President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says all “political candidates” will participate in the October 2017 presidential and legislative elections, adding that the process will be successfully [conducted], though she did not make any further clarity whether or not those battling against a Code of Conduct here are inclusive.

“... And that all Liberians will participate and will exercise their choice. And I believe that our leaders, our political candidates will all be a part of it and will ensure that the process is successfully [conducted], allowing Liberians for the first time in 48 years to make a transition from one elected president to another elected president”, Mrs. Sirleaf said Friday, 26 May at a Press Stakeout with visiting Ghanaian President Nana Akufo - Addo in Monrovia.

This is Mrs. Sirleaf’s first public comment on the controversial Code of Conducts which appears to hook several government officials, most of them past and present including former Central Bank of Liberian Governor Dr. J. Mills Jones.

The Supreme Court upheld the Code of Conduct as legal and binding sometimes in March this year, a ruling that has given rise to public skepticisms about the qualifications of some aspirants-particularly presidential aspirants.

Parts V section(1) a, b, and c, of the Code of Conducts bars executive appointees-meaning government officials appointed by the President from seeking elected offices. It states that those desiring such move should resign two or three years ahead.

The president’s comment came as part of her response to a question with respect to how Liberia can learn from Ghana’s democratic process and was not specifically concerning the Code of Conduct.

During her early response to the particular question, Mrs. Sirleaf said she believes that every Liberian wants to see a peaceful transition coming out of the October elections, on grounds that “no Liberian wants to go back to those dark days when we all suffered”.

“With that, I believe the processes we have on, the consultative processes that involve political leaders coming together, being able to commit themselves to being a part of a free and fair election which must be indeed free and fair”, she said.

Mrs. Sirleaf had earlier thanked her Ghanaian counterpart Akofu-Addo for coming and particularly for the contributory role Ghana has played in ECOWAS and what the two countries have been able to achieve in promoting regional cooperation and integration.

Mrs. Sirleaf says “we” look forward to strengthening those ties under the leadership of Mr. Addo, expressing hope that his visit here will be able to move the relationship on to a greater level.

In sharing the Ghanaian experience on elections, Mr. Addo cited the commitment of the people to the process, suggesting that if the people are [committed] to their democratic values and the principles of democratic accountability, whatever problem can be overcome.

The Ghanaian president thanked Mrs. Sirleaf and the people of Liberia, saying he came here to renew the ties between Ghana and Liberia, to promote the ties, expand them and at the same time to “give us some opportunity” to talk about issues confronting the regional body ECOWAS and share experiences on how the community can be strengthened. A State Dinner was held for Mr. Addo on Friday night before departing Liberia on Saturday evening.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Liberty Party Standard Bearer, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine says lawmakers endorsing the candidacy of Vice President Joseph Boakai are afraid of him.“They are afraid of me because I have promised to cut their salaries, benefits and special allowances. This is something I will do if given the presidency come this October’s election. The lives of our people should be improved during our administration and one way to change things for the better is huge salaries cut,”Brumskine emphasized during a visit to several towns in Bomi County over the weekend.

He explains that the lawmakers feel more secure with Boakai on grounds that they all are enjoying the spoils of the moment, while millions of Liberians sleep on empty stomach.

Speaking in Gbeh Town, Senjeh, Bomion 27 May to hundreds of supporters, Cllr. Brumskine further notes that public teachers and health workers’ salaries will be of concern to a Liberty Party-led government.

The LP Standard Bearer, who had earlier visited Ganta, Nimba County on May 26, for a church leadership seminar, continues that the Liberian government is losing about 30 percent of its revenue to corruption annually, adding that such funding should have been used to introduce school feeding program for kids, who are spending their time in the classroom.

According to him, his administration will fight to reduce corruption by 50 percent, if not total elimination of the deadly anti-developmental disease, but did not explain how.
He encourages Liberians to elect leaders, who would create an enabling environment where every Liberian can make life for themselves and have the same opportunities for education, health, and employment.

He notes that Liberians are poor because of bad leadership and lack of love for the people, who voted those leaders to power. Brumskine told Liberians that his source of strength if elected President,would be in the agricultural sector, promising that a Liberty Party government would serve as guarantor for citizens, who want private banks for agricultural purposes with low interest rate.

He observes that it is very challenging for Liberians to access loan from private banks in the face of high interest rate, while government sits back and watch the show, and expect Liberian-owned businesses to effectively develop. On education, Cllr. Burmskine promises to review the national educational curriculum and make huge improvement that would match today’s realities.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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


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