Job seekers or partisans?

As the search for jobs intensifies in President George Manneh Weah’s pro-poor government, , an auxiliary group from the former ruling Unity Party known as the ‘Boakai Think Tank’ has crossed over to the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change.

Addressing a news conference Monday, March 19, at the CDC headquarters in Monrovia, the group’s chairman Folley Kutupu Sheriff says the decision to join the CDC is based on what he terms “open heart kind of leadership” displayed by President Weah.

A one-time strong critic of the CDC, he says President Weah is a young man, who has shown in less than two months, the kind of leadership the country needs at this critical conjuncture.

According to him, moving over to the CDC as partisans is intended to give support to the now ruling party and the government in whatever way they can.

But the arrival of the group, whose members are all young men, has not been welcomed by some partisans of the CDC, who are disenchanted over the ruling party’s decision to accept them on grounds that the party does not want anyone at this point in time, especially, after crucial elections.

Madam Joyce Freeman explains to this paper that the coming of the “Boakai Think Tank” is to take their (CDC partisans’) slots in government. “We were opposition for 12 years and did not move over to the Unity Party. We went thru the struggle, I mean real poverty, now we have won, they’re now coming and our people are welcoming them. This is unacceptable,” she expresses.

Another person believed to a partisan of the CDC, David Momo, says the coming of the group is an indication that its members are desperate for government’s jobs.
“We have good news for them, the CDC is open to everyone, but our government job, let them forget it. They will stay long inside, waiting for appointment from the President”, he intimates.

For his part, the National Chairman for the ruling Coalition, Mulbah Morlu, expresses thanks and appreciation to members of the “Boakai Think Tank” for making a wise decision by joining the party of the people.

Chairman Morlu says the CDC is open to everyone, and that he anticipates other political parties and auxiliaries will follow suit.He stresses that the decision by the group is not about government’s jobs, but building a vibrant political institution for the coming years.

He assures members of the group that they now enjoy all rights like any other partisan of the CDC, and the party will try to protect the interest of its partisans.

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

Pres. Weah needs to be careful

Retired football legend President George Manneh Weah continues to receive punches from Liberians for the slow pace at which his Coalition government is proceeding, amid high expectations.

The Weah-led administration pronounces a pro-poor agenda for the people, but opposition politician Abraham Darious Dillon challenges the government to present a plan that would spell out in clear terms what that much publicized slogan intends to achieve.

He believes the administration has no written plan on how it intends to address education, agriculture or infrastructure. “What is the plan? There is no plan”, he says.
Speaking with OK FM 99.5, a local radio station in Monrovia, Mr. Dillon, who comes from the opposition Liberty Party, admonishes President Weah to not focus on his critics, but the issues they raise.

He argues that pro-poor does not suggest that you celebrate poverty, but lifting people out of poverty. He believes this could just be another mere slogan by another administration, recalling that the late President William R. Tolbert heralded ‘From Mat to Mattress’ but left Liberians sleeping on bare floors, while slain President Samuel Doe introduced ‘Green Revolution’, but Liberians cannot still feed themselves, jailed former President Charles Ghankay Taylor came up with Vision 2024, but left the citizenry literally blind, and President Weah’s immediate predecessor, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf introduced poverty reduction strategy, but left the people even poorer.

He notes that these strategies were suggested to graduate people from poverty, but they failed miserably.

-Story by Jonathan Browne

Margibi resident calls for open reconciliation

A resident of Margibi County District#5 is calling on authorities of the district, including its current lawmaker, government and Liberians in general to practice open reconciliation rather than doing so under the cover of darkness.

Speaking to reporters recently in Weala, Margibi County, Samuel Togba says, “We all should come together and work, but for me, my issue on reconciliation is I don’t want to do reconciliation under the cover of darkness, let it be broad, let us come out and say it”, he stresses.

According to him, people did similar reconciliation in the past in the district, but they had hidden agenda. He calls for town hall meetings to bring together all of the parties involved so that they can express their grievances and forge ahead with life and forget about the past.

Mr. Togba continues that such responsibility to unite the people of electoral district#5 rests on the shoulders of their Representative Clarence G. Gahr. The district was previously headed by former Speaker James Emmanuel Nuquay.

He announces plan to meet with the lawmaker to tell him about the importance of reconciliation in the district. Besides Samuel, other citizens are making similar call on the need to unite the district to move ahead with development, as in other parts of Margibi and the rest of Liberia.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Editing by Jonathan Browne

UN intervenes in cross-border operation

Three Liberian security institutions including the Police, Immigration and Drugs Enforcement Agency have received a UN donation of 30 motorbikes valued US$60,000 to improve cross - border security operations with neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.

