Lawmaker wants China Union summoned

Bong County district #7 Representative Corpu Barclay, is calling on the House of Representatives to summon China Union on matters affecting former employees of the mining company.

Rep. Barclay says the leadership of the workers union at China Union has complained that Management refused to pay them benefits, including overtime payment, salaries and other incentives due them after they were laid off.

Speaking Tuesday, 13 June at the Capitol, Rep. Barclay continues that it is interesting to know that thisissue about the workers of China Union had been investigated by the Ministry of Labour, and a guilty verdict brought down against the company, but the Management has since refused to paythe affected workers.

She laments that this matter is troubling for the already suffering workers, who are currently out of job. “If you go to Bong Mines today, you will see Chinese selling cold and you will see train lifting up crushed rocks, they sell the crushed rocks to pay some of the workers”, the Bong Lawmaker narrates, adding things that Liberians should be doing for living [are] what Chinese are involved into, which is unfair. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives reached a decision Tuesday that its Leadership takes seize of the matter and report to plenary.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

UNESCO describes elections as key to growth

The Regional Director of UNESCO based in Abuja, Nigeria Mr. Yao Ydo, says elections in any country remain are key to development and growth. He says elections must not be taken for granted, because they put a country on the right track.

Mr. Ydospoke in Monrovia Tuesday,13 June at the start of a two-day electoral reporting workshop organized by the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building or CEMESP, with support from UNESCO.

Addressing reporters at the launch of UNESCO-IPDC project on strengthening conflict sensitivity in journalism, and social media toward supporting peaceful elections in Liberia, the UNESCO regional boss reminds that elections remain a very important period in the life of a country, with obvious challenges as to the best approach toward taking stock, and further consolidating the democratic dividends.

He notes that Liberia like other nations had gone a long way, and the transitional period ahead with presidential and general elections,require great attention to avoid any form of violence.

Liberians go to the polls on October 10th to elect a new President and members of the House of Representatives. Mr. Ydo continues that the opportunity being provided by his organization to provide training for Liberian journalists is no better opportunity than such a period to execute UNESCO’s mandate, which is to build peace in the minds of men and women that are more relevant.

“Many a times the professionals of the media, and journalists in particular continue to be targets, subjects to threat and unfortunately sometimes leading to death, because of their opinion in exercise of their duties”, he notes, saying this is why UNESCO places a high importance in empowering journalists to increase awareness on freedom of expression and free flow of information.

“This workshop”, he stresses,“goes to the heart of UNESCO work as the only United Nations’ agency entrusted to defend freedom of expression and press freedom.” According to him, Article 1 of its constitution further requires UNESCO to further universal respect for justice, Rule of Law, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, which were affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion by the Charter of the U.N.

Mr. Ydo also indicates that UNESCO is therefore required to collaborate in the work of advancing mutual knowledge and understanding of people, through all means of mass communication and to that end, recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote free flow of ideas by words and images.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

2 Columbia University interns in Liberia

Two Columbia University students based in New York, United States of America (USA) are in Liberia on a month-long internship exercise. The two students are guests of a local organization, Camp for Peace Liberia located in Paynesville, Montserrado County.

The Youth Coordinator for Camp for Peace Liberia, Philip S. Quoqui, made the disclosureto reporters on Tuesday, 13 June. Mr. Quoqui explains that while in Liberia, the American students, namely Sabastian Osorio and Anika Jullian Michel will provide a Peace Educational Manual for use by Camp for Peace Liberia.

The Columbia University internship students have expressed gratitude to Camp for Peace Liberia, for positively engaging the minds of Liberian youth and students through the United Nations Alliance of Civilization or UNAOC sponsored training project title: “Achieving Behavioral Change towards peaceful elections in Liberia.”

Meanwhile, the UNAOC-sponsored youth training continues in Monrovia and Kakata,Margibi County, respectively with youth and students demonstrating skills that they are acquiring from the exercise.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Liberians urged to uphold strong integrity

The chief of party of Digital Liberia E-Government Project is emphasizing here that if Liberia will be a better place, it means every citizen should be honest, trustworthy and sincere in whatever position he or she occupies in public service.

Madam RieLukowski spoke recently at the 5th ConsultativeMeeting of KvinnaTilKvinna or TK Liberia, urging Liberians to become standard bearers of building integrity, because it’s very significant to the rebuilding process of the country.She explains that the aim and objective of the meeting was to learn more about integrity, understanding the importance of being a person with integrity and how integrity is linked to unity and culture.

