Who wants CDC, VP Boakai out?

Report reaching this paper indicates that some influential players within the international community are recommending for the exclusion of the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC headed by Senator George MannehWeah and the Standard Bearer of the governing Unity Party, Vice President Joseph NyumahBoakai from the pending elections in October.

Making the disclosure to this paper on Tuesday, February 21, at his Capitol Building office, Senator H. Dan Morais of Maryland County said, credible information he had received from some international partners is that there’s a strong lobbying ongoing within international cycle to ban the participation of the CDC on grounds that it is consistently seeking pieces of advice and strategies from detained former President Charles Taylor, who is reportedly melting in Liberian politics.
Senator Morais claimed to have been in a meeting, but did not say where and when the discussion came about that the CDC and Vice President Boakai should not participate in the October’s elections.

He added that recent reports of Taylor, who is serving 50 years of incarceration in the United Kingdom for aiding and abetting RUF rebels in Sierra Leone, urging supporters in Liberia to return to base ahead of the October 10 race, is the main reason behind the quest to ban the CDC adding; “powerful people within the international cycle are not taking that statement lightly.”
On the question of Vice President Boakai, Morais indicated that influential individuals are arguing that the Liberian vice president is old and weak to handle the already fragile state that had suffered 14 years of civil crisis.
He noted that there are arguments that the UP standard bearer may not be well positioned to handle tension or manage the affairs of state.

However, Senator Morais, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said during his meeting with Diasporas-based influential individuals, they strongly believe excluding both the CDC and Vice President Boakai could be catastrophic for the electoral process.

According to him, they said any attempt for anybody to try anything like stopping a political institution like the Coalition for Democratic Change with youthful population would lead to another thing that Liberians may not be pleased with.
The Maryland Senator, who is a strong stalwart of Taylor’s National Patriotic Party, but later pledged his support to Vice President Boakai, added that while he does not believe Senators George Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor could make a perfect president and vice president respectively, it is prudent to maintain an open democratic space for every political institution to participate.

He added that international forces interfering in Liberian local politics is something that should be resisted by all Liberians or else, the democratic space will be of no used.
Commenting on the impression about the Vice President, he said it is tormenting for anyone to think that Vice President Boakai is weak to manage Liberia.

He then called on the international community to engage Mr. Taylor as an individual rather than branding those who worked with him during his administration, saying collective guilt has haunted members of the ex-ruling NPP and associates of Mr. Taylor.

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

PYJ rejects salaries’ cut

The news hits Senator Prince Y. Johnson, a former rebel general, like a bombshell: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had written lawmakers here, seeking their acquiescence to cut salaries and benefits of senior government officials in all three branches of government namely; the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary, respectively.

But the Nimba County Senator, also a presidential hopeful, on Tuesday, February 21, walked out of the chambers of the Liberian Senate’s plenary in total disagreement with the President’s communication, lamenting that the current dismal state of the economy, which has led to a decision to cut salaries and benefits, is principally due to alleged mismanagement of state resources by the government.

With emotional outburst, SenatorPYJ walked out of session without permission from the presiding officer, Senate President Pro-Tempore ArmahJallah.

When reporters tried to interview him on the stairs of the Senate’s wing, right before the office of Vice President Joseph Boakai, Senator Johnson, dressed in red and black coat suit with a cowboy hat and Italian brand shoes,insisted to reportersthat the decision from the executive was gross disrespect to senior officials and is sorely intended to make them (officials) appear ugly in the eyes of the public.

As reporters kept pressing on with more questions, the Nimba County lawmaker, who also owns a church and preaches there every Sunday, abruptly raised a famous gospel song titled, “I know the Lord will make a way” before briskly jumping into his office.

His staffs immediately shut the office door with verbal attacks on reporters for putting the senator under tension with what they term ‘unnecessary’ questions.

According to PYJ, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-led administration received millions of dollars from the international community, and millions are on a daily and monthly basis collected thru taxes, but the government failed to account for these huge sums of funds.

