Employ based on competence

President George Manneh Weah has urged Cabinet Ministers to employ based on competence and not along party lines. An Executive Mansion release issued in Monrovia says President Weah made the call when he spoke on Sunday, 11 March during the 53rd birth anniversary of his wife, First Lady Clar Marie Weah at the Winner Chapel in Oldest Congo Town.

He the release says Mr. Weah reminded his Cabinet to ensure employment is based on competence and not on party line since the government aims to bring change and not to continue on the old path.

President Weah described the First Lady’s birthday as a special day in his life and a blessing, especially celebrating with his wife on her natal day in a church.

He says although he is not perfect, he however promises to do his best to be a people-centered President. Mr. Weah assured Liberians that he will prioritize the less fortunate in society and the wayward children known as “Zogos” to become useful citizens after a prolonged civil war in Liberia.

He furthered that his wife was able to mentor him during the civil war by challenging him to reach out to the Liberians who were languishing in refugee camps across the sub-region by helping to bring relief to their shattered lives.

President Weah says, like his grand-mom and mom, the First Lady is an inspiration to him.
Speaking, Madam Clar M. Weah thanked President George Manneh Weah for the opportunity afforded her to serve the Liberian people and promised to reach out to all in her power, by the grace of the Almighty.

Madam Weah also applauded the people of Liberia for electing her husband and promised to work with him to bring Liberia to its pre-war status.
Earlier, Pastor Chidiebere Mibuko of Winner’s Chapel cautioned President Weah to be steadfast in administering the affairs of the nation.

Pastor Mibuko challenges President Weah not to be distracted but remain focused. Press release

Working with fishing communities to manage sharks and rays

A community science project to manage sharks and rays in Liberia is building on its success to expand from Monrovia and Robertsport to new locations in Buchanan, Harper and Marshall.

The project, collaboration between the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), will train local people to gather key information on Liberia's shark and ray populations, and give citizens the opportunity to feed into plans to improve fisheries sustainability.

Sharks and rays play a vital role in the health of many marine habitats. Loss of sharks, for instance, can lead to dramatic imbalances in the ecosystem that can cause the degradation of coral reefs and destruction of seagrass beds, both of which provide important nursery habitats for young fish. This is particularly important in Liberia, where 33,000 people rely on the fishing industry for their livelihoods, and 65% of all animal protein eaten comes from seafood.

Unfortunately, sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they tend to grow slowly, reach sexual maturity late and have low rates of reproduction. In Liberia, although routinely fished, they currently lack any form of legal protection. This could have real implications for the coastal communities that rely on healthy marine ecosystems to provide food.

Amdeep Sanghera, EJF's coordinator for the project, says: "We do not know if sharks and rays in Liberia are in trouble. There is very little information on how their populations are doing, and in some cases none at all. There is an urgent need to gather the crucial data that can support sustainable management. This is why we are excited to work with the Liberian government's NaFAA and fishing communities in trying to secure a brighter future for sharks and rays."

Since 2013, EJF has been working to identify and measure the sharks and rays being landed at West Point and in Robertsport. Building on that success, the project is being expanded to new locations Buchanan, Harper and Marshall.

Emma M. Glassco, Director General of NaFAA, says: "Sharks and rays are important for the health of the marine ecosystems that support local fishing communities. With a new government in place in Liberia we have the chance to make a fresh start, taking an ecosystem approach that provides the best possible solution for both local people and marine wildlife."

This is a long-term, participatory project, where citizens will have the opportunity to feed into management measures to ensure they reflect their needs as well as the needs of sharks and rays. –Press release

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 during the weekend, 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 sides. 

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

What Boosts Gender Equality in Developing Countries?

WASHINGTON, DC – On March 8, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day, an annual opportunity to recommit to gender equality. This year’s observance comes at an important time for women’s rights, as global movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp are refocusing attention on the discriminatory practices that women confront in their social and professional lives.

But while women in the developed world are waging big battles over gender bias, women and girls in developing countries remain focused on smaller victories. On this International Women’s Day, we must not forget that in the world’s poorest communities, poverty, hunger, domestic violence, and discrimination remain endemic obstacles to gender parity.

I have studied gender and development in the Global South for 15 years. My research, which has included thousands of interviews with women from India to Burkina Faso, has centered on one question: How can the international community improve the welfare of the world’s poorest women? The answer, it turns out, is to help them do what they are already doing on their own.

One of the most effective ways to empower women anywhere, but especially in the developing world, is by promoting financial independence. In many areas, that means supporting “informal savings groups,” networks of like-minded women who pay dues to build a shared pool of resources. This money can then be drawn on to fund any number of items, such as small business expenses, school fees, or health-care costs.

Community-based savings groups – there are millions in Asia and Africa alone – are changing lives every day. I once met a woman in Burkina Faso whose son owes his life to the financial resources of a savings network. One evening, when the boy was violently ill with diarrhea, his mother called a taxi to take him to the nearest clinic. But taxis, like ambulances, must be paid for in advance, and the woman had no money. Fortunately, a neighbor who belonged to a health savings group was able to contribute and pay the fare. That immediate access to cash very likely saved the boy’s life.

Most savings group loans are similarly small. In Benin, for example, the average loan size in one group is just $9. But, in a country where the average annual income is less than $800, small amounts can make a huge difference.

Unfortunately, many savings groups, as important as they are, do not scale; most operate in isolation from official services, which weakens their effectiveness. Women in poor communities must rely on one another, but they also need access to government and international agencies if they are ever to escape from hunger and poverty. That is why my organization, the Grameen Foundation, is using digital technology and mobile phones to connect savings groups with other service providers.

