EU reaches out amputees

The European Union Delegation to Liberia has donated 2 sets of sporting materials to the Amputee Football Association. Making the presentation, EU Charge d'affaires a.i Mrs. Emma Sundblad highlighted some of the collaboration between the European Union and Liberia and explained that the donation was a small practical contribution to help the association with their sporting activities.

Referring to the recently concluded fifth African Union – European Union Summit, Mrs. Sundblad recalled the Summit's commitment to invest in youth, through support to inclusive education and vocational training and investment to ensure sustainable job creation. She underlined that this applied equally those with disabilities and encouraged the team "to see themselves as role models as well as a source of hope and inspiration to other young people in similar situations".

Speaking on behalf of the Association, Mr. Richard Duo, president of the Amputee Football Association, thanked the EU for the timely contribution and stressed that the government and partners need to do more in order to address the numerous challenges faced by the disabled especially in areas of education, jobs and funding. He also explained the work done by the Association to promote reconciliation and prevent conflict.The donation was done during a practice session of the team in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.


Mills Jones in trouble

The National Executive Committee of the opposition party Movement for Economic Empowerment or MOVEE stamps its political leader, Dr. Joseph Mills Jones with indefinite suspension.

This followed reported attempt by Dr. Jones to forcibly take away a generator from the party headquarters situated opposite the St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital Junction in Congo Town, which allegedly resulted to a scuffle.

The party in a communication orders first partisan Dr. Jones to stay off all MOVEE’s properties, pending an investigation by its grievance and ethics committee.

“First partisan Dr. Joseph Mills Jones is hereby suspended with immediate effect for time indefinite as Standard Bearer and Political Leader of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE), pending conclusive investigation. In so doing, Partisan Joseph Mills Jones is hereby mandated to turn over all party properties in his possession and must avoid all premises of the party until otherwise ordered by the National Executive Committee of MOVEE or cited by the Grievance and Ethics Committee of MOVEE for the investigation in the complaint brought against him - Partisan Joseph Mills Jones by Partisan James Roberts,” the statement reads.

The party continues that within seventy-two (72) hours upon receipt of this mandate from the National Executive Committee of MOVEE, the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) must expeditiously dispose of the matter and submit findings in keeping with the By-Laws and Constitution of the Party.

According to party spokesman Robert Sammie, the image and integrity of MOVEE have seriously been assaulted by the alleged actions and behaviors of Dr. Jones.

“These acts are considered unbecoming of any official; including senior partisans of MOVEE. Such acts are punishable under the By-laws and Constitution of the Party,” he explains.

Sammie notes that in order to deal with the matter between Dr. Jones and Partisan James Roberts in a timely manner, and considering its magnitude and graveness consistent with the party’s strong commitment to the rule of law, good governance and democracy, the National Executive Committee of the Movement for Economic Empowerment, which is the highest decision making body in the absence of National Convention, convened on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 an emergency session to discuss this matter and complaint filed by Partisan James Roberts.

“Obviously, these are hard times for our noble party, but there is no singular guarantee for institutional building and democratization than the adherence to the rule of law and justice”, MOVEE spokesman continues, stressing that no one is above the law.

This paper has not spoken with Dr. Jones himself on these allegations that have led to the current brawl in his party.A banker-turned politician, the former Executive Governor left the Central Bank of Liberia straight into politics, hitting the ground running, declaring his intend to vie for the Presidency and subsequently organizing the Movement for Economic Empowerment, which contested the October 10, 2017 polls, but lost, receiving 12,854 votes or 0.8 percent of the total votes cast, according to final results announced by the National Elections Commission.

By Ethel A. Tweh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Senators abandon public hearing

Members of the Liberian Senate Tuesday, 5 December abandoned a scheduled public hearing for four key revenue generating agencies of government to allow a little know group to honor Senate President Pro Tempore Armah Jallah, relegating a crucial matter of state.

The Liberian economy is beset by series of challenges, including swelling exchange rate, unemployment, artificial shortages and high commodity prices, among others.