According to her, there’s no doubt that the women of Liberia, when they are united, could do more than just stopping the war, and bringing peace to Liberia, saying “As we are aware, more still needs to be done, especially in a society that is male dominant, and with a history that still hangs in some parts of the country that women should not have equal rights as compared to men. There is more work to do; meaning there’s more than enough reasons that women should gather and be more united than ever before.’’

“We can all do it but it’s a choice, take back your culture with strong values and keep pushing for a better result, we must become the change we want to see”, she continues.
Keynote speaker Madam Victoria Cooper-Enchia, stresses that building integrity is important to making a country peaceful, stable and sustainable.

The gathering, under the theme “Integrity-Link to the Unity of Women” was organized by Kvinna Till Kvinna (KTK), a Swedish based organization in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) Gender Advisory Office.

Participants were drawn from urban and rural women, as well as representations from Community Based Organizations, Civil Society Organizations and government agencies, NGOs, INGOs, marketers, Traditional Council, entrepreneurs and young women’s organizations, respectively.

Mrs. Enchia continues that in order to achieve integrity building, the rebuilding process across the society must be as intentional as building roads, hospitals, schools, churches, mosques and businesses.

“Rebuilding integrity must be as important as teaching children to read, write and count and training doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers, electricians, and it must be intentional.”

“I was living in Ghana in 2003 when the women sat down, locked their arms together and refused to allow the Liberian leaders out of the room until they agreed to a peace settlement; This was unity, this was solidarity, and this was women united to save their country and their families and their future”, she notes.

She recalls that when Liberia went to the polls in 2005, women were again in the forefront and elected the first democratically-elected female President in Africa, noting that the life and death nature of civil conflict made unifying women easier, as war was the common enemy.

She stresses the need for solidarity and unity of women as more important now than before because this is fight for Liberia’s core, for the fabric of society, which holds a society together.

“The Government of Liberia acknowledged that the fabric of the Liberian society was devastated during the war. Implicit in that statement is that before the war there was a fabric of the society or a set of core values. Maybe these core values can be rewoven, but it will take commitment and focus,” she points out.

She says the country may not be at physical war anymore; however, the situation remains critical, adding that although it looks different and the challenges are spoken of in hushed tones and not from megaphones, “We have a major problem at the core with integrity.”

By Lewis S.Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

23 sent to court in Maryland

Police in Maryland County have arrested and forwarded to the Harper Magisterial court 23 suspects in connection with a recent violence land dispute in the county that left property worth US$51,663.00 destroyed.

Those arrested in connection with the arson attack are: Dweh Bloh, Ylea Saba, Yeaba Saba, Emmanuel Akoko, Ghana Tiah, Yeabo Mle Sieh, NimelyYuah, Godfred Merriam, and Gba Mle Nyema. Others include, Doe Sunday, Eric Wilson, Yuah Howard, Weleh Yuah, Dweh Nyema, Hodo Himmie, Newyueah Howard, Gabriel Howard, Klabo Howard, SidaHne, Hodo Hysenon, and Tartu Clark.

They are currently reminded at the Harper Central Prison, awaiting court trial on charges ranging from Arson, Robbery, Armed Robbery, and Theft of Property to Riot, Criminal Trespass, Criminal Mischief, and Criminal Conspiracy, respectively.

The act by the alleged defendants contravenes Section 15.1, 15.30, 15.32, 15.51, 15.21 and 15.5, respectively of the New Panel Law of Liberia.

According to the state, the defendant being purposeful, intentional, wicked, willful, criminal, and unlawful, acted thereby, depraving owner of the said land of its asset and capital expended to upgrade the estate.

Plaintiff complained under oath that on Tuesday, 23 May between the hours 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. the people of Pedebo community, Maryland County refused to adhere to a court order for the conduct of an investigative survey of 260.3 acres of farmland, said to belong to Dr. James Elliott.

The farm was allegedly vandalized by co-defendant BuduYuwea, still at large, setting ablaze two houses and other items on the farm. The alleged attackers used lethal instruments, including cutlasses and single barrel gun, inflicting body injuries on their victims.

Meanwhile, Co-defendant BuduYuweh, identified as ringleader, is reportedly still at large along with several others, including Namely, Tuby Dennis, General Town Chief, Half Graway, Budu Jude Allison, General Town Chief, Kings Town; Dweh Sadalang, youth leader, Grawey, GiobaYude Merriam, Mayor, whole of Grawey, Thomas Dio, land secretary, Graweycian and Hne Wallace, General Town Chief, Grawey, respectively.

Latest report gathered from the county, says the case has been transferred to the 4th Judicial Circuit Courtin Harper.

For his part, the clan chief of Pedebo town, Ben Klah David, in an interview with the NewDawn in Pedebo recently said, he and his people are currently living in fear as a result of threatening messages from unnamed sources.
Chief David is calling on government through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Carter Center to probe the situation to bring a permanent end to the conflict on said land.

