LTP Candidate alarms bad leadership in District# 15

A Representative Candidate for Montserrado County Electoral District#15 vying on the ticket of the Liberia Transformation Party (LTP) Mr. Neidoteh B. Torbor, attributes lack of development in the district to bad leadership, which he notes is affecting residents there. He accuses incumbent lawmaker for the district Adolph A. Lawrence, for failure to represent the people.

“I think the current lawmaker is in accessible to the people, as I speak, he does not even live in this district so man like that doesn’t have the right to request vote from residents. He has been out of this district for the past two years and against that we can’t have him reelected “, Mr. Torbor says.

In an interview with reporters over the weekend, he explains his decision to contest for the district seat is to bring inclusiveness, saying “We are building a new nation, we want to institutionalize development in district 15, because if we can’t institutionalize those things that we want to do at the level of the district then we will not be able to develop our country at the level of the legislature.”

According to him, during the past six years, he noticed that incumbent Representative Lawrence’s activities were not inclusive, and he was not visible. “We should understand that representation is in two full: one is political representation, and the other is at the constituent level, which is to organize the people”, he explains.

The LTP candidate continues that there is a need to have a community structure that will easily deal with issues such as scholarship and other programs for constituents. He also calls for formation of network of community leaders who will meet periodically to update the lawmaker on issues relating to the district, saying “These things are lacking and this is what we want to see, if elected.”

When quizzed about his prospect, he replies, “I have a very high prospect of winning. He says though people around the world are hailing the late Civil Rights campaigner Martin Lurther King ,Jr. for his advocacy, but he believes there were people behind him, who helped in the process and are not mentioned.

“I am one of the candidates, who contested in 2011 and did not win, but I went back to appreciate the voters for the choice they made.” Torbor brags of giving a plot of land to build a police station in the district that will respond to security threats, and needs of residents. “Before you make laws, you have to first review the old ones that are on the book; one of the things is the high level of interferences from the Executive is impeding the functions of the Legislative and other branch.Meanwhile, Torbor vows that if elected, one of his objectives is to amend the Code of Conduct for public officials to make it workable.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

NHA recounts housing projects since 1960

Deputy Finance Minister for Budget Tanneh Brunson says the National Housing Authority (NHA) has initiated several housing projects since the 1960s. Brunson says these programs targeted mostly public servants, employed and or retired.“Since the inception of this administration, the NHA has been remobilized and undertaken additional housing projects to meet some of our critical housing needs.”

She made the disclosure at the launch of the NHA-SUU Upgrading Unit and Innovative Design Competition in Monrovia recently. For the past decade, she notes that Africa has experienced strong economic growth, averaging 5.4 percent, above the global average of 3 percent per year, instilling optimism about the continent’s economic prospects.

However, she says the growth has not been inclusive and has made little impact on poverty. Minister Brunson: “The growth was largely driven by prices of extractive resources, especially aluminum, copper, gold and crude oil.” “In addition, political stability, good economic management policies, and an improved institutional environment have catalyzed the growth process in some countries. In spite of all these economic growth trends, poverty still has a major impact on us.”

She says the state of sanitation is now more imperative, considering the WHO/UNICEF joint monitoring program report for 2017 on the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Cities Alliance, a global partner of UN-Habitat says almost a quarter of Liberians live in the slums of greater Monrovia, and face the challenge of living in poor housing with inadequate water supply and very little sanitation. 

With such challenges, Cities Alliance is expected to support local authorities in greater Monrovia to make the city and metropolitan region work for the urban poor, through an enabling national environment citizenship. The country program focusing on Greater Monrovia will run from 2016-2021.

The five-year program will involve in depth consultation, community infrastructure projects, partnership and technical assistance, investments with organized civil society groups, urban local authorities, national Government bodies, international development partners and research training.

The program is initiated at the request of the Monrovia City Corporation and the Liberian Ministry of Internal Affairs, the programmed aims to provide direct service investments, especially for the urban poor and youth living in Monrovia’s informal settlements which supports Liberia’s goal of achieving middle income status by 2030.

Es-Samir Bropleh, Sr., coordinator of the National Housing Authority-Slum Upgrading Unit (NHA-SUU) says Liberia needs 512,000 new dwellings by 2030 to address the country’s housing needs, especially in greater Monrovia. Speaking at the official launch of the NHA-SUU Upgrading Unit and Innovative Design Competition at the NHA office in Monrovia, he explains that 1,974 housing units have been constructed since the establishment of the NHA in 1960.

