Tyler granted leave

Ex-speaker J. Alex Tyler has been granted leave by his colleagues to allow him attend an economic sabotage trial that results from a Global Witness report which accuses him and others of receiving US$950,000 bribes from U.K. - based Sable Mining to change a concession law here.

His office wrote the House of Representatives to allow him stay away from legislative sessions on grounds that he would be attending to his trial at the Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

He is jointly on trial along with former ruling Unity Party Chair, Sen. H. Varney G. Sherman, former Lands and Mines Minister Dr. Eugene Shannon, former Minister of State for Economic and Legal Affairs, now Sen. Morris Saytumah and former National Investment Commission Boss Dr. Richard Tolbert, among others.

They are standing trial along with Sable Mining executives Andrew Groves and Klaus Piprek for economic sabotage, criminal conspiracy, criminal solicitation and criminal facilitation, after being accused of taking bribes to change a concession law to declare Mount Wologizi in Lofa County a non - bidding concession in favor of Sable Mining.

Reading a communication in session on Thursday, 16 March, the Chief of Staff to former Speaker Tyler, Mr. Edwin Clark informed the House that his boss will not be in session due to the court trial at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

Mr. Clark said his boss would attend trial on a daily basis, and as such he was unable to attend legislative sessions. This is the second time Rep. Tyler has written Plenary to grant his excuse from session since his removal as speaker of the House of Representatives.

Tyler’s excuse was prompted by a warning letter from the House of Representatives to lawmakers who were observed to have abandoned legislative sessions without any excuse.

Mr. Tyler was removed late last year from the post of House Speaker by majority members of his colleagues at the Lower House due after he had been indicted by government following Global Witness report of alleged corruption involving him and several others. Mr. Tyler was not alone in seeking legislative leave, as Rep. James Barney has also sent in a letter of excuse for medical checkup without telling his colleagues how long he would be out of the country for medication. Rep. Barney has however promised to provide detail information based on his doctor’s advice.

By Bridgett Milton--Editing by Winston W. Parley

EPA probes rotten food dealer

Following report of the sale of rotten fish and poultry products at the Paynesville Red Light General Market by some unscrupulous Lebanese merchants, authorities of the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA have reportedly launched a probe of the incident.

A source from the EPA said the Agency is investigating Africa #1 Cold Storage situated in Paynesville Red Light in connection with the recent auction of the perishable frozen items on the market.

The source disclosed that the EPA’s investigation followed intelligence received from its field agents, which indicates that Africa #1 business establishment was engaged in the sale of the badly decomposed poultry products.

The source continued that EPA agents, who visited the cold storage on Tuesday, 14 March observed huge pollution in two compartments of the frozen rooms. Initially, our source said, the management of the cold storage refused to allow the inspection of its facilities on grounds that there was no rotten or expired item in its storage.
But following persistence of EPA investigators, the inspection was allowed and the team discovered that part of the facilities inspected had rotten frozen stuffs, evidenced by pollution in the cold storage.

Meanwhile, a female (name withheld) who was earlier apprehended with a consignment of the expired products, told investigators that she purchased the item from Africa #1 Cold Storage for about L$800.00 per bag.

According to the suspect, she bought five bags of the filthy frozen materials from the Lebanese-owned business which was later arrested by state security officers at a parking station, loaded in a wheelbarrow.

She also disclosed that she and some workers of the cold storage had been in the illegal transaction for a long time, prior to the recent arrest. The management of Africa #1 has persistently denied selling rotten fish and chicken parts, but said the company often assists some of its customers in storing their goods after they get through with business transaction.

The management also disclosed that in the process, those whose goods are kept in the facility would not return to collect their materials so they get rotten in the cold storage.
The New Dawn in its Tuesday, March 16 edition published a story, detailing the sale of contaminated frozen fish and chicken to the public in violation of EPA and Commerce Ministry’s regulations.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Gov’t increases gasoline prices

Government has announced the increase in prices of gasoline and diesel fuel on the Liberian market, with new prices indicating that a gallon of gasoline has increased from US$3.16 to US$3.26 or its equivalent in  Liberian dollar.

Instead of L$325.00 per gas gallon, the new price is now L$340.00; while the retail price for a gallon of diesel fuel has increased from L$320.00 to L$340.00 in Liberian Dollars or their equivalent in US Dollars, respectively.

The Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry say the new prices issued in Liberian dollars were calculated using the Central Bank’s approved exchange rate of $1USD to LRD$104.00.