Receiving the donation at the Liberia National Police (LNP) Headquarters in Monrovia Tuesday, 20 March, Police Inspector General Col. Patrick Sudue said the cross - border cooperation between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire can “and will be sustained if we receive such gesture from our partners.”

“Because without mobility it’s difficult to even patrol the borderline, it’s difficult to even make acquaintances because the border is so porous, you’ll have to walk miles before you get to your counterpart,” he says.

Mr. Sudue says donation will really go a long way in sustaining the peace and cohesion between Ivory Coast and Liberia, and expresses thanks to the donors for the kind gesture that he says will improve border patrol here.

He thanked his Liberian security counterparts on the Ivorian side of the borders for the relationship the two sides over the years, and notes that the bikes will be used to reach out to their Ivorian counterparts to increase the level of social cohesion between the two countries.

Earlier, Acting UNDP Country Director Mr. Cleophas Torori said the donation comes as part of the agency’s program that works with Ivory Coast and Liberia on a cross - border project aimed at enhancing security for people living on the both sides of the border.

He says a similar project is in Cote d’Ivoire, and the total value for the Liberia - Cote d’Ivoire program is about US$3m, out of which Liberia has a share of US$1.5m that has been ongoing for the last one year.

Mr. Torori says the donation to the LNP, Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA) is part of the partnership to enhance their operation capacity in securing the border.

He puts the total value of the donation at about US$60,000, adding that the UNDP is also providing support to ensure that the donated bikes reach the counties they are intended for, which include River Gee and Maryland.

According to Mr. Torori, through the Peace Building Funds, they have managed to secure grant that is seeking to build the border security and friendship between the two nations, promote peaceful coexistence, resolve conflicts and build sustainable peace and social cohesion among the people.

He concludes that the overall objective of the program is to strenghten border security and to reduce inter - communal conflict between the two nations.

For his part, Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Mr. Robert Budy expressed thanks to UNDP and the Japanese Government, assuring that the bikes will be used for the intended purpose.

By Winston W. Parley

“Agriculture remains a major source of income in Africa”

The Country Director of Africa Rice to Liberia, Dr. Inoussa Akintayo says Agriculture remains a major source of income in Africa.

Speaking during the launching ceremony of the Rice Mill Fabrication in Bong County at a fourteen days training for participants, who was drawn from the central region and other parts of the Country. Dr.Inoussa Akintayo said that the agriculture equipment building is among the key potential areas that need to be unlocked in Liberia.

After the fourteen days training, participants will be able to operate and repair rice machines in their respective counties in Liberia. Dr. Akintayo stated that untapped potential has resulted in persistent poverty, unemployment and deteriorating food security.

Dr.Akintayo narrated that the Rice Mill Fabrication is meant to train artisans on how to build a thresher, a planter or a rice mill and be able to repair when there is a problem and is bottomed on Africa Rice’s baseline study that revealed that mothers and sisters continue to use mortar to process rice.

According to him, Africa Rice strategy is to build local capacity to address the situation and make it sustainable “The training we are offering is a good opportunity for all artisans who are ready to invest in agribusiness. It is also a good job opportunity for the young people,” Dr.Akintayo said.

The Africa Rice Country Director said the Rice Mills are easy to be moved from one place to another and can be used to provide service in remote localities as the case of Senegal and Mali.

He believes the future millionaires in Liberia will come from the agriculture sector, something he said can be done when the needed supports are given to the sector.
Dr. Akintayo promised to meaningfully contribute to the improvement of agriculture and agribusiness sectors in Liberia. He told this paper that Africa Rice will shoulder with the Government of Liberia and development partners and with all sectors along the rice value chain including the artisans to make Liberia agriculture a prosperous one and also a means of achieving President George Weah’s “Pro Poor” agenda.

Dr.Akintayo ended by appreciating the United Nations Global Agriculture and Food Security program, Africa Development Bank and the Government of Liberia for their support to the program.

By: Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Gbarnga

Task Force seizes 16 cars in Bong

Report reaching the NewDawn says the Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF’s) Bong County Chapter has seized 16 vehicles in Bong County that are suspected to be government vehicles.

The Task Force was set up recently by President George Manneh Weah to confiscate all government vehicles that are believed to be in the possession of past officials and other government workers.

The 16 vehicles were confiscated after the Task Force appointed Bong County commericial motorcyclists head Mr. Sam Baryokar Elliot on Saturday, 17 March 17 to lead the task force in Bong to collect hidden government vehicles.

