Xi calls Trump to urge restraint over North Korea: Chinese leader pleads with President to avoid 'exacerbating' nuclear tensions after warning that US armed forces are 'locked and loaded'

Chinese President Xi Jinping made a plea for cool-headedness over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday, urging both sides to avoid words or actions that could worsen the situation.

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Time to work

President-elect George Weah stresses here that it is time for the three branches of the Liberian government to work actively for the betterment of the Liberian people.

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Lonestar Cell MTN empowers market women

Liberia’s giant mobile telecommunication network Lonestar Cell MTN has embarked on a campaign of empowering market women in Montserrado County and its environs with its mobile money transaction.

The Company says the campaign is intended to help buttress efforts of market women across the country, because often they are bread winners for their respective families hence, the opportunity was necessary to enable them learn about the mobile money transaction.

Speaking to reporters recently at Old Road Market situated in Old Road community, Lonestar Cell Senior Mobile Money Manager Massa Dennis said, “Our market women initiative is geared towards empowering women in terms of financial inclusion, giving them the means to save their money conveniently to realize their daily income without difficulties.”
Massa continues, “In order for the market women to be able to save their money, and know much about this mobile money campaign, we set up an educational form for them so every market woman, who participates in this project, and do a minimum transaction within a one month period - that woman stands a chance to get 2000,000 Liberian dollars that would help to boost her business.”

She said the company is carrying out the initiative for about 1000, 000 market women in Montserrado and its environs, adding “This is not our first time providing such an opportunity; last year we did the same for the wheelbarrow union, where we gave out 50 wheelbarrows to the union and this year we thought to do seminar thing for the market women.”
According to Madam Dennis, Lone Star Cell Mobile Money is trying to empower grassroots beneficiaries across the country, saying “We registered them for mobile money, where they can easily pay for the market through the same mobile money, in order for them to know this we provided one month extensive training for these women to be able to use mobile money, and its benefits.”

The Mobile Money Manager further explained that the service is for the poor, and that is exactly why their strategy is to get to grassroots people that are in need of these kinds of assistance, to empower them. She noted that most market women don’t have access to banks, so mobile money helps in that direction to save their money, to purchase their market, and to for them to send money to their families in other counties.

“We have 10 agents at this old road market where these women can have access to mobile money services, we have also set up a platform where an agent can bring her friend; they stand a chance to a thousand plus for that recruitment.
Also speaking to reporters, one of the marketers described mobile money service as important, because according to her, they are the ones in business.

She said customers often buy from her business, using mobile money promotion, but the challenge that marketers face is lack of phone.
Madam Veronica Thompson noted that the issue of phone remains a serious challenge for those of them involved in the mobile money transaction.
“We want to appreciate Lonestar Cell MTN for bringing this service to us, no one knew about using mobile money to purchase goods, but over the past weeks, I can say many of the women in this market are using it, but we also want to call on Lonestar Cell to buy us phones as well”, she pleaded. Editing by Jonathan Browne

House committee endorses Census for 2018

A joint committee of the House of Representatives has endorsed an ActAuthorizing the Executive Branch of Government to conduct the 2018National Census, with a request made for its timely passage into.

The Bill was forwarded to the Joint - Committees on Judiciary, Ways,Means, Finance and Development Planning, Good Governance and Electionsfor proper scrutiny with mandate to submit findings to the Plenary within two weeks.

Having conducted a major public hearing, the Joint – Committeereturned with a recommendation that the timely passage of the Billwould pave the for the smooth and effective conduct of the 2018National Census.

“... [We] are therefore craving the indulgence of the Honorable Houseof Representatives to immediately pass this instrument into law. TheCommittee thinks that the timely passage of this Bill will pave theway for the smooth and effective conduct of the 2018 National Census”,the Committee said in its report.

It noted that the results of the of the Census will be used [to] setthe developmental agenda and constituency delineation of the country. The Chairman on Judiciary Rep. Worlea - SaywahDunah said the LiberiaInstitute of Geo-Information Services or LIGIS represented by theExecutive Director Dr. Edward Liberty told the committees that censusis the largest data collection exercise in the country and it is oftendone every ten years.

He said Dr. Liberty informed the body that without a Census Act,results from census conducted are not accepted by internationalpartners. Rep. Dunah told his colleagues that LISGIS has indicatedthat the 2018 Census will pave the way for the production of thenational identity card for Liberians.

Additionally, Chairman Dunah says the National Elections Commission orNEC has expressed willingness to work with LIGIS in ensuring that the2018 National Census is conducted.

He reported that NEC has stressed the need for coordination andtimely funding to effectively conduct the 2018 census, warning thatdelay in funding could cause double funding in the process.

