Inter-news, partners hold media forum

Inter-news Liberia is leading implementation of the Liberia Media Development (LMD) along with five international and local partners through a grant awarded by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID.

The LMD program seeks to strengthen the Liberian media to be more sustainable and independent as well as ensures citizens have access to reliable information to make informed decisions. The program, which is expected to be implemented up to September 2020, targets several community radio stations across the country.

The Community Media Forum (CMF) is one of the earmarked activities to be implemented periodically under objective #2 of the LMD implementation framework, which seeks to ensure that multiplicity of voices are represented in the Liberian media .

The CMF is a media community outreach initiative under the LMD aimed at stimulating debate among community stakeholders, including ordinary citizens around issues of accountability and transparency at the local level, while increasing citizens’ access to information on programs or projects that directly impact their lives through participatory media engagements.

As a means of implementation, the CMF Inter-news in collaboration with the Voice of Grand Kru under the Liberia Media Development (LMD) Program over the weekend held a day-long Special Community Media Forum (CMF) in BarclayVille, Grand Kru County.

Panelists at the forum discussed issues that promote democracy and prevent election violence through dialogue. According to the Community Radios Advisor, Sonnie Morris, the CMF is part of Inter-news program that seeks to foster peaceful electoral environment and to promote democratic virtues following the first leg of Presidential election held on 10 October 2017.

Four panelists addressed the forum, representing Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and institutions, the National Elections Commission especially, Election Magistrates, Public Defender, representatives from women and youth groups, respectively.

The special CMF provides a space for citizens to have their say in governance. Cross section of citizens, who spoke to this paper in Barclay Ville note that such discussion, is a sign of good democracy.

Sonnie Morris told participants at the forum to remain attentive as they will understand the meaning of the Supreme Court’s recent decision and ensure that they have access to better information.

By George K. Momo from Grand Kru

Big black Lie

-defeated Rep. Josephine Francis
Montserrado County defeated Representative Josephine Francis terms as “Big Black Lied” assertions made by a local government official of the Township of Loiusiana that she underrepresented her people and the township lacks development.

Mr. Wilton Saysay, Secretary of the Louisiana Development Council, told hundreds of visiting African Methodist Episcopal University students during an interactive forum held at the Louisiana Town Hall that he (Saysay) refused to support the re-election bid of the defeated lawmaker because she failed to allot portion of the County Development Fund (CDF) to the township.

He says even though his candidate in the 10 October elections did not win, he refused to support Madam Francis because she deliberately failed to allocate money from the CFD and to lobby with the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) to place the names of some of the township staffs including Township Clerk on government payroll.

Mr. Saysay continues that his disappointment in the outgoing representative comes in the wake of her alleged failure to live up to promises she allegedly made while touring several development projects undertaken by the leadership of the township, including modern schools, market and medical centers without any help from central government.

But in reaction to the allegations, Madam Francis says Mr. Saysay’s statement is not only erroneous, but a “big black lied”, as she had never promised anyone in the township to place people on government payroll and allot fund from the County Development Fund for Louisiana.

She explains that the developments referred to by Mr. Saysay are projects that came through her negotiation with several companies operating in the township that led to the signing of the Social Development Agreements.

She then made reference to her development initiatives, which include construction of modern markets in the townships of Harriburg and Cruserville, and hospital in Kon’s Town.

The former lawmaker says Louisiana had never had these developments before, adding that they came into being as her direct representation and contacts with companies operating in the area, contrary to her accuser’s claims.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Armed robbery victim seeks help

A 32-year-old victim of armed robbery Mr. Patrick Sensee Folley, is appealing to philanthropists and individuals for assistance to enable him undergo surgery to remove a bullet from his right hand.

Victim Folley, who is a commercial driver, narrates that doctors have advised that he should go for surgery to remove the bullet to avoid his hand from being permanently deformed, but laments that he doesn’t have financial resources to underwrite the cost of surgery.

He made the appeal in an interview with The New Dawn in Kpeko, Grand Cape Mount County recently, disclosing that the incident transpired in September 2016 along the Grand Cape Mount County highway.

He further narrates that during the alleged robbery, his attackers made away with unspecific amount of United States dollars and goods belonging to business people in Monrovia, and no arrested has been made since in connection with the case.