Some of those Vehicles impounded include Toyota Pickup from the Ministry of Justice, Bong County Technical Colleague, Ministry of Agriculture and a jeep with a prescription “Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing”.

Speaking in an interview with this paper after the daylong operation, Mr. Elliot stated that he will ensure the implementation of the president’s mandate to the fullest.

Mr. Elliot assures that the Task Force will be targeting another district to ensure that all government vehicles that are being allegedly used by past officials can be brought back to the General Services Agency.

“This is my work and I will do it without intimidation from any other person. I was trusted in the County with this job, I did not know anything about my appointment to this position, now that it has happened, so must work ... accordingly,” he vows.

Also speaking to our Bong County Correspondent, some residents expressed sadness over the situation, saying those that are not in government but are still possessing government vehicles are not doing well for the country.

“How can you work in government for a long time and then you are not able to buy your own car? These are people who bring shame to our Country,” Chris Dennis, a resident of the County says.

According to him, it is disheartening that an ex-government official is not able to buy his or her own car, but has rather escaped with government cars.

“These are people who claim to be patriotic citizens but they are not because if you love your Country, you will not behave in such manner,” he concludes.

Joseph Titus Yekeryan in Bong--Edited by Winston W. Parley

New Kru Town fire victims unhappy with Weah

Over 40 fire victims in New Kru Town have expressed frustration over being allegedly abandoned by President George Manneh Weah and humanitarian organizations in Liberia.

They were victimized by a recent fire incident in the Municipal Borough of New Kru Town on Bushrod Island. Cause of the fire has not been established, but it is reported to have left over four houses completely burnt and thousands of dollars’ worth of properties destroyed.

64 - year - old victim Madam Victoria Wesseh and spokeswoman for the victims complains that since their nightmare, they are yet to be visited and identified with by the Government of Liberia, Liberia National Red Cross Society (LNRCS) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

She discloses that the victims of the fire disaster are living without shelter, food, clothing and other basic needs simply because they are being forgotten by those who supposed to come to their rescue.

According to her, the respective houses burnt because firefighters from state entities allegedly refused to go on the scene.“We were blessed with the ambulance of the Redemption Hospital immediately when the fire started and our people drove at the various entities mentioned and informed them about the fire incident, requesting for their assistance but our appeal was [not] considered,” she laments.

Madam Wesseh says the only thing she took out of her house during the incident was a nightgown and she has been sleeping from one place to another along with her dozen children and grandchildren.

She says all the money she earned from the Weah For Clean City Campaign got burnt and her son’s car crashed, wounding him badly.

By Emmanuel Mondaye--Edited by Winston W. Parley

‘It’s time to move beyond advocacy

The First Lady of Liberia, Madam Clar Marie Weah says it is time to progress from advocacy for gender equality in Africa to participation and concrete actions.

Delivering special remarks at a Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) side event organized by Liberia in New York, Madam Weah urged women to build a culture of competitiveness and take advantage of gender equality laws crafted specifically to increase women's participation in politics, society and the economy.

Reflecting on the event's theme: Rural Women and Girls Economic Empowerment, Madam Weah said it was time to empower rural women by giving them land ownership and access to credit to increase their agriculture output and provide much needed income. She believes such action would reverse some cultural practices that intentionally create gender inequality. “It would be a major achievement if one of the key outcomes of this gathering would be to find ways to equip our mothers, sister and children living in rural Liberia with the skills and competences so that they become a driving force for a sustainable economic growth and social welfare in Liberia” she stressed.

According to dispatch from Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, the First Lady pledged to dedicate her service and mobilize the support of His Excellency President George Manneh Weah to ensure that actions are taken to address the plight of rural women and girls.

The First Lady used the occasion to announce the formation of the 'Clar Hope Foundation' to restore the hope of disadvantaged children, youth and women through education, health and other opportunities to better their lives.

Speaking earlier, the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection Williametta Saydee Tarr described the event as an opportunity to tell the Liberian story. She noted that rural women have been the backbone of women’s economic empowerment in Liberia and it is critical to highlight their best practices and the key lessons in achieving the results and change they desired.

Thanking UN Women, Sweden and Canada for their support in empowering Liberian women and girls; Minister Tarr expressed the hope that Liberia will draw the attention of donor countries to consider support for sustaining the gains already made on the social and economic empowerment of women and girls in rural areas.

Sharing her story as a beneficiary, Ma Kebbeh Mongar, National President of the Rural Women Structure explained that she and other rural women benefitted from adult literacy programs, leadership trainings, business management, and mobile banking services.

Madam Mongar who displayed packaged products created by rural women at the event, said the interventions from the Government and UN Women have made a huge difference in their lives. She called for more support to empower more women and girls in rural Liberia.