The new petroleum price took effect as of Monday, 6 March, the government says, adding that the decision to increase the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel is a result of a shift in the perimeter that is frequently used to determine the prices of these products in the country.

According to a release, the Ministry of Commerce inspectorate will closely monitor the approved prices to avoid the hike in the prices of and fuel on the local market. The release also says the Ministry of Commerce will be closely monitoring the effectiveness of the price circular to ensure that importers do not undercut fellow competitors on the market.
-Press release

Body parts missing on deceased baby

A two - year - old boy named Andrew Harris has been found dead in Gbargona Town, Bong County Electoral District #4, with several parts of his body extracted.

The kid is reported to have gone missing on 3 March after his mother took him to a farm where she had gone to participate in a farming kue, farming cooperative here in which locals group themselves to work at one another’s farms occasionally.

Little Harris is said to have left a kitchen on the farm where cooking for kue members was taking place and allegedly disappeared mysteriously.

The NewDawn Bong County correspondent says kue members became concerned about Little Harris’s whereabouts at the time they were about to leave the farm.

Roughly eight days after the minor went missing, our correspondent says his body was found in the forest on 11 March around Gbargona Town, several miles away from the farm from whence he had disappeared.

His eyes and the skin on his face were all extracted, our correspondent adds. Police in Bong County have arrested 26 - year -old Garmai Tokpah in connection with the incidence.

Suspect Garmai Tokpah was the host of the kue and was at the kitchen cooking while kue members’ children were in the kitchen playing.Police have already charged suspect Tokpah with negligent homicide for the death of little Andrew Harris.

Speaking to our Bong County correspondent about the incidence on Thursday, the Crime Services Division or CSD Commander of Bong County Kellenso Flomo said Garmai Tokpah was charged due to alleged less attention she gave children while at the kitchen.

Officer Flomo expressed doubt that the two - year - old boy could cover the distance that his remains had been found in, thus claiming major foul play.Commander Flomo also said suspect Tokpah is suspected over the Little Harris’ death on grounds that she agreed that she was in charge of the children. But suspect Garmai Tokpah has said she knew nothing about the death of Harris.



--Editing by Winston W. Parley

Liberian diplomats honor Ellen

Liberian ambassadors, embassy staffs and honorary consuls have honored President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf at the Executive Pavilion in Monrovia, in recognition of her successful working relationship with
partners, her immense efforts to lift Liberia’s image internationally and improving conditions in the country’s Foreign Service.

A testimonial dinner in honor of President Sirleaf was attended Wednesday, 15 March by Liberian diplomats who had assembled in Monrovia for the past days attending a retreat, as well as Vice nPresident Amb. Joseph Nyumah Boakai and Ms Boakai. Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia, River Gee County Senator Amb. Comany B. Wesseh and foreign diplomats accredited near Monrovia were in attendance.

Liberian envoys serving abroad have testified to the harsh conditions Liberian Missions faced prior to the first inauguration of President Sirleaf in 2006.

But they commended President Sirleaf for ensuring that all serving diplomats and staffs get improved salaries and their missions kept functional after assuming the presidency.

The Dean of Liberian Ambassadors Mr. Jarjar M. Kamara who is assigned to Sierra Leone had said on behalf of his colleagues that they were extremely proud of President Sirleaf for lifting their heads high.

Amb. Kamara said in the midst of inadequate resources and human capital, President Sirleaf has provided leadership and kept the diplomatic service active.

He concluded that Liberia’s image has been restored in the international community, and it took no time for President Sirleaf to gain global eminence as demonstrated by her appointment to high posts including co-chair of HLP.

Liberia’s Foreign Minister Mamda Marjon V. Kamara said the testimonial statement was the truth and nothing but the truth, saying “thank you immensely” to President Sirleaf for the support she gave the staff in foreign service.

Minister Kamara also thanked President Sirleaf for personal efforts made everywhere by stopping and meeting small or large group of Liberians abroad. She said President Sirleaf is continuing her effort to improve the Foreign Service, and not turning her back since her term is expiring.

Earlier, Amb. Charles Minor had said President Sirleaf has been extremely successful in working with Liberia’s partners, praising her for delivering to her people.

Following the reading of the testimonials, President Sirleaf said it was easy when one is recognized by different people; but it was extraordinary when “you are recognized by your own people”.

President Sirleaf said she was touched by the honoring program, as she particularly praised the ambassadors for organizing such a special program on their own without operational funds.

