Executive begins intervention

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says Liberia’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice Cllr. Frederick D. Cherue has begun the Executive Branch’s intervention into an ongoing impeachment proceedings being worked out by lawmakers against three Supreme Court Justices.

“... His intervention process has already started and so we’re confident that he will bring this to a successful conclusion,” Mrs. Sirleaf told journalists at the Roberts International Airport (RIA) upon arriver from South Africa on Saturday, 12 August.

Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court’s decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.

Just before her return from state visit to South Africa, the lawmakers behind the impeachment process last week defied the Supreme Court’s mandate to halt the process and respond to a challenge filed by some lawyers against the impeachment of the justices.

“We’re in a very critical time with elections coming. It’s not the time to start to … start taking measures that will create tension in the society,” Mrs. Sirleaf warns upon her return here and expresses hope that the lawmakers will see the wisdom to look at what they have done and to make sure that they take action that will not plunge Liberia into difficulties.

“I hope that our colleagues in the Legislature will see the wisdom to look at what they have done and to make sure that they take action that will not plunge our country into difficulties,” she says.

The controversial impeachment actions are being worked out by legislators against the three justices following the Supreme Court’s Opinion handed in July that overturned the disbarment of opposition Liberty Party (LP) vice presidential candidate by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

The NEC disbarred Mr. Harrison Karnwea due to his failure to resign a presidential appointee job as Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director two years prior to the holding of the October elections.

The lawyers challenging the action of the lawmakers are insisting that in line with Article 3 of the 1986 Constitution, gives the Judicial Branch the sovereign constitutional authority of interpretative, reviewable and declaratory powers to declare any inconsistent laws unconstitutional without any restrictions.

Some justices’ dissenting opinions against the Code of Conduct see the resignation requirement under Section 5.2 of the Code of Conduct as being discriminatory and unconstitutional because it was made applicable to only certain presidential appointees.

But the majority justice’s decision in March suggested that the Code of Conduct was legal and binding for all its intent and purpose, confirming the legality of the entire instrument.

Notwithstanding, the fracas between the Judiciary and the Legislature comes after an Opinion in July that cleared Mr. Karnwea to contest in the October elections on grounds that he resigned after the Supreme Court’s ruling in March.

Meanwhile, President Sirleaf says her visit to South Africa went on very well, noting that there were certain cooperation agreements reached with the host country for which both states need to plan to make sure how specific areas are materialized.

Some of the areas contained in the agreement include agriculture, financing of road projects and structures like the True Whig Party (TWP) Building near the new Central Bank of Liberia head office on Ashmum Street.

She says Liberia’s role is to partner with South Africa and others to identify where “we are” into these activities to move them as rapidly as possible.

“We’re not going to be worried about the time. Liberia will be here, the government will end, Liberia will not end. So we will just push hard and do as much as we can, we leave it and then the next person will pick it up and carry on,” she says.
She concludes that the meeting was historic, and the first time a Liberian president had a state visit with South Africa. --By Winston W. Parley

Weah unfit for Presidency

The standard bearer of the Liberian People’s Party or LPP, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, says Coalition for Democratic Change standard bearer, Senator George Manneh Weah is only a footballer, not a presidential material.

He says that the former “world best footballer” lacks technical knowhow of governance, particularly serving in the nation’s highest seat, arguing that Weah has not been tested politically in serving at the highest level of public leadership.

In 2005, Weah publicly confessed to Liberians that he was not a high school graduate during the election against Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, which he lost in the runoff.The humiliation subsequently led his return to the United States of America, where he reportedly completed secondary education and went on to college, earning a Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degrees in Business Administration before coming home to contest for senatorial post, which he won in 2014.

Speaking to this paper Thursday, 10 August in Monrovia, Dr. Fahnbulleh explains that the presidency of a country is neither a child’s play nor a try and error terrain. He adds that instead, it is for people, who have prepared themselves over the years, who have gone through the fire of standing for change, battling for the people even with death looking straight in their eyes, something, which he notes, the CDC flag bearer has not experienced in his life’s time.

He further argues that governance is not about popularity contest, but requires gallant people, who can stand the test of time, make case on behalf of the country in the Diasporas, at international fora and create a place for conventional assistance rather than someone, who kicks ball around.

According to him, Liberia is the only country in the global village that elects people only on the basis of popularity instead of credential brought on the table. “Look around you, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, they vote on the basis of experience, who can deliver, and not popularity. Liberia is the only country that can vote because that person is popular, and is the problem here. When you elect someone because of popularity, don’t cry when they don’t produce anything,” he cautions the electorate here.

