Several lawmakers here have embarked on an endorsement spree of the Unity Party or UP presidential hopeful, Vice President Joseph Boakai’s 2017 presidential bid.
But what remains to be seen is whether their endorsements can be translated into votes as many of them face stiff oppositions in their respective districts. The endorsement of VP Boakai by some 31 members of the House of Representatives follows similar endorsement by about 19 Senators on the grounds of the Capitol Building two weeks ago.
Most of the lawmakers endorsing VP Boakai have been critical of President Sirleaf, it also remains to be seen how they will be able to detach VP Baokai from President Sirleaf’s alleged failures.
However, reading Mr. Boakai’s endorsement message Thursday, 25 May, Nimba County District #8 Representative Larry P. Yanquoi said for 14 years, Liberia has experienced political upheaval due in large measure to poor governance and bad leadership.
19 Senators had pledged their support to Mr. Boakai roughly two weeks ago, adding to the numerous endorsements that he continues to receive from different groups and individuals for his presidential bid here.
Rep. Yanquoi says the past 10 years have witnessed tremendous socio-economic and political transformation under the Unity Party or UP led government, suggesting that they have resulted in Liberia’s reemergence as responsible member in the comity of nations.
The Nimba lawmaker, on behalf of the pro - Boakai representatives noted that the vice president possesses the necessary moral, leadership and technical competencies to ensure economic prosperity for all Liberians.
The pro- Boakai representatives are contending that the vice president has the credentials to promote genuine reconciliation, a thriving democracy and sustained peace and security here.
Rep. Yonquoi claims that Vice President Boakai is the most experiencedand is the best alternative in preserving the gains realized which areaimed at further enhancing economic prosperity for all.
In response to the endorsement, Vice President Boakai recalled that just few days ago, 19 senators endorsed him, and it is now 31 representatives.
Recognizing that the lawmakers represent people at the Legislature, Mr. Boakai considers the endorsement by the lawmakers as showing that Liberians are now ready for change. The vice president suggests that Liberians are now saying they want peace, [reconciliation] and development.
For his part, House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay said when he took overas Speaker of the House of Representatives, he promised to ensure that theHouse of Representatives is united. He said the endorsement of VicePresident Boakai has been organized in a unique manner and he is willing to stand by the pro - Boakai camp legislators at all times and wish them well in their sojourn.
By Bridgett Milton-Edited by Winston W. Parley
Hell broke loose on Monday, 22 May along the Monrovia-Mount Barclay highway when an official of the opposition Liberty Party (LP) Emmanuel Lomax, and state security personnel clashed at a checkpoint during vehicle inspection, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Lormax and the security personnel engaged in heated verbal exchanges after a police officer claiming to be supervisor at the Mount Barclay checkpoint stopped a Liberty Party double cabin pick up in which he (Lomax) was riding, requesting documents for the party’s vehicle.
According to eyewitnesses, attempt by the LP official to explain to the police officer that the vehicle belongs to the Liberty Party, was not accepted by the LNP officer, who demanded that it be impounded until all relevant documents are produced.
Attempt by the vehicle to leave the scene was not possible as the police officer ordered his men, who were also operating with inspectors from the Ministry of Transport (MOT), to place a blockade in front of the vehicle to prevent it from leaving.
The action of the security officers and MOT inspectors aggravated the Liberty Party official, who disembarked the vehicle and insisted that the officers permit the vehicle to leave, but the police refused, allegedly ranting insults, something which resulted to serious commotion between Lormax and the officers thereby, blocking normal flow of traffic on the highway for several minutes to the incontinence of travelers out of town.
Witnesses narrate that the situation was however brought under control through the intervention of other security officers, who after observing the embarrassment that the impass was causing vehicle operators and passengers, plegeded with their colleagues to see reasons and allow the Liberty Party’s vehicle to leave the main route.
When Lomax was contacted for comment on the matter, he declined to speak to the press, while police spokesperson Sam Collins was said to be out of office when this paper tried to reach him.
Emmanuel Lomax is a former stalwart of jailed ex-President Charles Ghankay Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party, where he headed the NPP youth wing, National Patriotic Youth Council or NPYC. He left the NPP after Taylor’s departure and subsequently joined Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson to form the National Union for Democratic Progress (NUDP) which came third in the 2011 presidential elections.