She however gave credit to the Liberian Ambassadors for performing under difficult circumstances, and further expressed government’s expectation that they will continue to promote Liberia’s relationship with the country to which each of them is assigned.

President Sirleaf pledged her government’s commitment to continue to work within the remaining time to improve the structures and facilities of Liberian foreign services.

During the program, President Sirleaf was presented a symbol of a first Greek vessel that registered under the Liberian Flag by the Dean of the Honorary Consul. She was further presented flowers on behalf of Liberian diplomats and ambassadors in a show of gratitude for her immense contribution to the Foreign Service.By Winston W. Parley

96,000 register at Upper Bong

Hours to the closure of the one -week extended time for voter registration across the country, Upper Bong Election Magistrate recorded over 96,000 registrants.

Magistrate [Daniel] Newland told this paper on Tuesday, 14 March that prior to the National Elections Commission or NEC’s one-week extension period, over 92,000 eligible voters had registered under the one month period earlier provided.

He said the one-week extension period saw additional 4,000 voters registering, thus raising the number to 96,000 registrants at Upper Bong County alone. But on the last day of voter registration on Tuesday, 14 March, Mr. Newland told our correspondent that most of the registration centers were relatively empty as many citizens, who had not registered, failed to turn out to get registered.

He said this prompted many of the registration centres to close ahead of time. While acknowledging that there were challenges at the start of the voters’ registration exercise, Mr. Newland noted that the NEC workers were able to cope with the challenges and ensured that all centers remained opened throughout the exercise.

Papa Morris, (Bong Correspondent)-Editing by Winston W. Parley

LP gives equipment to Radio Gbarnga

Former Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority or FDA Managing Director Mr. Harrison Kanwea who recently resigned from the ruling Unity Party to join opposition Liberty Party has presented equipment to Radio Bong in Bong County, after the local station was hit by heavy storm.

Horrific storm recently swept through Gbarnga, Bong County, completely blowing away the roof of the building that hosts Radio Bong and further destroying several working tools, including computers and television, among others.

Making the presentation on behalf of the Liberty Party over the weekend, Mr. Kanwea expressed regret over the situation and promised to return with additional assistance. Materials donated include five bundles of zinc and ceilings.

Mr. Karnwea said he was informed of the destruction when a staff of the institution sent him a text message following the incident. On behalf of LP Standard Bearer Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine, he extended sympathy to the station for the lost. Mr. Kanwea said under a LP-led government, disaster issues will be taken very seriously.
Receiving the materials on behalf of the station, Radio Gbarnga Editor - In- Chief Clarence Jackson commended the LP and called on others to follow such example.

LP gives equipment to Radio Gbarnga--Editing by Winston W. Parley

Senator wants Code of Conduct repealed

River Gee Senator Conmany Wesseh wants the controversial Code of Conduct for public officials repealed in order to save the country from unnecessary tensions, ahead of the October 10th Presidential and Representatives elections.

Speaking to this paper on Tuesday, 14 March at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia, Senator Wesseh stressed that the Code of Conduct is a good legal material, but the enforcement at this crucial time could create another noise that many Liberians do not anticipate.

According to him, those that may be affected by the law should consider how to proffer a repeal bill for speedily passage, ahead of the elections in order to allow them participate in the elections rather than crying foul.

Senator Wesseh noted that few years back, he raised the argument in one of the cabinet meetings with President Sirleaf, but not many gave attention to the argument.

He maintained that the best approach is to utilize the time, since the Liberian legislators are still in session then to wait until the document is signed into law by the President.

He cautions that that Code of Conduct should be handled with care and dedication to avoid political noise that may not be easily controlled.

The River Gee County lawmaker, who is seen as one of the resounding voices at the Liberian Senate, offers his services to fast track the passage. When questioned whether he could proffer the bill, he declined on grounds that those being affected should take the lead and many lawmakers both in the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate will embrace the idea to achieve an amicable end.

He then called on political parties and leaders to respect the law, if they don’t want it repealed, noting that it is bounding that national leaders respect the law to the full or help to change it, but criticizing it would not help the process.

Meanwhile, Senator Wesseh has expressed condolences to the Fahnbulleh and Brownell’s for the loss of their mother and daughter, Madame Mary Brownell, at age 88.

He told this paper that the death of the former educator and civil right activist is a blow to the country and the young generation whom she impacted hugely during her life time.

