do our best to be ready," said Jean-Marie Dore. Election officials announced on Sunday that a vote would be held on 27 June - part of a deal brokered to secure a return to civilian rule. The military took over the country in December
2008, following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte. Junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara was shot and wounded in December, prompting crisis talks during which the military agreed to organise an election within six months. But Mr Dore told the BBC's Network Africa that the country had no funds for election materials or to conduct a census of Guineans living abroad. He said the government was working with international organisations such as the European Union, United Nations and regional body Ecowas.
"We are looking forward together the best way to organise fair elections," he said.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone: veteran war crimes lawyer tapped as top prosecutor UN-backed court

22 February 2010 - A United States attorney, who leads the prosecution against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the new Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal trying the worst acts committed during the decade-long brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Since 2007, Brenda Joyce Hollis has served as a principal trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), where she heads up the legal team prosecuting Mr. Taylor, who is under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prior to that, she was an expert legal consultant on international law and criminal procedure, training judges, prosecutors and investigators at courts and international tribunals in Indonesia, Iraq and Cambodia. Ms. Hollis has helped victims of international crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Colombia prepare submissions requesting investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Ivory Coast

Regional Mediator Holds Crisis Talks in Ivory Coast
Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore is in Ivory Coast for talks with government and opposition leaders about ways to resolve the country's political crisis. President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government and electoral commission weeks before expected presidential elections. President Compaore is in Abidjan trying to resolve what he says is the crucial issue of delaying the presidential vote - the dissolution of the Ivory Coast electoral commission. President Compaore says the appointment of an Independent Electoral Commission is essential to keep the process going forward. President Compaore met Sunday with the two leading opposition candidates for president, former president Henri Konan Bedie and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. Burkinabe Foreign Minister Alain Yoda read their joint communiqué.

Local Media - Newspaper
Former British Prime Minster is in the Country for a Two-Day Visit
(Daily Observer, The Inquirer, Public Agenda and New Republic)

 Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in the country on a two-day visit.
 While in Liberia, Mr. Blair will hold bilateral talks with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, Speaker Alex Tyler and the presiding officer of the Senate.
 According to a Foreign Ministry release, Mr. Blair will use his visit to launch a new project between his Africa Governance Initiative and the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.
 The former British Prime Minister will also hold talks with the Ministers of Public Works, Agriculture, Planning and Economic Affairs among others.

Liberia, Ghana Deepens Cooperation
(Daily Observer, The News, New Republic and Liberian Express)

 Liberia and Ghana have called for the deepening of cooperation between the two countries in the areas of trade, industry, investment, agriculture and the security sector. The decision followed discussions in Accra Saturday between Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and John Evans Atta Mills, during a two-day State Visit to Ghana.
 A Joint Communiqué issued at the end of the visit said the countries will reactivate the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation.
 According to an Executive Mansion release, the two Presidents welcomed the holding of the Ghana-Liberia Trade and Investment Forum, and urged business communities in both countries to promote meaningful investment and private sector participation in the region’s economic development.
 The two leaders acknowledged the need to entrench the culture of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the respect for human rights.

UN Envoy Lauds Ghana’s Move to Place Female Troops in Forward Positions
(Public Agenda and The Analyst)

 The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj, has praised the Republic of Ghana for deploying in the country the first group of female soldiers to forward positions in peacekeeping.
 SRSG Løj described the move as a milestone in the history of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and that of the UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.
 Speaking when she awarded peacekeeping medals to Ghanaian soldiers serving in UNMIL, Ms. Løj praised the courage and resolve of the 54 women in the 700-strong contingent.
 She expressed gratitude government of Ghana for the close collaboration it had extended to UNMIL and for availing the best of its military to serve the cause of peace.
 SRSG Løj then recalled the sacrifices Ghana has made in the country during the sub-regional group ECOWAS’ two peacekeeping missions that preceded UNMIL.

MAC Appeals For Collaboration ….Begins Partnership with CAFOD
(The Inquirer)

 The local media child rights campaigner, the Media in Advocacy for Children (MAC) has begun efforts aimed at forging partnership with the United Kingdom based Catholic Agency for Oversea Development (CAFOD) and other child rights advocacy groups.
 In a statement delivered on its behalf at the just ended CAFOD partnership conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, MAC Secretary General David N. Targbe said the organization cannot achieve all its goals without the support of other child rights related group, including CAFOD-UK, Don Bosco Homes, UNICEF, Save the Children and others.
 Mr. Targbe said MAC is determined to remain vocal on the condition affecting underprivileged children, orphans and street children but stressed that it cannot be done alone.