However, following the elections, the NUDP self-destructed over financial fight, accusing PYJ of receiving money from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and expelling him.
In search of greener pasture, Lomax later moved to businessman Benoni Urey and founded the All Liberian Party, becoming its organizing chair, but lost that post during the party primary and eventually exited the ALP.Continuing his political navigation for bread and butter, he leaped to the financially potent Liberty Party of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine where he currently settles.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne
The Liberia National Police or LNP has issued warning to citizens here, mainly urging political actors to avoid putting people on the street to stage violent demonstrations, to avoid a “very strong” police force which claims it does not want to misuse its strength.
“We are not telling them because we’re afraid; we are telling them because we are very strong and we don’t want to misuse our strength that is why we are telling people to do away with violence”, Police Spokesman Sam Collins said Saturday, 20 May, as he proxy for Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman at a community policing forum in Clara Town.
“As we move to elections, we are against violence. We are encouraging our mothers, we are encouraging our sisters to avoid violence”, Mr. Collins continued at the meeting held to educate locals against Sexual Gender - Based Violence or SGBV. Already, Mr. Collins says police have been in the 15 counties here and met with 21 registered political parties, seeking their assistance to guide the political season by not putting people on the street for violence.
According to him, the meeting with the community residents including men, women, students and motorcyclists is part of a US$2.3m project sponsored by the Sweden Government in helping to build the LNP’s capacity in community policing in which experts come from Sweden to provide help.
In relations to SGBV issues here, the police spokesman says women’s rights are not supposed to be violated by their husbands and get locked up in rooms, while also encouraging community members to report to zone commanders or to LNP Headquarters any person found abusing women’s rights in the community.
In response to Montserrado County District #14 Women Chairperson Madam Satta Kamara’s concern that police are not working with women in the district in fighting gender issues and crimes, Mr. Collins agreed that the work of the police will be meaningless if they cannot work with the women.
“We cannot be successful if we cannot work with you. Our police work will be meaningless if we cannot work with the communities...” he says and commits the police to work with the women.
As Liberia moves towards elections this October, Mr. Collins says the police are concerned about women’s welfare and security, announcing that authorities at the LNP have ordered all zones and depots here to provide security for women in politics.
“Women in politics will be provided security as they go about campaigning. That does not mean that women who are not in politics will not be provided security”, he adds.
At the meeting were Swedish police experts that are working with the LNP here both on women issues and on general crimes.Those present included Project Manager Stefan M. Hagberg, Sup. Eva Lindwe, Forensic Expert RagnarNordanstg and Crime Expert Thomas Jarnaron.
By Winston W. Parley
It appears that the party of former Central Bank Governor, Dr. J. Mills Jones, is not relenting at all, despite a recent Supreme Court ruling that bars the former CBL governor from contesting in the 2017 presidential election.
Officials of his party, the Movement for Economic Empowerment or MOVEE says he will contest despite the ban.Party Chairman, Dee Maxwell SaaKemayah insists in an interview with this paper that Dr. Jones will be on the ballot paper for the Presidency comes October to the dismay of many detractors.
Section 5.1 and 2 of the Code of Conduct bar officials of government, who did not resign within two or three years as inscribed in the Code of Conduct prior to election’s year.
But Kamayan on Thursday, 18 May via mobile phone in Monrovia, said Liberians and opposition who do not want to see Dr. Joseph Mills Jones on the ballot, will be disappointed, as he (Jones) will be on the ballot paper.
He claims since the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Code Conduct, officials of government have developed the habit of grossly violating the law on a daily basis.He pointed to last weeks’ endorsement of Vice President Joseph Boakai by 19 senators on the grounds of the Capitol Building as a clear violation of the Code of Conduct, adding that some officials used their government assigned vehicles to troop to Gbarnga, Bong County to attend another endorsement ceremony of the Vice President, who is Standard Bearer of the ruling Unity Party.
Sounding very bitter on the phone, Kemayah pointed out that adherence to the Code of Conduct is collectively binding on all Liberians, including government officials.
He says it is embarrassing and unfortunate that persons, who see Dr. Jones as a potential threat against their presidential quest, are the ones spewing falsehood and misinterpretation of the Code of Conduct to match or fit their political taste.