He noted that cutting officials’ salaries and benefits would be like a drop in the bucket, which could amount to making mockery of stimulating the economy.

The President’s communication urged officials of government to make the utmost sacrifice for cuts in their take home pay so that the economy of the country can be once more stimulated for the common good of the state.

The economy is currently faced with serious drought, with the foreign exchange rate between the Liberian Dollars and the United States Dollars being LRD104to 1USD.On the black market the exchange rate is 1USD to 108LRD.

Maryland County Senator H. Dan Morais, also walked out of plenary, but reneged on making any comment about the situation.

Meanwhile, the plenary of the Liberian Senate voted overwhelmingly that the matter be sent to the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget,Banking and Currency to properly advise plenary on the way forward within one week.

Court denies video recording in GW trial

Criminal Court “C” has denied prosecution’s request to allow video recording and live broadcast of the economic sabotage trial of several Liberian and U.K. - based Sable Mining officials because Rule 11 of the General Laws applicable in all Liberian Courts says it degrades the court and creates misconceptions in the mind of the public.

The rule dictates that prosecution in court shall be conducted in afitting dignity and perfect decorum, while labeling the taking ofphotographs in the courtroom and recording of live broadcast or
televising of court proceedings to be “calculated to allow lawyers tograndstand, detract the witness in giving his testimony …”

“From the above rule of Court the application for video screeningshould be and same is hereby denied forthwith and dismissed”, JudgeYamieQuiquiGbeisay ruled Tuesday, 21 February.

In filing the motion, prosecutors had suggested that since theadoption of Rule 11 of the General Rule of Court, there have beenadvancements in technology which they say make the presence of livescreening and broadcast of courtroom activity possible with lessintrusive means and distraction.

“That because it will be in accordance with international bestpractice that high profile cases of this nature which garnerinternational attention with vested interest of family and compatriots
in more than one jurisdiction is made available to instantaneousviewing the world over”, the pleaded.

Prosecutors’ request for the video recording and live broadcast of thecase was prompted by a doubt raised against the Liberian justicesystem by one of the defendants, Mr. Andrew Groves of Sable Mining.
Mr Groves had allegedly questioned the credibility of Liberia’sjustice system and suggested to the UK Government and its people thathe could not get a fair trial in Liberia because the country’s justice
system is deeply flawed and corrupt.

Mr. Groves and another Sable Mining representative Mr. Klaus Piprekwere jointly indicted later last year along with several Liberianofficials including former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene
Shannon, Mr.Richard Tolbert, Sen. Morris Saytumah and Mr. WillieBelleh after U.K. based watchdog group Global Witness reported thatSable Mining had offered bribes in tune of over US$950,000 to Liberianofficials to have a concession declared non-bidding in favor of thecompany.

The indictment drew them in economic sabotage trial that had formerHouse Speaker Alex Tyler dethroned by his colleagues last year fromthe nation’s third most powerful office to face prosecution.
Mr. Tyler and former ruling Unity Party Chair Sen. H. Varney G.Sherman, Nigerian national, Chris Onanuga and Mr. Ernest C.B Jones hadearlier been indicted over the same report last year.

Ahead of the Court’s ruling against the request to allow videorecording and live broadcast of the proceedings, Mr. Tyler filedpapers on Monday, 20 February resisting the government request.
He had argued that there can be a live broadcast, “but if someoneharbors a preconceived notion that he or she cannot have free and fairtrial, live broadcast does not make the trial free, fair andtransparent in the mind and contemplation of the person who withoutany evidence preempts that he will not have a fair trial in theLiberian Courts”

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


I did not sign decent work bill

House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay has denied signing the decent work and the pension laws of Liberia against the workforce of Liberia.

