Politics

Freeman’s political rhetoric

Opposition Movement for Progressive Change (MPC) presidential candidate thinks members of the Liberian Senate are making too much money monthly, and thus vows to reduce their monthly salaries when he gets elected Liberia’s next president this October.


Mr. Freeman claimed he would cut down government spending by reducing the size of ministries, when he spoke Monday, 14 August at the Ducor Debate organized in Ganta, Nimba County by the Liberia Media Development Initiative (LMDI) and the Public Trust Media Group. The businessman - turned - politician claims he would reduce the salary of senators, cut down the number of Liberian embassies to five, and privatize all government hospitals to ensure better healthcare services to Liberians.

Concerning the presidential elections, Mr. Freeman claims that when he is elected the next president this October, he would create 55,000 jobs every year. He also makes clear his position against dual citizenship, saying he does not support dual citizenship here over fears that it would encourage corruption and capital flight.Though he says his position on dual citizenship is not permanent on grounds that it would be reviewed in the future, Mr. Freeman however has fears that those with dual citizenship will not have love for Liberia.

One of his contentions is that Liberians with dual citizenship will prefer keeping and sponsoring their families in the diaspora while working here.He believes that under such condition, dual citizens would promote capital flights by sending their monthly earnings out of the economy to support their families in the diaspora. Mr. Freeman argues that it has never been historically proven in the case of Liberia that dual citizenship will contribute to the nation’s development.

According to him, Liberians who hold citizenship in other countries have already made their choices and there is no need to hold onto Liberian citizenship at the same time.
Mr. Freeman insists that dual citizenship is not an urgent matter, noting that there is no evidence that it would attract development and provide jobs here.

By Ethel A. Tweh--Edited by Winston W. Parley

 

Gov’t wants new trial in U.S. vehicles case

Prosecutors here are seeking a new trial against defendants Armstrong Tony Campbell and Sheak K. Brown on grounds that a jury verdict in the case falls short of convicting or acquitting the indictees for economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy and criminal facilitation.


“...[They] did not convict nor acquit Co-defendant Armstrong Tony Campbell for the offenses of Economic Sabotage and Criminal Conspiracy and Co-defendant Sheak k. Brown for the offenses of Economic Sabotage, Criminal facilitation and Criminal Conspiracy for which reasons a new trial should and ought to be awarded by operation of law,” prosecution said in a motion for new trial filed Monday, 14 August.

The jury verdict comes after months of trial at the Criminal Court “C” over allegedly smuggled seven U.S. vehicles for which the indictees were said to have underpaid taxes to government tax collectors at the Freeport of Monrovia.

In the room of deliberation, the jury panel was divided in its decision for each of the charges levied against the two indictees. Nine jurors found defendant Campbell guilty for criminal facilitation, but they say defendant Brown is not guilty of such crime. Three of the jury panel members went against this decision.

“The question then is what offense did he commit? In order words, the verdict of Guilty of Criminal Facilitation of Defendant Armstrong Tony Campbell presupposes that he must have committed one or more of the predicate offenses,” prosecutors have said.

The State lawyers are pondering as to how defendant Campbell can be held guilty by the jury for criminal facilitation, after it had already acquitted him of the predicate offenses of theft of property and smuggling and reached a hung verdict for the predicate offense of economic sabotage.

Eleven of the jurors found Campbell and Brown not guilty for theft of property, but one juror did not support this verdict.For the different charges levied against the indictees including economic sabotage, smuggling, criminal conspiracy, the jury panel always had a divided verdict, with much of the panel members deciding a not guilty verdict.

In resistance to prosecution’s motion for new trial, the defense team argues that in criminal prosecution, when a verdict is returned by a jury in favor of the defendant, the prosecution cannot except to such verdict on grounds that prosecution cannot appeal in criminal cases.

The defense says the trial judge is under duty to enter judgment in favor of the defendant, discharging the defendant from answering the crimes charged for which the accused stood trial.

--By Winston W. Parley

Ellen submits Whistleblower Bill for ratification

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has submitted to the National Legislature for ratification a Bill seeking to establish and strengthen the legal framework of relevant authorities to adequately protect whistleblowers and witnesses.


"As Government continuously commits to creating safe living conditions for its citizens and residents, I therefore request your kind and timely consideration to enact into law this important legislation,” Mrs. Sirleaf says in a communication submitted to the Legislature on Tuesday, 15 August.

Through the Bill, the President seeks the to empower the relevant authorities to effectively protect whistleblowers and witnesses from intimidation, fear, and other physical injuries wherein the authorities are alerted on acts of corruptions and other criminal activities and prosecution is imminent.