According to him, he tried applying traditional medication on the affected hand, but this has not produced any fruitful results, noting that the hand leaks blood and pores.

He recalls that after the incident, some of his colleagues (drivers) provided assistance to enable him seeks medication, but they discontinued their support because of the current economy constraints in the country.

Mr. Folley, who cannot speak clearly due to what he describes as infection in the throat as a result of the incident, laments that he is the breadwinner for his six children whose mother died long ago.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Liberia meets partners over Mount Coffee

The Liberian government and its donor partners including the US, Germany, Norway, and the European Investment Bank (EIB) have met in Monrovia to give update on the operations of Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant, with report that work on the project is now probably 98 percent completed.

At the meeting held at Mamba Point Hotel Tuesday, 12 December, authorities here say the quarterly meeting is intended to make sure that partners are given the confidence that everything is being implemented correctly and sustained on a long term basis.

Addressing the gathering of donors and Liberian officials, President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf expressed thanks to partners on behalf of the people of Liberia for the reactivation of the hydro plant, disclosing to them that all four of the turbines at the Mount Coffee Hydropower Plant are now working.

Mrs. Sirleaf, however, says based on experience, in the dry season here water at the hydro dries up and then the hydro stops or at least some of the turbines won't work. But she notes that government would be watching to see, acknowledging that climate change has made difference.

The President says government has backups in [Heavy Fuel Oil] HFOs that will help during the dry season to fuel the grid just in case [there is water problem]. She says it leads government to the need for being able to do a feasibility study of a river that would enable "us" to have a dam that will ensure that the hydro continues to function.

President Sirleaf urges all partners to do what is necessary to get the feasibility study going so that there can be assurance in the future that the hydro meets the objective that all the partners want, saying there is funding for the study.

She also speaks of some issues relating to government's own contribution in which it should have been depositing $350,000 into [escrow] account, but notes that this has not been done.

Mrs. Sirleaf notes that government is looking into that now, and it knows that it has obligation to the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) for the service that has been rendered for keeping the lights going in ministries and agencies.

She says the key to the project is management, urging LEC to operate as a corporation, be able to do its financial plans in such a way that it should be able to bill the government for services rendered and be able to collect its bills.

"I know there are certain difficulties here like power theft that interferes with their management efficiency; but those are things that need to be planned by the management," she notes. She urges the new management to try harder on that.

Minister of State Without Portfolio Dr. Clarence Moniba says several projects are in place right now, citing plans to connect 27,000 people in Bomi County, the Monrovia Consolidation that intends to connect 38,000, the ELWA Junction to RIA project and another project leading to Kakata which is connecting about 17,000 to put electricity in Kakata by February.

Dr. Moniba adds that government is slowly expanding from the National Grid which extends from Mount Coffee. Concerning the $350,000 commitment earlier spoken of by President Sirleaf, Dr. Moniba says it is a monthly commitment that government is supposed to meet for running a hydro of $350m asset.

He says there are Europeans who are training Liberians to be able to run the hydro, but up until Liberians are trained enough to be able to do that, "we have to get the funds in country" so that it can be sustainable.

Minister Moniba says the meeting with the partners is held to give donors confidence that government is doing the right thing, to let them know that the money sent here is being used effectively, concluding that the essence of the meeting is just to make sure that Mount Coffee is here and sustainable to be able to last long for the Liberian people.

By Winston W. Parley

World Bank Country Manager congratulates UL Gradates

World Bank Country Manager Larisa Leshchenko has congratulated all honor graduates of the various academic programs at the University of Liberia who have distinguished themselves by exceptional academic performance, thus enabling them to participate in the symposium.

Speaking on Tuesday, 12 December at the Third Research Symposium for the 98th commencement activities Honor Program Day at the University of Liberia Fendall Campus, Madam Leshchenko said the theme of this year’s symposium “Research the Gateway to Finding Solutions to Critical National and Global Issues” clearly lays out the foundation in arriving solutions to critical problems underpinning growth and development of the societies.

“The World Bank is a development institution that works with countries around the world with the aim of reducing poverty and boosting shared growth and prosperity,” she says.