However, he notes that 70 percent of Monrovia’s population lives in slums under devastating housing conditions, including poorly constructed housing, lack of basic social services, infrastructure, lack of finance and severe overcrowding. Mr. Bropleh continues that the dwelling needs of the country, the NHA-SUU is working with stakeholders to ensure that slum communities in Monrovia are assisted with their needs.

He further stresses the NHA-SUU seeks to create a sustainable enabling environment to enhance both housing and livelihood conditions of slum communities. Prince Wreh, Managing Director of the National Housing Authority (NHA), says his institution is poised to increase support to slum communities to alleviate some of the dwelling situations in Liberia.

Director Wreh discloses that the NHA and partners will shortly start the program, because of the growing need of the society, saying “We are committed to ensuring that our people’s needs are addressed.” Meanwhile, the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County was declared first place winner with a grand prize of 100,000LRD followed by the Monrovia Vocational Training Institute (MVTC) in Gardnersville walking away with L$50,000 as second place winner of the NHA-SUU Upgrading Unit and Innovative Design Competition.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

U.S. Senators introduce resolution reaffirming U.S., Liberia relation

Three U.S. Senators, Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) introduced a resolution reaffirming the United States-Liberia partnership and calling for free, fair, and peaceful elections on October 10, 2017.

According to a dispatch from Washington, the October elections are expected to lead to Liberia’s first transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another in over 70 years. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female President, will respect Liberia’s Constitution and step down after two terms as the West African nation’s president.

“The United States has a strong and unique bond with the Liberian people over the course of a 200-year history together. The October elections are a critical step for sustaining democratic progress in Liberia,” said the Senators. “The people of Liberia have endured through the horrors of civil war and the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, but due to their resilience and the leadership of President Sirleaf, Liberia has become a force for democracy and stability in West Africa. The United States Congress remains committed to maintaining and fostering our enduring relationship with the people and the Government of Liberia.”-Press release

The State of Qatar receives Amb. Ballout

Liberia’s Ambassador accredited to the State of Qatar, Mr. John Akel Ballout Jnr., has presented his Letters of Credence to the General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, H.E. Dr. Ahmed Bin Hassan Al Hammadi.

According to a dispatch from the Liberian embassy near Doha, the State of Qatar, the ceremony took place on Thursday, September 28, 2017 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar.

Presenting his credentials, Ambassador Ballout expressed gratitude to Dr. Al Hammadi on behalf of the Government and People of Liberia and assured him of Liberia’s commitment to renew ties and expand cooperation with the State of Qatar.

Ambassador Ballout further reiterated Liberia’s readiness for a continuous partnership with Qatar on the ratification: enforcement of Articles 21 of the Air Services Agreement and the completion of the Double Taxation Agreement between the two countries. He then expressed gratitude to the Secretary General for the warm reception accorded him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar.

Responding, the General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ahmed Bin Hassan Al Hammadi told Ambassador Ballout that the Government of Qatar was pleased to have him as Ambassador of Liberia representing the Liberian Government in Qatar, adding the Government of Qatar is willing and ready to sign agreements with Liberia for the mutual benefits of the two nations.

“A Time to be Grateful

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Monday, October 2, 2017, returned home from the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the United States of America, with a grateful heart.

“I will bless the Lord at all times. His praises will always be in my mouth,” the President said as she mounted to pulpit to address a huge congregation during a thanksgiving service in honor of her safe return home at the Philadelphia Central Church in Monrovia.

According to an executive Mansion release, the President was returning from her last participation in the UN General Assembly in her capacity as Liberian Head of state.

Earlier, upon arrival, President Sirleaf shunned the usual arousing welcome upon touching down at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County, sending to the church all who had wanted to welcome her. She said Liberia was not in need of celebration but rather prayers.

While thanking religious leaders, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and Liberians, President Sirleaf said as her administration enters its final days it was time to be thankful to everyone for the support and opportunity to serve. She said this sense of
gratitude for the overwhelming support from Liberians across the length and breadth of the country for ensuring peace, stability and development in Liberia during the past 11 yearsprompted her nationwide tour earlier this year.

“And I went back to say to the chiefs; and the elders; and the zoos; and the market women and the young people… this peace that we have, we could not have had it without you,” President Sirleaf asserted. The Liberia leader said as she engaged citizens in town halls and along the road, she wanted them to know that the country’s current progress was not a unilateral effort but rather a collective initiative in which they all contributed.