Representing the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning,Assistant Minister for Planning Mr. AdolphusForkpah said the Ministrywill work along with LIGIS to source funding for the 2018 NationalCensus.

Rep. Dunah said at the end of the hearing, it was the recommendationof the Joint - Committee that the bill be passed into law immediatelyto enable the relevant institutions get prepared for the 2018 NationalCensus.
By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Winston W. Parley

NPA commences training for Seafarers

The Management of the National Port Authority (NPA) has begun aweek-long marine training to equip seafarers of the entity withknowledge in mandatory courses as required by the International Maritime Organization (IOM).

The IOM, known as the Inter-Governmental Maritime ConsultativeOrganization until 1982, is a specialized agency of the United Nationscomprising of 172 member states responsible for maintaining acomprehensive regulatory framework to govern shipping activities.

The training, which is being conducted jointly by coordinators fromthe Regional Maritime University of Ghana and the Liberia Red Cross, is expected to enhance understanding of seafarers in IOM’s required courses of Fire Fighting and Survival at Sea Techniques.

The exercise, which was launched by NPA Managing Director DavidWilliams at a local resort in Thinkers Village outside Monrovia onMonday, will also enhance the understanding of seafarers in Personal Safety and Social Responsibility, Elementary First Aid and SecurityDuties and Awareness, among others.

IOM Mandatory Courses are programs of model training developed in 1978out of suggestions from a number of member governments followingthe adoption of the International Convention on Standards of Training,Certification and Watch-keeping for Seafarers.

Managing Director Williams said certificates which will be given the participants at theend of the training are the bare minimum required by the IOM forseafarers to man vessels worldwide.

Williams recalled that the NPA in 2008 conducted similar training forseafarers, adding, "The certificates lasted until 2013 before theyexpired.”

He noted that it is a matter of urgency for the NPA to conduct thetraining at this time as many of the participants will be responsiblefor manning vessels like the Two Thug, one Pilot boat and one Patrol boat obtained recently by the NPA under the auspices of the KuwaitiFund loan agreement.

"The next phase of this training will be short courses to upgrade thelicenses of our marine personnel, pilots, engineers, deckhands, amongothers’, he added and explained, “This phase will take months and will be done in segments since wecannot take all of the personnel to training at the same time."

Police chief warns officers

Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue has announced that strong measures will be executed against any police officer who will be caught soliciting bribe from people here.

He warned during a press conference held in Monrovia Thursday, 8 March that if the public report acts of police officers’ misbehavior, police authorities will take some measures against officers involved.

He said at the news conference held at the Ministry of Information that police should be seen as people to whom citizens run for rescue when they are troubled.
But he challenges citizens to be steadfast in their complaints to enable the police force to be more vibrant. Col. Sudue argues that police depend on citizens to give information on a daily basis with respect to the habit of police officers, backed by evidence so as to reduce corruption within the police force.

The Liberia National Police (LNP) boss pledges that his administration will do all it can to help mitigate the issue of corruption within the police force. “Though we all are aware that fighting corruption is a global problem, but we will [make] sure to put it under control at the LNP,” Mr. Sudue promises.

He believes that the way to that is to make sure that police officers do not get involved in taking [money] from taxi drivers or others.But he says he is aware of people who are out there dressed in police uniform that are assigned to various places extorting money from people.

Mr. Sudue says further that they carry on unnecessary arrests of taxi drivers, even when their documents are correct. He warns such officers involved in these practices that police authorities will not condone their deeds under his watch.

Mr. Sudue promises that officers in traffic and on patrol will be monitored, and tells the public that this a call to them to report police officers that are getting involved in these things.

He says he work hard in making sure that any officer that will be caught will bear the full weight of the law through the Professional Standard Division (PSD) at the LNP.

According to him, some of the 150 days deliverables of the LNP will enhance police visibility in Montserrado and other areas to curtail criminals harassing people.
Col. Sudue notes that the LNP has put into place basic patrol at night to scare away armed robbers where there will be a vehicle serving as backup.

Meanwhile Col. Sudue says the LNP is embarking on a program to appreciate police officers who have worked endlessly in performing their duties.He says before such a program is done, the police have to put into place a system where officers will be awarded and certificated in the form of officer of the week, month, and the year.

According to Col. Sudue, the officer of the year program is a program that will claim the attention of the public, saying when officers work a year without appreciating them, it does not boost their morale.-

By Lewis S. Teh-Edited by Winston W. Parley

Primary fear grasps CDC lawmakers

An insider of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Congress for Democratic Change has hinted this paper of alleged plans by members of the executive committee to unilaterally avert the party’s nationwide primaries for individuals who have expressed interest in contesting on the party’s tickets for representative seats in the October 10 elections.

