Police set guidelines for protest

The Liberia National Police (LNP) has issued a statement here, informing the public on guidelines that must be observed and respected in the organization of any demonstration, march or other events in the wake of pronouncement by opposition Liberty Party (LP’s) youth wing that it will stage a non - violent demonstration in and around Monrovia to reject poll results.

While the LNP did not single out any group of individuals in its statement released Wednesday, 18 October, the LP has however expressed dissatisfaction over the results of the October 10 presidential and representatives’ elections and ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) to halt announcement of provisional results.

While presidential candidate Cllr. Charles Brumskine announces that the LP would file its case with the NEC, his supporters on the other hand announced on Sunday that would stage demonstration to show their seriousness in rejecting NEC’s polls results.

95 percent of the ballots counted so far puts Brumskine at 9.8 percent, far below the two main contenders Sen. George Manneh Weah (39.0 percent) of opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai (29.1 percent) of ruling Unity Party (UP).
Citing the New LNP Act of 2015, the police say prior to the holding of any special event in the form of Demonstration, March or similar event in the public place, the organizers must notify the County Attorney in the County where the event is to take place.

Where the event is to take place in Montserrado County, the LNP says the Minister of Justice must be notified of said special event not less than Seven days before the date of that special event. Under Section 22.86 (a), the Act says any person who desires to hold any special event in the form of demonstration, march or any form of protest or similar event in any public place shall notify the County Attorney in the County where the event is to take place of his or her intention not less than seven days before the date of the special event.

It says further in Section 22.86 (b) that where the special event is to be held in Montserrado County, the notification shall be sent to the Minister and consultations require by this section shall be with the Inspector General of Police.

Under Section 22.86 (d), the Act says where the County Attorney, in consultation with the head of Police in the County, has reasonable grounds to believe that the special event, if held may lead to violence or endanger defense, public order, public safety, public health or the running of essential services or violate the rights and freedom of another person(s), he or she shall report the matter to the Minister and request the organizers to cancel or postpone the special event to any other date or to relocate the special event.--Press release

2 killed in Point Four robbery

The Chairman of a community policing forum (CPF) from the Monrovia suburb of Point Four in the Municipal Borough of New Kru Town on Bushrod Island, Mr. Joseph S. Mulbah confirms the death of two persons whom he claims had been separately stabbed overnight by hardened criminals. Making the disclosure to this paper on Wednesday, 18 October Chairman Mulbah, who did not name the two victims, explains that as a result of the two separate incidents, the watch forum in collaboration with the Liberia National Police is requesting all businesses operating in the area to close by 1:00 PM to enable it confronts criminals brought into the community overnight.

He notes that the ongoing community security measure has paid off, leading to the arrest of several criminals, who stabbed innocent residents and made away with their personal effects, including cell-phones, hand bags and other valuables. The suspects have reportedly been turned over to the Liberia National Police Zone One sub-station in the community for prosecution.

According to Mr. Mulbah, customers of business houses in the community are being constantly harassed and robbed by criminals, creating serious setback to their operation. The CPF chairman continues that he and his men regularly patrol the community during night hours and engage notorious criminals most of whom come from West Point Township, a densely populated slum community on the coast of Monrovia to carry out their trade.

He narrates that few days ago, the forum was fortunate to apprehend one of the criminals after he stabbed a boy on the hand and attempted escaping the scene with the victim’s personal belongings. He further explains the victim was quickly rushed to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town for medical treatment, while the suspect currently detained at the Zone One police sub-station is being processed for court trial.

Mr. Mulbah warns residents of the community, who are associating with hardened criminals to desist or face the wrath of the CPF and the police, noting that some of the business people in the area are fully cooperating, while others continue to violate measures put in place to curtail crimes.
He emphasizes that any resident caught collaborating with criminals will be arrested and handed over to the police for prosecution.

Several business people, who spoke to this paper during a tour of the community, similarly confirmed being witnesses to attacks on peaceful residents in the main street of Point Four and that, in some instances, some of their business colleagues directly intervened, preventing those allegedly involved from escaping the crime scene.

By Emmanuel Mondaye

Defeated candidate urges Hanson Kiazolu

A defeated representative candidate from the 10 October elections in Montserrado County Electoral District #17, Joseph J. Brown, is calling on the winner of the district Mr. Hanson Kiazolu to unite residents there.