The "Whistleblower and Witness Protection Bill” when ratified by both Houses of Representatives and Senate will make Liberia compliant with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

A communication was sent to both plenaries of the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate on Tuesday following the submission of the instrument by President Sirleaf.

The UNCAC calls for all state parties to take appropriate measures for the protection of witnesses, experts and victims against retaliation or intimidation for their testimony.

President Sirleaf indicates that as government strives to deal with the menace of corruption, it is necessary to passage the Bill which seeks to create an atmosphere that protects whistleblowers and witnesses, making them free of intimidation and elimination.

She says whistleblowers and witnesses’ fear of physical injuries and other criminal activities whenever an exposure is made will help government achieve its objectives of sustainably minimize the acts of corruption and other serious crimes.

Mrs. Sirleaf says the Bill will protect whistleblowers and witnesses who alert the relevant authorities on corruptions and other criminal activities perpetrated in Liberia.The Houses have forwarded the Bill to their relevant committees for examination so as to advise give advice as usual in subsequent times.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Liberia consoles Sierra Leone

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent a condolence message to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma following heavy overnight rains that triggered a mudslide and flood on the outskirts of Freetown, that led to the deaths of over three hundred persons and injury to several hundred others early Monday morning, August 14, 2017.


Hheavy overnight rains triggered a mudslide and flood in the Regent area on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown early Monday morning, August 14. A section of Sugar Loaf mountain came down at around 06:00 a.m. when many people would have been at home sleeping or just getting up for the day.

The exact death toll from the mudslide and flooding is not yet known, but the Freetown mayor Sam Gibson has put the figure as “a total of 270 corpses” recovered and are “being prepared for burial” as at Tuesday, August 15, 2017. Others predict that over 300 persons were killed; while another 3,000 persons are estimated to have lost their homes, submerged by the mud. Recovery and rescue operations are still going on.

A Foreign Ministry release said, President Sirleaf, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia and in her own name, extended to the Sierra Leonean President, Dr. Koroma, and through him, the Government and people of Sierra Leone, especially families of the victims, Liberia’s heartfelt condolences, and best wishes for the speedy and full recovery of the injured.

“During this difficult period of national tragedy, I wish to express our solidarity with you and the people of Sierra Leone,” the Liberian leader said.She stressed that it is the hope of the Liberian Government and people that the resilience and strength that the people of Sierra Leone have always demonstrated when confronted by challenging circumstances will be manifested again in the face of this natural disaster.

Pres. Sirleaf congratulates Gabon on Independence

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sent a message of congratulations to her colleague, the President of the Republic of Gabon, Mr. Ali Bongo Ondimba, on that country’s 57th Independence Anniversary on August 17, 2017.


The Gabonese Republic celebrates its Independence Day on August 17. This national holiday commemorates the independence of Gabon from France in 1960. Its colonization began in the first half of the 19th century, when France signed treaties with local tribal chiefs and established a protectorate over the coastal area. The French officially occupied the entire territory of Gabon in 1885.

In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories comprising French Equatorial Africa, along with French Congo, Chad and Ubangi-Shari (now the Central African Republic). When French Equatorial Africa was dissolved in the late 1950s, France agreed to give Gabon complete independence. Gabon became an independent country on August 17, 1960.

A Foreign Ministry release said, President Sirleaf, on behalf of the Government and people of Liberia and in her own name, extended heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to President Ondimba, and through him the Government and people of the Republic of Gabon on the occasion of its 57th Independence Anniversary.

“As we join you and your compatriots in observing this momentous occasion, it is my fervent prayer that the bonds of friendship and cooperation so happily subsisting between our two countries in the spirit of bilateral ties and cooperation will be strengthened in furtherance of the principles of promoting international peace and security among all nations,” the Liberian leader said. She prayed that the Almighty God will continue to endow Mr. Ondimba with abundant wisdom and strength as he leads his people to greater heights. –Press release

Bad road affects southeast Liberia

Unpaved roads worsened by heavy downpour are posing serious difficulties for citizens and residents of southeast Liberia, particularly Maryland, Grand Kru, Sinoe, River Gee, and Grand Gedeh Counties, where commuters travelling there or heading for Monrovia spend weeks.


Citizens in the five counties face challenge in coming to Monrovia to get basic commodities due to exorbitant fares levied by commercial vehicles. Transportation fares from Harper City, Maryland and Fishtown, Rivergee to Monrovia previously between 4,000.00LRD and 3,500.00LRD have increased to 6,500.00LRD and7,000.00LRD, while from Zwedru City, Grand Gedeg to Monrovia now costs 4,500.00LRD instead of 2,500.00 and 3,000.00 previously.

