Politics

Ellen echoes high telecommunications roaming charges

Liberian President and Chairperson of ECOWAS Mrs. Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf says the sub-region’s telecommunication experts must address one key situation regarding the high telecommunications roaming charges that ECOWAS citizens face when commuting across the region.


She was speaking Thursday morning, 27 April in Monrovia while opening the 14th Annual General Meeting of the West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly or WATRA at the Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor.

“One key situation to consider in this regard is how to address the high telecommunications roaming charges our people face when commuting across the region”, said Mrs. Sirleaf.

Liberia’s Telecommunications Authority or LTA is hosting delegates from ECOWAS countries in the telecommunication sector, including WATRA’s Chairman Gaoo Gomes and other Executives, among others.

Mrs. Sirleaf says, she is interested in practical ways to effectively address the infrastructure gaps that are still affecting the affordability of services across the region.

While acknowledging developments in the region, she suggests that there are specific targets that must be met as a people, challenging regulatory and policy experts to finalize projects that are being worked on for the good of ECOWAS.

She says over the last few years in ECOWAS’ ICT sector, cross-border connectivity has increased, driven by the need to ensure harmonization and standardization of services towards creating a common market.

Mrs. Sirleaf adds that member countries have shown commitment to domesticate ECOWAS Supplementary Acts into their respective national laws, aimed at creating a seamless operational environment that adds value to the development of the ICT sector.

“Liberia’s delegations to ECOWAS forums have indicated that there is a Market Analysis and Business Model being considered to facilitate the building of an ECOWAS Wide Area Network”, she says.

At the same time President Sirleaf says there is a strong need for regulatory oversight in the region to ensure that sustainability is crucial, while endorsing an ECOWAS five - year ICT strategic plan that seeks to address overdue infrastructure gaps in the ICT sector which has been validated.

She concludes that WATRA also has a role as a stakeholder within the sector to robustly support how these programs can be actualized. Liberia’s Post and Telecommunication Minister Dr. Frederick Nokeh says technicians and specialists within the region, have resolved to enhance investment …, and established the sub-regional group WATRA in 2004 with the intent of closely monitoring telecommunications services for the region’s collective development needs.

He expressed gratitude to the continuous support and unwavering commitment of President Sirleaf to the sector to ensure a people -friendly telecommunications industry here.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited Othello B. Garblah

Mills Jones disappoints supporters

Hundreds of individuals believed to be supporters and partisans of the Movement for Economic Empowerment or MOVEE in Margibi County, who had gathered on Thursday, 27 April at the party local headquarters in Kakata City to receive their standard bearer and presidential hopeful Dr. Joseph Mills Jones, are disenchanted over Dr. Jones’ decision to abandon them and return to Monrovia.


The disenchanted partisans and supporters most of them women, came from various parts of Margibi, including Kakata, Worhn, Larkay-ta, Firestone, Borlorla, Yarwulie and other towns were seen standing in the sun for several hours at the local headquarters, awaiting Dr. Jones, but their hope was completely dashed when the ex-Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia abandoned them and hurriedly boarded his vehicle for Monrovia in complete disappointment.

They claimed to have been invited by officials of MOVEE in Margibi to receive the standard bearer, leaving their basic schedules only to fall prey to the political ignore.
Some of the aggrieved partisans claim they booked hotels and chartered vehicles because of their distances, but were let down when Dr. Jones quietly and quickly got in his official vehicle after convening a closed door discussion with officials of the party at the local headquarters.

They said the least thing Dr. Jones should have done was just to wave and speak to them to indicate he respects and cares for them instead of cool shouldering.“At least if they looked at our faces one by one, it will be alright, but they just leave like that, is making us to feel bad. Since this morning up to now only hot water they gave us to just be drinking, drinking, drinking and it can’t fill our gut. One of our members over there, he went to us and said, our main man coming today, so that’s how we came here,” a female partisan laments.
Madam Sianneh Fallah of World Bank Community stated: “We were told to come and meet our incoming president but he came and misled us; he didn’t even speak to us as a group, while he was coming down from upstairs. Our being here had wasted. I was invited by the party chairman. He was to even speak to us not so much of money, but speak to us to show concern. Is this the way he will lead us tomorrow when we put him in power?”

“I am vex because I left my business area, I’ve spent two hours here and he passed by us and entered, and he was coming now he never even wave to us”, says Salome Timah, another disappointed partisan.

Madam Elizabeth Browne angrily speaking says: I’m not happy because of the way I don’t know president or aspirant or what treated us today. He treated us in the way that we felt dishonored, discouraged; we felt ashamed. Dr. Jones wants my vote then he’s treating me like this, well, time will tell.”