Speaking Wednesday on the “Red Morning Show” a live broadcast hosted on Red Power FM, he says it’s time Mr. Kiazolu put politics aside and unite the people to strategize for development to come to the district. According to him, on Election Day, Kiazolu allegedly planted people at various polling places with money to entice electorate to vote for him (Kiazolu).

He further claims when Kiazlou served as Comptroller General at the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, he did nothing for the people of district #17.

Brown continues that when he went to the United State, he lobbied for seven caterpillars for the district and is willing to turn the machines over to the Representative-elect but notes that Kiazolu must promise that they will be used to develop the district. When contacted, the Media and Communication Specialist for Representative-elect, Edwin Diggs Jarlebah argues that in every democratic space, there are always detractors, who don’t mean well for the people, but only criticize those with good intentions.

Edwin continues that the campaign team of Kiazolu strategically planned before he went to the poll, so there was no need to induce voters to elect him as it is being claimed.

He says Kiazolu was elected based on his works in the district, not on the basis of political inducement, adding that Brown is not a man to take serious because he dismally performed in the race as a result of weak strategy employed during the campaign period.

By Bridgett Milton

Insincerity kills opposition

A supporter of opposition presidential candidate Alexander Cummings’ Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Mulbah Kesselly says insincerity is one of the things that have killed the opposition here.

“By the way, the Liberty Party, you see like I stated earlier you know when I premise my statement, insincerity is one of the things that really killed the opposition and I still see that being run within the Liberty Party,” Kessely claimed during an exchange among representatives of four parties’ youth wing on Tuesday, 17 October at Prime FM 105.5.

Kesselly’s comments came after opposition Liberty Party (LP’s) Jarp Qunicy claimed during the exchange that “the level of fraud in the election has the ability of overturning the election result, that’s what Liberty Party believes.”

Notwithstanding LP’s claims, the ANC’s supporter Kessely insists that while he could not argue that the entire election process was void of problems, he did not know if the problems coming from the 10 October elections warrant Liberians going for a rerun.

Mulbah questioned the essence of having thousands of partisans accompanying LP leaders just to file a complaint with the NEC over alleged elections matters.

“And so you see, as I was saying, what’s the essence of you having thousands of Liberty Party supporters accompanying the leadership at the National Elections Commission to file just a complaint?” he asked.

He argues that when people come to these processes, they have to be sincere to themselves firstly, and then to the Liberian people.

Kesselly believes that even if [the NEC] were to give LP all the votes that they are contesting, the party would still not come second or go to a runoff election.

But a supporter of opposition presidential candidate Macdonald Wento’s United People’s Party (UPP), Michael Tipayson says inasmuch as it makes sense to say rerun is not likely, the opposition community must be moderate in addressing issues coming from other opposition parties.

In backing the LP’s claims of elections fraud, Tipayson claims that the NEC Chair Cllr. Jerome Korkoya has undermined the entire process.

On Sunday, 15 October, the LP’s youth wing leader Cephas Flanzamaton said the party’s youth wing would begin an indiscriminate violent free demonstration in and around Monrovia this week, most specifically at the NEC headquarters to show their seriousness in rejecting results coming from the elections.

LP’s Charles Brumskine stands at third place in the presidential elections with 9.8 percent of the votes counted so far, after 95 percent of all the votes cast have been counted by the Commission as of 15 October.

By Winston W. Parley

UNFPA launches 2017 report

The United Nation Fund for Population Activities or UNFPA has launched the 2017 World Population Report with the call to support country reproductive health system, and rights in an age of inequality.

Speaking at the formal launch of the report Tuesday, 17 October 17, at the UNFPA office at Mamba Point, Country Representative Dr. Oluremi Sogunro said the world is increasingly unequal, but the inequality is not only about money.

The new UNFPA report is titled: “Worlds Apart: Reproductive Health and Rights in an Age of Inequality.” Dr. Sogunro says it’s also about power, rights and opportunities, and it has many dimensions that feed on each other.

According to him one dimension of inequality that has received too little attention is in the enjoyment or denial of reproductive rights and the effects of that on humanity.

The Country Representative adds that example of the impact of inequality on the reproductive rights of women and girls is that Obstetric fistula, a wound that leaves a hole in the birth canal, caused by prolonged, obstructed labour. According to him, this problem has been virtually eliminated in the world’s wealthier countries and in better-off communities within poor countries.