He warns that failure to quickly intervene he foresee a war between the people of Pedebo and Bleejay, because he and his people will not sit to watch any of their sons and daughters harmed without retaliating.

“Even if we go to war and all of us die, we will never change our word; the land in question belongs to Dr. Elliott and we cannot just do anything because he acquired the land from the late Senator J. Hodo Manston and presented documents to justify that he bought the land from Manston and we saw the deeds and agreed, all of us know that Dr. Elliott is the owner of the land”, Chief Ben Klah Davis defended.

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

Chiefs must not wear party T-shirts

The head for the Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia, is cautioning chiefs and elders across the country to remain neutral and avoid wearing campaign T-shirts for political parties, stressing that the goal of chiefs is to help promote peace.

Speaking in a meeting with chiefs and elders in Nimba County on Tuesday, 13 June Chief Zanzan Karwor notes that the Traditional Council of Liberia is non-political and should not get involved in any act that has the propensity to undermine peace in the country.

hief Karwor further stresses that the October 10th Presidential and Representative elections are crucial and need the involvement of all citizens. He says chiefs should play the role of twins mothers, by refraining from pledging support or loyalty to any specific presidential aspirant in the race, but to welcome all to their various communities, towns, villages and cities as they do not know who may win the poll.

Chiefs and traditional leaders from Bong, Lofa and Gbarpolu Counties, recently pledged support to the Standard Bearer of the governing Unity Party, Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai.

The meeting was sponsored by Carter Center, an International Non-governmental Organization. Also speaking, Liberia’s Peace Ambassador, William Tolbert, III, urges chiefs and elders to remain united in supporting here. Ambassador Tolbert continues that foreigners would not bring to Liberia, but Liberian themselves.

“If you are united and living in peace, other nations will copy your example”, he stresses. Meanwhile, Chief Karwor has pledged 100,000LRD for the renovation of the Chief Compound in Sanniquellie, Nimba County.

By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba-Editing by Jonathan Browne

House endorses Ombudsman

The House of Representatives on Tuesday, 13 June endorsed an Act to amend Part XII of the Code of Conduct for the creation of an operational framework for the Office of the Ombudsman, as established in the CoC for public officials and employees of government here.

The plenary of the House of Representatives last Thursday sent the act to committee room for review and subsequent report to the body. According to the committee, as per plenary’s mandate and in keeping with the latter portion of Article 77(b) that authorizes and empowers the Legislature to make laws, indicating the category of Liberians who shall not form or become members of political parties, and Article 90 (c) that gives the Legislature the authority to prescribe code of conduct for public officials, the joint committee convened and scrutinized the act carefully and critically and recommends that plenary concurs with the Liberian Senate on the amendment of Part Xll of the Code of Conduct.

The Senate unanimously passed the act recently and sent it the House of Representative for concurrence. According to the act, members of the Ombudsman shall hold office for two (3-year) terms following confirmation by the Senate and appointment by the President, and shall be removed from office by the President for nonfeasance, malfeasance, misfeasance, and criminal acts as prescribed under existing laws and regulations.

In matters of law, the office of the Ombudsman shall have the power to conduct hearings in a quasi-judicial manner and make findings, gives reasons and conclusions in matters filed before it, while an appeal from its decision relative to violations of the Code of Conduct shall be immediately appealable to the relevant courts of Liberia.

The act also states that no person, who files a complaint or participates in any investigation or proceeding pursuant to Chapter 12.6, shall be subject to any penalties, sanctions or restrictions in connection with his or her employment or be denied any right, privilege or benefit because of such action.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf early April nominated officials to the Ombudsman headed by ex-police chief Cllr. Clarence Christian Massaquoi amid public outcry that Massaquoi is a confidante of the President’s, questioning his neutrality. The Office of the Ombudsman is an autonomous body in keeping with Section 12.1 of the Code of Conduct for public officials.

By Bridgett Milton -Editing by Jonathan Browne

Firestone bans heavyweight trucks

The management of Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia says until further notice, all non-Firestone Liberia trucks exceeding 5 axles will not be allowed passage through its production area, as a result of the significant damage done to the Harbel – 15 Gate road, particularly the collapse of the Du River Bridge.

The company based in Harbel, Margibi County issued this week after the collapse of the Du River Bridge in the county on Wednesday, 7 June. The management says the Du River Bridge located on the Harbel-15 Gate road inside the Firestone Rubber Plantation collapsed under the weight of an excessively overloaded truck carrying aggregate stone for the Roberts International Airport or RIA runway project.