When contacted, the county chairman of MOVEE, James Tarnue, embarrassingly replied: “Yes, myself, it was not too fine. After the old man left, you know the old man; I don’t know what he did, I mean the people say he never waved to them.” However, Chairman Tarnue claims transportation reimbursement was provided to the partisans.

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

Stay Order on 72nd eviction

Amid public outcry and legislative intervention, the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Liberia has put a hold on planned eviction of occupants of the 72nd military barracks in Paynesville, Montserrado County.


Appearing before the House of Representatives on Thursday, 27 April Deputy Defense Minister for Administration, Joseph Johnson said, the Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued a stay-order on the planned eviction of the occupants, most of whom are ex-soldiers and their relatives.

The Ministry of National Defense had scheduled the eviction for May 1, 2017 to provide accommodation for active serving members of the Armed Forces of Liberia. Deputy Minister Johnson made the disclosure after the House of Representatives summoned the Minister of Defense Brownie Samukai in response to a complaint filed to Plenary by Montserrado County District#5 Representative Thomas Fallah, in whose district the barracks is located.

In a recent complaint to Plenary, the highest decision-making body of the House of Representatives, Rep. Fallah requested the body to mandate the Defense Ministry to relax the planned eviction at this crucial moment when the country is preparing for peaceful transition through the October elections. When he represented his boss before the Plenary of the House Thursday at the Capitol, Johnson said Commander-In-Chief Sirleaf issued the stay order on grounds that she wants to hold a National Security Council meeting before taking such decision.

Though he did not state the duration of the stay order, but the deputy defense chief said occupants will occupy the barracks until the C-I-C lifts the stay order.He said the decision to evict occupants from the barracks is due to congestion at the Edward B. Kessely Barracks along the Robertsfield highway in Margibi County, something, which Johnson notes, was causing embarrassment to the 14, 000 strong personnel of the AFL and the Ministry of National Defense.

At the same time, the leadership of the House of Representatives has taken seize of the matter, pending a meeting with the Commander-In-Chief and President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Ellen detests telecommunications roaming charges

The Chairperson of the Economic Community of West African States or ECOWAS, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is urging telecommunication experts in the region to address high telecommunications roaming charges faced by ECOWAS citizens when commuting across the region.


She made the urge on Thursday morning, 27 April while opening the 14th Annual General Meeting of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly or WATRA at the Bella Casa Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia.

“One key situation to consider in this regard is how to address the high telecommunications roaming charges our people face when commuting across the region”, President Sirleaf stressed. Liberia’s Telecommunications Authority or LTA is hosting delegates from ECOWAS countries in the telecommunication sector, including WATRA’s Chairman Gaoo Gomes and other Executives, among others.

The Liberian leader says she is interested in practical ways to effectively address the infrastructure gaps that are still affecting affordability of services across the region.

While acknowledging developments in the region, she suggests that there are specific targets that must be met as a people, challenging regulatory and policy experts to finalize projects that are being worked on for the good of ECOWAS.

The first female Chairperson of ECOWAS, President Sirleaf notes that over the last few years in ECOWAS’ ICT sector, cross-border connectivity has increased, driven by the need to ensure harmonization and standardization of services towards creating a common market.

She adds that member countries have shown commitment to domesticate ECOWAS Supplementary Acts into their respective national laws, aimed at creating a seamless operational environment that adds value to the development of the ICT sector. “Liberia’s delegations to ECOWAS forums have indicated that there is a Market Analysis and Business Model being considered to facilitate the building of an ECOWAS Wide Area Network”, she says.

At the same time President Sirleaf says there is a strong need for regulatory oversight in the region to ensure sustainability, while endorsing an ECOWAS five - year ICT strategic plan that seeks to address overdue infrastructure gaps in the ICT sector which has been validated. She concludes that WATRA also has a role as a stakeholder within the sector to robustly support how these programs can be actualized.

Liberia’s Posts and Telecommunications Minister, Dr. Frederick Nokeh, says technicians and specialists within the region, having resolved to enhance investment …, established the subregional group, WATRA in 2004 with the intent of closely monitoring telecommunications services for the region’s collective developmental needs. He expressed gratitude to the continuous support and unwavering commitment of President Sirleaf to the sector to ensure a people -friendly telecommunications industry here.

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Lawmakers condemn ritualistic activities

Two Maryland County lawmakers have expressed frustration over the wave of alleged ritualistic killings in the county. Senator Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County and Representative Bhofal Chambers of Pleebo-Sodoken Statutory District decry the act, describing it as devilish and absurd.


Senator Brown iterated that the act has the propensity to damage the repetition of the county as well as undermine development and create confusion among citizens. Addressing Marylanders recently on a community radio station in the county, the two lawmakers lamented the practice and want perpetrators to be brought to book.

A security contractor of the Cavalla Rubber Corporation (CRC) identified as Edward William, 47, went to work on 9 April, 2017 and never returned, but his lifeless body was subsequently discovered on 14 April after thorough search by over 125 men in Gedetarbo town.

