DSP hosts dialogue on peaceful elections

Democracy Sustainability Platform, a local civil society group is hosting a national youth dialogue especially, for first time voters and undecided voters. Executive Director Rev. Augustine Akoi says the dialogue is targeting 300 young people across Liberia.

Speaking on a local radio on Wednesday, 4 October he says the exercise starts today, October 5, in the auditorium of the University of Liberia with participants coming from various universities, high schools and communities under the theme, “The Power of Your Vote”.

He says the dialogue will be facilitated by the Kofi Anna Institute at the University of Liberia aimed at conscientizing the youth against selling their votes because it affects the country.

Rev. Akoi continues that the youths will be taught how to conduct themselves as voters, saying “We need to learn from the past and we should make proper use of our votes to build a better Liberia.”

According to him, the Liberian capital, Monrovia is ranked as one of the world’s poorest cities, noting that Liberia has limited infrastructure, is a thread to development.

“Because of the limited infrastructure we have, more than one political party is unable to launch the same day, Liberia needs to have access to quality and affordable education, and we need education at the PhD level.”

By Ethel A. Tweh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

UNFPA gets new Executive Director

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, has appointed Dr. Natalia Kanem as Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the rank of United Nations Under-Secretary-General.

Dr. Kanem, a Panamanian, is the Fund’s fifth Executive Director. She replaces Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin who died on 05 June in New York.

According to a press release, she had been serving as Acting Executive Director since June, and as Deputy Executive Director, Programme, since July 2016. She was also the UNFPA Representative in Tanzania from 2014 to 2016 and has held senior positions in the Ford Foundation and other non-governmental organizations and institutions.

Dr. Kanem holds a doctor of medicine degree from Columbia University and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington. She is also a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University in history and science.

“I am deeply committed to realizing the UNFPA vision for a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person’s potential is fulfilled,” Dr. Kanem said.

“As Executive Director, I will focus on pursuing UNFPA’s transformative goals, which are cemented in our new Strategic Plan 2018-2021: ending preventable maternal deaths, ending unintended pregnancies by meeting the demand for family planning, as well as ending gender-based violence and harmful practices, such as child marriage, by 2030;” she added.

“The UNFPA mandate has never been more relevant,” she said. “Our work and partnerships must therefore be even more innovative, ambitious and focused at country level to ensure that we leave no woman or adolescent girl behind.”  Dr. Kanem’s appointment is for four years. Press Release


Supreme Court orders new trial for Matilda Parker

Liberia’s Supreme Court has ordered a new trial for suspended National Port Authority (NPA) managing director Ms. Matilda Parker, citing trial judge Blamo Dixon’s failure to have conducted thorough investigation into a jury tampering claim made by prosecution.

The Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday, 4 October comes after reviewing the matter based prosecution’s petition filed for a writ of certiorari through which the high court makes corrections on errors made at the lower court.

The Supreme Court affirms the decision of Justice - in - Chambers Jamesetta Howard - Wolokollie, granting certiorari to correct the prejudicial and reversible errors committed by Judge Dixon and has ordered that a new trial with a new jury pennell be conducted in the main case.

Ms. Parker and her Comptroller at the NPA Mrs. Christiana Kpabar - Paelay, were jointly indicted on multiple crimes of economic sabotage, theft of property and criminal conspiracy in the amount of US$837,950.00.

Prosecution accused the indicted officials of conspiring and awarding two contracts to Mr. Deneah M. Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise, valuing US$500,000 and US$300,000 respectively.

Prosecution says Flomo and his enterprise were contracted to remove wrecks from the Port of Greenville in Sinoe County and to provide security consultancy at the ports of Monrovia, Buchanan and Greenville on behalf of the NPA.

But the State says the contractor Flomo and his Denmar Enterprise did not possess expertise in regards to the contracts, and that the required services were not rendered to the NPA.

In the course of the trial in 2016, prosecutors requested Judge Dixon to disband the entire jury panel after claiming that police officers assigned at the jury quarter intercepted communications from bailiffs William Nyankun and Bendu Dukuly that were intended for some jurors in the case.

But Judge Dixon declined to dismiss the entire jury panel, and rather removed jury foreman Kissi Kamara, jurors Melvin Teah Neowen and Kebbeh Kollie to whom letters were allegedly addressed, and also fined and removed bailiffs William Nyankun and Bendu Dukuly from guarding the jurors.

