Politics

Global Fund Executive Director on two days visit

The Executive Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), Dr. Mark R. Dybul is expected to begin a two day visit here today (25th- 26th April 2017.)


During his visit, Dr. Dybul will meet with Her Excellency President of the Republic of Liberia Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is also Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Governments and other key actors of the HIV response in the country.

He will express thanks and appreciation to the President of Liberia for her level of commitment toward ending AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and for her critical support as the Global Champion.

During his visit, Dr. Mark R. Dybulwill meet with both developmental and national partners including representatives of UN Agencies and International Organizations, as well as, officials of the Ministry of Health and other government lines ministries. He will also meet with the Liberia Coordinating Mechanism, the National AIDS Commission and associations of the Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV (LIBNEP+).

Dr. Mark R. Dybul, a strong advocate of Resilient Health System, will use his presence in the Liberia to get a broader understanding of the Country’s post Ebola Health improvement.
Dr. Mark R. Dybul has served since 2013 as Executive Director of the Global Fund and has worked on HIV and public health subjects for more than 25 years as a clinician, scientist, teacher and administrator. He has led a transformative change to greatly increase investment in programs to ending the epidemics of AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Dr. Mark R. Dybul served as the United States Global AIDS Coordinator from 2006 until the beginning of the Obama Administration. In that role, he led the implementation of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the largest international health initiative in history for a single disease. He oversaw U.S. government engagement in the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and was Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee. He also served as chair of the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS' coordinating board and as a member of the board of trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, among others.

 

Taylor allies join him in prison

A Dutch court has sentenced Mr. GusKouwenhoven, a former allied of jailed ex-President Charles Taylor to 19 years in prison for war crimes and arm smuggling here during Liberia’s brutal civil war.


His sentencing comes nearly a year after Russian arm dealer Viktor Bout also known as the Merchant of Death, another Taylor allied was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment by a US judge in May 2016. Bout 50, took an appeal in October of last year.

Both Kouwenhoven and Bout are the only two backers of the Liberian civil war to be placed behind bars so far. Taylor, the chief architect of the Liberian civil war was sentenced to 50 years imprisonment in 2012 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sierra Leone. Taylor who is currently serving his 50 years in jail in the UK, like many of the Liberian war actors is yet to answer a single question on war crimes he committed here in Liberia.

Gus Kouwenhoven was convicted by the Dutch Appeal Court for war crimes and arms smuggling during the height of Liberia’s brutal civil war on Friday, April 21. He was head of the Oriental Timber Corporation (OTC) during the regime of Taylor. Before then Gus Kouwenhoven owned and manage one of Liberia’s top class Hotel-Hotel Africa.

The civil war which claimed over 250,000 lives, was funded largely through the sale of diamonds and timber plundered from Liberia’s rainforests. After a lengthy appeals process Friday’s historic ruling finds Kouwenhoven guilty of delivering weapons to the regime of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, in return for special treatment for his timber company.

“It’s an historic victory for the Liberian people,”Environmental watchdog Global Witness said in a release Friday April 11, 2017. “The landmark ruling sends a clear message that those who profit from war will be held to account, and sets a significant legal precedent in recognising that trading arms for natural resources is a war crime,” the group said.

The tenacity of the Dutch Authorities in pursuing this case despite significant challenges now means that two backers of the Liberian civil war will soon be behind bars.
“This verdict sends a clear message to those who profit from war - they can and will be held to account. If you buy natural resources like timber in full knowledge that you’re helping to fund a conflict or trafficking arms, there’s only a cheque book between your company and the murder of thousands of people, in this case over 250,000.” said Patrick Alley, co-founder of Global Witness.

Alley continued, “We applaud the Dutch authorities for their vision in charging Kouwenhoven back in 2005, for their tenacity in pursuing the case for so long and for imposing this sentence. Whilst this can never make up for the countless Liberian lives lost and ruined by Kouwenhoven’s murderous business model, it will at least mean he faces consequences for his crimes. Too often those who profit from war go unpunished, which in turn encourages further abuses.”