He noted that Madam Brownell will be remembered for her countless services to the nation and humanity.

She reportedly died on Monday, 13 March at the John F. Kennedy Medical Hospital after a period of ailment. The late Mary Brownell is mother of Presidential Security Advisor, Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh and veteran Liberian musician Miata Fahnbulleh.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

I spoke with Taylor

At long last Coalition for Democratic Change standard bearer Senator George Weah has confirmed widespread reports here that he spoke with incarcerated former President Charles Taylor via telephone from his prison cell in Britain.

The Montserrado County Senator broke the prolonged silence on the Taylor issue in an interview Tuesday, 13 March at his Capitol Building office in Monrovia. The confession comes months after the former chief of investigation for the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, Alan White, revealed that he had information from credible sources that Taylor was interfering with the 2017 elections in Liberia.

Senator Weah, whose Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) recently joined ranks with Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and indicted ex-speaker Tyler’s Liberia People Democratic Party (LPDP) in a marriage dubbed Coalition for Democratic Change with Taylor’s ex-wife Jewel as his running mate, acknowledged speaking with the former President.

“The allegations and sourced information that I’m receiving is that Charles Taylor, the former President – indicted and convicted war criminal for his actions in Sierra Leone and the leader of the RUF – is interfering with the elections,” - Allen White said.

However, responding to a reporter’s question about his alleged ties with the former President and whether he had spoken with Taylor from his cell, Weahexplained that out of courtesy for the former President, he did in fact speak to him on a phone owned by one of Taylor’s relatives herebased on request from Taylor himself.

“Someone who is closed to President Taylor was on the phone in our strategic meeting and informed me that Taylor had requested to speak with me and I agreed. I picked up the phone and said Mr. President how you are? He was the President of the Republic of Liberia no matter what happens I must give him that due courtesy and say hello. If President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf leaves today and she wants to speak with me, I’ll speak to her no matter. He’s still a Liberian and it is my duty to speak to every Liberian”, Weah maintained.

According to him, he chose the former first lady Senator Jewel Howard Taylor as running mate because he feels that it is important to have a woman on the party’s ticket.

“I am not a friend of Taylor; he was the President of the Republic of Liberia, (one who) I respected. We didn’t and don’t have any personal friendship but as President, every time we met, I gave him due courtesy because he did the same for me,” Weah added.

Since the claims of Taylor meddling in Liberian politics came about two months ago, specifically having telephone discussion with Weah, this is his first public comment, confirming that they did talk, but gave no detail of the discussion, which may have led him to pick Sen. Taylor as his running mate.

In response to the development, the Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Information subsequently requested the British Government to investigate Taylor’s reported activities in Liberia from his cell in Britain.

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

Brumskine to pick Kanwea?

Presidential hopeful Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the opposition Liberty Party is expected to announce his running mate this weekend in the northern city of Sanniqulie, Nimba County, ahead of the October elections.

Speaking to The NewDawn via mobile phone on Wednesday, March 15, LP National Secretary General Jacob Smith said, the national executive council, which is the highest decision body of the party in the absence of national convention, will congregate in Nimba this Friday and Saturday, respectively, where Cllr. Brumskine will pick his running mate to contest for the presidency.

He narrated that following the announcement, both the standard bearer and vice standard bearer will tour all 15 political sub-divisions to interact with partisans. Mr. Smith pointed out that following the nationwide tour, the party will hold national convention in May to elect candidates for representative seats at which the convention will subsequently endorse Brumskine and his running mate to take the party to national elections.

However, there are speculations that Cllr. Brumskine is seriously eyeing new convert Harrison Kanwea, current Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority as possible running mate.

When asked to name some possible candidates for the VP slot, Mr. Smith declined, but described Kanwea, who recently crossover from the governing Unity Party as a decent man that all political parties will want for a running mate.

Liberty Party insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity, said during a recent meeting held in Monrovia, Kanwea's name emerged from amongst executives and gurus of the party.

Mr. Kanwea is believed to have a strong political base in Nimba County, particularly amongst the Gio tribal people, where Senator Prince Johnson, also a presidential candidate in this year's election is regarded as a political ‘godfather’.

If Kanwea were to go as running mate, he could dilute the political dominance of Senator Johnson, who has won two senatorial elections in Nimba besides becoming kingmaker for the presidency during the2011 runoff presidential elections. It could be a 'dogfight' between the Liberty Party and Senator Johnson’s Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) party over the Nimba votes.

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

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