Politics

PYJ, Weah fail!

A report by the Institute for Research and Democratic Development on the performance of the 53rd Liberian Legislature for 2016 has graded both Senators George Manneh Weah of Montserrado County and Prince Yormie Johnson of Nimba County as failures.


Senator Weah is Presidential hopeful and Standard Bearer for the Coalition for Democratic Change, while Senator Johnson is Political Leader for the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction party.

Ironically, both senators served on the ECOWAS Parliament and have been at each other’s throats for sometimes now.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, 20 June in Monrovia, the Executive Director of IREDD, Mr. Harold Aidoo, says both senators received the lowest plenary attendance, lowest in floor debate and chambers participation.

Others in similar category are Sen. Varney Sherman of Grand Cape County and Sen. Matthew N. Jaye of River Gee County, respectively.Mr. Aidoo asserts that the five senators combined received an average performance score of “F”, though he notes that both Weah and Johnson frequently attend ECOWAS Parliament.

As though the report was squarely intended to expose the presidential hopeful’s weaknesses at the Liberian Legislature, the Legislative Performance Report Card reveals that Senators George Weah of Montserrado, Prince Y. Johnson of Nimba, and Marshall A. Dennis of Grand Gedeh Counties also got the highest distant times amongst the five senators with 28 distant times.

While Senators Johnson and Weah sink with low points, Bong County Representative Prince Moye obtains exceptionally “A+” in attendance.The report further notes that during the period under review, the House of Representatives conducted 78 plenary sessions, while the Liberian Senate held 80 sessions, respectively.

Aidoo discloses that 14 members of the House of Representatives almost attended all of the plenary sittings, including Representative Prince K. Moye of Bong County, who was present in all 78 plenary sittings, receiving an “A+” average.

Other Representatives with higher scores are: Mary M. Karwor, Robert Siaway, Mambu M. Sonni, Emmanuel Zoe Pennue, Morias T. Waylee, Julie F. Wiah, Clarence Massaquoi, Bill Twehnway, Henry B. Fahnbulleh, Adolph B. Lawrence, Christian S. Chea, Charles K. Bardyl and Jeremiah W.N. McCauley, receiving average scores of “A”, respectively.

IREDD highlights that in the Liberian Senate, five senators received highest marks for plenary attendance, namely; Senators Francis S. Paye of Rivercess, Albert Chie of Grand Kru, George Tengbeh of Lofa, Jewel Howard Taylor of Bong and J. Milton Teahjay of Sinoe Counties, respectively with average scores of “A” for active plenary attendance.

The report says nine members of the House of Representatives got the lowest attendance during plenary session. They include: Representatives Alex J. Tyler, Haja F. Siryon, Alfred G. Koiwood, Gertrude Larmin and Deputy Speaker Hans M. Barchure, receiving average scores of “D”

Representatives Alex C. Grant, Roland Cooper, and James Banney disgracefully received average scores of “F”, the report concludes.

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

 

Voters’ registration row

The fallouts from the just ended exhibition of the voters’ registration roll have reached the Plenary of the Liberian Senate.The Senate has summoned the board of commissioners of the National Elections Commission or NEC to give reason why they should not be held in contempt over the electoral body’s missteps in the voters’ roll exhibition process, which senators say have the propensity to undermine the credibility of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections.


The voters’ registration roll exhibition which lasted for just five days June 12-June 17, saw the omission of hundreds of names of individuals with valid voters’ registration IDs.In the wake of fear expressed by some citizens over the process, NEC assured Liberians carrying legitimate voters’ registration cards full participation in the electioneering process.

"People with the issue of unavailability of photos during these exhibition periods should go to the various magistrates for photo taking and every Liberian, who has voter’s card, will vote. The errors wouldn't affect you. "There is nothing to be worried about. People should stop creating unnecessary alarm. Please help us to explain to the people the only reason we are holding exhibition is to correct the errors.We are working hard to ensure a credible election that will be acceptable. We have a fine process; we are working under extreme circumstances; we don't say don't criticize," Chairman Korkoya responds.