Commenting on the Congo/native politics, Dr. Fahnbulleh says those preaching such politics are people, who are bankrupt, backward, bigotry and detrimental to where the country should be. He reminded that the country has suffered so long from marginalization by some group of people and wars at all levels.

Dr. Fahnbulleh served as Minister of Education and Foreign Affairs respectively during the regime of slain President Samuel Kanyon Doe in the 80s before departing the country for exile.

He returned and participated in the 1997 special election organized by ECOWAS, which ex-rebel leader Charles Taylor won overwhelmingly, receiving over 75 percent of the total votes cast. Until his recent return to active politics, he served as President Sirleaf’s national Security Advisor.

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

Ellen wants impeachment stopped

President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf has asked lawmakers here to abandon an impeachment proceeding being initiated against three justices of the Supreme Court Bench on grounds that the action tends to undermine the peace, threaten the elections process currently underway, and create confusion and chaos in Liberia’s fledgling democracy.

“The Executive Branch of Government is not prepared and will not support any unconstitutional maneuverings from any of the institutions of Government,” Mrs. Sirleaf says in a special statement issued in Monrovia Thursday evening, 10 August.

She further emphasized that the Executive Branch of Government will not support any action, which tends to undermine the Constitution and reverse the gains this country has made.

Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court’s decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.

“This move is clearly in violation of Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia,” Mrs. Sirleaf cautions, and admonishes that at this time, all branches of government should be working coordinately to ensure the peaceful elections and the smooth transfer of power.

Though not a candidate in the October presidential and representatives’ elections, Mrs. Sirleaf’s vice president, Joseph Nyumah Boakai is seeking to secure his party third term against some 20 contenders as Mrs. Sirleaf concludes her second and final six years in January 2018.

Ahead of Mrs. Sirleaf’s call on Thursday for the legislators at the House of Representatives to abandon this course of action, the nation’s highest court had on Wednesday issued a stay order against the ongoing impeachment arrangements, though some lawmakers are suggesting that they won’t honor the Court’s stay order.

Impeachment proceedings are being worked out following protests by Sen. Dan Marais, Sen. Dr. Peter Coleman, Sen. James Tornola, Sen. Numene Bartekwa and Rep. George Mulbah against the Supreme Court decision last month that received mix public reaction.
After ruling in March this year that the Code of Conduct is legal and binding for all its intent and purpose, the Supreme Court, ruled in July and overturned the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) disbarment of opposition Liberty Party’s vice presidential candidate Harrison Karnwea from the October elections.
The NEC disbarred Mr. Karnwea on grounds that he violated the Code of Conduct due to his failure to have resigned as Forestry Development Authority Managing Director two years ahead of conducting the October elections.
But while the Supreme Court agrees that Mr. Karnwea did violate the Code, it however, finds that his violation was not egregious to warrant his disbarment by the Commission.

In the wake of the glaring constitutional crisis that is developing here during these critical electoral periods, Mrs. Sirleaf expresses concern over some lawmakers’ attempts to initiate impeachment proceedings against majority members of the Supreme Court because of judicial decisions made by the Supreme Court.

The incumbent reminds lawmakers here that in Liberia’s system of government, the Legislature is empowered to enact laws and the Supreme Court is mandated and authorized to interpret the laws.

While urging legislators to abandon the impeachment process against the justices, Mrs. Sirleaf is emphatically clear that the Executive Branch of Government will not support any action, which tends to undermine the Constitution and reverse the gains this country has made. In conclusion, she wishes God’s blessing upon the works “of our hands and save the Republic.” By Winston W. Parley and editing by Othello B. Garblah

House trashes S/Court’s prohibition

The plenary of the House of Representatives has trashed a prohibition from the Supreme Court of Liberia against ongoing proceeding by group of lawmakers to impeach three Associate Justices of the highest court.

Members of the House of Representatives argue that the Supreme Court’s prohibition lacks constitutional backing, describing the move as mere legal bluff. The Supreme Court mandated the House of Representatives and other Legislative Standing Committees on Judiciary “to stay all further proceedings in the matter of the petition for impeachment” being advanced against Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokolie.

Impeachment proceedings are being worked out here at the House of Representatives following protest by Senators Dan Marais, Peter Coleman, James Tornola, Numene Bartekwa and Rep. George Mulbah against a recent Supreme Court’s decision on the controversial Code of Conduct.