The exchange rate between the United States Dollars and the Liberian Dollar is US$1.00 to 126LRD. Pump prices for a gallon of fuel and gas are officially at US$ 3.31 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of 410 LRD per gallon and US$ 3.25 or its Liberian dollar equivalent of 400 LRD per gallon, respectively.

But multiple sources, including commercial drivers, who have hiked fares here, say petroleum products are being sold between 450LRD and 500LRD per gallon.
On Tuesday, Senate Pro-Tempore Jallah relegated these issues and instead went to his conference room to receive an honor, while senators and heads of invited agencies were seen loitering in the corridors, awaiting the honoring to end, but the event lasted for hours. Representatives of the invited various were left with no option but to return to their respective places of work.

Pro-Tempore Jallah, who is presiding officer, waited to see his guests before proceeding to the chambers to start session. The Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia Milton Weeks sent a letter of excuse, but the rest, including Commerce and Industry Minister Axel Addy, Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara and Commissioner General of the Liberia Revenue Authority Madam Elfrieda Steward Tamba were present, but they could not make presentations due to the honoring ceremony.

On 30 November the plenary of the Liberian Senate summoned key agencies of the executive branch of government to give full report on the status of the economy.
Following intense deliberations, the senators voted overwhelmingly to summon Finance and Development Planning Minister Boima Kamara, Commerce and Industry Minister Addy Axel, Liberia Revenue Authority Commissioner General, Madam Elfrieda Stewart Tamba, and Executive Governor Milton Weeks to provide updates.

Meanwhile, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Chie made a motion to reschedule the four officials from the executive branch of government next Tuesday, December 12 to examine the health of the economy.

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

Liberia reports at ECOWAS Parliament

Liberia’s representatives to the ECOWAS Parliament have reported to the regional parliament, outlining progress and challenges the country has faced since their last report in May this year.

Presentation of Country Reports at the ongoing Second Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature by the various lawmakers from all 15 ECOWAS countries is part of routine legislative activities of the regional parliamentarian body.

A release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria says the December Country Report, presented on Tuesday, December 5, 2017, covers the political and security situations in Liberia, the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS’ Community Levy, ratification of the community protocols and conventions, and implementation of ECOWAS community programs.

The Country Report also highlights implementation of the ECOWAS infrastructural and transportation policies and programs, status of implementation of the ECOWAS macro-economic program, including achievement of convergence criteria and sensitization activities carried out by parliamentarians.

The release says Montserrado County Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jr, read the Country Report on behalf of the Liberian Delegation. Other members of the delegation from here include, Montserrado County Senator George Manneh Weah, who is Head of Delegation; Nimba County Senator Prince Yormie Johnson, Representative Jefferson Karmoh of Sinoe County, who is Third Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and Representative Haja Fatta Siryon of Bomi County, respectively.

The report describes Liberia’s current political situation as relatively cordial, detailing, “As we may know, Liberia conducted presidential and representatives elections on 10th October, 2017. Seventy-three members of the House of Representatives were elected.”

It notes, “…however, in keeping with the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, for a candidate to be declared winner for the presidency, the candidate must obtain not less than 50 percent plus one (50%+1) of the total votes cast. Of the twenty (20) candidates for the presidency, no one candidate reached such constitutional requirement.”

On the ongoing legal process surrounding results of the polls, it says the Supreme Court is expected this week with a ruling on the status of the stay-order it placed on the process last month following a complaint from the Liberty Party which finished third in the first round of voting.

“To this end, Liberians and the world are watching the legal process to see its logical conclusion. There has been a general atmosphere of calm amongst the parties and citizens”, the release quotes the Country Report.

Relative to the drawdown of the United Nations Missions in Liberia, (UNMIL) couple of months ago, the Report explains that the Government of Liberia through its relevant institutions that are responsible for dealing with security and combating terrorism, including the National Security Agency (NSA), the Ministry of National Defense and the Liberia National Police (LNP) is working to maintain peace and security.

Regarding the economy, the release quotes the Report as saying that the outlook of the “Liberian economy appears gloomy premised on the outcome of the presidential election and enhancement of investments in infrastructure developments as well as implementation of agricultural programs”.