Jury assessment later discovered that the deceased’s ears and penis were chopped off and his right arm dismembered. Suspected ritualistic killing also occurred on Pleebo-Karloken highway when a lad identified as Cyrus Derrick a.k.a. “LITTLE” was discovered dead in a newly built culver with fresh blood oozing from his mouth and nose.

Medical and jury reports indicate that he died as a result of accident, but citizens of the county challenged both reports on suspicion that the victim was tempered with. 
Meanwhile, Maryland County Assistant Superintendent for development, Nathaniel Toe, Jr. warns that anyone caught in ritualistic killing would be dealt with in accordance with laws. Mr. Toe says his boss, county Superintendent Madam Betsy Kuoh Toe and cohorts condemn the act and call on citizens to be vigilant.

By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne

MICAT frowns on media headline

The Ministry of Information has frowned at media reportage on the recent deportation of 17 Liberians from the United States of America under the caption, from “Heaven to Hell.”


Assistant Information Minister for Public Affairs Wellington Gevoon Smith, says the characterization of Liberia as hell by a local daily in Monrovia portrays a negative image about the country.

Addressing a regular press briefing on Thursday, 27 April at the Ministry of Information on Capitol Hill, he says the deportation of 17 Liberians by the United States Government is very disappointing, because the deportees had gone to the U.S. for various reasons, not knowing that they would face deportation for various crimes committed there.

“What is disappointing to this government is the way and manner in which some media institutions are reporting the story about the Liberians that were deported, saying from Heaven to Hell, this is not fair, we should not describe our beloved country in that manner”, lamented the Minister.

He stresses that regardless of whatsoever that transpired in the U.S. that led to the deportation, the local media shouldn’t take pleasure in describing the Motherland as hell, saying “If you call your own country hell, what kind of message are you sending, or how do you expect foreigners to call your country.”

Minister Gevoon-Smith continues that nothing could have been done to change the fate of the deportees, as they are not the only ones to be deported from the United States, but emphasizes that it is incumbent upon each and every Liberian to give them hope by telling them all is not lost, this is the only way they will feel at home, but once people begin to say all kinds of things about them, they would feel hurt.

The Ministry’s reaction followed a front page headline published by the Women Voices Newspaper caption: “17 Liberians deported from Heaven to Hell”, just a day after the U.S. government had deported the Liberians.The Ministry of Justice in collaboration with the Liberia Immigration Service received the 17 Liberians from the United States on Tuesday, 25 April onboard a chartered flight.

Mostly males, the deportees were charged for various crimes committed in the U.S., convicted and subsequently served their sentences before being sent back home.Crimes committed include robberies, rape, street fight and illegal stay in the United States, among others.

They were received by the Liberia Immigration Service and turned over to their relatives, who signed for them with the understanding of three months of psychosocial consoling in order to put them back on track with normal life.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

PREVAIL enrolls 46 volunteers

The Partnership for Research on the Ebola Vaccine Study in Liberia or PREVAIL discloses here that the institution has enrolled additional 46 volunteers in phase five of its study.


PREVAIL Co-lead on social mobilization and communication, Mr. Bartholomew Wilson, told reporters on Thursday, April 27, at the Ministry of Information’s regular press briefing in Monrovia that the institution’s presence in Liberia is as a result of the many lives that were lost during the outbreak of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease, which affected Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone .

He said in order to establish the cause of the outbreak, a West African Regional Consortium was formulated to share technology and collaborate efforts to develop a vaccine and therapeutics for Ebola.

Mr. Wilson discloses that on the 1st of April, PREVAIL started a vaccine study to assess three different vaccine tests and to find out which shows the most promise to prevent or quickly control future Ebola outbreaks in the sub-region, saying “This is an expansion of the vaccine study which started in February of 2015.”

The Co-lead on social mobilization details that another reason for the study is to assess the safety and ability of each of three different Ebola vaccine strategies to stimulate an immune response to the virus that may be protective.

He notes that the key goals of the study are to determine how quickly immune response to the vaccine is generated, how strong the immune response is, and how long it lasts. According to him, the study will also continue to monitor the safety of the test vaccine in adults and carefully tests their safety record in children, a population particularly vulnerable to Ebola.

Mr. Wilson says to be eligible for the study, volunteers are required to first complete the intake process, which includes a rigorous information session, sign an informed consent, and a review of each individuals medical history, and that participants may withdraw at will.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Ellen praises stronger China support

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says she is thankful to Chinese Amb. Zhang Yue, and through him, to Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping for the continued support provided Liberia and the partnership that “continues to grow stronger and stronger between China and Liberia”.


Mrs. Sirleaf was speaking Thursday, 27 April at the construction site of a US$60m China - aid Ministerial Complex in Congo Town before breaking grounds to the project that has already been ongoing.