Kemayah, reveals that three senior officials of government, who also hold key positions in the ruling Unity Party, are still enjoying their ministerial posts despite the ruling from the high court. He names the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Labour Minister Atty. NetoZarzarLighe, and Deputy Director General, Cole Bangalu, as those who are breaching the Code of Conduct.
He maintains that Dr. Jones is a law-bidding citizen and will never participate in anything that would thwart the laws of the land.His reaction comes in the wake of speculations that Cllr. Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party is in talk with Dr. Jones’ MOVEE for a possible coalition. The deal will see Dr. Jones taking his MOVEE to the grounds of the Liberty Party.
The deal is expected to see the MOVEE standard bearer taking a back seat, relinquishing his presidential bid, but his senior officials will play pivotal role in the elections through the Liberty Party.
Already, it is being speculated that Dr. Jones and Cllr. Brumskine are reportedly in direct talks on the planned marriage.But Kemayah dismisses the report as mere falsehood and calculations from detractors, who are using every available opportunity to create a cloud over Dr. Jones’ presidential bid.
He discloses that MOVEE is about to conduct primaries for aspirants vying for legislative seats, commencing May 23 to the June 15, across the country.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne
Political parties here are levying exorbitant fees of US$1,350 and above for party primaries, barely one month to the official start of campaign in July for the October elections, putting strain on some aspirants.
Reports from five political parties, including the ruling Unity Party (UP) of Vice President Joseph Boakai, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC)of Senator George Manneh Weah, the Alternative National Congress(ANC) of corporate executive Alexander Cummings, All Liberian Party (ALP) of businessman Benoni Urey, and the Liberty Party (LP) of Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine say these sky-rocking fees are being vigorously imposed on would-be contestants.
The situation has created anxiety among aspirants for legislative seats prompting many to migrate from one political party to another, where they believe their political aims could be achieved.
Speaking to this paper on Wednesday, 17 May at the head office of the ANC, a top official of the party said the party national executive committee has agreed that each aspirant for the House of Representatives pays a non-refundable sum of US$1,350 for registration. The amount is inclusive of the US$500 being charged by the National Elections Commission as registration fee for representative candidates.
Our ANC source, however, said those aspirants, who may lose the primaries, would be reimbursed of the NEC’s fees, while the rest of the funds will be used for operational costs.
When the headquarters of the CDC was contacted on the exorbitant fees, national secretary general, Augustus JangaKowo, said that the CDC had agreed that its contestants paid US$1,250, with no clause for reimbursement of NEC’s fees for those aspirants, who may not be successful. Information gathered suggests that over 100 persons have already registered for the CDC’s primaries scheduled for end of May. If the registered figure for the CDC were something to go by, then the party has generated about US$125,000 already, while registration is still ongoing.
For the Liberty Party, vice chairman for political affairs, Mr. Abraham Darious Dillon, through the LP national executive committee announced that all aspirants shall recruit 5,000 persons in the party in order to gain a slot for legislative seat. However, this paper reliably gathers that the Liberty Party is also charging US$1,300 for each contestant going for primaries. Taking into account the electoral process of Liberia which is money driven, an aspirant could spend very close to US$2,000 to acquire a slot.
National Secretary General Jacob Smith, who spoke to this paper via mobile, denied the report, saying that the executive committee is still holding consultations on requirements for primaries.
He reveals that the party will soon release its requirements to the public prior to the conduct of its primaries early June. For the ruling Unity Party, sources say that the party is charging a non-refundable lump-sum of US$1,500 per aspirant. But the Director for Press and Public Affairs, Mr. Mo Ali, claims the governing party is still discussing the matter and has not reached any logical conclusion.
The All Liberian Party through its national chairman, Mr. Theodore Momoh, told this paper on Wednesday at the ALP headquarters that the party’s committee responsible for such matter has proposed US$500 per aspirant, pending approval of the executive committee, adding that the country is faced with serious economic challenges, and that levying high fees is another means of denying rightful persons an opportunity to represent their people at the House of Representative of the Liberian Legislature.
Chairman Momoh added that the party will demand that all contestants are active due payers, with good financial record and regularly participates in the party’s activities.
Meanwhile, all parties contacted said primaries are cost intensive, including transportation of delegates, feeing and per diems, which are mostly shouldered by the party, noting that one of the ways political parties generate funding is through aspirants’ fees.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne
The United States Health Secretary Dr. Tom Price says the Donald Trump Administration is committed to working with Liberia to address there maining challenges in Liberia’s recovery programs from the devastating Ebola crisis.