His comments were greeted with pouring criticisms from the public and some members of the Legislature, comments and criticisms he soon termed as “total nonsense!”The commissioners are expected to appear this Thursday, June 21, in the chambers of the senate.

The decision to invite the NEC board of commissioners was based on a communication dated June 19, written by Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper seeking the intervention of plenary to question Chairman Korkoya about the voters’ roll exhibition process.

Excerpts of the communication which was read in the senate’s plenary Tuesday, June 20 states: “I ask that we request the appearance of the NEC commissioners to speak to the severity of the irregularities in regards to the voters’ registration roll. We must be made aware of any problems that may impact the election process. It is our duty to ensure that the process is not flawed, and that we hold a free and fair election without violence and without questions regarding the validity of the outcomes,” the communication said.

According to Senator Cooper, the senate should ensure that Liberian are at ease with the process and that the senate holds an election that is without doubt, innuendos or questions about its validity. “It is paramount that the National Elections Commission be honest and bold with the people of Liberia.

Senator Cooper noted that the 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections will be a defining moment for the continuity of democracy and that will only be receptive of the results if they perceive the process to be transparent.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

ALP raises red flag

The opposition All Liberian Party or ALP of businessman turned politician Benoni W. Urey has challenged recent comments by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission or NEC, Jerome George Korkoya that the public should not worry if their names were not found on the provisional voter’s roll exhibition, as anyone with a valid voter’s ID card would vote in the October 10th, describing the statement as “problematic, scaring and frustrating.”


The recent provisional voter’s roll exhibition exercise across the country was clouded with errors with names and photographs of registered voters omitted; leaving eligible voters panicking for fear that they may not be allowed to vote on polling day. But Chairman Korkoya assures that everyone with a valid voter’s ID card will vote, provoking public criticism here that the comment could create serious floodgate as many persons, including foreigners illegally obtained voter’s cards during the voter registration process, and may seize this opportunity to vote.

Critics stress the need for creditable voter’s roll ahead of the October’s elections to ensure transparency and credibility in the process. Speaking during the Montserrado County Primaries of the ALP at the party national headquarters in Monrovia, National Chairman Theodore Momoh says the statement is problematic, scaring and frustrating, urging Cllr. Korkoya and his team to understand that the elections are cardinal to the peace and stability of Liberia.

“There is a typical issue around town I like to talk about and that concerns the voters’ registration process. Recently, the Chairman of the National Election Commission announced to the Liberian people that once you possess a valid registration ID card or a valid card, whether the voter’s roll has problem or not you will still vote. The ALP has serious problem with this statement. It is problematic, it is scaring, it is frustrating and we like to urge Hon. Jerome Korkoya and his team to understand that these elections are cardinal to peace and stability in our country”, Chairman Momoh notes.

He continues that if the voter’s roll is erroneous, then the voter’s ID card too is of no essence, maintaining that the NEC must ensure that the voter’s registrar, which is the authenticity of the voting record, is corrected and posted before polling day for citizens to verify that the errors are corrected before time. Stressing the need to conduct credible elections which result everyone would accept, he cautions that nothing should be done to impede the credibility of the polls.

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

ANC U-turns on Margibi District#5

In a turnaround, the Alternative National Congress or ANC of Liberian Presidential hopeful, Alexander B. Cummings, has somersaulted on its earlier decision not to present an aspirant in Margibi County Electoral District#5, endorsing Mr. Amos Kollie Nama as its nominee to contest in the district. argibi County District# 5 is currently represented by House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuguay, who is seeking a second term.The ANC endorsed Mr. Nama recently in Kakata, Margibi County.


But in an interview with reporters in Weala, Margibi early this year, ANC County Chairman Roland Cooper Kaine said the party was not producing any candidate for the October 10th polls in District #5, which is under the incumbency of Speaker Nuquay.Chairman Kaine, a former Senator of Margibi County, made the disclosure when the party had gone to conduct awareness on the voter’s registration process in the county.