Fistula is preventable and treatable, but persists due to weak health systems, poverty, gender inequality, and early marriage and childbearing. 
Working with other United Nations agencies, partners and governments, UNFPA is committed to a future where zero is the only acceptable number.

It involves zero maternal deaths, zero unintended pregnancies; and Zero gender-based violence and harmful practices, including female genital mutilation and child marriage.

For her part, UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem says inequality is increasingly about the cans and cannots, adding that poor women who lack the means to make their own decisions about family size or who are in poor health because of inadequate reproductive health care dominate the ranks of the cannots.

In most developing countries, the poorest women have the fewest options for family planning, the least access to antenatal care and are most likely to give birth without the assistance of doctor, or midwife.

She noted that limited access to family planning translates into 89 million unintended pregnancies and 48 million abortions in developing countries annually.

This does not only harm women’s health, but also restricts their ability to join or stay in the paid labour force and move towards financial independence.

“Unless inequality is urgently tackled and the poorest women empowered to make their own decisions about their lives, countries could face unrest and threats to peace and to their development goals,” she says.

The report says the costs of inequalities, including in sexual and reproductive health and rights, could extend to the entire global community’s goals.

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

Lone Star female team drops in FIFA world ranking

The female team of Liberia’s Lone Star has dropped five spots below its world ranking 119 in September. According to world football governing body FIFA’s ranking, the female Lone Star was at 123, but dropped to 119 in September.

The team in June was ranked at 125 in the FIFA -Coca Cola world ranking and 31 in Africa. Despite not being involved in many matches, the female Lone Star team rank has dropped in Africa this year.

The national female team has been out of international tournaments outside Liberia for some time now and has been out of local leagues for the past two months.

Meanwhile, the male national Lone Star team has also dropped in FIFA and Coca-Cola rankings. The team dropped two steps from its first position in the world and
one step in Africa.

The October release from the world football governing body FIFA shows the Lone Star team at 135 in the world and 38 in Africa. But Liberia is above Tanzania and other countries.

The male team Lone Star in August moved to 133 places in the world and 17 place above its July rank. The country dropped in the world ranking after it was sent out from the world cup qualifiers and Africa national championship.

The male team continued to struggle and now left with the opportunity to qualify for the 2019 African cup of nations after the 3-0 defeat in its first group match against Zimbabwe on June 11 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

Liberia is in Group G along with Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Congo. According to the latest report for the first time in 15 years, Tunisia moved top of the FIFA African ranking while Germany retained the number one position in the world among the top 10 ranked countries, with 1631 points while Brazil is second with 1619 points. Portugal is third, Argentina fourth, Belgium fifth, Poland sixth and France seventh.

By Sally Gaye

2017 population report highlights Reproductive Health

The Country Representative of the United Nations Population Fund or UNFPA, Dr. Oluremi Sogunro, says the state of the World’s Population Report for 2017 focuses on Reproductive Health, particularly good health care for pregnant women.

Speaking on a local radio station in Monrovia on Tuesday, October 17, he notes that the world is getting wider and wider, and women need reproductive health care, something which, according to him, is a major challenge for rural women in Liberia.

He stresses that reproductive health care is important because people in rural areas lack access to good health care, which leads to increase in maternal mortality, particularly among rural inhabitants.

“In 1999 we highlighted children’s report where now boys and girls have their rights, we also signed the human rights that we have today and now we are highlighting Reproductive Health, we are going to reach to the poorest women to make sure they have access to good health care”, the Country Representative vows.

He emphasizes that UNFPA will reach out to women in rural Liberia  to educate them more on how to avoid pregnancy or when to get pregnant, noting that because the women are not knowledgeable about their bodies they suffer lot of health complications.

Dr. Sogunro explains that market women too need to be taught on all these things because most of them have less education and suffer from
complications too. “Our girls need to have access to quality education; it is not good for girls to be in the streets selling water, those days we never had the resources that we have now.”

“Let’s tear down the rape law, few weeks ago the house amended the rape law, we need to stop all these violations against our women and
girls”, the UNFPA Country Representative concludes. Editing by Jonathan Browne

Civil Society group seeks explanation from NEC

Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) is being challenged to prove how 84,057 ballots from the 10 October polls are rendered invalid. Addressing reporters over the weekend in Paynesville outside Monrovia, the Secretary-General of a local civil society group, Citizens for Transparent Elections in Liberia says figures announced by the Chairman of the NEC Cllr. Jerome Korkoya is alarming.

“I wonder how can this figure as pronounced by the NEC excel the total numbers of register voters in some counties and what also necessitated it”, asks Mr. Patrick D. White. He argues that the invalid votes as released by the National Elections Commission clearly demonstrates that the electoral body miserably failed to conduct sufficient public education throughout the country prior to the polls on how people should vote especially, for first time voters.

He stresses that the NEC should prioritize civic voter education during future elections to adequately prepare Liberians throughout the country to vote correctly rather than acknowledging very huge invalid votes after an election. Mr. White notes that the essence of conducting free, fair and transparent elections is to ensure that voters understand the process of voting rather than announcing outcomes to show high figures of invalid votes, which indicates that the NEC needs to do more to avoid such figures.

He says the Citizens for Transparent Elections in Liberia is preparing an official communication to the National Elections Commission to verify the truth of the matter. Meanwhile, the civil society organization is cautioning Liberians against any act that could disrupt the ongoing transitioning process.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

LNP moves to decongest traffic

In order to ease continuous traffic congestion in Monrovia, the Liberia National Police is announcing the creation of a third lane in the traffic to enable citizens coming to work and returning home thru Redlight-to- Sinkor, and across the bridge arrive to their respective destinations in time.

Police Spokesman Sam Collins says the LNP developed the strategy in order to help the public move about with ease, noting that Sinkor and the Bushrod Island routes are mainly noted for heavy traffic. He continues that this is an exercise that would enable vehicles to freely ply the various basic routes in the capital, saying, “The roads are not many, and there are so many cars, which causes more traffic in the various areas.”

At the same time Spokesman Collins says security officers deplored across the country for the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections are still intact, noting that those securities are here to protect lives and properties of Liberians and no one will be allowed to disrupt the current peace Liberians enjoy.

“We will remain vigilant to the elections process and even after the elections. Those who sit on radio stations and other medium to threaten the peace we have enjoyed over the years, the securities are here to allow us to maintain the peace we have”, he stresses.

UPP endorses CDC

Ahead of final announcement of elections results by the National Elections Commission (NEC), opposition United People’s Party (UPP) has officially endorsed opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of Senator George Manneh Weah for an imminent presidential run - off expected between ruling Unity Party (UP) and the CDC this November.

Provisional results released by the NEC as of 15 October puts the UPP of presidential candidate Macdonald Wento at 8,613 ( 0.6 percent) of the votes counted so far.

The NEC is yet to officially announce a run - off yet, but Liberians are glaringly bracing for a second round between Mr. Weah’s CDC and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai’s UP against the backdrop that none of the 20 presidential candidates can acquire 50 percent plus one of total votes as required under the Liberian law to be declared winner.

Over the weekend, UPP’s presidential candidate Mr. Macdonald Wento along with former stalwarts of the party stormed the headquarters of the CDC in total celebrations as though Mr. Wento had miraculously been declared winner of the October polls.

But the occasion was to declare his support to the presidential bid of Senator Weah if there should be a run - off. With final results expected this Friday after 95 per cent of counting has been done, the CDC has comfortably obtained 39.0 per cent of the total votes cast ahead of UP which has 29.1 per cent.

Declaring his support to the CDC, UPP’s Wento says he is back home. Wento is a founding member of the Congress for Democratic Change which now forms coalition with former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) of imprisoned ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor and indicted former Speaker Alex Tyler’s Liberian People Democratic Party (LPDP).

After the formation of the CDC in 2004, Mr. Wento later parted company with the party for his political sojourn. Having miserably performed in the October elections, Mr. Wento finds comfort in quietly returning to his political home, the CDC.

He says his return with a support base of 0.6 per cent of the vote counted so far is intended to ensure that CDC wins a run - off in flying colours.

“We started this political institution years back; we left to create more avenues for others to serve. Today, we [are] back to work for the forward - match [of] our dear party,” says Mr. Wento.

For his part, CDC Vice Chairman for operations Mr. Mulbah Morlu expressed thanks to the UPP for its decision to come back to the CDC.

Morlu says the political godfather of the UPP, the late Gabriel Barcus Matthews also served as the godfather to the CDC during the 2005 Presidential elections, noting that the spirit of Mr. Matthews will be celebrating as his children are mustering the courage to form a common front against someone whose life speaks, but failures.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor--Edited by Winston W. Parley

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