Speaker Nuquay, who represents Margibi County electoral district#5, said both laws were in existence prior to his ascendency as Speaker.
He made the clarity recently during a meeting at the Women Resource Center of the Salala Rubber Corporation in Camp One.
The interactive forum was organized by District#5 Chairlady of the People’s Unification Party or PUP in Margibi County.
Allegation that the Speaker signed the decent work bill against the workforce of Liberia was first made by the President of the Salala Agriculture Workers’ Union or SAWU Mr. Anthony O. Moses, who is also a legislative aspirant in Margibi District #5 where the Speaker hails from.

Mr. Moses reportedly made the claim on “Truth Breakfast Show” hosted by Truth FM 96.1 in Paynesville and subsequently proceeded to the SRC Plantations in Margibi, spreading the misinformation.
He claimed Nuquay’s signature gives concessionaires right to arbitrarily dismiss employees without benefit.
But when Speaker Nuquay recently went to provide clarity on the law at the meeting held in the SRC Plantations, he told citizens that the bill was never signed under his leadership.

Under the law, an employee is required to reach age 60 or work for 25 years before retirement.
Rep. Nuquay said instead, he signed an amendment to the law, which does not limit anyone to work with an institution for 25 years or reach age 60 before receiving benefits.

He noted that there are two laws that deal with workers’ issues specifically the pension law and the labor law which have long existed, requiring an employee to work with an institution for 60 years before being pensioned, while the labor law requires 25 years of service consecutively to qualify for retirement.

He further explained that the pension law additionally requires an employee to make hundred months’ contribution, disclosing that he worked with the Salala Rubber Corporation, formerly the Weala Rubber Company or WRC from 1999 to 2005, and these laws covered him.
Speaker Nuquay pointed out the decent work bill was passed into law in October 2015 when he was a mere floor member of the House of Representatives after his removal from the Ways, Means and Finance Committee.

He lamented that in 2011 when the decent work law was yet to be passed; those who are now using his name to gain political favor sympathy, were the same people who said he (Nuquay) was against the passage of the law which is meant to improve the livelihood of workers across the country.
He expressed disappointment that those, who had claimed the law is very good, are the same people causing noise today that it is against the citizens’ interest.

“In this law 22.5, states that any company that is paying money to social security on behalf of an employee, when the employee is retired, it is the social security that will pay that person so, I did not sign this law”, said Nuquay, but observed that the leadership of the workforce in the country did not properly represent the workforce here.

Labour Minister frowns on child labor

The Ministry of Labor has frowned on the wave of child labor in the country, stressing the need to end the practice.  LabourMinister NetoZarzarLighe, Sr. said the law against child labor should be vigorously enforced to get children off the streets. “We see our children during school hours selling in the streets, while their mates are in school, children these days have been used as bread winners of the various homes, these things must come to an end”, he emphasized.

Speaking to UNMIL Radio on Tuesday,21 February he said the issue of child labor has drawn the attention of the Ministry and everything was being done to minimize the act.
“I think what is needed to put an end to this child labor thing is for every stakeholder to join hands in the fight against this act, because this is mostly happening in the informal sector, people that are in those sectors don’t really understand the implications of child labor, and so we all need to come together as one head and work together to avoid the continuation of this act”, said Minister Lighe.

He said the ministry is working to ensure that the issue of child labor is addressed, because often there are complaints from the public. “And just to say, our recent conclusion was also centered around this same child labor thing, as you may be aware, we just concluded the validation of a national action plan.”

According to the Labour boss, the recent validation was at the result of numerous consultations held with local and international partners on how to address child labor here saying, “The document is expected to be submitted to cabinet, where they will endorse it before it reaches the President.”
“If all of us put our hands together, to make sure that the issue of child labor is avoided, high level of awareness, everyone working in the child labor sector to serve as ambassador to stop the child labor, Liberia will be a better place”, he further emphasized.

He said the Ministry of Labour cannot address the problem alone, because there are so many things that needed to be added. “We cannot address this child labor issue 100 percent, simply because there are number of things that are required in addressing them, but what I think can be done is to work with other relevant government ministries, and agencies, including the Ministry of Gender, among others to bring this situation to a calm.”