According to the source, dozens of incumbent CDC lawmakers seeking reelection are raising US$35,000 each to prevent primaries in their respective electoral districts to enable them have an easy ride back to the Capitol.

Some of the incumbent lawmakers who allegedly took their portion of the collection to the head of the committee overseeing the impending primaries in April former Speaker Alex Tyler, were rejected.

This writer did not obtain an official confirmation from Representative Tyler, an associate of the CDC said the LPDP leader rejected the contributions because he wants all those contesting; including incumbent lawmakers to submit to primaries come April.
Our source said most of the incumbent CDC lawmakers seeking re-election have smiled the ‘rat’ that they might not be re-elected by their constituents for poor performance.
Reports say there is strong supposition to any attempt by the executive committee to avert the pending primaries, particularly among new aspirants who have declared their attention to contest on the CDC tickets.

They have allegedly threatened that any attempt by the Executive Committee to ward off the party primaries will be strongly resisted. Dozens of citizens from across the country have declared their intention to contest for legislative seats on the party’s tickets, but they will have to go through a primary to qualify them in their respective districts for the showdown.

Some incumbent lawmakers from the party have allegedly begun to confide in residents of their districts that they will get re-elected because the CDC will not hold primaries.
But reacting to these claims, the Secretary General for the Coalition for Democratic Change – a conglomeration of the Congress for Democratc Change, National Patriotic Party and Liberia People Democratic Party, JangaKowo said there will be primaries before the October 10th polls especially, for those who want to vie on the CDC ticket.

He disclosed that each member party of the Coalition will conduct separate primaries to elect candidates on their respective tickets to field them in the national election.
Mr. Kowo, who did not say when these primaries will be held, also disclosed that in the case where in there is no contestant for the Coalition in general, the three political institutions would jointly conduct primary for anyone interested in contesting on the Coalition ticket.
However, he could neither deny nor confirm report that certain incumbent lawmakers of the Congress for Democratic Change have provided money to avert the party primary from going on.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Guinea Bissau High on ECOWAS’ Agenda

Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Mr. Lewis G. Brown, has told Members of the United Nations Security Council that in continued efforts at finding an amicable and peaceful resolution to the crisis in the West African nation of Guinea Bissau, it has been placed high on ECOWAS’ agenda.

According to a dispatch from New York, in a statement delivered at a meeting of the UN Security Council concerning Guinea Bissau on Tuesday, February 14, Ambassador Brown, speaking on behalf of the Chair of ECOWAS’ Authority, Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said that at a most recent meeting on the margins of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, the ECOWAS Commission discussed ways to continue the mediation efforts, including the continuation of support for the Mediator, His Excellency President Alpha Condé of Guinea.

“The President of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Ernest BaiKoroma has been designated to assist President Condé in the mediation considering that President Condé has also assumed the Chairmanship of the African Union,” he said, adding that a meeting of the PAIGC is scheduled to be convened in Conakry, Guinea, very soon, by President Condé.

“The challenge which now faces the Government of Guinea Bissau is to have its development plan endorsed by the Parliament, which if unsuccessful, would mean that the newly appointed Prime Minister would have to resign,” Mr. Brown disclosed; noting that this is a source of growing tension between the Speaker of the Parliament and the Executive Branch.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Brown stressed that the ECOWAS Authority calls on all parties and stakeholders in Guinea Bissau to remain engaged and to support the ongoing peace efforts and collaborate for the passage of the development agenda which will trigger the release of the donor funding required to assist in meeting the needs of the people of Guinea Bissau.

Giving a retrospection account of reconciliatory engagements since the signing of the Conakry Agreement on the political impasse in that country, he told the UN Council Members that in furtherance of the implementation of the Agreement, the Authority of Heads of State of ECOWAS tasked Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Chairperson of the Authority, to follow up with all stakeholders on their commitments.

“In light of this mandate, Her Excellency led a Presidential Mission to Guinea Bissau on 5th November, 2016, consisting of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Marcel de Souza, the Minister of State of Guinea, YousoufKiridiBangoura, representing President Alpha Conde, ECOWAS’ Mediator, along with other officials of ECOWAS, the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, amongst others. This mission was to provide the opportunity to advance progress in resolving the crisis.”

Ambassador Brown told the UNSC that ECOWAS recognizes that the current political stalemate undermines Guinea Bissau's socio-economic development, and is a threat to peace and stability in that country, and by extension, the entire West African sub-region.