Chief Justice Francis S. Korpor, Sr. said Wednesday, 4 October that Judge Dixon’s ruling was inconsistent and clearly ran contrary to the findings in the case.

The Supreme Court wonders on what basis did Judge Dixon remove the three jurors that were implicated in the communications when he held that the communication did not reach the jurors for whom they were intended.

The Supreme Court says content of the communication addressed to the jurors attempts to show there had been prior contacts between the authors and those to whom they were addressed.

Two typed - written letters were said to have come from then assistant jury manager Peter Wisdom Fayiah and two hand - written letters originating from Judicial Cook Janneh Kamara, who was later found to be mother of jury foreman Kissi Kamara.

The Supreme Court rules that Judge Dixon committed reversible errors in the matter, and that he abruptly terminated the investigation without seeking the originals of seized letters submitted to Montserrado County Attorney.

The Court says the investigation was inconclusive, citing Judge Dixon’s failure to have called the County Attorney to get the original communications, subpoena Lonestar MTN to review juror Kamara and cook Janneh Kamara’s contacts to substantiate prosecutors’ claim that the cook was the mother of juror Kamara, among others.

By Winston W. Parley

NEC, UNDP train 18,000 poll workers

The National Elections Commission in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme began training for 18,000 poll workers in advance of the 10 October 2017 general elections.

Poll workers will receive crucial training before they are deployed to polling places to ensure smooth management of voting. Training includes learning about voting procedures and polling station standards. On Election Day these workers will be responsible for supervising parts of the voting process at polling places in 2,080 electoral precincts and 5,390 polling places.

Training will be conducted over a three day period and is scheduled to end on 6 October 2017. It is expected international and national election observers from Liberia, the African Union, ECOWAS, European Union and United States of America will attend the sessions to observe the training that will feed into their own assessments of these elections.

This training of poll workers is part of a USD 16 million project supported by the United Nations Development Programme, European Union, Ireland, Sweden and Canada to work in partnership with the National Elections Commission to strengthen the electoral system.


Religious leaders endorse Brumskine

Just days to this year’s October 10, Presidential and Legislative polls, the flag-bearer of the opposition Liberty Party Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine has received endorsement from a group of religious leaders. The group comprising minsters of 52 churches from various denominations across Liberia under the umbrella of Eagle announced their endorsement of Cllr. Brumskineon Tuesday October 3.

The endorsement comes at a time Cllr. Brumskine is said to be enjoying huge supports from various groups and prominent individuals from around the country.“Over the past twelve years, fifty-two (52) churches from various denominations and ministries under the umbrella of Eagle have had the opportunity to observe and evaluate the perspectives and agendas of various candidates in the upcoming elections.

Your honest, pragmatic, and hopeful insight into our country’s problems and needs, and your willingness to examine the issues and listen closely to the public and the churches concerns, sets you far apart from the other candidates and expected techniques and talk, and so we are here today to express our support for your campaign and our intention both to vote for you In the upcoming elections and to spread the words to others of the values of your politics and abilities,” the group said in their endorsement statement Tuesday.

“Hon. Counselor, the 52 churches under the signatories of the twelve executives of Eagle Ministerial Network hereby endorse your candidacy on this 3rd day of October A.D. 2017,” the statement added. The LP man recently received a rousing welcome in his native Grand Bassa County few days after the people of Nimba welcome him along with their son, LP vice running mate, Harrison Kanwea.

Brumskine’s campaign headed by Musa Bility appears to be gaining more momentum this year as compare to previous elections. The LP man is among the three leading candidates going into the October polls, with supporters and officials confident that their candidate is headed for the second round.


Urey sets benchmarks for change

The opposition All Liberian Party (ALP) presidential candidate businessman-turned politician Benoni Urey says while he strongly welcomes generational change, it requires qualified, competent and experienced person with requisite skills to bring change to Liberia.

“We at the ALP, we welcome generational change, but that change needs a qualified and competent person, someone that has lots of experience with the requisite skills to bring that change to Liberia,” says Mr. Urey.

Speaking to this paper on Monday, 2 October at his Lonestar Cell MTN office in Congo Town, the ALP Standatd Bearer expresses hope that President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s idea for a generational change includes competence, requisite experience and education, rather than just a generational change.