He notes that for several reasons, the party would not put up anyone as a representative candidate in the district, adding that instead; it would collaborate with other aspirants in District#5 that it thinks can best serve the interest of the people.Kaine notes that he took the decision as party Chairman of Margibi in consultation with his political advisors.
He continues that as a political institution, the ANC has decided to be very definite with the District#5 situation, adding that the party will put up candidates in all other districts that it deems necessary in Margibi but District#5.

“What ANC has done as a political institution, will be very definite with district five situation. ANC as a political institution will put candidate in any district she feels and she finds very necessary for district five as far as we do stand right now for several reasons; ANC doesn’t stand to put up a candidate for the representative post in district five”, Kaine continues.

However, there are now about five aspirants in the district to contest against the Speaker in District#5 in October, including Mr. Amos Kollie Nama.One of the aspirants, Mr. Derrick Nyumah, has already joined Speaker Nuquay for the upcoming elections and is now calling on others to come onboard. However, as a result of the party’s decision; the District#5 Coordinator of the ANC, Mr. Rancy Peters, has tendered in his resignation from the party, indicating that the ANC is inconsistent.

Mr. Peter, who is allegedly a strong supporter of Speaker Nuquay, has always said he supports the candidacy of Mr. Cummings, but not anybody on the party’s ticket in the district to contest as a representative.

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

Govt. issues Exequatur to Columbia’s Honorary Consul General

The Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs has, on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Foreign Minister Marjon V. Kamara, presented an exequatur to Mr. Houssein Cheaitou to serve as Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Columbia to the Republic of Liberia.


Exequatur is an official recognition by a government of a consul, agent, or other representative of a foreign state, authorizing them to exercise the duties of office. This is the first of its kind for the Republic of Colombia to have a direct representative in Liberia.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. B. Elias Shoniyin, presented the exequatur certificate to Honorary Consul General Cheaitou during a brief ceremony at the Foreign Ministry last Friday, June 16.

In remarks, Acting Minister Shoniyin says he was glad that he was the one presenting the official recognition to Mr. Cheaitou. “I was lucky to be the one in office, to receive Ambassador Claudia Turbay Quintero, when she came to present her Letters of Credence to President Sirleaf; so here am I again in office to present to you this exequatur,” he told Mr. Cheaitou.

Her Excellency Madam Claudia Turbay Quintero is Columbia’s Ambassador to Liberia.Mr. Shoniyin further stated that during a previous meeting, he had suggested to Ambassador Quintero that for Columbia to have a stronger presence in Liberia, it was expedient that the Government of Columbia considered having a direct representation in Liberia since the embassy is not based in Liberia but Accra, Ghana.

“Your presence here today is the result of the discussion that day when she came to present her Letters of Credence to President Sirleaf,” he told Mr. Cheaitou, who is also the general manager of the Cheaitou Brothers Inc., a local wholesale and retail dealer in frozen meat and fish on the Liberian market for many years. Responding, Mr. Cheaitou thanked Acting Minister Shoniyin for the warm welcome and disclosed to Foreign Ministry officials present that he is a “son of the soil.”

“I was born and grew up in Liberia. I went to school here. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree from Don Bosco few years ago before I travelled to Lebanon to obtain my Master’s degree,” the Columbian Honorary Consul General disclosed.

He promised to further improve on the already cordial relationship between Liberia and Columbia in areas of tourism, security, world peace, education, among other sectors.
Mr. Cheaitou was accompanied by Lebanese businessman and former president of the World Lebanese Cultural Union, Mr. Tony Hage. In brief remarks, Mr. Hage assured Mr. Shoniyin that Honorary Consul Cheaitou would do all to promote and make better the relations between Liberia and Columbia as he is a “son of the soil.”