Commuters leaving Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties for Monrovia are being required to pay 5,500 instead of the previous 3,500 and 4,000.00LRD fares.The deplorable road condition has also led several car owners to lose their cars due to over flow of water into their engines. Over 200 commuters are reportedly stranded along the Buchanan-Rivercess road, while others are stock in the mud and cannot move in Bialla, Electoral District #4 in Nimba County due to deplorable roads.

Speaking in an interview with The New Dawn Maryland County correspondent, who traveled the road recently, a conductor onboard one of the trucks, Ojuku Biawon, laments that he has been in Bialla, Nimba for the past two weeks and risks losing food items being transported to the southeast counties of Grand Gedeh, Rivergee, and Maryland.

He says if government did not intervene through the Ministry of Public Works, these five counties would soon be cut off from the rest of the country.The road condition has also contributed to hike in commodity prices, including rice, the country’s stable and gasoline, among others. A kilogram of rice previously sold for 80.00LRD is now in the market for130LRD, while a gallon of gasoline in Harper is being sold at 480LRD, and in Barclayville, Grand Kru County, it costs 600LRD, respectively.

Stranded business people told this paper that a plate of rice in Bialla, Nimba County earlier sold between 50 and 75LRD is 100LRD, while a sachet of water is 10LRD.Speaking in separate interviews with this paper in Tians town, Grand Basss County, Madam Tonia Sheriff, who slept in the mud for over a week, complains that she has lost over $200,000LRD due to damaged goods.

he calls on government to make quick intervention on both ways leading to the southeast to enable free movement of goods and services to citizens in those parts of the country.

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

Weah promises middle class

Opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) presidential candidate Sen. George Manneh Weah says if he is elected president this October, Liberians will live a middle class life and attend schools whether they have money or not.


“If we are given the opportunity to serve, Liberian kids will walk in mall to buy goods of their choice, our people will attend schools whether they have money or not, hospitals will be available for all,” Liberia’s former international soccer soccer icon - turned politician Sen. Weah said Sunday, 13 August while being honored by the Fula Community in Monrovia.

He says the only thing Liberians need to do during his administration is to work, noting that he will create the enabling environment for the young and old people to work. The Montserrado County Senator claims that during his administration kids here will have playing grounds, and that colleges and technical institutions will be built to provide easy learning terrain for students.

He promises that hospitals will be improved for all Liberians, and adds that for too long Liberians have lived below the poverty belt. Mr. Weah says his administration is concerned about the redemption of every Liberian, be it partisan or not.

He called on Liberians not to vote for ruling Unity Party (UP) presidential candidate Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, and describes UP partisans as virus that continue to eat the fabrics of the country.

According to Weah, the 12 years of service given the UP in which Vice President Boakai is the second in command while he Weah serves as Senator are enough.He claims that it is for the Liberian people to elect him for better living condition, peace, fair share of the nation’s resources, middle class living condition, good health facilitates, better education and a reduced tax environment.

Reading a statement of endorsement and support for Weah by the Fula Community, Kalilu Jalloh said their support is based on the past track record of the Montserrado County lawmaker they say has served the country.

He added that the best option for the country that is enjoying peace and stability is to give power to someone who once served as United Nations Goodwill Ambassador, one serves as Liberia’s Peace Ambassador and a humanitarian.

He opposes electing someone who brought wars in the fighting for freedom and rampant corruption. Mr. Jalloh promises that the Fula Community will stand with the CDC in these elections and will ensure that the CDC takes state power in a smooth and democratic way.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

MOVEE partisans physically attack unknown man

Dozens of supporters of opposition Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) of Dr. Mills Jones over the weekend reportedly attacked and mercilessly flogged a man believed to be his 30s when the victim was returning from chasing somebody else with cutlass in an isolated case that did not connect to MOVEE’s political rally in Paynesville.


Though this paper could establish what really sparked the confusion between the two unknown men, our reporter who witnessed the incident over the weekend says the man that was armed with a cutlass and was chased his opponent, later became a subject of severe flogging at the hands of supporters of the MOVEE party.

MOVEE supporters who were being addressed by Montserrado County District #5 representative candidate Mr. Benjamin Yele Wehye at MOVEE district office were said to have abandoned the event and begun attacking the victim.

Before the unnamed victim’s encounter with the MOVEE supporters, our reporter says he (the victim) had earlier thrown cutlass at a man he was chasing, but missed target. 
Having thrown the cutlass into the grass, our reporters says the victim was then returning to where the confusion started,walking in the direction to where MOVEE was hosting its program when he got attacked by supporters and flogged mercilessly.

The partisans in large numbers overpowered the angry man, laid him on the ground and had others flogged and kicked him for a while. The man was released later. While the incident was ongoing, not a single official of Mr. Wehye was seen making attempt to stop the party supporters from attacking the unknow man. When Mr. Benjamin Yele Wehye was asked about the involvement of his supporters against the victim, he told this paper on Sunday, 13 August via mobile phone that the situation was very unfortunate.

He adds that he received the information surrounding the incident from some partisans of MOVEE after he left his party headquarters.Meanwhile, MOVEE political leader Dr. Mills Jones who was expected to join the district partisans in a parade did show up for the occasion, but designated a member of the party’s information team Mr. Robert Sammie.

Mr. Sammie informed the gathering that Dr. Jones could not attend the occasion because he was attending the funeral of one of MOVEE officials’ father-in-law.
By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Citizens threaten to boycott elections in Maryland

Over 700 residents of Maryland County, specifically Yuokudi community, along the Liberian-Ivorian border are threatening to boycott the October elections and stop politicians from going to them to campaign due to failure of local leaders to electrify their area.


Speaking in an interview with the New Dawn over the weekend, the chairman for the community, Mr. Wah Dickson, explains that their decision to boycott the elections is due to the failure of the county authorities to enable them benefit electricity being provided by the West African Power Poll or WAPP.

WAPP is a regional firm that is providing electricity for rural communities across the subregion, benefiting Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone. He laments that on several occasions, they have engaged the local authorities, including representatives of the Liberia Electricity Corporation on the lack of power in their community, but all efforts proved fruitless.

He says the community, situated near the international border lacks electricity, but yet current from Ghana through Ivory Coast passes over them to other areas, something he notes, poses serious security threat to the entire country.

Mr. Dickson further explains that they risk their lives on a daily basis, riding in canoes over the Cavalla River into neighboring Ivory Coast to charge mobile phones, purchase ice and other basic commodities.

He says as a result of the lack of electricity, the entire community is unsafe, and they live in fear due to alleged ritualistic killings. Citizens of Maryland County particularly Harper City and surroundings have benefitted from the cross border electricity for nearly two years now.

The spokesperson for a local firm expected to take over the power supply, Mr. Patrick Nugba, discloses that Cheway Power Energy and Associate or CEPA is aware of the lack of electricity but attributes the situation to lack of transformer to stand the load, considering the number of homes and business centers that are in dire need of power.

Mr. Nugba continues that CEPA is still negotiating with the Government of Liberia to take full control from the WAPP and appeals to citizens to remain calm as they will receive priority once a contract is signed with the government here.

The Government of Liberia with support from partners has constructed a new dam at the Mount Coffee Hydro Power Plant in White Plain, outside Monrovia. The hydro was completely destroyed during the country’s 14 years civil war that devastated every facet of lives across Liberia.President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf officially inaugurated the dam on December 15, 2016 with a maximum generating capacity of 64 MW.

20-year-old girl survives attack

A 20-year-old girl reportedly escapes from two male attackers, who allegedly extracted blood from her, using a syringe and then injected her with an unknown substance, using the same syringe.


Narrating her ordeal to The New Dawn via mobile phone on Monday, 14 August the victim only identified as Princess Garblah (no relations to New Dawn Managing Editor), explains that while she went out door to attend nature, two unidentified men pounced her with a syringe, injecting her and extracting blood from her body.

She said the attack occurred recently in Bomi County when she and her mother were traveling to Small Bopolu a nearby village from Tubmanburg.  According to her, while on their way to the village, she asked to go in the bush to toilet, saying, “When I entered the bush, I saw two men standing far from each other, the man with the long bag jumped on me and we started fighting, while fighting he called his friend who held me by my blouse and he injected me with the sharp injection needle and started taking my blood.”

Princess continues that she managed to escape from the two individuals after putting up a hard fight for her life before her mother arrived. She further explains that she became unconscious upon the arrival of her mother.

The girl’s mother narrates, “I can’t speak good English but I want my daughter to do her x-ray so we can know what happened to her. I want government to come to our rescue by carrying my daughter to good hospital,” she pleads.

Madam Thellor Garblah continues that her daughter’s health condition requires serious medical attention, as she does not know what might happen to her child in the future, and she doesn’t know where they took her daughter’s blood.

She appeals to the county authorities, government officials and humanitarians across Liberia to come to the aid of her child, who needs urgent medical attention.There has been no report of arrest about the incident in the county, which occurs at a time political campaigns are intensifying for the October presidential and legislative elections.

By Ethel A. Tweh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

 

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