The Ministry of Labor, created by an Act of the National Legislature in 1981, is charged with the Statutory Mandate to regulate the labor sector of the Republic of Liberia through development and implementation of policies for adherence to the Labor Practices Law of Liberia and International Labor Conventions.

By Lewis S. Teh& Ethel A. Tweh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Women charged with aggravated assault

The Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia has charged a woman with the crime of aggravated assault. The defendant, according to a writ of arrest, wickedly slashed the left fingers of complainant Christiana Hardy of the City of Monrovia during a fist-fight that ensued between the two parties on 18 February in Monrovia.

According to the writ, following the incident, the defendant to be identified, fled her community and went into hiding, but few days later, she was arrested and detained at the Monrovia Central Prison Compound, pending court trial.
The case, which is presided over by Stipendiary Magistrate Ernest F.B. Bana, was scheduled for Monday, February 20, but postponed to a later date.

The defendant is being represented in the case by Attorney Sam T. Solomon, while complainant Christiana Hardy is being represented in court by the Ministry of Justice.
The court revealed that the case could not be called because of the level of injury sustained by the complainant, who received several stenches.

Although the writ of arrest did not say what necessitated the fight, but sources said the complainant may not use her left fingers again due to the severity of wounds sustained.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

“We’ll not have military coup again”

Maryland County Senator Gble-bo Brown says Liberia is on an irreversible path and will no longer subject itself to military coup or remove its leaders from power through violent means. He said this is why Liberians who are dissatisfied with people in the current leadership must partake in the ongoing voter registration process to consider the ballot box as the only means to remove them from power.

“So we will not have military coup again. Liberia will not have military coup; we will not have violence where we will overthrow one another and say okay, we don’t want you. The constitutional means is
through elections”, Sen. Brown told citizens on Tuesday morning, 21 February while appearing on a local radio talk show in Monrovia.

“The only means according to our Constitution where we can replace them, where we can exercise change is through the ballot box; through the ballot box. But Julius, Julius, if they refuse to do that then
those who they [do] not want will remain in power because they will be ... re-elected by their people”, Sen. Brown added.

While admitting that there are challenges in the ongoing voter registration process here, Sen. Brown equally argued that no reason could justify “our default” not to participate in the process on grounds that it is a civic responsibility.
While pleading with Liberians to do everything in their power to register within the time prescribed by the National Elections Commission or NEC to be eligible to vote. Sen. Brown wondered where in the world that one could find a perfect system.
He urged Liberians to continue changing leaders through voting process until they can finally elect the kind of people that will satisfy them, rather than boycotting elections process.

Touching on the roads conditions in southeastern region earlier, Sen. Brown warned that if works are not done, Maryland, River Gee, Grand Kru and Grand Gedeh counties could be cut off.
He says the main highway from Harper in Maryland to River Gee border where the Chinese are working is still to a large extent in tight, but contends that it cannot sustain Marylanders. He says heavy down pour of rain has been one of the major
problems confronting the roads networks in the southeastern region.

He says in Maryland County, people now have lot of superstition about the rain to the extent that the Chinese company that is doing the road from Harper to Karloken have asked the county authorities and the
Ministry of Public Works to call the traditional people to [consult]. Having witnessed a heavy downpour of rain with thunder and lightening a day before leaving Maryland county about a week ago, Sen. Brown described the situation there as scarring.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Lawmaker wants budget for National ID

Nimba County District #8 Representatives Larry P. Younquoi has stressed the need to allocate funds in the Fiscal Year 2017/2018 budget for the implementation of the National Identification scheme.

Rep. Younquoi says the country has already put in place certain architecture such as the National Identification Registry and the various service center around the country that could aid the process.
In a request filed before his colleagues at the Lower House on Tuesday, 21 February, the Nimba County Lawmaker stressed that the National ID card scheme will ensure that each eligible citizen will be identified by his or her name, place of birth and place of ordinary residence.