After ruling in March this year that the Code of Conduct was legal and binding for all its intent and purpose, the Court however, ruled in July and overturned the disbarment of the Vice Standard Bearer of the opposition Liberty Party, Harrison Karnwea from participating in the October elections by the National Elections Commission or NEC.

The lawmakers cite the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, specifically Articles 3, 43 and 71, respectively as their reliance in rejecting the prohibition. Article 3 of the Constitution states, “Liberia is a unitary sovereign state divided into counties for administrative purposes. The form of government is Republican with three separate, but coordinate branches: the Legislative, the Executive and Judiciary. Consistent with the principles of separation of powers and checks and balances, no person holding office in one of these branches shall hold office in or exercise any of the powers assigned to either of the other two branches except as otherwise provided in this Constitution; and no person holding office in one of the said branches shall serve on any autonomous public agency.”

Article 43 states, “The power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate. When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside. No person shall be impeached but by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate. Judgments in such cases shall not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold public office in the Republic; but the party may be tried at law for the same offense. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceedings, which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”

Additionally, Article 71 points out: The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record shall hold office during good behavior. They may be removed upon impeachment and conviction by the Legislature based on proved misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.”

Meanwhile, the House is expected to vote on the impeachment proceedings next week Tuesday, August 15, to decide the fate of the three Associate Justices. It is not clear what next course of action the Supreme Court may take in the face of what could amount to an open challenge from members of the House.

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

District #9 candidate presents agenda

An independent candidate for electoral district #9 in Montserrado County, Mr. Emmanuel Wru-Pour Cooper, has reiterated his determination to bring development to the district within three years, if elected.

Addressing crowd of supporters and well- wishers at his campaign office in Lakpazee, Airfield Sinkor recently, Cooper vows that if elected, he would introduce free and mandatory education for all youths in the district from primary school to 12th grade in partnership with private schools there.

However, he did not explain how this could be achieved, whether there are plans to subsidize learning institutions. But Cooper continues that empowerment, development, health, sanitation and education are among his prime objectives for the district, saying that his team is raising funds in the United State of America to ensure realization of his dream that the district would provide full scholarship to college students through granting of loans that beneficiaries will repaid after completion of their studies.

According to him, on several occasions he had met with residents from some of the 21 communities in the district, including Fiamah, Lakpazee, New and Old Matadi, Gbangay Town, Wroto Town, Central Matadi, Fanti Town, and 12th Street, respectively to discuss developmental issues, adding that in his educational program, emphasis will equally be placed on vocational and adult literacy to ensure that people, especially market women, learn skills on which they can survive for their livelihood.

Cooper says his team is exploring scholarship opportunities by writing foundations, donors and universities in America to enable college graduates in the district pursued graduate studies in American Universities in collaboration with his NGO.

The district#9 candidate, who holds a Master’s Degree in Political Economy from New School for Social Research in New York, and a BA in Political Science from the University of Liberia, has already begun fulfilling his promises by providing over 40 benches to a school in 20th Street community upon request.

He says as a guarantee of confidence between him and the electorate, he plans to sign a tripartite contract with voters on one hand, and the government through a lawyer on the other hand, asking to be petitioned out of office as lawmaker, if he failed to implement his promises to the district within three years.

He further vows to reduce unemployment, especially, among the youths and women in the district by introducing a loan scheme and matching the unemployed with businesses that will be willing to accept them in exchange for tax and other incentives.

Cooper continues that he plans to introduce communal farming in all available swamp lands in the district for the cultivation of swamp rice three times a year, and that workers would receive a monthly wage of US$100 or more, citing as an example, the remarkable success of one Anthony Yarkpawolo, a farmer in the district.

The independent candidate re-affirms his determination to create vacation jobs, by engaging businesses in the district to grant vacation jobs to students during the long vacation periods, noting that in the past, government mandated companies to employ students during vacation, and to create a micro credit scheme for residents interested in self-employ businesses such as market women and commercial bike riders.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

SUNCSAL end nutritional data workshop

Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance of Liberia or SUNCSAL, a local civil society group involved in advocacy and collection of data on nutrition along with other nutritional stakeholders and institutions has conducted an intensive workshop intended for active mapping of nutrition and related health areas in Liberia.

The workshop brought together more than 35 Civil Society Organizations both local and international, stakeholders in the food and nutrition, and health sectors, relevant ministries, agencies and institutions on August 8, 2017, to discuss collective effort to improve nutrition and identify potential gaps.

Giving an overview of the workshop, Secretary-General Augustine Musah, says the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement is a global initiative that unites people, carries out advocacies, communications and awareness to its member states.

Referencing the Liberia National Nutrition and Mortality Survey 2016 report, which ranks Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) at 3.9 percent, Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) at 1.3 percent; Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) at 2.6 percent and Chronic at 32.1 percent, he says with the potential and ownership in an enabling environment, Scaling Up Nutrition together with partners can interact, share progress, learn and be inspired to achieve more.

Mr. Musah further explains the 2014 Global Nutrition for Growth, its effectiveness and how it can be aligned with nutritional policies globally. For his part, the Chairman of SUNCSAL Mr. Dismas Cupson, says the meeting was purposely called to discuss issues that will contribute towards the improvement of existing development plans, adding that policies of the various sectors are intended to mainstream, improve and contribute SUN in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Mr. Cupson says by mapping civil society organizations engaged in nutrition and other related health activities in Liberia, it highlights his organization’s commitment to the Global Nutrition for Growth compact across national sectoral policies, strategies and programs that relate to the overall 2030 Liberia Agenda for Transformation (AfT).

Liberia Co-sponsors SDGs youth conference

A one-day symposium on youth resilience for successful implementation of the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has taken place at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs here says in a statement dated 8 August that the event organized by the IBREA Foundation and co-sponsored by Liberia's Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Missions of Malawi, El Salvador and Honduras, focused on how youths can blend attitude and skills to realize their potential and contribute to the attainment of the SDGs.

Speaking at the opening session of the symposium, Liberia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Amb. Lewis Garseedah Brown, II, says the conversation is no longer about what can be given the youths, rather what can be done to inspire them to contribute to local and global development.

According to a dispatch from Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Amb. Brown believes that no inspiration is more important to young people than making them believe in themselves and rewarding their discipline and hard work.
"No inspiration is perhaps more important to our young people than lifting them to believe that it lies within them to change their circumstances,” the Liberian envoy says.

According to him, when “we” enable their resolve, and teach them that patience, discipline and hard work can and will be justly rewarded, they would be prepared for the challenges that they must overcome to create a brighter future.

The Liberian envoy observes that the world is currently seeing the largest population of youth ever and needs the cooperation, talent, and genius of the young generation to meet the objectives laid out in the SDGs.

"From the economy to the environment, the youth are paramount in global change. They have the inherent abilities. All that they need is the empowerment to realize global change," he says.

Sharing Liberia’s effort to empower young people, Amb. Brown speaks of the youth-led consultation for the revision of the national youth policy that aims to address youth employment issues, education, disabilities, justice, reproductive rights, among others.
He thanks IBREA for the work it’s doing across the world to promote mental health and inner strength; and makes specific reference to the foundation’s work in Liberia that made remarkable impact within just four months.

“For four months, IBREA taught at two public schools. After the training, students reported better self-esteem, better gender relations at school, better motivation and self-regulation, better peer relationships, and decreased problems with trauma.” Amb. Brown discloses.

For her part, the Program Director of IBREA Foundation, Isabel Pastor Guzman, says when young people connect to their bodies and release their inner strength, they find the tools to get out of difficult realities.

She stresses the need for the youth to find solutions to the problems they are faced with and take ownership; observing that when young people depend on outside sources for solutions they are constrained to continue to look up to them for answers.

Inspiring presentations on topics including: The Value of Resilience in Overcoming Trauma Successfully, The Power of Self-Healing, The Importance of Social-Emotional and Character Development as well as experience sharing by beneficiaries of IBREA teachings characterized the seminar, which brought together scores of young people from across the United States and other parts of the world.

Presenters included youthful clinical psychologist, Dr. Caryn Rodgers of the Albert Einstein School of Medicine and Sierra Leonean youth activist, Chernor Bah. IBREA Foundation is a nonprofit organization having special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.--Press release

LRA Commissioner accredited at World Customs Organization w/shop

The Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) Assistant Customs Commissioner for Policy and Technical Operations, William L. Buku, has been accredited as a World Customs Organization (WCO) Mercator Program Advisor (MPA) in the area of Trade Facilitation.

A release from the LRA says the Mercator Program, launched at the WCO Council in June 2014, is a strategic initiative to support the sustainable and effective implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation.

With his accreditation, Mr. Buku joins the WCO experts’ pool in order to support WCO members with the implementation of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Mr. Buku was accredited in July after the LRA nominated him to participate in the WCO MPA Accreditation Workshop, held in Pretoria, South Africa in February 2016.During the workshop, which marked the first phase of the accreditation process, Mr. Buku successfully demonstrated his knowledge and skills in the field of TFA, according to a communication to the LRA signed by WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya.

The release says LRA Assistant Customs Commissioner also displayed strong facilitation and presentation skills during the second phase of the accreditation process, when he co-facilitated the WCO workshop on Article 23 of the TFA, dealing with National Committees on Trade Facilitation, held from 12 to 16 June 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Moving forward, the WCO and relevant members will benefit from Buku’s expertise in future capacity building activities under the framework of the Mercator Program. The WCO notes that it will formally approach the LRA Administration in advance to obtain Mr. Buku’s release prior to any field mission. LRA Commissioner General Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, applauds Commissioner Buku for his achievement and excellent representation of the country. Press Release

Impeachment can’t stop elections

Veteran Liberian lawyer Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman says to the best of his knowledge, impeaching three justices from the Supreme Court Bench cannot stop elections here on grounds that a most senior circuit court judge plus the remaining two justices can form a quorum and decide elections cases.

“...[And] I have had such case that three of the justices are compromised and they cannot sit on it. Then the most senior judge from the circuit court in terms of tenure joins the two Supreme Court justices to form a quorum of three,” Sen. Sherman told a joint interview conducted Wednesday, 9 August at his office on Capitol Hill.

Associate Justices Kabineh M. Ja’neh, Phillip A.Z. Banks, III, and Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie are being pursued by some lawmakers with an impeachment proceeding that is being worked out at the House of Representatives following the Supreme Court’s decision in July on the controversial Code of Conduct.

Sen. Sherman differs with suggestions that getting them impeached at this time of the elections may have some very critical impact against the electoral process. The impeachment proceedings are being worked out following protests by Sen. Dan Marais, Sen. Dr. Peter Coleman, Sen. James Tornola, Sen. Numene Bartekwa and Rep. George Mulbah against the Supreme Court decision last month that received mix public reaction.

The Grand Cape Mount County Senator says he doesn’t see how this impeachment proceeding affects elections, arguing that when ordinarily you have a case before the Supreme Court and three of the justices are compromised, the most senior circuit judges plus two justices can form a quorum.

He contends that there is a precedent already that an election case can be decided by two justices plus a senior judge from the circuit court. “Now I remember the last time I had a case before the Supreme Court where something like that happened was when I challenged a member of the Unity Party who wanted to be a member of the House of Representatives,” he notes.

When the case was taken to the Supreme Court, Sen. Sherman says three of the justices were compromised, and therefore the remaining two justices plus one senior circuit court judge came together and decided that election case.

“So I don’t think there’s any, so it is that precedent that an election case can be decided by two justices plus a senior judge from the circuit court, when three of the justices are compromised. I use that as precedent,” he concludes.

--By Winston W. Parley

Consolidate the peace

Rights and Rice Foundation (RRF) has concluded a two-day multi stakeholders’ dialogue on peaceful elections in Liberia. The forum was held at the auditorium of YMCA on Broad Street under the theme “Making the Ganta and Farmington Accords a Reality in Liberia” from 9 to 10 August.

The forum brought together high policy level actors from political parties here, civil society actors, and development and international partners for the 2017 elections. The forum aims to engage national stakeholders on ensuring peaceful, free, fair and transparent presidential and representatives elections, comes 10 October.

Delivering the keynote address, Prof. T. Debey Sayndee of the Kofi Annan Institute for Conflict Transformation emphasizes on keeping the peace to ensure a peaceful 2017 elections in Liberia that will contribute to sustaining the nation’s emerging democracy and consolidating the peace.

Other speakers at the forum include Mr. Eddie Jarwolo, member of the National Youth for Elections (NAYMOTE), Senator Comany B. Wesseh, Senate Committee Member on Peace and Security as well as representatives of the Liberia National Police, the EU, ECOWAS, US Embassy, among others.

RRF Project Associate Mr. Flomo V. Golanyon Sr. says his organization’s work is basically in social justice, political and economic governance, community empowerment, peace building, and conflict resolution.

According to him, the dialogue is about identifying conflict and how to prevent it. He says all accredited political parties were invited to the forum, but expresses surprise that only 13 attended the forum.

“Those that attended the forum conducted themselves orderly, meaning there’s going to be peaceful elections comes October 10,” he adds. He expresses hope that peaceful elections are held here. RRF is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that has been working here for the past 10 years, been sponsored by Trust Africa. --By Samuel P. Kamara;

-Edited by Winston W. Parley

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