Meanwhile, partners including UN Women and Canada have assured that they will continue to work with Liberia to ensure the full accomplishment of gender equality and economic empowerment of women and girls.-Press release

Don’t undermine Weah

Senator Prince Yormie Johnson of Nimba County cautions politicians and religious leaders not to undermine the Weah Presidency by calling for the establishment of a War Crimes Court in Liberia.

Speaking to the NewDawn at his Christ Chapel Church on Sunday, 18 March he says some officials of the Liberia Council of Churches are calling for the establishment of War Crimes Court under the Weah Administration, noting that the call is just intended to undermine peace and stability here, especially against the young administration of President Weah that is lobbying for support to construct roads, improve the education and health sectors, while others are calling for retroactive justice is divisive.

Senator PYJ, himself recommended by the former Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia for prosecution in connection with his role in the country’s civil crisis, says during the 1989 hostility, the leadership of the Liberia Council of Churches reportedly prayed over weapons of the rebels Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy or LURD to unseat former President Charles Taylor.

According to him, if such a court were to be established here, those LCC leaders should also be prosecuted.Prior to coming to active politics, he commanded the dreaded rebel group, Independent National Patriotic Front Liberia or INPFL, which captured and butchered slain President Samuel Doe in September 1990.

Senator Johnson, who is now the third deputy speaker of ECOWAS, says Liberians were given the opportunity to choose between war crimes court and truth and reconciliation, and they chose the TRC, arguing that it makes no sense for anyone to be calling for war crimes court in this dispensation.

PYJ, who contested for the presidency during the first round of the 2017 elections and came third, gave his support to President Weah in the run-off and personally took the CDC standard bearer to Nimba for political blessing.

According to him, the TRC report was corrupted by its Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Vedier when he called for the barring of some Liberians from participating in political activities for 30 years, and creating falsehood against peaceful citizens, including those who fought for the redemption of the country, like himself.

The Nimba County Senator, who has been engaged by the former chief investigator of the defunct UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, Allen White on atrocities committed in Liberia that could lead him to trial, says anyone, who thinks that they will create situation that will undermine the Weah Presidency, such person will be resisted by him and the people of Liberia.

However, Liberians both at home and abroad are increasingly calling for the establishment of war crimes court in the country to bring ex-warlords and former generals who committed heinous crimes to book and stop the culture of impunity here. Scores of Liberians in the Diasporas are being rounded up for questioning both in the United States and Europe for the roles in the 14-year-old Liberian Civil War.

During the political campaign in 2017, the standard bearer of the CDC, Mr. Weah promised that if elected, his government will not support a war crimes court for Liberia.

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


Weah disappoints Muslims?

Muslims across Liberia appear frustrated and disappointed over President George Manneh Weah’s failure to appoint a religious advisor to his office from the Muslim community, having already appointed two religious advisors from the Christian community for similar purpose.

They are not taking the issue lightly, and the Chief Imam of the Republic of Liberia, Ali Krayee voices the disappointment when he appears on a live radio talk show here, “Society and Religion” hosted by state radio ELBC.

According to the Imam, this was something they put before the Coalition for Democratic Change Standard Bearer Mr. Weah during the campaign period when he met with Muslims prior to his ascendency as President.

He says during the meeting with Mr. Weah he assured Muslims that this was no problem as he himself, (Weah) was once a Muslim and has many Muslim friends.
Imam Krayee discloses that they came up with a list of five prominent Muslims from at least five counties and forwarded it to the Office of the President thru somebody that is very close to President Weah from which he could appoint an advisor from the Muslim faith.

He continues they would shortly mobilize Muslims, including boys and girls as well as adults to go at the residence of the President to beg him to at least appoint a Muslim cleric as one of his religious advisors, adding “This is something we had problem with former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.”

The Chief Imam also claims President Weah has appointed only two Muslims in his government, though he did not specifically mention names. Callers on the talk show from the Muslim religion buttress the Imam’s cry, saying this has been an age old issue from previous Liberian administrations, relegating Muslims from the main stream of the governance process.

Meanwhile, Imam Ali Krayee has cautioned against President Weah’s calls for dual citizenship and granting white people the right to own land in Liberia, stressing that it could create serious social and economic class at the disadvantage of poor Liberians.

Instead, he wants the administration to first empower Liberians economically and intellectually before considering the thought to grant non-Negroes citizenship.
President Weah made the suggestions in his first Annual Message delivered before the 54th Liberian Legislature in January when he described the current Liberian Constitution as “racist.”

-Story by Jonathan Browne

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