Liberia stands a chance to solve age-old shortage of technicians

The immediate former president of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) Alumni Association, Mr. Jonathan Paye-Layleh, says if the government of President George Manneh Weah moves quickly and supports the speedy transformation going on at BWI, Liberia stands to finally solve age-old shortage of middle-level technicians .

Speaking to reporters after his tour of renovated facilities on the campus, Mr. Paye-Layleh said he was impressed that despite a huge challenge and funding gap, BWI under Principal Harris Fomba Tarnue, is getting stronger and has managed to undertake a number of key, meaningful projects aimed at restoring the image of the school.

The former alumni president, in his personal capacity, expressed appreciation that Mr. Tarnue and his team of administrators have also created a very harmonious relationship between the school’s workforce and the administration, something that he says was lacking at the school prior to the appointment of Mr. Tarnue.

Mr. Paye-Layleh hailed the new Minister of Education, Prof. Ansu Soni, for the ongoing exercise to assess situations at technical and vocational institutes around the country, especially the BWI.

The Education Ministry assessment team spent hours on the BWI campus last week, visiting a number of places including the dormitories, renovated trade shops and the BWI Heavy Duty Training Center.--Press release

Assistant Justice Minister promises to replicate inter-prison leagues

Assistance Justice Minister for Corrections Eddie Tarawali has promised to replicate inter prison leagues at various prisons in the Country.

Following a match between corrections officers and convicts recently in Monrovia, Mr. Tarawali told reporters that it was important to have these kinds of activities with prisoners to reduce their stress levels.

According to him, those social dropouts need activities that will make them feel part of society despite their action which led them into imprisonment. He observes that “if you visit our prisons, 75 to 80 % of our inmates are young people” and so as a leader, you need to be very innovative by reducing the psychological stress they face.

“That is why we saw it important to organize these kinds of leagues,” he adds. Prisoners and corrections officers faced each other over the weekend in a match that ended without any goal from either side.

Some of the prisoners who played in the match said it was one of the best things that ever happened to them since they were imprisoned at the Monrovia Central Prison (South Beach).

Junior Roberts, a convict who shined during the game said, “I tried my possible best to defeat the correction officers, but it was not easy”.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

Cape Mountaineers denounce nominees

Residents of Grand Cape Mount County under the banner, Conscious Citizens Movement (CCM) say they seriously lack confidence in some presidential nominees from their county.

According to CCM Chairman Thomas B. Massaquoi, there are several other qualified citizens of Cape Mount with clean record that could work with President George Manneh Weah’s government for the betterment of the county and the pro-poor agenda.

CCM is making recommendation to President Weah to consider certain residents of Cape Mount with clean record, following the president’s appointment of local government officials of the county recently.

The group has recommended the names of several persons to President Weah, including Boima Gboyango Q. Kamara, Augustine Musa, Ousman Kiazolu and Walter Skinner, Varney A. Sheriff, L. Mambu Freeman and Andrew Massaley, Alfred Quayjandii, Jusu T. Kromah, Bendu K. Tamba and Lamie Sambollah, Mambu Golafe and Charles Kabah for various positions ranging from county superintendent to district superintendent.

A release issued by the CCM expresses the group’s opposition to several nominees, accusing some of poor human relations and alleged poor management of project, among others.

“On the basis of this, we citizens of Cape Mount are appealing to our beloved President, the people - centered President, to kindly listen to his people’s plight in the best interest of his pro-poor policy that we embrace a lot,” the group concludes.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

MRUYP impeaches speaker

Members of the 3rd Mano River Youth Parliament (MRUYP) Liberia Chapter have with immediate effect impeached and expelled its speaker, Mr. James M. Kolleh of Bong County.

The group in an angry tone announced Monday, 12 March that the impeachment and expulsion of former MRUYP Speaker Kolleh comes following a majority vote on a motion filed by one of its parliamentarian, Harry A. Cyrille of River Gee County.

MRUYP Chair on Information, Culture and Tourism Steven M. Karly has announced that the parliament has elected its new speaker, Mr. Mohammed A. Massaley on a white ballot vote casted by Aletha C. Blamo of Montserrado County during sessions held in Tubmanburg, Bomi County from 9 -11 March.

Karly claims that Kolleh’s alleged inability to properly and adequately communicate, consult, call regular leadership meeting, and collaborate with the Deputy Speakers, among others, have further justified his impeachment.

Mr. Karly says the decision to impeach the former speaker was reached in Plenary after a resolution was submitted by member of the parliament, G. Mackie Cole. 
He says the resolution carried nine counts including alleged gross violation of the statute which governs the institution.