Global Witness first documented the involvement of Kouwenhoven in illegal logging and arms trafficking in its 2001 report, Taylor Made. Kouwenhoven was placed on UN travel ban list in 2001 and in July 2003 sanctions on Liberian timber were put in place, on the grounds that timber was being traded by rebel and government forces in exchange for arms, thereby fuelling the civil crisis.

OTC, also known also as ‘Old Taylor's Children' or ‘Only Taylor Chops' because of its close ties with the former President, was the most notorious logging company in the country, dominating the Liberian timber industry with 1.6 million hectares of concessions.

Many European timber companies such as the Swiss/German Danzer Group and the Danish DLH Group – who claim to be one of the world’s leading timber traders - bought timber from Kouwenhoven in full knowledge of his close links with the brutal dictator, yet have never been held to account. Any companies that bought timber from Liberia during Taylors’ rule should also face prosecution for aiding and abetting war crimes.

By Othello B. Garblah

 

LTA hosts regional regulators

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority or LTA plays host to 11 member states of the West Africa Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA) this week for its Annual General Meeting.


Their meeting here comes on the heels of the ECOWAS parliamentary conference, which suggests that Liberia is once again becoming a key player in global and sub-regional affairs 12 years after a civil unrest that saw the death of 250,000 Liberians and the destruction properties worth millions.

President and Chairman of the Authority of ECOWAS States, Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is expected to deliver a Special Statement to start the occasion and LTA Chairperson Angelique Weeks will be ascending to WATRA’s Chairmanship for the following year.

The WATRA Annual General Meeting will be preceded by a two day conference, Tuesday and Wednesday, on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) a nonprofit organization that is responsible for coordinating the maintenance and procedures of several databases related to the namespaces of the Internet, ensuring the network's stable and secure operation.

A special workshop on global maritime safety systems will be done by Iridium, a company specializing in satellite constellation during the WATRA meeting which starts Thursday. Iridium provides voice and data coverage over the Earth’s entire surface. It is of particular interest to Liberia because the nation is the second largest maritime carrier.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly was born out of the need to address present realities in the telecommunications industry in the sub-region while focusing on the need for West Africa to evolve a harmonized regulatory identity to boost investment and investor-confidence and to more effectively regulate and monitor telecommunications service.

Ellen honors former Kuwaiti PM

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf has admitted former Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammed Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah into the Most Venerable Order of the Knighthood of the Pioneer of the Republic of Liberia with the Knight of Grand Cordon.


An Executive Mansion release says Mrs. Sirleaf honored the former Kuwaiti PM for his personal and country’s invaluable services to the upliftment of mankind and humanity of the Arab State of Kuwait to there construction efforts of Liberia.

The ceremony was held in Monrovia on Friday, 21 April at the Executive Pavilion on Broad Street.The event saw a huge turnout of senior government officials including House Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay, Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor,Sr., the Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps, religious leaders and citizens.

During the Investiture Ceremony and Luncheon Mrs. Sirleaf recalledthat Liberia has received tremendous support from the State of Kuwaitranging from commitment to the provision of financial support as wellas the pavement of the Gbarnga-Mendikoma Road, among others.

Prior to the conferral of the order of distinction on former PM AlSabah, Mrs. Sirleaf said the visit to Liberia will continue to deepenthe already existing friendship between both countries and will expandthe mutual benefits between both countries.

President Sirleaf says Mr. Al - Sabah’s visit here is a “great honorfor the people of Liberia, recalling that former PM has always workedto strengthen and improve bilateral relationship subsisting betweenLiberia and the Arab State of Kuwait.

She applauded his tireless efforts in enhancing development inLiberia, especially his support towards the development of theGreenville Port in Sinoe County. Following the investiture ceremony,Mrs. Sirleaf had a brief interaction with the Press at the Roberts
International Airport where she had gone to bid farewell to the visiting guest. She says Mr. Al - Sabah’s visit to Liberia is“Pleasing and a Strong Partnership” to Liberia.For his part, former PM Al - Sabah recounted the long bilateral relations between Liberia and the Arab State of Kuwait, saying it has been rewarding to the two nations.