It rather optimistically adds that the economic activities are expected to improve by the end of the first half of 2018.The Liberian legislators also included in their Country Report continuous implementation of regional integration commitments within the framework of the ECOWAS Single Currency Program.

Other aspects covered in the Report include Status of Implementation of the Community Texts, Ratification of the Community Protocols and Conventions, Implementation of the Community Programs and Community Levy and Liberia’s successful hosting of ECOWAS Mid-term Statutory Meetings between May and June this year.

The Country Report concludes that Liberia continues to make considerable progress on the regional front, achieving key deliverables, according to the release.
The ongoing Second Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament kicked off on 21st of November and will end on the 9th of December, 2017. Press Release

LIPA constructs permanent headquarters

The Liberia Institute of Public Administration or LIPA is constructing a modern complex for its future home in Doemah Town along the Robertfield Highway in Margibi County.

The complex, which will be the entity’s new training center, is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID. Titled “Shine Project”, it is aimed at creating sustainable high impact infrastructure for education and agriculture.

“Holding all factors constant, the project which is valued close to US$4.5 million is expected to be completed by November 2018,” says Smartz Pro Engineering, the firm executing the project.

Speaking to the media during a guided tour of the site in Margibi County, LIPA Director General Oblayon Blayon Nyemah emphasizes the importance of capacity building, which he says will be further enhanced by his entity having its own facility.

The uniqueness of the facility Nyemah observes is its location especially in an environment that encompasses all of the conditions needed for a conducive learning environment, and one that allows students to concentrate on their lessons.

“This structure will capture everything that is useful, comprehensive, conducive and technologically advanced to help us meet the requirement for capacity in Liberia”, he notes.

The imagined condition is probably the contrary of their current rented facility on Old CID Road, Mamba Point in Central Monrovia.While he refuses to dwell on the historicity of the project, Nyemah praises the U.S. Government and people for what he says the entity has long being praying for, hoping that the project is executed in an orderly fashion so that Liberia would eventually boost of its own capacity building infrastructure.

Meanwhile, Project Coordinator Florence Dukuly, discloses that the modern facility is being built on 25 acres of land.She says the construction enhances Liberia’s membership with the Management Development Institutes of Africa, further detailing that the facility will include staff quarter, bus station and a student center, among others.

She lauds LIPA per-circle enrollment, which according to her, has risen to over 500 with two circles completed this year. LIPA was founded in 1969 by an act of the Liberian Legislature, but became fully operational in 1971. LIPA provides capacity building in research, consultancy and information services for public and civil servants.

By Ballah M. Kollie - Editing by Jonathan Browne

Criminals terrorize Kesseley Boulevard

Criminal activities are reportedly on the increase in Kesseley Boulevard community along the Somalia Drive outside Monrovia, leaving residents terrified.Several panicking residents speaking to this paper in the community lament that the situation happens every other day and it’s getting serious.

One resident whose mattress was stolen in her yard broad day, laments that she’s afraid due to the wave of crimes in the community, narrating, “I put my mattress in the sun, and in no time, when I got back, it was gone.” The victim, only identified as Gloria, continues that she was shock by the experience when she came outside and just couldn’t believe it.

A male resident also laments that his bed sheet and clothes were stolen from outdoor while hanging on the line after washing them, a practice he notes has become common in the community.

Many others share similar experiences. This paper observes that window screens of most homes in Kesselly Boulevard had been torn apart. When asked what is responsible, residents blame marauding criminals who they say carried out such act to enable them snatch phones and other valuables.

Not only homes but churches have also been victimized in the community with the latest being a worship center whose musical instruments were allegedly stolen.
A resident of one of the houses that fell victim explains that they were all asleep when criminals broke in and stole personal effects, adding that when they woke up, everything was gone.

Some attribute the crime rate to lack of police presence, especially to conduct night patrols in the community.However, other residents who preferred anonymity, claim some of those criminals live right in the community, and are even family members or friends of victims, who refuse to report to the police.