By Lewis S. Teh-Edited by Winston W. Parley

Ellen’s expulsion ‘wrong’

Former ruling Unity Party (UP) stalwart Rep. Edwin Melvin Snowe says the expulsion of former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf, Senator Conmany Wesseh, Attorney Medina Wesseh and National Secretary General Patrick Worzi by some party executives is unconstitutional and a gross violation of the party’s rules and guidelines.

Rep. Snowe, a Bomi County Representative, told local radio station Truth FM Monday, 12 March that the party lost the election due to lack of confidence in some people who had played vital roles in the campaign activities of the party.

“We lost the election because … some of our party executives did not trust us. There were meetings that some of us denied entry on grounds that we are closed to President Weah and undecided. That made many influential people to take the back seat during the crucial period of the election,” Snowe says.

Mr. Snowe claimed that a few members of UP’s executives took the action, believing that former President Sirleaf failed to support the candidature of former Vice President Joseph Boakai’s in his quest for the presidency last year.

He observed that such UP officials that were bitter with Madam Sirleaf for her alleged supports to President George Manneh Weah are now the ones that are allegedly benefiting from the administration.

Mr. Snowe adds that some are appointed to key positions of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) led administration. Mr. Boakai’s running mate, former Speaker Emmanuel James Nuquay is now Mr. Weah’s appointee as Director General at the Liberia Aviation Authority, while former Vice President Boakai received a New Year’s gift from Weah.

The UP expelled Mrs. Sirleaf, amidst longstanding accusations of meddling in last year’s presidential elections won by Mr. Weah, who was by then an opposition candidate.

According to Mr. Snowe, Mrs. Sirleaf and the rest of the expelled UP officials were not accorded due process as required by the 1986 Liberian Constitution and guidelines of the UP.

He claims that the UP former Standard Bearer reportedly supported his nephew instead Unity Party candidate during a by - election in Lofa for the replacement of the late Eugene Fallah Kpakar.

Mr. Snowe also recalls that he (Snowe) and other key UP officials did not support the party’s candidate during the 2014 Special Senatorial election, but the party did not expel them.
He wonders why Mrs. Sirleaf and others are now facing expulsion for such reason.
Meanwhile, Mr. Snowe has pledged his unflinching support to President Weah’s administration because Mr. Weah is from the young generation which he (Snowe) is part of.-

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor-Edited by Winston W. Parley

PYJ promises job for defeated lawmaker

Senator Prince Y. Johnson vows to provide job for defeated lawmaker Garrison Yealue, Jr. He told reporters that while Mr. Yealue might be frustrated by his defeat, he has a law degree which he can use to sustain himself and his family, adding, “Or I being his political god father and senior kinsman, I will help to rescue him by providing him a job.”

Senator Johnson continues, “There is no disunity in Nimba. When you hold election, someone must win.”  The Supreme Court of Liberia one 24January heard argument in the case, subsequently directing a re-examination of the original raw data sheet from the Kpaglay Polling Place #1, Precinct #33105 in Nimba as a means of verifying the numbers and determining if indeed, there was error in the transferring of the data by the NEC officer who did the entry.

The court mandated the National Elections Commission to ensure that this mandate is executed in the presence of the contesting parties, Garrison Yealue, Jr., and Gonpue L. Kargon.

The court also reversed the decision of the NEC Board of Commissioners when it ruled that its hearing officer did not violate the rights of Mr. Yealue.But while the process was on-going, Yealue, thru his legal team, filed a 13-count Bill of Information, contending violation of the high court’s mandate thereby abstaining from the exercise.

He concluded his bill with a four-count recommendation, calling for strict adherence to the conduct of the re-examination of the raw data inclusive of any and all records that form part of such raw data with the right to challenge, and have a resolution of the challenge before moving forward with the process.
He also contended that the result of the process be consistent with every other aspect of the court’s mandate issued on 14 February 2018.

Despite these contentions, the re-examination team commissioned by the National Elections Commission proceeded with the re-examination of the raw data, observing that the NEC staff, who did the entry of the data from the tally sheet increased Mr. Yealue’s total votes from three to 131, while Mr. Kargon’s was reduced from over 200 votes to a little over 130.

The committee found this action to be deliberate, so it recommended that the commission ensure an investigation and take punitive measure against anyone found liable.

Mr. Yealue has meanwhile appealed against the NEC Board of Commissioner’s ruling and promises to take the matter to the Supreme Court of Liberia.
Despite the reaffirmation of the commission’s decision, which for the second time declares Gonpue Kargon as winner of the Nimba County District #4 representative seat, his process remains on hold until the matter is heard by the Supreme Court.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Supreme Court replies politicians

Justices at the Supreme Court have responded to criticisms made against the full bench by politicians and the public in general during the 2017 elections that it had lack the ability to cope with overwhelming election disputes that were brought before it.