Dr. Price told a joint press conference with Liberia’s Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn on Wednesday afternoon, 17 May at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County that the US looks forward to continuing to work side by side with Liberia to improve disease prevention, enhance laboratory services and maintain a rapid and effective disease response services here.
“Together, we have worked hand - in - hand to fight the tragedy of Ebola, and in the process have succeeded in improving the health system here in Liberia”, he says. He was addressing journalists minutes after meeting with President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf at the airport’s VIP Lounge before her departure to the United States.
Dr. Price says he and his delegation have come here to promote globalhealth security and to express the Trump Administration’s appreciationfor the great work being done here in Liberia.
The US Health Chief has expressed appreciation to President Sirleaf’ stremendous leadership and robust response to several US government agencies and other international partners during the Ebola crisis to help move Liberia to a successful containment of Ebola.
He says Liberia now has many public health systems and the resources that it didn’t have before as a result of the work done here following the Ebola response. The visiting US health official adds that these systems and the people who are now trying to use them are key to achieving lasting national health security here.
Dr. Price notes that the partnership between Liberia and the United States has been on a mutual collaboration and has had a lasting effect of stability [on] the health and well being of Americans and Liberian salike.
According to him, the US government knows that by ensuring that allpublic health systems around the world are prepared to prevent,respond and control disease outbreaks at local levels, “we” can thenreduce them at international levels.
As such, he says together, “we’re” working to improve the health system of Liberia while helping to maintain the health security of the United States and the rest of the world.
On behalf of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, he thanked Liberians for the work they are doing and for the successful partnership they have been able to build with the United States.
Dr. Price particularly thanked President Sirleaf for the opportunity he had to visit Liberia, for her hospitality and leadership, and thanked her health team, particularly Health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn and the people of Liberia.
He also thanked thanked US Ambassador to Liberia Ms. Christian Elder and her Embassy team, the US Center for Disease Control and other US Public Health Services Staff here, saying their work to promote global health security and commitment to find and stop disease outbreaks here and around the world whether natural, accidental or deliberate, keeps Americans and others around the world safe.
Liberia’s health Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn says “The proliferation ofprojects and partnerships funded by the U.S. Government isrepresentative of rich and robust collaboration”.
Dr. Dahn says Dr. Price’s visit here marks an important point in thehistory and development of Liberia’s health system and demonstratesthe continuous support to its health agenda and the historical tiesbetween the two nations.
In reflecting on Liberia’s progress in the health sector, Dr. Dahn says the evidence on the country’s advances can be seen in the quick and effective containment of Ebola flares up experienced in early 2016 and the meningoccal septicemia outbreak that recently emerged in Sinoe County, southeastern Liberia.
By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah
Over three thousand former workers of the Liberia Company [LIBCO] which subsequently became COCOPA Rubber Plantation and now Nimba Rubber Incorporation [NRI] are threatening to boycott the October polls in demand of US$2 Million severance benefits allegedly owed them by the company.
The ex-employees worked for the company from 1990 to 2013. Speaking to this paper, the head for the group, Mr. George Kruah said the threat is based on alleged failure of the plantation management to pay them their benefits.
According to him, the Eight Judicial Circuit Court in Sanniquellie, Nimba instructed the management to pay the former employees severance, but it has failed to do so.
Mr. Kruah continues that documents in their position were issued under the signature of ex- plantation manager Harrison Karnwea, now vice standard bearer of the Liberty Party.
He claims Mr. Karnwea, who is also former managing director of the Forestry Development Authority, is award of their plight, adding that he (Karnwea) even signed some of their documents, with expectation that the management would be able to pay them off.
At a meeting over the weekend in Gbaygblin Town near the plantation along the Ganta-Saclepea highway in Nimba, they resolved to boycott the pending elections until the company pay them severance benefits, totaling US$2 million.
Our correspondent says the Cocopa Rubber Plantation had witnessed several bloody demonstrations over employees’ salary and benefits in the past.
When contacted, former manager Mr. Harrison Karnwea declined to speak to our correspondent, saying “You are not a good Journalist, you are not the only journalist, you can record me and go ahead to write what you want to write.”
By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne