Ellen calls NEC to attention

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President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says the National Elections Commission (NEC) must ensure that it protects the State from any disturbance, ordering commissioners here to demonstrate efficiency and neutrality in the decisions they make in strengthening Liberians’ trust in the electoral body.

While jointly commissioning Liberia’s ambassador to Qatar, former Maryland County Sen. John Ballout and two NEC Commissioners on Monday, 21 August at her office, Mrs. Sirleaf reminds the NEC officials that Liberia looks forward to a major transition and they must ensure that “we” depend on them.

Under the chairmanship of Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, the NEC is bracing for what may become its biggest test this October in handling over 20 presidential candidates with roughly a thousand representative candidates that are battling for just 73 seats at the lower house.

Upon administering an oath of office to Commissioners Jeanette A. Ebba - Dividson and Boakai Amadu Dukuly who were led to the President’s office by NEC Chair Cllr. Korkoya and his deputy, President Sirleaf emphasized that the neutrality and efficiency that the commissioners show will built the trust that Liberians want.

Similarly, Mrs. Sirleaf earlier enjoined Amb. Ballout that Liberia expects that whatever he does in his new role as the country’s top envoy to Qatar will throw into his goodwill, not only as good diplomat, but to foster good relations between the two countries.

Mrs. Sirleaf tells Amb. Ballout that government expects the same expediency and quality he carried in his previous task as Senator.

Responding on behalf of the NEC, Commissioner Jeanette A. Ebba - Davidson promises Mrs. Sirleaf that the Commission will continue to fearlessly perform its constitutional tasks, and assures that it will deliver free and fair elections void of violence.

While assuring President Sirleaf that the NEC will create a level playing field for everyone, Madam Davidson takes a moment to appreciate the president for being supportive to the Commission financially and otherwise, whenever her help is needed.

She notes that the NEC will be at President Sirleaf’s door step if there are hitches anywhere that require her help, having acknowledged that Mrs. Sirleaf sees the success of the October elections as one of the biggest legacy she wants to leave.

Madam Davidson encourages Mrs. Sirleaf to trust the NEC Board of Commissioner on grounds that they will do the best they can to make Liberians proud.

She has however admonished Liberians against electoral violence, noting that punching a colleague’s eye will only incite violence. She notes that Liberia has missed a lot of opportunities, and pleads with the citizenry that these October elections must not be one of such opportunities that the country would miss.

In response to a toast proffered by President Sirleaf to the honorees, Amb. John Ballout thanked the President for the tasks given each of them, assuring her that they shall endeavour to do their best. He prays that God Almighty continues to bless the works of President Sirleaf. ---By Winston W. Parley

Citizens demand Mansion completion

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The National Elections Commission or NEC, responsible to conduct presidential and legislative elections in Liberia has since declared political campaign officially opened, allowing political parties and independent candidates to seek votes of electorate, but the biggest question left unanswered: Is Liberia’s Executive Mansion, official home of the Presidency ready to accommodate whoever emerges as President?

Liberians received with shocks news of a fire disaster at the Executive Mansion on 26 July 2006 which coincided with the country’s 159th Independence Day celebration.
The fire engulfed the fourth floor of the Mansion in the presence of three West African Presidents, including former President John Kuffour of Ghana, who had come to celebrate with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the time, barely seven months into her first term of office.

Subsequent investigation launched by the Sirleaf Administration with support from foreign experts from the United Nations, America and findings from Johannesburg laboratory, South Africa pointed to “electrical fault” as the cause of the fire incident, which left no casualty.

President Sirleaf eventually vacated the Executive Mansion and relocated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Capitol Hill, where she has ran her government up to now with the Mansion yet to be completely renovated and ready for use.

However, several Liberians, who spoke to this paper on 19 August expressed apprehension whether the next elected government of the country would be seated in the Executive Mansion.

57-year-old Jimmy Barcoon of Todee District, Montserrado County; Mrs. Julia Mamie Abaco of Po River, Bomi County, and Ms. Celia Gibson Mark, among others, say since the government pronounced that renovation work was being carried out to restore the building to normalcy, nothing has been heard about progress made or whether it is completed and ready to host the next elected government in 2018.