They continue that ghettos are operated in the community, and this is what keeps alleged criminals there, noting that residents don’t want to report such places to the police, because some depend on them for survival.

By Samuel P. Kamara-Editing by Jonathan Browne

MECEPER honors Senate Pro Tempore

A non-governmental and non-political organization Media Center for Policy Evaluation and Research (MECEPER) has honored Senate Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah for his progressive leadership style demonstrated in the Liberian Senate over the past years.

During the event on Tuesday, 5 December, MECEPER National Coordinator T. Michael Jonny said the prestigious award given Sen. Jallah is the first since the establishment of the organization in 2016 by group of professional journalists in Liberia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

He says Sen. Jallah was selected after vigorous evaluation process based on his commitment to duty and service to humanity nationwide.‘’Your leadership style has brought great redemption to the dangling image of the Senate as a result of divisive politics which has torn the Senate apart prior to your ascendency,’’ Jonny notes.

He says it speaks volume of Pro Tempore Jallah's preparedness to accelerate his political ambition to another higher office, considering his ability to contain 29 Senators without noise in the midst of competing priorities and limited resources to adequately respond to constituencies' demands.

The group describes Sen. Jallah as an icon of peace and a beacon of hope for the student community, less fortunate kids, as well as single mothers and old folks.

In response, Pro Tempore Jallah says the organization has done a great job, pledging his support in working with the organization. He says the as politicians, they have some shortfalls and what he wants the organization to do is to outline their shortfall and what they think could be the solution to those problems and how it can help move the country forward.

MECEPER is composed of media executives who have seen the need to move the profession of journalism from mere news reporting to scrupulous evaluation of public policies by measuring its proportional benefit to the society.

By Bridgett Milton

LIPO wants strong intellectual property strategy

The Liberia Industrial Property Office (LIPO) has begun a 12-day stakeholders’ engagement field trip that is intended to develop a national intellectual property strategic plan to be integrated into the government’s national development agenda.

The field trip comes at a time when investors and artists in the creative sector, or industry are taking steps to ensure that government pays more attention to the creative industry.

Speaking to group of journalists on Tuesday, 5 December in Monrovia, LIPO Director General Roosevelt Gould described the document that is being developed as “a crosscutting document" which outlines links with diverse policy areas to ensure effective coordination with other activities.

Since the country enacted the Intellectual Property Law, no government, past or present, has fully given recognition to the creative sector as an engine of growth due to what they describe as ‘lack of a roadmap for the sector.'

Accordingly, LIPO says its 12-day field trip is expected to change things as part of its trajectory on the development of a national strategic intellectual property (IP) plan that will encourage and facilitate useful creations, critical developments and the management and protection of IP at the national level, as well as giving more subsidies to creative industry in the society.

Mr. Gould, took over the agency less than five months ago and has initiated this crucial activity that will soon see artists benefiting more from their career path.
According to him, the National IP strategy will strengthens the country's ability to generate economic growth, both in terms of GDP and human capital.

“With the coming of this strategy, everything ranging from literary to artistic works and genetic and biological assets will be protected and the individual behind it will fully reap his or her benefit,” he says.

The LIPO Boss indicates that without a national IP strategy, it is difficult to unlock these assets in a planned, efficient, and sustainable manner.“The goal of this national IP strategy is the creation, ownership, and management of artists and inventors’ rights to increase economic growth. The world is now being controlled by IP, and if other countries are benefiting from this, it is about time Liberia starts to benefit as well," he adds.

According to him, artists and inventors are people who are supposed to be millionaires by now, saying this is not happening because "we" lack a national IP strategy.
He says Liberia has a good IP law but in the absence of a national IP strategy which is a key policy tool to promote public interest in the arts and innovation and for the environment to strive, then the law remains inactive.

Meanwhile, Gould notes that since 2009, LIPO has been undergoing numerous reforms and working hard to make sure that its performance equals and surpasses its mandate.

Director Gould says the 12-day workshop will be managed by two expert consultants sent by the World Intellectual Property Organization to work alongside the agency’s staff to develop the country’s strategic IP plan through stakeholder engagement.