She says the concept of sustainable development requires balancing economic, societal and environmental considerations in the pursuit of development and an improved quality of life. She also says improving the quality of basic research; reorienting existing research programs to address sustainable development; developing public awareness and understanding; and providing training for all sectors of society, mainly public and civil are the four essential tools for achieving sustainable development.

The World Bank official notes that according to UNESCO (2000) report, the way each nation, cultural group and individual views sustainable development will depend on its own values. She adds that in many European nations, universities and technical colleges train students of science, economics and business management in skills that help to build more sustainable societies.

Programs such as Peace Research, Human Right Research, Environmental Research and “Youth Entrepreneur” schemes are carried out in many academic institutions, she says, adding that such initiatives help students and lecturers to gain understanding of the inter-linkages needed for sustainable development.

She notes that the emphasis has been on research that will provide life and occupational skills that will enhance the potentials of individual, reinforcing self-sufficiency and improving quality of life.

According to her, the World Bank's Policy on Access to Information has enabled the organization to become a global leader in transparency and has made a groundbreaking change in how the World Bank makes information available to the public.

“Now the public has access to more information than ever,” she says, and continues that underlying the policy is the principle that the World Bank namely the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association will disclose any information in its possession that is not on its list of exceptions.

The exceptions includes Personal Information, Communications of Governors and Executive Directors' Offices, Ethics Committee, Attorney-Client Privilege, Security and Safety, Information Restricted Under Separate Disclosure Regimes and Other Investigative Information, Information Provided by Member Countries or Third Parties in Confidence, Corporate Administrative Matters, Deliberative Information, Financial Information, Forecasts, Analysis, Transactions, Banking and Billing.

She strongly urges students and faculty of the University of Liberia to regularly visit the Bank’s website to gain access to valuable information, and pledge to continue the professional relationship.


Incoming lawmaker's death news dismissed

The campaign manager for Montserrado County District #12 representative - elect Mr. Wisdom P. Oghogho has dismissed the death news of his boss Dr. George Beyan Samah.

Speaking on Tuesday, 12 December to the NewDawn via mobile phone, Mr. Oghogho said Dr. Samah is okay and nothing is wronged with the representative - elect.

Mr. Oghogho calls the news of his bosses’ alleged death "fake and unbelievable." His reaction comes after the alleged death news of Dr. Samah was spread in the district on Sunday, 10 December. The alleged death news left some residents in tears and in a sorrowful mood.

Dr. Samah's campaign manager says some bad people are in the habit of spreading fake news about good people, adding that Dr. Samah is healthy and moving very strong. Mr. Oghogho claims that Dr. Samah's opposition are allegedly spreading his death news, but he fails to say who are the oppositions.

He argues that the same Sunday on which rumors were circulating that Dr. Samah had died, he (Oghogho) and the Rep. - Elect were together after service. He calls on those spreading such fake news to stop and think on something else to do.

“People came to the home of Dr. Samah crying, only to find him sitting with some members of the Friends of Samah”, he adds. He says on Monday, 11 December, Dr. Samah was taken to some parts of the district for residence to see him. According to Mr. Oghogho, residents greeted Dr. Samah with joy, touching him to know whether he was not a ghost.
Dr. Samah was seen dancing as he passed through the Kesselley Boulevard Community and others communities. Some of his supporters were seen thanking God for their political leader's life.

“They are now shame, he is alive, no bye- election”, Dr. Samah's supporters chanted in celebrations. When this paper asked some residence about the death news of Dr. Samah, some say they are surprised, while some point fingers to some opposition for the alleged death news.

By Samuel P. Kamara--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Zota residents cry for safe drinking water

Bong County residents in Tinsue and Sankor Towns of Zota District are calling on the government of Liberia, Non-Governmental Organizations, Philanthropist or humanitarian groups to help construct a hand pump in the area.

Tinsue and Sankor have a population of about 1,800 residents, some of whom have vowed to migrate due to the lack of safe drinking water. Residents of the areas fetch water from a swamp that is being used as sand deposit, a situation that is said to have resulted to the outbreak of waterborne disease in the area.