The former Kuwaiti’s official recounted some of the achievements of President Sirleaf, prior to becoming the first female President of Liberia and Africa respectively.He expressed appreciation for the honor bestowed on him by the Government and people of Liberia.

“Madam President, I extend my thanks to the Republic of Liberia,especially President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for the honor”, he says.Mr. Al - Sabah says further that the honor is also borne out offriendship between Kuwait and Liberia, reflecting the true sense of friendship.

National Port Authority Managing Director Mr. David Williams thankedthe guest and the State of Kuwait for the support to the NPAespecially the donation of four marine crafts that include two tugboats, one pilot boat and one patrol boat to the Port of Greenville.

Following the honoring ceremony that came at the end of a three – daystate visit, Mr. Al - Sabah departed the country for the State ofKuwait. - Press release

Woman, 30, discovered dead in well

A 30 year - old woman identified as Ms. Kebbeh Johnson has been found dead in an abandoned well at her residence in the Paynesville Community where she was hosting a wake keeping on Thursday night, 19 April for her late aunt.


The victim was discovered last Thursday at about 11 pm in the well at the Gobachop Community of Paynesville. Her uncle Mr. William Barco says the incident did not only come as a shock to his family, but has also left the family pondering over how the deceased got into the well.

He told this paper on Friday, 20 April that the late Kebbeh was one of the family hosts of a wake for her aunt. Mr. Barco says what astonishes him most is that the top of the well is too narrow for such a fat woman as Kebbeh to have passed through it and drowned in the 30 ft well.

Following the discovery of the late Kebbeh’s remains in the well, Mr.Barco says the family invited Liberia National Police or LNP Zone FiveDepot in Gobachop to probe into the matter so as to establish whetherthe death of their niece was natural or carried out by anyone.

Kebbeh, a mother of two children who had been selling in the Gobachop General Market in Paynesville, had the well very closed to the entrance of her room, family sources say.

Hundreds of onlookers, marketers and well-wishers, jam parked the deceased’s residence as news of her death spread across the community on Friday morning.Burial was already at hand for Kebbeh’s aunt before she (Kebbeh) got drowned in the well, thus, leaving locals in the community to troop to the incident scene. Locals saw the incident as a double blow to the family that was already mourning.

There was uncontrollable weeping and mourning in the community, with others seen rolling on the ground in sympathy of Kebbeh’s death.Well placed family sources of the deceased told The NewDawn that the late Kebbeh was seen during the night singing traditional songs along with other women to appease the hearts of those attending the wake keeping before the incident occurred.

Family sources say Kebbeh left the crowd only to be found dead later in the well. They say a search had been launched for Kebbeh’s where abouts before the discovery was made. Following the discovery,the family says it immediately alerted the police and there was subsequent deployment of officers to protect the proximity of the well in which Kebbeh had drowned.

Further information gathered by this paper suggests that after police probe, the late Kebbeh’s corpse was later turned over to the family.When contacted on the situation, Police Spokesman Sam Collins told this paper that he could not comment on the incident on grounds that police were still investigating the matter.The remains of the late Kebbeh Johnson have been deposited at a local funeral home in Paynesville awaiting burial.
By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Winston W. Parley

ALL holds nat’l youth confab

A two-day National Youth Peace Building Conference gets underway in Monrovia on Tuesday, April 24th. The youth conference is organized by Accountability Lab Liberia in partnership with the Swedish Embassy and the United Nations Mission in Liberia.


About 200 young Liberians from the 15 counties of the country will come together to deliberate on the critical challenges relating to peace and security and to generate concrete plans for youth engagement ahead of the October 2017 general and presidential elections.

Participants at the conference will include both young men and women from a variety of groups including the physically challenged and the less fortunate.The Liberian National Youth Peace building Conference- which is the first of its kind in the country- will provide the opportunity for young people to engage in five “Work Labs” and deliberate on issues of Economic Prosperity and Entrepreneurship; Diversity, Tolerance and Reconciliation; Arts, Sports and Culture; Elections and Electoral Processes; and Integrity and Anti-Corruption. Among these other critical issues, the conference will also highlight women rights, gender equality and gender equity.

Conversations in the five Work Labs will be facilitated by motivational speakers and expert facilitators from both Liberia and Sweden including former Swedish Ambassador to Liberia, Lena Nordstrom, Paynesville City Mayor, Cyvette Gibson, Ms. HawaGolakai and Ms. Gwendolyn Myers among others. The Conference will also host Mr. Van Vicker, a famous Liberian movie star; and Mapei, a well-known Swedish-Liberian musician.

It is envisioned that the conference will become an annual State of Youth in Liberia conference as a platform for young people to reflect and collaborate in support of the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2250 which promotes youth representation in decision making at all levels in society.
About Accountability Lab:

The Conference is organized by Accountability Lab Liberia (www.accountabilitylab.org), an organization that is building a new generation of active citizens and responsible leaders in Liberia and around the world. The Lab develops creative campaigns, runs a highly competitive two-year accountability incubator for young civil society change-makers and recently established Liberia’s first co-working andinnovation space, called iCampus

Maryland youth groups vow support for VP Boakai

Two youth groups in Maryland County have vowed to support the presidential bid of Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai, pledging to source resources on their own to help the ruling Unity Party or UP to see Mr. Boakai win the October elections.


Mr. Meshach Elliott and Mr. Macarthur Doetein of the Youth United for Boakai and Rapid Response Team for Boakai 2017 say as young people of Maryland from diverse political background, they have decided to buttress the effort of the ruling Unity Party or UP to ensure Vice President Boakai becomes Liberia’s next president.
“We don’t know VP Boakai and we have not seen him, but will do all we can to ensure that he ascends to the post of the presidency”, the youth leaders Mr. Elliott and Mr. Doetein say.

Representing their various organizations, the youth leaders told this paper in an interview in Harper that they have done their assessment of the presidential candidates and have concluded that VP Boakai is the only candidate that has broad knowledge of the current developmental path the country is moving on.

The youth groups leaders further argue that Mr. Boakai has worked in the second top position of the Liberian government for over 11 years, and has gained understanding of government.They are suggesting that VP Boakai has the pedigree to stabilize the country and bring about positive transformation for the betterment of the Liberian people.
The two groups that claim to have membership of over 200 young men and women from the different political parties have promised to extend their arms to River Gee, Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, and Sinoe Counties to bring on board their colleagues for the support of VP Boakai’s Presidential bid.

The group leaders have vowed to galvanize resources on their own to buttress the efforts of the ruling UP to see VP Boakai becomes the next president.For his part, UP’s public relations officer for Maryland County Mr. Andrew Kallon has lauded the youth groups for coming on board to ensure his candidate becomes victorious.

He however pledges UP’s commitment in working with the groups, while also challenging them to reach out to every young person that is of voting age to support their ideology.

By George K. Momo/ Maryland-Editing by Winston W. Parley

Heart-man activities hit Nimba

Residents of Zahn Yekyee Town, electoral district#8 in Nimba County are in panic after unknown men suspected of being ritualistic killers, allegedly chased a woman and a group students.


The students were reportedly on their way for weekend while the woman in question had gone on her farm along when the incident occurred.No one has been arrested in connection with the act, but the town is said to have a history of ritualistic killings with a child discovered dead sometime last year in the bush with body parts missing.

The deceased and her mother had gone to participate in a farm cooperative locally known as koo, when the child was left in the village along with other kids.It was established how the minor left the village, but was subsequently found dead few miles away from the village with parts missing.

The New Dawn Nimba Correspondent said those who were on the farm, were arrested and sent to Saclepea for interrogation, but later released. Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson recently frowned against ritualistic killing during a visit to Maryland County, calling for government’s intervention.

Sen. Johnson, leader of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction, said if elected the next Liberian president, a MDR-led government would try and sentence to death suspects convicted for ritualistic killings.

The practice involves killing people and extracting their body parts to use them as charms to win elections or gain political influence. Maryland County has a strong history of such killings even up to now, but the famous one involved Allen Yancy, ex-superintendent James Anderson and others. The accused were subsequently tried, found guilty and sentenced by hanging during the Tolbert regime in early 70s.

Nimba County currently has about 105 representative aspirants from all nine electoral districts, who have expressed interest to contest in the October elections.Some of the citizens, who spoke to this paper lamented that the alleged act was creating panic in the county, particularly as the country heads for elections.

Some of the aspirants, who spoke with our correspondent, distanced themselves from the practice, saying they are entering the race to help improve the living condition of their people, rather than killing them.

By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Maryland holds educational meeting

A one-day education meeting to strategize and put in place mechanism to curtail mass failure among students in Maryland County has ended in Harper City with stakeholders vowing to do everything necessary to halt the menace.


The meeting brought together school principals across the county, District Education Officers (DEOs), Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) chairpersons, and county officials.
It was organized by Superintendent Betsy Kuoh Toe as part of her intervention to strengthen the county’s educational system.

According to her, she has observed that much has not been heard from school authorities across the county. Superintendent Toe emphasizes that it is important that her office and educational stakeholders brain storm to finding a way forward to end students’ mass failure in exams.

Statistics from the 2015/2016 exams administered by the West African Examination Council or WAEC shows that 836 senior students wrote the test, but only 273 successfully passed, while 564 failed.

Meanwhile, the Principal of Cape Palmers High School, the county’s premier high school, Mr. Babay on Boatue, attributes the situation to having one teacher teaching more than one school, students’ weakness in studying their lessons, teachers not putting in enough time, lack of textbooks and libraries, among other lapses.

Harper District Education Officer James G. Gaye, said mass failure of students in the county is also as a result of teachers not consulting their lessons plan, lack evaluation skills, poor qualification, and early request for students’ grades by WEAC.

At the close of the meeting, the stakeholders resolved that the county educational system will liaise with the Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell College of Education at the William V.S. Tubman University to provide training for teachers across the county to enable them improve their skills in the classroom.

The Maryland school system is expected to establish a committee to conduct research on student’s failure as well as a community school enhancement program in the county.
Superintendent Toe promised to work closely with the County Education Officers (CEO) and District Education Officers as well as principals and PTA chairpersons to improve the county’s educational system.

By George K. Momo in Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Police in Harper City launch anti-mob violence

The Liberia National Police Maryland detachment has launched an anti-mob violence campaign code-named “Operation stop mob violence” in Harper City.


According to the LNP Maryland detachment community policing head MunahSieh, the police have over the years noticed an increase in mob violence in the county and deem it wise to carry on awareness through sports, among students.

Officer Sieh says often when the police go into the community to meet with residents, only elderly people show up with the youth being left out, and the reason usually provided is they are in school, so this time around, the police are taking the awareness to young people thru sports.

She explains that since mob violence is usually executed by young people in Maryland, it is against this background that the LNP community policing department decided to host such program in schools to get the youth fully involved.

Officer Sieh notes that the two days campaign featured five schools in Harper, including Our Lady of Fatima High, Cape Palmas High, Harper Demonstration, John Hilary Tubman, and A. Dash Wilson High.

She said the program is expected to extend shortly to Pleebo Sodoken District and will target all schools as well as the business community.During the ‘stop mob violence’ campaign just launched in Harper City, the students were told not to take the law in their own hands by lynching suspects, but to rather report them to the police, warning that beating on someone may sometimes lead to death, and the best place to seek justice if they felt offended is to use the rule of law in seeking redress.

Mob violence in Maryland County has been on the increase, particularly in Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District, often resulting to death.Recently, a man identified as John Dennis was mobbed to death in Pleebo Zone 4B community after he was accused of attempting to take away a one-year-seven months’ old baby for suspected ritualistic purpose.

The mother of the baby only identified as Patience, alarmed and angry crowd beat the suspect to death.The two days campaign was graced by local government officials, school authorities, community leaders, local media, and judicial actors in the county.

Speaking in separate interview with this paper in Harper, participants lauded the police for the initiative and called for its continuity.The head of community policing of Pleebo District that is highly rated for mob violence, Princess Baysah, said the program launched in the schools will set a new pace for the stop mob violence campaign in the county.

Officer Baysah disclosed that LNP will make maximum use of community radio stations and closely work with local journalists to halt mob violence.

By George K. Momo in Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne

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