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

LSA Grievance Chairman speaks on President’s removal

The Chairman of the Grievance and Ethics Committee of the Liberia Scrap Association (LSA), Mr. MC Bah has described as devilish and a complete witch hunt, the alleged action of certain members of the association claiming that LSA president Mr. Aylmer Johnson has been removed from his post.

A release from the LSA dated 30 November accused Cooper Yormie, Richard Kollie, James T. Mafarlon, Sam Yeabahn, Mohamed Konate and James Yarclay as members that are allegedly involved in the misinformation.

The release alleges that the six LSA members made the public statement in Vol. 2 Number 536 of The Hot Pepper newspaper under the banner headline: “LSA Wahala”.

The release quotes Mr. MC Bah as saying that the six LSA members claimed that the association's president Aylmer Johnson had brought disunity to the entire association and had constantly taken decisions without consulting its membership.

The LSA release says that the pronouncement by the six LSA members has the propensity to derail the smooth operation of the association and is in contravention of the bylaws and constitution of the association.

It adds that the association's Grievance and Ethics Committee is not aware of the action of these LSA members, adding that if the aggrieve members had any grievances they should have sought redress through his Committee.

It quotes Article IV “C” as saying all officials may be subject to impeachment by 2/3 majority vote of the Executive and Grievance and Ethics Committees of the association upon expressing their lack of confidence.

Bah says on 22 April, the Executive Committee of the LSA developed a resolution to extend the tenure of Mr. Johnson to 2020 based on prevailing situation that the association is faced with.

According to him, the resolution carried the signatures of Messrs. MC Bah, Grievance and Ethics Committee Chairman, Sam Yeabahn, Task Force Commander, Cooper Yormie, Head of Administration, Sangare Daouda, Task Force Coordinator and Aylmer Johnson, Executive Committee Chairman.
“Imagine the names given to you are of the same individuals who have broken away from the association, failing to adhere and uphold their commitment to the course of the LSA,” Mr. Johnson says.

Meanwhile, the LSA release alleges that the ringleader of the aggrieved members James Yarclay was allegedly expelled by the association on 11 November 2016 for allegedly using profanities at the association's president. But Mr. James Yarclay has since denied the claims.


Red Cross donates to Central Prison

The Liberia National Red Cross has made a donation to the Monrovia Central Prison, saying the donation comes two weeks after receiving a communication from the Inspector General of Liberia National Police (LNP) Col. Gregory Coleman, requesting the Red Cross to see reason to donate some items to the prison.

"We already had that as part of our plan, so we accepted the appeal and we decide to use today to donate few items to the prison compound," Red Cross Emergency Response Office Daniel K. Kossigbo said Tuesday morning at the Monrovia Central Prison Compound, 5 December.

The donated items include 100 pieces of plastic mats, 100 pieces of shower slippers, 100 pieces of wooden blankets, 100 pieces of laundry soap and plastic gloves and plastic buckets.

Mr. Kossigbo says the items are not much, but they are a way of identifying with the Monrovia Central Prison, assuring that in the future, the Red Cross will always remember the Corrections Center.

"We hope that you present these things to the authority of the prison compound and make them to understand that it is our own weak way of identifying with you," says Mr. Kossigbo.

Receiving the donation, Monrovia Central Prison Superintendent Varney G. Lake expressed appreciation to the Red Cross on behalf of the Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation (BCR), saying he knows that these are things that have been discussed in high security meetings.

Mr. Lake alludes to Mr. Kossigbo's assertions that it was through Police Inspector General Col. Coleman's instrumentality that the intervention was made, saying he knows that they have said that behind closed doors.

Mr. Lake says the Red Cross has been making such intervention before, recalling that even before the restructuring the of the security sector, Red Cross was doing immensely well for the prison society here.

On behalf of the Correction Center here, Mr. Lake gives thanks to the Red Cross for the items provided, and assures him that Corrections will use them wisely. He says though they're not plenty to meet up to their demand, little is much when God is in it. He says they know that where the donation comes from more will come from there again.

By Winston W. Parley

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