Tinsue and Sankor Towns were established in 1978, but some residents say since their establishments, the Towns have never had a hand pump up to present. Water situation in the area is said to be very serious especially during the dry season.

Continuous drinking from the swamp due to the lack of safe drinking water is reportedly endangering the lives of the people especially infants.

Statistics from the Belefania Clinic (where residents go to seek medication) have shown that at least three children have lost their lives from the beginning of since October to present as a result of diarrhea and cholera outbreak from the drinking of water from the swamp.

Speaking in an interview with the NewDawn recently, the General Town Chief of Tinsue and Sankor Mr. Stephen Barclay expresses disappointment over the lack of safe drinking water in the area.
He attributes the lack of water to the alleged poor performances of county leaders. Chief Barclay says if leaders of the county were [concerned], they would have constructed a hand pump for them.

According to him, on so many occasions they have called on the national government to intervene, but their requests have allegedly fallen on deaf ears.

He regrets the situation, saying “I will have to leave this place and find another area with my family because nothing we can do about this water problem.”

“We have dug wells but can’t find a drop of water because of the location of the town, and the only alternative we have is to find a little one in the swamp," Chief Barclay says.

He attributed the death of children and the continuous outbreak of cholera and diarrhea in the area to the problem.

Also speaking to this paper, Sankor Youth Leader Moses Kerkulah Tokpah believes that Bong County District #4 Rep. Lester Mulbah Paye would have gone to their aid [if he were concerned], claiming that they have on several occasion engaged the lawmaker.

But Rep. Paye describes the allegation as baseless and lacking any iota of truth. Rep. Paye says residents of the two towns have never asked him to construct pump for them, adding that there are plans underway to construct a hand pump in the town before February of next year.

But Rep. Paye's statement was met mixed reactions on various community radio stations in Gbarnga, with some residents expressing doubts that he will construct a hand pump next year after working for nearly six years.
Rep. Paye was elected in 2011, but voters refused to reelect him in October this year due to his alleged failed performances.

By Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Gbarnga--Edited by Winston W. Parley

KTK holds 6th consultative meeting for women groups

International NGO Kvinna till Kvinna (KTK) in collaboration with UNMIL Gender Advisor Office began a two days consultative meeting here Tuesday, 12 December at the Corina Hotel in Sinkor, suburb of Monrovia.

The 6th consultative meeting brought together rural women and women in Montserrado County to discuss the roles and cultures, unity and the issues of integrity.

The meeting was held under the theme: “Integrity, Culture, and Diversity Towards Strengthening Unity.” In attendance were more than 50 women from both urban and rural Liberia as well as representatives from various NGOs, CSOs, government agencies, marketers, and young women’s organizations.

Welcoming participants, KtK Head of Office Rie Lukowski says on behalf of UNMIL’s Gender Affairs Office and KtK, it is a pleasure warmly welcoming all of the participants to the 6th consultative meeting.

According to her, unity is when people come together with other individuals or groups to form something greater than any of "us". She says unity is often built around a common purpose-a harmony of interests or value that creates a shared identity.

Madam Lukowski observes that when people are united by shared values and goals, they can move together, synchronizing their efforts to attain things that none could attain alone. She emphasizes that unity is inclusive, noting that a sense of unity can transcend people's fear of each other. In unity, she says the joy of one is the joy of all, the hurt of one is the hurt of all, and the honor of one is the honor of all.

Speaking on "Integrity: Culture and Diversity Towards Strengthening Unity," Nyamah E. Dunbar says the main focus is to regard or define integrity as a life "change experience." She says life "change experience" cannot be time bound, noting that it is not restricted by lack of money, but it is a decision that something has touched the core of "our" being or a fire has been started inside of "us" because of something which passionate of.

According to her, the reason why most people shy away from integrity is largely due to fear within that strangles or ties them from doing something.

Meanwhile, former representative candidate and Deputy Secretary General at the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY) Amb. Daintowon Pay-bayee encourages women to uphold their integrity if they must succeed in their endeavors.

“We will all agree that there is no highest value in our society than integrity,” she says, adding that integrity determines what people really are, and it goes with consciousness.
According to her, integrity is done when no one is watching, saying it is some time simple but people overlook it.