According to him, Liberians don’t want change just for change sake, noting that the change that every Liberian needs takes into account someone with the specialized skills and technical knowhow to put Liberia on the right trajectory of its developmental plans.

“This is what we should be careful about, we must be careful with the kind of change that we want. We want a change that will carry Liberia to where it should be instead of carrying it backward,” Urey cautions here following a closed doors meeting members of the National Imam Council of Liberia.

Reacting to the way others have interpreted President Sirleaf’s “next generation” of leaders comment during her recent address at the U.N. 72nd General Assembly, he says everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, adding that the President is no exception.

He notes that if President Sirleaf believes that there should be a generational change here, she is entitled to it, but the ALP does not criticize her for such comment.

He continues that the party recognizes that it’s about time for younger people to take over government.
President Sirleaf has given clarity on her comment about next generation, saying the statement in no way [impugn] anyone who is not young.

Meanwhile, Mr. Urey reminds Imams in Liberia that they have played a meaningful role as religious leaders.

“...And we thought to invite them in order for them to pray along with us and the nation to have a peaceful, and transparent election that is the purpose of this gathering here today,”

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

Over 5000 deployed for elections

Police authorities here say over 5000 joint security personnel are being deployed across Liberia ahead of Tuesday, 10 October presidential and representatives’ elections.

Police Spokesman Sam Collins says armed officers will be deployed at the National Elections Commission (NEC’s) 20 magisterial warehouses across the country to guard electoral materials.

Speaking to this paper on Tuesday, 3 October he discloses that included in the security deployment are officers from the Liberia National Police (LNP), Liberia Drugs Enforcement Agency (LDEA), Liberia National Fire Service (LNFS), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and other state security agencies.

He says the over 5,000 officers will be deployed at all 2,080 precincts and 5,390 polling places across the country to give some level of security to electorate on Tuesday, 10 October.

“We’ll also have armed men deployed at the 20 magisterial warehouses across the country owned by the National Elections Commission,” Collins says, adding that these 20 warehouses contain elections materials being guarded by the police.

He announced Tuesday evening, 3 October that officers would have begun departing at 3 am today, Wednesday, 4 October for their various assigned areas.

He admonishes that there is no need for anybody to harbor fear, assuring Liberians that the election security is in tight.

At areas that are considered hard - to - reach, he says materials and men will be air - lifted by UNMIL. The police have urged all parties to adhere to the rule of law and do away with electoral violence.

Surrounding concerns of police officers’ salary payment and per diem for the election operation, Mr. Collins says salary issues have been settled, and per diems will be paid by the UNDP and not the police authorities.

He says officers’ account numbers have already been sent to UNDP, and their per diems would be wired into their accounts as they get deployed.

The clarity by Collins over police officers’ salaries and per diem for elections deployment comes in response to a NewDawn inquiry over concerns from some quarters in the police alleging that there were some level of tension building up at the LNP Headquarters due to alleged delayed salary and unsettled per diem issues before the deployment.

Some anonymous sources had confided in this paper that both pay and per diems for police officers had not yet been settled when were due to be deployed, with authorities allegedly poised to forcefully deploy officers in the midst of alleged dissent.

But Mr. Collins clarifies that as at Tuesday evening, 3 October the issue of officers’ salaries had been settled, adding that they have been told that per diems would be paid by UNDP and not police authorities.

Liberians go to the polls on October 10, to elect a new President and members of the House of Representative in what is to produce the first peaceful political transition in 73 years.

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Check your problem

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf says recalled Liberian Ambassador to the United Kingdom Dr. Mohammed Sheriff got serious problem and he got to go and look at it.“Let me say that every staff at our diplomatic mission in London today is relieved that Dr. Sheriff is no longer there, because the place had become a place of confusion,” Mrs. Sirleaf told journalists at the Roberts International Airport Monday, 2 October upon arrival from the U.S.

According to Mrs. Sirleaf, even Liberia’s most senior person at the Liberian Mission in the U.K., who is now a designated ambassador to Accra, Ghana, was subjected to unacceptable treatment.

The President concludes that she was very kind in her letter to Dr. Sheriff when she said he was doing something that was not [in line] with the behavior of a diplomat. But local dailies are reporting here that Dr. Sheriff has rejected doing things that are unbecoming of the behavior of a diplomat.