According to them, the situation is worrisome, particularly to Liberians, who obtained their voter cards and are eager to elect a new President come October and members of the House of Representatives to manage the affairs of state for the next six years.

They stress that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is under obligation to inform Liberians how far work on the destroyed fourth floor of the Executive Mansion has gone, and if the building would be ready to host the next elected government.

The citizens who sounded frustrated, note that it would be a great disgrace to the country to see the next elected regime housed outside of the Executive Mansion, which is the official home of all Liberian Presidents.

When contacted, the Press Secretary to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Mr. Jerolinkmek M. Piah, says that if somebody wants to know whether renovation work is going on, yes. But he refers this paper to the Ministry of Public Works for details on progress of the reported renovation.

However, the Director for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Public Works Jusufu Keita, told this paper on Monday, 21 August that he doesn’t know a person within the Ministry that has technical details on the Executive Mansion renovation.

The Executive Mansion was originally constructed from 1960 to 1963. The entire project was designed and supervised by Stanley Engineering Company of Africa; and the construction contractor was Liberian Construction Corporation (LCC). The project was officially dedicated on 3rd. January 1964.

The building also has an eight-storey horizontal arch-like (semicircular) structure, constructed primarily of reinforced concrete post and lintel system, covering a total area of approximately 26,500 sq. feet.

Vertical circulation throughout the building is by means of four major staircases and six elevators. One of the elevators is solely used by the presidency and visiting dignitaries, while another one is used for freight and the rest of the other four elevators are used by the public.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

UL President gets international honor

The President of the University of Liberia (UL) Professor Dr. Ophelia Weeks, has been appointed by the Florida International University as Professor Emerita of the College of Arts, Science and Education.

She was appointed during a visit to the United States of America (USA) this month. “in recognition of your thirty years of distinguished service to Florida International University, the President and I are pleased to appoint you Professor Emerita of the College of Arts, Science and Education effective Spring 2017”, a release press from the University of Liberia signed by the Acting Vice President for UL Relations, Dr. Julius Sarwolo Nelson, Jr. says.

The release also disclosed that Dr. Week’s appointment was enthusiastically supported by the Biological Sciences department where she worked for many years as Faculty, Chairperson and Dean.

The emeritus status entitles Dr. Weeks to continue campus courtesies, within budgetary constraints, and under the same condition of active faculty. The release quotes Dr. Weeks’ appointment letter as saying that Florida International University is indebted to her for the numerous scholarly contributions she made during her 30 years of service in the Department of Biological Sciences.

“Particularly your efforts as a mentor and in establishing student-centered initiatives such as the MSRC U* START and QBIC programs have left a lasting mark and raised our students’ profiles.”

The UL release continues that that Florida International University recently retired Prof. Dr. Ophelia Weeks following her 30 years of distinguished service earlier to her appointment as President of the University of Liberia. Press Release

Deaf community expresses frustration

Some members of the Liberia National Association of the Deaf (LNAD) have expressed serious frustration and disappointment in authorities at the National Election Commission (NEC) for allegedly excluding the deaf community in the electoral process.

In an exclusive interview with this paper over the weekend in the Auditorium of the University of Liberia, the General Secretary of LNAD, Mr. Abdullah Tani Konateh, said the deaf community here desperately wants to fully participate in the development process of the country.

But he accuses the NEC of not putting measures in place to include the deaf in the elections process, describing such action as unfortunate. Mr. Konateh was interviewed at a program marking the official launch of the Youth and Elections Project by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYS) in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The the deaf group says the NEC’s alleged action of excluding them in the electoral process is a gross violation of their rights as citizens of this country. “It’s our right to participate in the rebuilding process of our country especially with the issue of electing our leaders. This process is not and must not be restricted to certain or particular group of people, we are all Liberians,” Mr. Konateh adds.

He suggests that the best way to include people with disabilities is for the government through the NEC to provide interpreters for for the deaf, emphasizing on someone who can adequately understand various signs used by the disable to communicate.

He argues that the disable community has qualified and educated people that have experience in civic and voter education. But according to Mr. Konateh, their major problem here has been interpreters who will guide them in the process. He believes that the interpreters can better relate to the deaf because they know what the disable want to say or do.

He therefore pleads with government to find people who can serve as interpreters and to have the deaf included in this October electoral process. Meanwhile commenting on the last week presidential debate held between the Unity Party, All Liberian Party, the Liberty Party, and the Alternative National Congress, Mr. Konateh expresses disappointment on grounds that there was no sign language interpreters at the presidential debate for the deaf community in Liberia.

He wonders how will the deaf community know or understand the various platforms from each presidential candidate when there was no interpreter to relate to the community.
He observes that other countries pay serious attention to deaf people by assigning interpreters that will help them understand what every candidate will be telling the people.
For his part, UNDP Country Director Dr. Lamin Beyai promises to work along with the disabled community, especially the deaf community, to participate in UNDP projects for the betterment of the country.

He explains that those living as deaf and mute are also great contributors to the successful implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that Liberia hopes to achieve, including vision 2030. He says UNDP is working with other partners on projects like the Youth and Elections Project to include people with disabilities, because they are citizens and must be given equal rights despite their conditions.

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

Alpha Phi Fraternity donates to Group of 77

Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity incorporated Liberia Chapter has donated US$200, 30 pieces of crouches, 2 walkers, 1 oxygen mars and 1 wheelchair to the group of 77 located on Newport Street in Monrovia.

The organization identified with the disable group at the headquarters of the group of 77 here in Monrovia on Thursday, 17 August. Speaking during the donation, the President and Chief Dean of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity T. Nelson Williams noted that his institution has been in the constant habit of identifying with disable groups, orphanages and other destitute kids to keep their hopes alive.

“We want to work with the Group of 77 in offering scholarship to those that will meet the grade points, because we were founded on a university campus so we’re proud ourselves on leadership and that while we focus on education, we always look for those that have the talents to help them achieve their goals,” he says.

Mr. Williams says Alpha Fraternity has students at eight universities and also gives scholarship to the Liberia Educational Trust, causing over US$50,000. This month, he says the fraternity focuses on the disabled and orphanages, and announced plans that they will on Sunday move to My Brother’s Keeper Orphanage.

Mr. Williams notes that the fraternity is collaborating with its international organization in Maryland, USA in carrying out the donation. Receiving the donation, the program officer of the Group of 77 Mrs. Constance T. Kennedy expressed delight over the gesture and promised to distribute them to members of the disabled.

She expressed appreciation to group for identifying with the Group of 77, noting that it is not a strange thing to them. She says they are facing challenge in getting some of those that are promoted to 12th grade enrolled in college.

“We want to disabuse the minds that once you get a fish today, and cannot get it tomorrow it is not a good fish, so we are calling on you guys to see reason to offer some scholarship. This is where we place strong emphasis, because it is the mindset that makes the difference,” she says.

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

Wife killer denies reacting for small food

A 35 - year - old man accused of killing his wife Dorris Nyamah Nyei for serving him small quantity of meat in his food, Mr. Moses Kporkpah says he unintentionally shot the victim when he left his gun on “advance” [or unlocked] while returning from hunting in the Cow Field Community of Gbarnga, Bong County.

Given the suspect’s challenge in speaking English during a joint interview Monday, 21 August at the Liberia National Police (LNP) Headquarters, conversation with him was translated from Kpelleh to English by Police Spokesman Sam Collins.

Through the translation done by Mr. Collins, journalists were informed through suspect Kporkpah’s account that while he denies intentionally killing victim Dorris for giving him small meat, the couples however had unsettled family problems regarding the deceased’s alleged insistence to come to her old husband in Monrovia.

The suspect recalls that it all started when a lady from Cow Field Community who had travelled to Monrovia, had upon returning to the community, allegedly told his wife Dorris that her old husband wanted her (Dorris) to come to Monrovia.

Based on such information, the suspect claims that when he came from hunting in the bush, his wife informed him that she was coming to Monrovia.

But he claims that despite immediately reminding his wife that both of them had an agreement that neither of them should go back to their past relations, the victim did come to Monrovia and stayed here for a week before returning to Cow Field Community in Gbarnga.

Already unhappy about Dorris’ stay in Monrovia, suspect Kporkpah says the victim, upon returning from Monrovia, still intensified her demand to come back to her man in Monrovia instead of living with a hunter with four children and was seen to be doing nothing for her.

Suspect Kporkpah and victim Dorris were said to have had four children each, whom they combined during their happy days to make a family of eight children.

In the midst of these unsettled family problems with his wife, the suspect says he had gone hunting and was coming home with some animal in his bag, but did not lock his gun when he approached the town.

Hanging the unlocked gun under his arm and trying to put his load down, suspect Kporkpah claims that the weapon fired and killed his wife whom according to him, was sitting in a gathering. He claims that the incident was not intentional.

Announcing the suspect’s arrest on Monday at the LNP Headquarters, Spokesman Sam Collins said police were informed about the suspect’s action about two months ago, following which they launched a joint security operation to get him apprehended.

While the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) worked with the joint security team assisted by community hunters in Bong County, Mr. Collins says suspect Kporkpah absconded the scene and went on a hunting expedition in the bush.

Spokesman Collins says the accused shot two hunters that were helping the joint state security operation, ca leaving the leg of one of the victims to be amputated at the state - run John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia.

But following two months of search, the suspect was arrested not too far from Cow Field Community in Gbarnga, based on intelligence given police that he usually went to town to buy battery to carry on his hunting expedition.

The suspect is now undergoing preliminary police investigation at LNP Headquarters in Monrovia, and is cooperating with investigation, according to Collins. Meanwhile, the Police Spokesman has reassured the public that there is no hiding place for any Liberian or any national residing here that will commit crime and harbor the belief that they can go with impunity.--By Winston W. Parley


Ngafuan targets first time voters

With less than two months to the October 10th presidential and representatives’ elections, the campaign manager for Vice President Joseph N. Boakai, Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, is calling on officials and members of the “Friends of Augustine Ngafuan” (FAN) for the election of Vice President Joe Boakai to remain steadfast in mobilizing more support, especially first time voters to ensure victory at the ballot box.

He says the leadership of the governing Unity Party is not taking anything for granted, but will do all within its powers in making sure Candidate Boakai is elected as President and subsequently inaugurated in January 2018.

He gave the challenge at the official launch of the Women Wing of the “Friends of Augustine Ngafuan” (FAN) for Joseph N. Boakai Presidency on Friday, 18 August held at the YMCA on Broad Street in Monrovia.

Vice President Boakai is vying for the Presidency along with 20 other candidates in the race, including six Independent contestants one of them a female.A total of 2,183,683 citizens have registered across the country to participate in the polls with nearly 1,000 candidates vying for seats in the Lower House.

Ngafuan notes that those referring to themselves today as oppositions were all once part of the Unity Party-led government both during the first and second term of the Sirleaf Administration, who later left the government and are now criticizing the same government they once served.

According to him, some of the things they are criticizing the government of today, were the same things that they did when they were in the government, adding, “and we know them and know them very well and can identify them anytime and anywhere.”

He lauds the Vice President for being a man of integrity, whom according to him, has lived a life above reproach than all other candidates that are in the presidential race. Speaking earlier, Unity Party campaign manager for Grand Cape County, Madam Dabah Varpilah, appeals to “FAN” members to be very courageous in going to towns, communities and villages to talk to voters about the good characters of Amb.Boakai, noting that he is the best candidate in these elections.

Madam Varpilah recommends Jehovah Witness style of evangelism as a campaign strategy being adapted by the party in going in communities to talk to each and every citizen, specifically voters about Candidate Boakai and his plans for Liberia after his victory in October.

She warns members of the organization to kick against confrontation while campaigning, noting that by allowing themselves to be confrontational with people will not do them any good.

For her part, the Chairlady of “FAN” Mariah Quaye Gilayeneh, thanks the participants for gracing the occasion and notes that the organization has spread chapters throughout Montserrado County and will soon be extended throughout Liberia to secure more votes for the candidacy of Joe Boakai.

The program brought together well-wishers from across Monrovia, including the Ma Juah Market women, Johnsonville-Dry Rice Market Women for Boakai, Women of Change from New Matadi , Progressive Movement for Boakai located in Barnesville, Marshall Women for Boakai and BOOTIC Women of ELWA community, among others.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Brumskine-Karnwea festival ends

Thousands of Bassa Tribes men and women of Lower Monsterrado last Friday hosted Liberty Party Standard bearers Cllr. Charles Brumskine in an event that was largely given to offering of prayer for Victory.

The event was hosted at the Gbengba Town Sports pitch in District # 6 Monsterrado County. In attendance was a battery of clergy men cutting across other tribes.The organizers said it is because they know that God is the ultimate in installing a leadership that will turn things around for the mammoth problems Liberia is contending with, so they gathered to present our supplication for divine blessing to come down on all Liberty Party candidates.

“Our effort is not a selfish one for the promotion of Bassa hegemony knowing that all tribes matter in nation building, but we are conscious of the open mindedness of Cllr Brumskine and Vice President Karnwea as the winning team that can proffer much needed transformation,” one of the organizers disclosed.

Cllr Brumskine is quoted as saying “I am humbled to be here and can sense the presence of God may your collective prayers reach the heavens that can judge our intentions.”
Putting God in the political bid campaign demonstrates sincerity of purpose and passion to succeed without relying on mortal brinkmanship, observed a political pundit.

Thursday is ‘National Flag Day’;

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has by proclamation declared Thursday, August 24, 2017 as “National Flag Day,” and it is to be observed throughout the Republic as a National Holiday.

By an Act approved on October 25, 1915, the National Legislature of the Republic of Liberia declared August 24th each year as “National Flag Day” to be observed as a “National Holiday” throughout Liberia.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the Liberian leader has called on all citizens and foreign residents within our borders to give prominence to the observance of the Day throughout the Republic by flying the National Flag from each dwelling and public building, and that all government offices, public and business houses be closed on that Day.

President Sirleaf has directed the Ministry of Education and all other government agencies concerned, to execute appropriate programs befitting the day.

The National Ensign of Liberia is a visible evidence of the country’s sovereignty and independence as well as a symbol of pride and dignity within the comity of nations.

The making of the National Flag was a historic event of great significance for Liberia, as Africa’s pacesetter in the struggle for self-determination and inspiration to future African States.

The National Flag was designed and produced by a committee of ladies, who were very talented and visionary citizens of the Republic led by Mrs. Susannah Lewis.

The Flag consists of six red stripes and five alternating white stripes, totaling eleven stripes, each representing one of the eleven signers of the Declaration of Independence of Liberia; a blue field, in the upper left corner of a rectangular form with a single white star in the center of the blue field, depicting Liberia as the then only independent state on the continent of Africa; the color red symbolizes the blood of those who died in the struggle for independence; the color white indicates the purity of mind of all our forbearers toward each other; and the blue for the dark continent of Africa as it was then depicted.

Police conduct crisis management w/shop

In the wake of the ongoing campaign for the pending elections, the headquarters of the Liberia National Police in collaboration with the National Police Training Academy has conducted weeklong workshop on crisis management for police officers in southeast Liberia.

The workshop brought together over 800 officers of the LNP Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and Police Support Unit (PSU) from River Cess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, and Maryland Counties, respectively.

Deputy county commander, Superintendent Samson Wah, explains that the training started from the Liberia National Police Headquarters in Monrovia with a Training of Trainers Workshop for senior police officers across the country.

He says the LNP management decided to conduct the crisis management training for officers because of the upcoming presidential and representative elections in October, which he describes as crucial to the country.

Liberians go to the polls on October 10th to elect a new President and members of the House of Representatives. A total of 2,183,683 citizens have registered across the country to participate in the polls with 21 presidential candidates six of them Independent, and over 100 candidates vying for seats in the Lower House.

Superintendent Wah continues that the police authority decided to decentralize the training so that officers in the field can learn how to contain crisis situation that may occur during the ongoing campaign and the day of elections.

However, he expresses optimism that the entire campaign period and the polls would be peaceful.

Commander Wah says with the level of training being provided, he is of the conviction that his officers are professionally capable of calming any violence that may occur during the campaign and elections slated for October this year.

He calls on Marylanders and Liberians across the country to approach the electoral process with care, cautioning that they should not see their diverse political backgrounds as recipe for chaos because Liberia is the common denominator.

He notes that the world is watching Liberians how they conduct themselves during these elections, which will demonstrate their level of maturity in handling issues as they unfold.

Several officers, who spoke to this paper in Harper City recently, laud the LNP management for the two weeks crisis management training. According to them, the knowledge acquired during the training will greatly help them to calm down any violent situation during the campaign and the elections.

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

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