She notes that KTK's desire to work with women group comes from the fact that Liberia has a history of violence, armed conflict and high unemployment. She observes that although a peace treaty was negotiated in 2003, many social problems remain, among which gender-based violence are including domestic violence, inadequacies in the legal system and the exclusion of women from political decision-making, particularly important women ’s rights issues.

Kvinna till Kvinna supports projects that sensitize women about their human rights and aim to increase their participation in political and economic decision-making processes.

Kvinna Till Kvinna meaning Woman to Woman, is a Swedish organization founded in 1993 as a result of the Yugoslav Wars. It supports women in war and conflict zones with a strong concentration on the Balkans, but is also active in the Middle East and the Caucasus.

The international NGO works closely together with the people who live in these areas, because Kvinna Till Kvinna believes that democracy can only be built by their inhabitants. The organization's role is simply to support these women, who are often also gathered in organizations, to build up democracy on the basis of their own need.

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

IREDD hails Supreme Court's ruling

The Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD) is hailing the ruling of the Supreme Court here that brought to an end an alleged elections fraud and irregularities case filed by opposition Liberty Party (LP) against the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Speaking on a local radio on Tuesday, 12 December, IREDD Executive Director Harold M. Aidoo said the organization applauds the Liberty Party and other parties for the level of cooperation during the legal process.

He expresses IREDD's thanks to the political parties that sought redress, saying that they were in the right direction, and also commends all political parties here for their level of maturity in welcoming democracy. Mr. Aidoo notes that the Supreme Court has the final decision to make and nobody questions it.

“We cannot say that the ruling is a victory or defeat for any political party, we just see it as a democracy for Liberia. The ruling should serve as a democracy and a way we all can move forward,” he urges.

The IREDD official adds that from the just ended ruling, Liberians will also know what to do the next time so that the mistakes that were made in the October 10 elections will not be repeated.

According to him, the ruling clearly shows that "we" have been having problems with the previous elections, saying it is known that Liberians will not be able to fix all the errors, but they still have a lot of issues to deal with after elections.

Mr. Aidoo notes that there is a need for post-election reform where at the end of each election, Liberians will not have these problems they are facing now.He believes that Liberia needs some independent trial that will deal with elections issues to avoid people going in the streets.

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

Council of Churches warns citizens

The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) has warned citizens here to refrain from using hate speech in the country, saying hate speech is undermining the country's progress and has the propensity to derail the peace process here.

A press release issued this week under the signature of LCC president Bishop Kortu Brown, the religious organization frowns against the usage of hate speech by citizens and politicians in the country. LCC adds that the usage of hate speech has the ability to impede the smooth transition process that citizens across the country are anticipating.

LCC argues that that if Liberia must get on the right trajectory path to be compared to its counterparts in the region interns of development and other things, the issues of hate speech especially in this election period must not be condoned in any part of the society.

LCC says it is fully and conscientiously aware of the political dynamics Liberia has faced over the years, noting that “The council involvement as a peace broker, rights advocate and strong voice of the people says that counting on the historical narrative of the country from 1980 to present, the quest for the rule of law to be tested has been demonstrated”.

According to the LCC, the citizens of Liberia have grown over the years exercising political maturity, and the government here is making sure that a smooth transition of political powers is carried out.

The Council says Liberians have continued to demonstrate a good posture of saying no to violence and yes to peace by going to the polls and demonstrating their action by voting for candidates of their choices.

The Council of Churches points out that it acknowledges the pathway of petitioners to seek legal redress through the court system on the conduct of the October 10 presidential and representatives’ elections, and also the mature manner in which the Supreme Court has acted upon the matter.

At the same the council further states that it recognizes the seriousness, time and efforts that the Supreme Court exhibited in the hearing of the case file by Liberty Party on allege fraud in the elections.

The LCC says the ruling of the Supreme Court has given hope to the Liberian people, and they further thank members of the Supreme Court bench for the level of maturity in handing down justice.

The Council also thanks the petitioners for respecting the law, and every Liberian for exercising patience in upholding and respecting the rule of law. It concludes with a call on the Elections Commission to overhaul the election mechanism and rectify the challenges encountered during the elections.

Council of Churches warns citizens--Edited by Winston W. Parley

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