Acting Foreign Minister Shoniyin was joined in the meeting by the Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Rev. Jervis Witherspoon and Assistant Minister for American Affairs, Mr. Sie-Taba Neufville. Press Release

Uphold ethical standards

The President of the Press Union of Liberia or PUL, Charles Cuffey, is cautioning media practitioners in the country to uphold best ethical standards in their reportage, stressing that journalists have responsibility to be fair in their reportage.


Mr. Cuffey spoke recently at the closure of a two-day workshop for journalists across the country, saying “Today, we are very excited to have UNESCO partnering with the PUL to have these kinds of training for our journalists in this country.”

He says the PUL is very grateful as the workshop will provide the platform for journalists to interact with political actors to enable them have a clearer picture of the inner working of the media in Liberia, and creates a cordial working relationship that will minimize crimes against journalists, and attacks by political actors and political institutions against the media.

“We further want to caution them to exercise restrain as they deal with the media, and we also want to urge every journalist to remain professional and uphold ethical standards”, he continues.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cuffey has frowned on the social media here, saying some messages on social media have the propensity to create disharmony in the country.“What the PUL deems necessary is to make sure that this electoral process is well reported; if there will be any disruption to this electoral process that should not come from the media”.

The two-day workshop, which was organized under the auspices of the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building with support from UNESCO brought together Reporters from five counties, including Grand Cape Mount, Margibi, Bong, Grand Bassa, and Montserrado counties, respectively aimed at strengthening capacity, and empowering young journalists to monitor good governance, democratic participation, and peaceful transition in Liberia.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

“We must make Margibi a PUP County”

Speaker Nuquay and Citizens of Margibi parading A founding member and a member of the governing council of the People’s Unification Party or PUP Speaker James Emmanuel Nuquay says, partisans should make all effort to ensure that Margibi County be turned into a PUP stronghold.


According to him, one only needs to get on the ticket of the PUP to be elected or reelected in the county.Speaker Nuquay: “We must make Margibi a PUP County. You need to get on PUP Ticket in Margibi to be assured of your election or reelection. And we need to demonstrate that hence forth”. He said recently in a statement at the Nancy B. Doe’s Sports Pitch in central Kakata during the petitioning ceremony of Mr. Francis F. Cooper.

Nuquay is the currently leader of Margibi Dist #:5 and has also announced his desire for reelection on the PUP’s ticket.Mr. Cooper is the current Chairman of the PUP in Margibi contesting on the ticket of the party in Margibi District #:4 against Representative Ben A. Fofana.The lawmaker called on the electorates the county to support all the candidates on the PUP’s ticket. The PUP has also produced a senator in the county in the person of Rev Jim W. Tornolah.

By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

Senate reviews local gov’t act

The Liberian Senate Technical Team has begun review of the Local Government Bill already passed by the House of Representatives last year. This technical review is taking place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.


The Bill seeks to decentralize political power and prioritize citizens’ participation in the political, socio-economic, development and decision making processes in their counties.

It can be recalled that upon submission of the Bill also known as the LGA by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf in August 2016, members of the House of Representatives reviewed said Bill and passed its version on September 29, 2016.

The House version of the Bill was then forwarded to the Senate for concurrence. Since then the Senate has held numerous consultations with the Governance Commission and the Ministry of Internal Affairs for better understanding of its provisions.

At the moment, a Senate High-Level Technical Committee comprising fourteen senators along with their technical staff are currently in Buchanan holding a week-long review sessions with the Liberian people as part of their consultative process. The sessions started Monday June 19.

Following the Buchanan Technical review session, the Senate High-Level Technical Committee plans to conclude review of the Bill by holding two additional sessions in Ganta City, Nimba County (26- 30 June, 2017) and in Tubmanburg City, Bomi County (3 – 7 July, 2017) respectively.

Lofans endorse Mills Jones for President

Presidential hopeful Dr. Joseph Mills Jones of the Movement for Economic Empowerment party or MOVEE has ended a four-day tour of Lofa County, northern Liberia, receiving massive endorsement from citizens for his presidential bid.The MOVEE political leader toured various districts in Lofa, including Salayea, Zorzor,Voinjama, Kolahun, Foya and Quoidu Gboni, respectively as well as Beyan town in the county.