He has suggested that it will help to completely eliminate the question of whether or not someone is domiciled in a particular place. Rep. Younquoi says Liberia stands two ways to benefit from the national identification scheme which include completely eradication of confusion over the identity and residency of citizen during elections, census and other form of enumeration that require adequate identity.

He stated further that revenues will be generated through the Notary Public for the issuance of an affidavit in case of a change in the residency, name or other characteristics of an individual in a case he or she so desires.
He warned that national events such as elections and census should not be taken for granted, adding that it was no gainsaying that the absence of an appropriate identification mechanism in place was a recipe for chaos.

Rep. Younquoi emphasized that the lack of appropriate identification has the tendency to plunge the society into a much larger scale of conflict if no step is taken to correct the situation.
He noted that the current uncontrollable wave of movement of the population from one area to another to obtain voter registration card was a clarion testimony to such potential chaos which has everything it takes to undermine the democracy here.
Following his presentation at the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the House Plenary turned the communication over to the Committee on State Enterprise, Ways Means and Finance and Internal Affairs to report within two weeks.
Editing by Winston W. Parley

Bong residents appeal for safe drinking water

Residents of Fullah Town in Bong County are appealing to authorities for safe drinking water to help stop the spread of waterborne disease and other harmful skin diseases in the town.

Mr. Omo Fullah recently told an interview with a student of the University of Liberia or UL that the people of Fullah Town were living a dangerous life due to the water they use for drinking and cooking.
Another resident of the town, Mr. Prince Fullah said there was no safe drinking water for the town that he claims has more than 500 dwellers.

Speaking further, Mr. Fullah said the people in Fullah Town use water from nearby creeks and swamps for cooking, drinking and bathing. As a result, he said they suffer from various illnesses and skin diseases.

He suggested that safe drinking water in the town would promote good health and reduce the high risk of disease. He has therefore asked government to provide safe drinking water to stop the spread of waterborne diseases and other harmful skin diseases. Majority of the people in Fullah Town are said to have settled in the area from neighboring counties including Lofa and Nimba since the Liberian civil war.


Grass-rooters take over UP

Despite the current wave of exodus of big names from the ruling Unity Party, the UP boasts here that grass-rooters are now taking over the party, maintaining that the exodus is even making it stronger.

In barely three months, the ruling party has lost three of its stalwarts and executive committee members to the opposition Liberty Party 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 recently, former Amb. Jeremiah Sulunteh.

But commenting briefly on what is no doubt becoming worrisome for the presidential bid of its standard bearer Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, UP National Chairman Wilmot Paye said, the exodus of big names indicates that the party is now property of grass-rooters and getting stronger.

According to him, the UP is now of people-orientated especially, grass-roots Liberians, who many think are of less importance.
Speaking to this paper via mobile phone, on Monday, February 20, Chairman Paye said that the Unity Party has lot to do than waste its precious time on people, who couldn’t pull votes at the needed time, so their departure has created a corridor for people considered by the public as downtrodden to take charge of the party for the October 10, Representatives and Presidential elections.

He said the departure shows there’s more love, unity and that the party is getting stronger by the day in order to take state power for the third time succession.
He noted that some of the defectors that the media referred to as ‘big names’ could not pull votes for the party both in 2005 and 2011.

However, amid the exit of stalwarts, the UP recently witnessed the entry of Nimba County Senator Thomas Grupee from the de-certificated National Union of Democratic Progress or NUDP, formerly of ex-presidential candidate Sen. Prince Y. Johnson, who became kingmaker in 2011 when he threw his weight behind President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the run-off for her second term bid.

Providing justification for his exit in in a communication to the ruling party dated February 15, former Ambassador Sulunteh wrote, “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.”

He subsequently told a news conference in Monrovia the same day that over the years, the Unity Party has experienced lapses in the implementation of its own promises, saying, “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.”

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 concluded.

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

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