She says Liberia is so thankful to China for bringing great relief to many of Liberia’s entities that today work at facilities that were built so many years back and had not been upgraded to today’s standards.

“... And China we are so thankful for …[bringing] great relief to many of our entities that today work at facilities that require a more modern … assistance than we now have because the structures they are in have been built so many years ago and have not been upgraded to
today’s standards”, she says.

Mrs. Sirleaf recalled Amb. Yue’s assurance to her that the Chinese President Mr. Xi Jinping made a commitment to get the project done, in reference to the Ministerial Complex that is expected to host some ten ministries and agencies here.

Mrs. Sirleaf has also acknowledged ongoing Chinese aid construction of Annexes to the Capitol Building, noting that the Chinese authorities have assured “quality and speed of China”.

She also thanked all of those who have worked very hard to get the project going; particularly the Ministry of Public Works that she says has had to struggle with it.Earlier speaking, Chinese Amb. Mr. Zhang Yue said the Ministerial Complex with a total construction area of 24,000 square meters, is designed to accommodate at least 1,300 people.

Amb. Yue says the Complex includes offices, meeting rooms, auditorium, multi-function hall, archives, canteen and auxiliary facilities such as water pump house, power distribution and generator room.

Concerning the two Annexes at the Capitol Building, Amb. Yue says the total construction area is 7,300 square meters, and will accommodate at least 400 people. He says there will be more than 400 Liberian workers to join in the construction of the two projects, while a special technical team from the Ministry of Public Works is working closely with the Chinese engineers during the whole process in order to know everything specific about the buildings for better operation and maintenance.

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

Gambia’s Barrow meets Ellen

Liberia’s President and Chair of regional bloc ECOWAS Mrs. Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has received the Gambia’s President Mr. Adama Barrow on his first state visit the Liberia months after he took over the presidency with strong ECOWAS military and political backing to compel defeated former president Yahya Jammeh out of office.


Mrs. Sirleaf and her entourage welcomed President Barrow at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County late Thursday evening, 27 April. He was greeted with military courtesies and cultural performances at the airport, while Gambian nationals residing here and some of those working in the UN cycle also converged at the airport to welcome him.

Upon his arrival to Monrovia, Mr. Barrow was symbolically presented the key to the City by authorities before he retired.  He is expected to address a press stakeout with President Sirleaf this afternoon, 28 April in Monrovia.

By Winston W. Parley

Tests rule out Ebola

Health authorities here have ruled Ebola in the recent death of 9 persons as a result of a mysterious disease. Health officials say the result from the testing of blood samples and other specimens of the dead and sick persons from shows no evidence of Ebola resurgence.


At least 9 persons have died from a mysterious disease after they attended a funeral in Sinoe County, southeast Liberia. A press statement issued by the Ministry of Health in Monrovia on Wednesday, 26 April says the Sinoe County Health Team informed the Ministry about a series of unexplained deaths in five communities in Greenville District.

The four communities affected are Teah’s Town (8 cases), Congo Town (3 cases), Red Hill (2) and Downtown (1 case) all located in Greenville city. Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Francis Kateh, who read the release in a press briefing held at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism on Capitol Hill, disclosed that initial tests conducted by the Liberia Institute for Bio-Medical Research in Charlesville, Margibi County ruled out Ebola Virus Disease or EVD as cause of the deaths.

“Of the 17 persons who have fallen ill so far, 9 have died and 8 patients are currently admitted and undergoing treatment at the Grant Hospital in Greenville, Sinoe County”, says Dr. Kateh. He assures that investigation is continuing to establish the actual cause of the deaths.

Reports from the county says the dead include an eleven-year-old girl from Teah Town community, Greenville who attended funeral of a religious leader over the weekend after which seven persons died, who allegedly attended the same funeral.

Name of the religious leader has not been identified, but prior to his demise, he was reportedly hospitalized at the John F. Kennedy Hospital in Monrovia where he was allegedly diagnosed of high blood pressure.

On Monday, April 24, another patient, from Down town community, who also attended the funeral of the religious leader, suffered headache, body pain and skin itching, and was admitted at the F. J. Grant Hospital, but died on Tuesday morning, April 25.

The third victim was a female from Red Hill community, Greenville, who came down with diarrhea and vomiting and subsequently pronounced dead upon arrival at J.F. Grant Hospital.

Meanwhile, the release says the County Health Team and local authorities are currently coordinating response activities and a team from the “central level” has been dispatched to provide additional support. The Ministry of Health says it has in place necessary systems, measures and capacity to contain outbreak of infectious diseases anywhere in the country. Reports say some symptoms of the disease include: abdominal pains, vomiting and headaches. Additional reporting

-by Ethel A. Tweh

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