Delay of Human Rights Commission Undermines Human Rights, Accountability
(New Republic and The Analyst)

 The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) says the failure of the Liberian senate to confirm all presidential nominees to the Independent National Commission for Human Rights (INCHR) is a major setback to efforts to protect and promote human rights in Liberia, including moving forward the country’s transitional justice agenda.
 ICTJ’s Interim President, Hanny Megally said seven years after the end of the conflict, it is unfortunate that the INCHR, which is an important human rights protection mechanism mandated by the peace accord, is still not functioning.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Happy Birthday Sameria

Sameria Youngor Vernell Zinnah, you happily arrived in this world on February 18, 2009. february 18, 2010 will mark your one year making Daddy, Mommy & big brother Sam Zinnah Jr happy all day long. We are and will always be happy with you around. We love you and every bit and pieces of who you really and truely are. Happy birthday from all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The risk of impunity and Corruption in Liberia

By: Sam K. Zinnah

(Clayton, Delaware) As the much anticipated 2011 elections draws near in Liberia, works are beginning to come to lights from clever politicians. Those works will either serve as political points or political bullets for those smart politicians. Recently, a bill to repeal the more than seven year old TRC act was submitted to the Liberian Senate by Grand Gedeh County Senior Senator Isaac Nyenabo. Although Senator Nyenabo will not be contesting the 2011 senatorial race, his clever bill presentation may be highly influenced by interest to protect his alleged war criminal colleagues and later his own interest after his nine year tenure.
The questions that swing the chest of many Liberians and friends of Liberia are “while is this outspoken Senator just presenting this bill now when the TRC act is nearly a decade old? Wasn’t this Senator (Nyenabo) amongst the 30 or more senators that were swear into office in 2006? Is the Senator trying to design a clever impunity exit for him and his alleged war criminal colleagues? Is Senator Nyenabo representing his own interest or the interest of Grand Gedeh in the Liberian Senate?
The essence of representation is for the representative to express the view of those represented but this has not been in the case of Liberia. Political and self interests have been some of the biggest problems in the Liberian legislature thus leading serious political and patriotic sanity at the capital building in Liberia. Sanity ‘in this case’ is a matter of appropriateness of response to a choice between two choices of distinct interests, the first, a merely habituated sense, “certainty” and the second, reasons the lies within the domain of those efficiently universal principles which exist beyond the direct reach of human sense of imagination. To understand and investigate the reason(s) for writing a hatchet bill of impunity by a law marker, Liberian electorates must begin to evaluate the credential of people running for elected positions in their constituencies. Election of candidate(s) should be based on patriotism, accountability, moral and transparency in order to curtail the culture of impunity and the danger of running into yet another round of chaos in Liberia. Today, a commercial politician like Isaac Nyenabo is writing clever hatchet bill of impunity that would price tag his political journey but considering the level of electorate education in his country or county (constituent), Nyanebo might be rewarded ‘for contributing to the slaughtering of half a million Liberians during the fourteen year civil war’ by being re-elected to the post of Senior Senator for Grand Gedeh County.
There is sometime a tendency to forget or over look what should have been recalled as the plain fact of occurrences. Obviously, the end of alleged war criminals might be narrowing comes 2011 elections. The likes of Senators Price Johnson, Adolphus Dolo, Isaac Nyenabo, Saah Gbolee and other human hawks who shares intimacy through political war criminal acquaintance seems to be the covert hands behind this clever hatchet bill of impunity. They are all a case of a ‘zombie-like’ synthetic personality taken over by psychopathological equivalent of the body snatchers from outer space waiting to swallow any bills that will set them free even if it is at the detriment of the country.
Imagine the commonly heard expression both at home and in the Diaspora today, “alleged war criminals must face the full weight of the law”. Senator Nyenabo and his partners in crime may not feel that the concern of the Liberian people should be raised to address the impunity problems in Liberia. The culture of impunity may not be the direct factor of concern to Senator Nyenabo and his partners in crime but they are of decisive importance to Liberia in the struggle to define a solution to the culture of impunity in Liberia. Senator Nyenabo’s continues quotation of portion of the 1986 constitution as his defense for his clever hatchet bill of impunity is not a matter of facts but simply a ‘feeling’ which does not have any legitimate place in the efforts to address the relevant risk of impunity in Liberia. Nyenabo’s kind of emotion-driven is a major factor of mass political behavior motivated by a pathological use of the “1986 constitution of the Republic of Liberia” as substitute for rational behavior. The notion of bill to repeal the TRC act is distinct from reasoning which is a fatal contradiction in terms of the essence of his job as a law maker. This expresses a large overdose of feeling but virtually no exercise of reasoning.
Senator Nyenabo and his alleged war criminals watched many Liberians perish of hunger, especially those of tender years while they relaxed or hustle for political positions at the expense of the very people they victimized. Mothers “with scarcely strength to support themselves” carried their famished and malnourished infants in their arms and died with them. Many felt victim to stray bullets, cold, whilst others to intense thirst while the (now) Senator carry his body guards for his personal protection. Today, Isaac Nyenabo and others who overtly violated the rights of other Liberians are walking the streets of Liberia in grand style while their victims roam the streets in search of daily bread. They are referred to as “Senators and Representatives”. They have even become more corrupt to the extent that they did not see the TRC act that has existed since 2003 (three years before they were elected). It’s a disgrace to see a Senior Senator presenting a bill to repeal an act that is almost eight years old.