The Liberian UN Permanent Representative further told the Council that the Authority of Heads of State and Governments of ECOWAS remains engaged and seized of finding a lasting solution to the political impasse in Guinea Bissau. “The failure to implement the Conakry Agreement of October 14, 2016, signed by all stakeholders, and the contentious appointment of a non-consensual Prime Minister remain issues of grave concern in advancing the peace efforts,” he indicated.-Press release

Another top UP stalwart quits

Barely two days after the resignation of Unity Party executive Harrison Kanwea, who has subsequently taken up membership with the opposition Liberty Party, another senior UP member has tendered in his letter of resignation from the ruling establishment.

The governing party’s former senior vice chairman Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh, on Wednesday, 15 February officially announced his resignation from the party, ending speculations that he was being considered for running mate to Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai, currently the flagbearer of the UP.

Amb.Sulunteh, who also recently resigned his post as Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States and Canada, said he took the decision to enable him have an independent mind about his future endeavors.

In a communication to the ruling party dated February 15, the former Ambassador writes, “This letter comes to inform you of my decision to disengage with the Unity Party effective today, February 15, 2017. This decision is predicated on the need for me to have an independent mind on my future endeavors.”

Addressing a news conference in Monrovia on Wednesday, February 15, Ambassador Sulunteh said, over the years, the Unity Party has experienced lapses in the implementation of its own promises.

“When some of us pointed to these lapses and proffered suggestions, we were branded as internal opposition in the Unity Party. Be that as it may, we did not waiver in our effort to support the party. For example, in March and April, 2015, we used our two months home-leave and conducted an analytical assessment of the party in seven of the 15 counties in Liberia at our own expense,” he noted.

Sulunteh recounted that during the 2011 general and presidential elections, when he declared his bid for the senatorial race, the Unity Party created a situation as if he and former superintendent Ranney Jackson were fighting in Bong County, saying, “The party through its standard bearer asked Sulunteh to abandon his senatorial bid to allow Mr. Jackson to contest on the ticket of the party. The result was a loss.”

He disclosed that again in 2014 during the Special Senatorial elections, when he positioned himself for the second time for the senatorial race, he was advised that it was in the best interest of the country to continue the good work with the American people in mobilizing much needed support for the Ebola fight.

“For the sake of our country, we did not contest again, which was serious disappointment to our many supporters. As if, this is all that was meant for Sulunteh in the Unity Party, there is now an artificial rift being created between Ambassador Sulunteh and Dr. Henrique Tokpa for a possible vice presidential pick, which continues to hang a dark cloud over Bong County,” he told the news conference.

He then expressed thanks and appreciation to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the level of support given him during his service in the party and the government and wished Vice PresidentBoakai, now Standard Bearer best of luck in his endeavors as he contests for the Liberian presidency in the October 10th elections.

The governing UP has been beset by exodus of senior officials notably beginning with Mr. Musa Hassan Bility, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s campaign manager for Montserrado County, Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Harrison Kanwea and the latest, Amb. Sulunteh.

Responding to the growing exit on Tuesday upon his return from the United States, UP Standard Bearer Vice President Joseph Boakai said any partisan has a choice to remain with the ruling establishment or leave to pursue his or her dreams.

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

Judge warns against electoral violence

Barely eight months to the October 10th elections, the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Margibi County hasseriously warned Liberians to refrain from messing up the pending exercise.

The Resident Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit Court in Margibi Mardea T. Chenoweth gave the warning on Tuesday, 13 February in Kakata when she officially declared the court opened for the February Term for normal business transactions, speaking on the topic, “The Judiciary Roles during Elections.”

Judge Chenoweth said people must not mess up the electoral process by doing things that are not proper, because the whole world is too busy with its own problems than to look to Liberia.

“We have to do all we can for ourselves to ensure that the elections remain very peaceful for the smooth transition we all yarn for”, she emphasized.  She said citizens must respect one another and the law of the land to avoid any form of conflict, adding that the elections will be held in October and it is the responsibility of all Liberians to maintain themselves by abiding by the rules of the National Elections Commission or NEC and desisting from acts that provoke dissatisfaction, injustice and conflict.

“We cannot and will not allow anything to disturb the peace we are enjoying. Therefore, let us go to the various assigned centers and register to enable us to vote for the candidates of our choice in a peaceful and respectful manner so that we may have a peaceful transition as was done in Ghana. We cannot afford to mess up our election process by doing things that are not proper because the whole world is too busy with its own problem to look to our way”, Judge Chenoweth said.

Meanwhile, the opening ceremony was attended by county authorities, lawyers, court staffs and Liberians in general. The court usually opens four times in a year, beginning with the February Term and ending with the November Term.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne


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