Some politicians and members of the public had described the court as a “partisan court” and “a Pontius Pilate Court.”“... There were others, including presidential candidates who, for reasons only they knew, labeled the Supreme Court as partisan court, a prohibition court or a Pontius Pilate Court, etc,” Chief Justice Francis S. Korkpor, Sr., said Monday, 12 March at the opening of the high court.

President George Manneh Weah accompanied by cabinet officials, attended the Supreme Court’s opening for the first time as president, joining members of the Legislature and members of the diplomatic corps at the event on Capitol Hill.

Chief Justice Korkpor, however, said members of the Court were not swayed; noting that they remained focused on the task at hand and carefully heard and decided elections cases timely.

Of all the elections cases the Supreme Court heard, he said only one is currently pending, adding that today, some of the critics are now praising the Court.

There were many predictions prior to the elections that there would have been an overwhelming appeal before to court due to the large numbers of representative aspirants who were vying for the seats in the country’s 73 electoral districts.

But Justice Kpokpor said with a average of 12 person competing in each of the 73 districts, the court was able to prove their critics wrong.
“They completely underestimated the good judgment of the Liberian people, particularly those who took part in the elections.”

He said the court feels very elated about the renewed surge of public confidence reposed in members of the court and they will work assiduously to sustain the confidence.

But despite the new surge of confidence repose in the court, Justice Korkpor said infrastructure and human resource development remain key priority areas for the Judiciary, noting that a number of judicial complexes and magistrate courts have already been built while others are still under construction.

He named River Cess County, as a county which remains the most challenging area, saying that the 14th Judicial Circuit Court in the county remains in a very deplorable condition while the only two magisterial courts there are also in deplorable conditions and are farther apart.

In separate responses, Justice Minister Cllr. F. Musa Dean pledged to do everything to live up to justices’ expectation. He credits ordinary Liberians for taking a decision to resist and denounce violence during the elections, noting that justices’ commitment and dedication to duty, led to a historic transfer of power here.

He recommits to working with the Judiciary to reduce pretrial detentions, over - crowdedness in prisons, fast - track cases and decongest the dockets of the circuit courts which he says will have a corresponding effect on the Supreme Court docket overtime.

Liberia National Bar Association president Cllr. Moses Paegar says the Bar has no doubt that the same zest that attended the handling of the elections cases will be carried over in the “Pro - Poor” dispensation and to the end that the dispensation of justice will permeate every corner of the nation as has never been seen before.

MRU preliminary statement on Sa Leone elections

The Manor River Union (MRU) secretariat over the weekend issued its first preliminary report on the just ended Sierra Leone elections, requesting parties to stay committed to the process as counting continues.

In a statement issued over the weekend, MRU Secretary General Mrs. Medina Wesseh said the Union would like to declare preliminarily that the presidential, parliamentary, mayoral and councilor elections held on 7 March were carried out in a free, fair, transparent, peaceful and credible manner.

“Therefore the Mission congratulates the National Elections Commission (NEC) of the Republic of Sierra Leone for its leadership and the quality of the electoral operations …,” Madam Wesseh says.

The MRU Secretary General appreciates candidates of all the political parties for their compliance with the laws, codes, ethics and conduct of the elections and also the people of Sierra Leone for the high noticeable turn out, discipline and engagement in maintaining the peace and democracy.

She thanks the religious organizations, traditional leaders, the International Community, specifically ECOWAS and the United Nations system, civil society and all the national stakeholders for their important contributions towards the atmosphere of peace.

The MRU Mission took opportunity in the statement to express its sincere thanks and appreciation to Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone for his good work in upholding the tenets of democratic good governance.

Madam Wesseh calls on all political parties, all candidates and their supporters to continue to adhere to and respect the election laws and await the official results.
“We call on National Election Commission (NEC) to continue to maintain a high level of professionalism, impartiality, neutrality and transparency which we have witnessed up to present,” she adds.
She has disclosed that the MRU observers note with concerns that there were isolated electoral incidences reported in few places, including Goderich and Brookfields area and says the union believes those reports are being investigated and there is general peace and calm.
The Union concludes that concerns were raised on restriction placed on vehicular movements on the day of elections, but notwithstanding the atmosphere was peaceful.--Press release

SOS Liberia receives 19

The Monrovia Alternative Care facility of SOS Children’s Villages Liberia has received 19 more children, recommended by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection.

In September, 2017, SOS Liberia together with the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection reunified children that were living in the Monrovia Children’s Village with their biological parents, following an assessment which proved that the children were ready to be reunified and reunited with their respective biological families.

This action created space in the Monrovia Children’s Village and since then, SOS Liberia set out to work with the Ministry and all other relevant stakeholders, including community persons to replace the children that have left the Monrovia Village. An independent verification team embarked on a very elaborate and thorough exercise to ensure that only children that qualify for alternative care get admitted into the homes. This is in line with social protection policy of the Republic of Liberia, as well as the United Nations guidelines on Alternative Care, both of which state that Alternative Care should be a matter of last resort.

Presenting the 19 children to the SOS Children’s Village on behalf of Deputy Minister, Madam Lydia Mai Sherman, the Director of the Social Assistance Division, Mrs. Alfreda Jacobs said, the Ministry of Gender is pleased with the partnership with SOS Liberia.

Speaking recently in Monrovia at the presentation ceremony, Madam Jacobs noted that protection of Liberian children is important for the progress of the country, adding that the children were taken mainly from the VOA Community in Brewerville, a community that was highly affected by the Ebola crisis, with several deaths reported.

She noted that SOS has shouldered the responsibility for several of the kids whose parents lost their lives during the deadly Ebola crisis of 2014. “Today, I am honored to present nineteen children from the VOA Community to SOS Liberia, Madam Jacobs said. She then pledged her Ministry’s commitment to continue to work with SOS Liberia for the care and protection of vulnerable children, particularly those who have lost parental care or are at the risk of losing parental care.
Receiving the children on behalf of SOS Children’s Villages Liberia, National Director, Mr. Augustine A. Allieu said that the day was a very important one in the lives of the children.

Mr. Allieu explained, “UNICEF reports that there are about 220 million children without parental care or at risk of losing it who live in extremely disadvantaged circumstances worldwide. Also related to that is the fact that 1 in 10 children live without parental care worldwide. Here in Liberia, according to LDHS, only 49% of children under 15 live with both parents”.

He stresses that it is therefore quite imperative that, in line with the social protection provisions of the Republic of Liberia, organizations such as SOS Liberia comes in to support these category of vulnerable children in order to ensure that they can experience the joys and fulfilments of a loving home, while realizing their full potentials in life – like any other child.

SOS Chlddren’s Villages Liberia currently operates out of two main locations –Monrovia (Montserrado County) and Juah Town (Grand Bassa County). The organization supports mainly children that have lost parental care or are at the risk of losing parental care.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

SRC engages community residents

The Management of Salala Rubber Corporation or SRC in Margibi County District Five engages community residents mainly beneficiaries of its operation through meetings.

The engagement is a normal routine as part of the company’s social corporate responsibility, usually held with local authorities, towns and villages that are found within the operational areas of the SRC.

Commissioners, paramount and clan chiefs, general town chiefs, town chiefs, management, workers union and citizens from about 50 towns and villages recently convened at the SRC Central School in Camp #4.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, SRC Public Relations Manager Lewis Shilling, explains that the purpose of the meeting is to acquaint with the citizens and make them understand that both company and residents need each other.

He says when there are issues; the best way to solve them is to dialogue with the people, adding that this is also the rationale behind the meeting. Mr. Lewis Shilling: “The purpose of this gathering is for us to know our people, let them know us because there have been a lot going on around here and we want them to feel that as a company, we need them, they need us. When there are issues the best way for us to solve [them] is for us to sit and discuss so these are some of the issues actually we thought it wise to have this meeting, to educate them on. We’ve been doing it, it is not something new, it is our social corporate responsibility; we’ve been doing it to the letter, but it appears as if there are other new people coming into the community who don’t know the genesis of all these things”, he notes.

He added that they are going to be robust and will be reaching out to the communities on a monthly basis to ensure that they do more of what they have been doing for the people.

However, Mr. Shilling adds that though there are some constraints, but there are still rooms in their budget to do more for the locals. The SRC Public Relations Manager continues that there are some issues mainly with land that dates as far back as the 1950s which some people are still bringing back to the company.

According to him, there are records on people who were paid for the land and their photos attached to documents of agreement with the company. Some of the people making complaints personally want money to be paid to them, he notes but adds that they have always told the people that they are interested in working with them to bring development.

Also speaking during the meeting, the General Manager of the SRC Alupay Shinid, says the objective of the meeting is to allow the locals know the company and make them understand that SRC is not their enemies. The MD calls on the residents to collaborate with the company to bring about mutual understanding in their relationship.

He says SRC will work very hard as a company to cover all towns and villages that have concerns and would work with them to understand their needs and priorities as well as implement projects that are required.

Meanwhile, some of the villagers who made remarks during the meeting thank the SRC management for its activities but express concerns about alleged excesses by the company.

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

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