Risk of Corruption

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 (UNDP). According to the UN, 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 is vital. 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 Liberian economy.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Liberia to benefit from France’s “orange” telecom

By: Sam K. Zinnah

Clayton, Delaware.
What appears to be the biggest technology turning point for Liberia seems to be underway as “Orange” one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators is set to link Liberia to Europe via broad band connection. Orange is the brand used by France telecom for it mobile network operator and it internet service provider. Orange is the world’s fifth largest telecom operator with over 189 million as of 2009 (
The lack of fast and reliable internet connection is amongst the hurdles faced by Liberia in the creation of dynamic 21st century economies. If Liberia is to catch up with the rest of the world in education, trade, and investment, its leaders has to encourage investment in the area of modern technology and broadband communication system. In recent years, work has begun on initiatives to connect eastern and southern Africa-the only major populated region (Africa) with the least broadband network of fiber optic cables- to each other and the rest of the world through high speed internet lines.
After observing the submarine cable lights up of Kenya by South Africa’s SEACOM in July of 2009, this author began wondering about the possibility of connecting Liberia via broadband to the rest of the world. In the efforts to establish the possibility, an inquiry email was send to Washington DC based telegraphy researcher Alan Mauldin. When asked whether South Africa’s SEACOM “the company that undertook the multi million dollars project to link Kenya via broadband would extend operation to Liberia? Mauldin said SEACOM only serve the east coast of Africa and has no plans of expanding to the West Coast of Africa, however, France telecom “Orange” is planning to construct the “Africa Coast to Europe, (ACE) cable that would link Liberia as well as Gabon, Cameron, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote de’ Voire, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde, Mauritania, Morocco and South Africa to Spin, Portugal, and France. According to Mauldin, Orange has not sign a contract with any equipment suppliers yet but the company is hoping to have this submarine cable project completed by 2011. If all works smoothly, Liberia will become a member of the global electronic community. Mauldin also disclosed that there might be terrestrial networks plan to link Liberia to other countries that have access to existing submarine cables or other planned West Coast cables such as main one or the West Africa Cable System (WACES).
Broadband cost more in Africa than anywhere else in the world. According to the World Bank, consumers in Africa spent the average of USD$366.00 each month on speeder internet access in 2006. Users in India, meanwhile, paid $44.00 per month for the same service.
Gauging by the incredible spread of cell-phone use in Liberia, there is plenty of encouragement to enhance the communication system that will yield more revenue for the Government at the affordable cost for almost every household in Liberia. Over the years, Liberia’s cell-phone market has expanded faster than anyone could ever imagine ten years ago thus contributing immensely to the growth of the Country’s economy.

Security implications
Internet and cell phone introduction in Liberia over the past years has been perhaps the most outstanding in the area of communication in Liberia but the open sale of subscriber identification module (SIM) card has some serious security risk that is yet to be addressed by both the cell phone companies and the Liberian government. As with every field, technology or communication has it own advantages and disadvantages but great magnitude of advantages usually out weights it disadvantages.
With the level of crime rate in Liberia and looking at Liberia’s post-conflict status, it is highly important to pass a law mandating GSM companies and future land line phone companies in Liberia to collect data (including but not limited to: names, address, photograph, next of kin) of subscribers. Such information or data should only be collected and store by the GSM company (ies) concern. It is technically dangerous to have unregistered and activated SIM cards sold in the streets of Liberia when criminals are already strategizing robbery on the daily basis.
The case of Keith Jubbah’s murder is a clear example. To date, government investigators are yet to establish the actual perpetrators of Jubbah’s murder. Had SIM card identity been in place, the callers to Star radio and other media institutions would have been exposed by now.