The company says there was no injury sustained in the incident. The Harbel-15 Gate route is the primary access to the Firestone Medical Center at Du Side, the company says further.

It adds in the statement that due to the bridge’s collapse, Firestone has been forced to reroute traffic through the center of the production area resulting in an increase in travel time to reach the hospital.

The company complains that since the RIA construction project began early 2017, there has been extensive damage to the Harbel-15 Gate road due to excessively overloaded non-Firestone Liberia trucks traveling the route.

It says the decision has been made in order to limit further damage to roads and also to preserve the integrity of other bridges in the production area.

Firestone Liberia says it is now working closely with the Liberian Government, the owner of the overloaded truck that was on the bridge when it collapsed, and contractors working on the RIA project to reach a solution to the collapse of the Du River Bridge and the excessive damage to the Harbel – 15 Gate route. --Press release

GVL rejects newspaper claims

Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) says report by the Corruption Watch Newspaper that it operates two payrolls, one for a Liberian standard and another for international standard is false and misleading.

The paper in its Thursday, 26 May 2017 print edition about GVL Payroll system claims that the GVL is operating two payrolls, one for Liberian standard and another for international standard.

GVL challenges the Corruption Watch Newspaper to provide proof of its report. The report is fake and deceptive as GVL does not operate two payrolls but a single payroll for its 3,600 employees who are heavily based in Sinoe and Grand Kru. Such hugh employment makes GVL the largest private sector employer in the Liberian South East. The company runs an annual payroll worth USD $9.5 million in annual cash wages and benefits to Liberian employees. The least employee in GVL is paid US$5.50 daily and given 50kg bag of rice in addition to health, education and housing facilities which are far above payment scheme in Liberia.

GVL believes its employment package is one of the best in the country for a company that has not earn income. Relations with GVL project communities has nothing to with employee’s payroll. GVL has a strengthened communications strategy with communities and other stakeholders in Liberia evidence by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the people of Butaw and GVL.

According to GVL Corporate Communications Coordinator Leroy Kanmoh as a result of its improved relations, GVL is developing rapidly with its project communities in Sinoe and Grand Kru. Recently, GVL broke grounds for the extension of the Butaw Junior High School to senior secondary school in the district. The project is worth USD$120,000.00.

Mr. Kanmoh says GVL has deposited into 6 community accounts at least US$92,000 dollars in community development fund across Sinoe and Grand Kru counties. The construction of 3 bed rooms Butaw clinic staff quarter is the first community development fund project funded by GVL. In Butaw alone for this year, GVL has constructed a US$52,000 road project, construction of 13 kilometer road linking Butaw seaside to the rest of Butaw is in progress while a US$33,000 nurses quarter is under construction in the district. GVL currently employed approximately 3,600 Liberians heavily based in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties. GVL donates annually to the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Agriculture a scholarship grant of US$100,000 for deserving Liberian students studying agriculture and engineering. Up to date, US$700,000 has been donated to the Ministry of Agriculture. Several community development projects are being implemented by Golden Veroleum Liberia in Sinoe and Grand Kru counties including and not limited to pit latrines, road rehabilitation and schools.

Golden Veroleum Liberia is a Liberia registered long term Business Company which seeks to work with Liberians to bring real industries and factories to Liberia especially in rural communities. GVL will continue on such path and remain a major contributor to local and national development in Liberia.

How much Ellen worths?

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Tuesday 13, June released her latest assets information to the public putting her net worth (assets minus liability) at USD1, 707, 279.64 (one million, seven hundred and seven thousand, two hundred seventy –nine and sixty-four cent). The president’s income and assets declaration includes her gross annual salary of LRD1, 684, 500.00 and an annual allowance of USD72, 000.

According to President Sirleaf at the time she was filing her Income Assets Declaration form, she had only USD3, 255.00 cash on hand on February 2, 2017. The highest among in the President’s account, according to her declaration is the USD153, 006.00 which is in her Bank of America account situated in Charlotte, U.S.A.

President Sirleaf also has total investments in securities, stock, bonds, etc at 765, 317.00 all in the Vanguard Mutual Fund in Valley Forge, PA, U.S.A. and American Fund, Los Angeles Ca.

The President’s assets were declared before the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission on February 2, 2017 and it also contains her income tax returns.

“In an environment of rumors, conspiracies, lies and suspicions, it is important that those holding high public office disclose their financial status to the public”, President Sirleaf pointed out in a statement issued by the Executive Mansion on Tuesday.

“I further call on all presidential aspirants, to consider in their own interest to do the same”, she noted.
She then said that the records of her family members, including those based abroad are clear and subject to the stringent laws of said countries, thus addressing any suspicion of family members holding assets that belong to her.-Othello B. Garblah

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