The recalled ambassador is reported to have made suggestions that he requested the U.K. government that he wanted to pay a visit to imprisoned former president Charles Ghankay Taylor and other Liberians in the jurisdiction, having claimed that the convicted ex-president has learned his lesson in prison and has converted.

Amb. Sheriff is said to have argued that Liberia has had other people who have been converted and later came to Liberia and are living among the citizens peacefully while some of them have been elected to positions of trust in the national legislature and performed very well.

By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Elections worry Chinese expatriates

Ministry of Public Works (MPW’s) Project Implementation Unit Chief Supervisor Winnerford Prout Richards says Chinese expatriates constructing a China - Aid Ministerial Complex in Oldest Congo Town are worried over the October’s elections, inquiring from him if something wrong will not happen to the project.

Mr. Richards recently told journalists that he has been confronted by the head of the Chinese expatriates here who continues to inquire from him if something wrong will not happen to the ongoing construction of the Ministerial Complex project in the wake of the 10 October presidential and representatives’ elections.

He discloses that in order to alleviate the fear of the expatriates and reassure them of government’s security protection, officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) have been deployed at the project site in Oldest Congo Town, suburb of Monrovia.

According to Richards, the Chinese expatriates are raising concern about the fate of the multi -million dollars project because the Government of China has invested so much in it and doesn’t want anything wrong to affect it.

The Project Supervisor furthers that the Chinese expatriates are concerned that it would be a serious setback to Liberia’s ongoing infrastructure recovery process if something wrong happened to the Ministerial Complex in a probable election dispute.

As a result, the MPW official calls on Liberians and political parties to talk to their respective supporters to avoid violence and do everything humanly possible to ensure a violent free election which will encourage the country’s partners in progress to invest more in the rebuilding process of Liberia.- By Emmanuel Mondaye -Edited by Winston W. Parley

Phebe Hospital wins Outstanding Service Award

Representatives from NOCAL, ExxonMobil and Africabio have handed over chemistry and coagulation analysis equipment to the Phebe Hospital in Bong County after winning the Outstanding Service Award for Laboratory Management.Under the leadership of Doctor Jefferson Sibley, Phebe Hospital and School of Nursing (Phebe) builds upon a reputation of long-standing dependability.

As past leaders ensured Phebe’s continuity throughout Liberia’s ups and downs, Dr. Sibley is taking the hospital a step further to ensure proper diagnostics can positively impact the vast catchment population Phebe serves. People cross the borders from neighboring countries and counties to seek medical services at Phebe Hospital in Bong County.

This speaks to the dedicated staff at Phebe, and part of its strategy to ensure better patient outcomes is engaging in partnerships that will impact this core focus.  One of the areas that is changing positively to ensure quality patient care is laboratory strengthening. Phebe was chosen amongst peers within this field during Medical Laboratory Professionals Week 2017 to win the Outstanding Service Award for Laboratory Management.
The award recognizes outstanding service based on overall growth, development and implementation of institutional programs focused on quality management and/or leadership development.

As a host sponsor for the annual Africabio Enterprises, Inc. conference, NOCAL saw this as a worthy opportunity to support through its Corporate Social Responsibility.  NOCAL provides the chemistry and coagulation analysis equipment to boost the medical technology in the Phebe laboratory, bringing innovative diagnostics that fit into this environment where growth and development is occurring.

Phebe has begun to integrate quality management system (QMS) to ensure adequate attention is given to the entire diagnostic environment. It is a plus to see that in this environment, Phebe is putting its own mechanisms in place to sustain the laboratory and not only relying on partners.
“Thank you to Africabio for organizing Lab Week, which created the opportunity for Phebe Hospital to receive this award and these equipment. The lab is usually considered an almost forgotten arm of the health system but, as we saw with Ebola, they are in the forefront and facing the same dangers”, Dr. Sibley says.

He stresses that health care cannot be properly managed without proper diagnosis, adding, “Therefore, in order to strengthen our health care, the lab should be a priority. Thank you to NOCAL, as these equipment you have provided will serve multiple curative purposes and additional practical training for the students at the MLT School, as well as provide additional knowledge for rotating interns and specialist.”  Phebe promises that the equipment will be used for their intended purposes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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