One of our largest projects is in Burkina Faso, a desperately poor country in West Africa where an estimated 55% of the population is food insecure for at least a portion of the year. Since 1993, we have worked with more than 73,000 women in nearly 3,300 savings groups, bringing services directly to the women who need them. Our average participant is 40 years old, illiterate, and earns just $7 a week selling crops like sesame and peanut. When we began the program, only about half of the women we worked with said they felt empowered in their homes; many feared their husbands.

Today, those sentiments are slowly changing. By serving as a bridge between informal savings groups and banks, health centers, schools, and agricultural extension services, we are helping women make better decisions about food use, nutritional practices, and spending. Our goal is to reduce poverty rates by strengthening asset-management skills, which would give women a greater voice in their communities. “Gender dialogue sessions” that we host are also strengthening family bonds.

During each of my field visits, I have been amazed at how these efforts are affecting women’s lives. On one recent trip, I met Rasmata, a young mother who told me that thanks to the safety net of her savings group, she was managing to support her family despite her husband’s emigration abroad, her father’s recent death, and a lingering drought. She was diversifying her income, managing her finances, and even adopting climate-smart farming techniques. The best part was that she described herself as a “hard-working, respectful, rigorous, and ambitious woman.”

Those are adjectives that women everywhere, regardless of their financial situation or education, deserve to ascribe to themselves. So this week, as the world celebrates the incredible progress that women have made on the long march to parity, I will be thinking about women like Rasmata, who have accomplished so much despite having so little.

Bobbi Gray is Research Director at the Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit dedicated to ending poverty and hunger.

By Bobbi Gray

Weah sounds warning

Liberia’s President George Manneh Weah, issues a stern warning here to his officials and members of the public to stop alienating people on the basis of partisanship.

He gave the warning on Sunday, 11 March during observance of First Lady Clar Weah’s birth anniversary at Winner’s Chapel in Congo Town, stressing that no Liberian should be judged based on party lines.

President Weah urges that everyone should embrace each other for the common interest of the country, reminding Liberians that campaign and elections are long over.

Mr. Weah says he is President for everyone, and not for a specific party, thus, emphasizing that Liberians must join hands to develop the country.

At the same, President Weah is encouraging citizens who threatened during campaign seasons that they would leave Liberia, if he won the elections, to reconsider their decision.

He says such individuals making threats to leave have role to play in the development of the country. He notes that vows and other statements made during the campaign period were only meant for the political campaign.

According to the President, those that are complaining about allegedly being denied jobs should not panic because there are more vacancies still available, assuring that as long as Liberians are qualified, they will be given the chance to serve their country.

Meanwhile, President Weah has called on Liberians to work with his wife, Mrs. Clar Weah in moving the country forward, instead of discriminating against her based on her nationality as a Jamaican. He describes her as his inspiration and support behind his success.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Education, road top recast budget

Education and roads appear to be President George Manneh Weah’s high priorities in recast budget for 2018 submitted to the House of Representatives for possible passage.

Speaking to the NewDawn newspaper Saturday, 10 March at the Capitol, the Chairman of the Legislative Joint Committee on Ways, Means, Finance and Budget Reo. Thomas Fallah said the budget targets education and road projects here.

He says a total allotment for the budget for the remaining four months is about US$181 million with the two sectors capturing hugely. Rep. Fallah says the budget captures the active maintenance of the road from Nimba to Grand Gedeh Counties during the rainy season and payment of [West African Senior Schools Certificate Examination Council] fees for all 9th and 12th grade students that are due to sit the 2018 exams.

The recast of the 2017/2018 would give way to the submission of the 2018/2019 Budget which according to the Public Financial Management Law, the Executive is expected submit on April 30.

The 2017/2018 Fiscal Budget will elapse on 30 June, while the 2018/2019 Budget will begin on July 1, 2018 and end on June 30, next year. The 2017/2018 Fiscal Budget in the amount of US$563.6 million, as submitted by the Legislature, has become law following its approval and printing into handbills by former President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf.

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

U.S. Embassy quotes privacy law

The United States Embassy here has issued a statement neither confirming nor denying the visa issues concerning Vice President Jewel H. Taylor.

The U.S. Embassy on Friday issued a statement quoting its privacy laws which forbids it from discussing a person’s visa applications status, immigration or citizenship status.

“U.S. privacy laws prohibit us from discussing any person’s visa application status, immigration status, or citizenship status with anyone other than the person in question,” the statement said

The embassy issued statement following inquiries from some local media institutions here about Mrs. Taylor’s alleged visa denial and subsequent reconsideration.

On Thursday March 8, 2018, a local daily reported that Vice President Taylor, estranged wife of ex-president Taylor was initially denied visa to enter the United States, but an appeal was made on her behalf by some influential persons for a reversal of the decision.

The U.S. does not issue visas to individuals who may have participated or indirectly participated in aiding or abetting war crimes.

This paper could neither confirm nor deny the report with the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia. However, Vice President Taylor’s office says her visa was still in process, and that she had neither been issued nor denied visa.

“The Vice President has not been denied US visa, but is rather undergoing the normal Administrative process by the US Embassy near Monrovia,” a statement from the Vice President’s office Thursday reads.

The office further denies that she pleaded with the US States Department to reconsider the reported decision not to issue the visa, saying “…at no time did Hon. Jewel Howard-Taylor issue any communication pleading with the US Embassy to grant her visa after being denied”.

However, it confirms excerpts of the local daily’s report that the Vice President is currently in Ghana, awaiting formal response from the embassy on her request to travel to the USA to attend the sixty-second session of the Commission on the Status of Women.

The release notes that the event is expected to take place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 12 to 23 March 2018.

Liberians both at home and abroad are requesting for the establishment of war crimes court in the country to prosecute people who committed heinous crimes during the 14-year civil war as recommended by the former TRC.


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