Citizens described Dr. Jones as "poverty doctor”, a name he is known by across Liberia for a controversial loan scheme he initiated while serving at the Central Bank, which benefited thousands of less fortunate Liberians and won him huge admiration.In Zorzor District, the Union of Churches, a conglomeration of 15 churches endorsed Dr. Jones’ bid for the presidency, while students at the Zorzor Rural Teachers Training Institute or ZRTTI, certificated him and endorsed his candidacy.

In Voinjama and Kolahun, a large group of women under the banner Zevelekeizu, including some elders vowed to follow the MOVEE leader where ever he goes, noting that his loan policy greatly impacted their lives and has given them a voice in society.

In Foya District, an incredible crowd paraded the streets with Dr. Jones to the Tamba Lamina Council Hall where an elaborate program was held. MOVEE National Chairman Dee. Maxwell Kemayah disclosed that the mayor of Foya city alleged that he was mandated by the statutory superintendent of Lofa to keep the council hall closed despite paying in advance for the facility.

Chairman Kemayah continues that the mayor was also threatened with dismissal if he did not follow the instructions from the superintendent. The MOVEE chair says it was through an intervention by Paramount Chief Momo Taylor, that the facility was made available to the party for its indoor program. As a token of appreciation, the people of Foya gowned and certificated Dr. Jones and presented him a large cow.

At the close of the visit in Barkedu, Chief Musa K. Sesay recalled many contributions made by Dr. Jones to Barkedu during the Ebola fight, while youth chairman Kemoh M. Kanneh, pledged the young people support to Dr. Jones and gowned him. In response, Dr. Jones vows that a MOVEE-led government would open doors to better development, better schools, health and roads, among others.

He challenges Liberians to elect the country’s next President based on track records rather than tribalism or sectionalism, vowing to become a leader for change, if elected in October.

By Tokpa Tarnue-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Total nonsense!

National Elections Commission or NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya has reacted sharply to public criticism here against his recent comment on the just ended provisional voter roll exhibition that all registered Liberians will vote come October, saying those misrepresenting his statement are saying nothing but “total nonsense.”


Several citizens, including former senator Blamo Nelson and Bong County Senator Jewel Howard Taylor are stressing the need for a creditable voter roll for elections, while others think that for the NEC boss to have said citizens should not panic as everyone with a registered voter’s card will participate in the pending polls even if their names were not on the provisional voter’s roll could create room for dishonesty as some persons illegally acquired voter’s cards during the voter’s registration process early this year.

Chairman Korkoya argues that his statement meant Liberians, who legally registered during the registration period have nothing to worry about on grounds that the electoral house has every data from the registration period.

Speaking on a live radio talk show on Monday, 19 June in Monrovia, he explains that some individuals are creating ‘unnecessary noise’ that does not warrant such scene, noting that the wolf cries by some people create different picture about the situation especially, as though the commission has lost track of processed names, photos and other data provided during the registration process.

In a press conference last week, the NEC assured Liberians carrying legitimate voter’s registration cards full participation in the electioneering process. The Commission's comment comes in the wake of fear expressed by some citizens that their names and photos are not on the voters' roll exhibition.

"People with the issue of unavailability of photos during these exhibition periods should go to the various magistrates for photo taking and every Liberian, who has voter’s card, will vote. The errors wouldn't affect you. "There is nothing to be worried about. People should stop creating unnecessary alarm. Please help us to explain to the people the only reason we are holding exhibition is to correct the errors. We are working hard to ensure a credible election that will be acceptable. We have a fine process; we are working under extreme circumstances; we don't say don't criticize," Chairman Korkoya responds.

He says it is too early for people to make ‘unnecessary noise’ about something that the National Elections Commission is in control of, saying instead, people in such situations should visit the various polling centers to have their names and photos taken to be placed in the data base for further verification with the NEC data unit.

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

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