The President also stressed that during the tour she was quite mindful of the level of work still needed to be done but that her administration could not do all and quite conscious that the succeeding leadership would continue the work. “We did not stop there; we decided to go to the
International community, because I think many people do not realize the extent of the support that we get to achieve what we achieved. They don’t understand the partnership and the relationship that needs to be developed if you are to get that support that you need,” she observed.

With a blustering applause, the President continued to explain how she was able to, on behalf of Liberia, express gratitude to the United Nations and other international organizations for the support.

“First to the United Nations to say thank you for the peace we have; if we did not have peace keepers here, probably we would have had more problems.

If we did not have those agencies and those programs here, with our limited resources we would not have achieved the things we wanted,” President Sirleaf noted.

The Liberian leader told the congregation that while expressing gratitude to the world for its investments in Liberia, she was keen about more global support to Liberia even after she departs the Liberian presidency.

“We met all the major international NGOs, not only to tell them thanks but
to tell them to continue to remember Liberia, to continue to support Liberia”, President Sirleaf assured Liberians.

President Sirleaf, while in the United States, addressed the US congress including the Republican and Democrats with the same message of gratitude and call for sustained support to Liberia. “There were times when maybe the US administration was not fully responding to our request but the Congress stood firm for Liberia and said yes we have to do what is necessary.”

The Liberia leader reiterated her call for the United States, the World’s first nation to stand firm in demonstrating leadership to prevent the establishment of a vacuum in global leader in the face of difficult situations. “They (United States) have to continue to promote the good
governance and democracy they have supported not only in Liberia but across the world.

“Americans, we said to them, Liberia is a place that you have made a major investment; and that it was now time that the return on that investment to be increased and that means we can’t stop now. And that means you can’t stop[ now, you got to keep supporting Liberia reaching the point
where we have come along with but still have a long way to go.”

The release quotes the President as further stating that she also traveled to Nairobi in Kenya where she was working at the City Bank before accepting the call for national leadership in Liberia. Her visit there was to appreciate co-workers for the support and collaboration they enjoyed.

The service was marked by prayers said by some of Liberia’s prominent religious leaders including Bishops Nathaniel Zaway, George Harris, Isaac Winker, Wollo Belleh, among others. Prayers were said not only thanking God for his grace and wisdom bestowed on the President over the last 11 years but also to intercede for a peaceful election on October 10.

“This case is about lies”

-Jungle Jabbah lawyer claims
As his federal trial opened Tuesday, a Delaware County man accused of hiding his past as a Liberian war criminal was cast by his defense lawyer as a victim – first of an authoritarian regime that drove him to seek asylum in the United States, and now of nearly two dozen former countrymen expected to take the witness stand and accuse him of horrific atrocities he insists he did not commit.

Mohammed Jabateh, they are expected to say, terrorized whole villages – murdering men, raping women, and eating the hearts of his enemies — as the rebel commander known as “Jungle Jabbah” during the civil war that roiled his West African nation in the early 1990s.
But addressing the jury for the first time Tuesday, defense lawyer Greg Pagano maintained that each of his client’s accusers has political, religious, or factional reasons to lie.

“This case has the intrigue of international war,” Pagano told the panel. “This case has the intrigue of grotesque acts of human cannibalism. But this is a case about lies. And the question is: Who is lying?” That salvo opened the unusual court proceeding set to play out in Philadelphia over the next several weeks – one that has captured the attention of Liberians both here and in Africa.

Prosecutors allege that Jabateh, a 51-year-old business owner and father of five, committed unspeakable crimes during the first Liberian Civil War. But the case itself revolves around a simple immigration question: whether he lied about those acts while applying for asylum and eventually a green card in the United States.

The government maintains that Jabateh hid his past as a rebel commander with the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO-K), a faction opposed to former Liberian president Charles Taylor’s National Patriotic Front of Liberia.
More than 250,000 people died in conflict between the two groups between 1989 and 1997. But, remarkably, no one has ever been held criminally responsible in Liberia for the documented atrocities committed by factions on all sides.

“You can’t commit heinous war crimes in your home country and then come to this country and lie about those crimes,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson Thayer said in his own opening remarks to jurors.
Thayer warned the panel that the testimony would include disturbing allegations of evisceration, sexual slavery, brutal torture, and ritual cannibalism.
“Some of it will be difficult to conceive, sitting here in Philadelphia – separated by nearly two decades and thousands of miles from such atrocities,” he said. “It may be difficult for you to even comprehend how some of these events could have occurred.”
To prove its case against Jabateh, the Justice Department has flown in more than 20 witnesses from Liberia for the trial.
Some come from big-city life in Monrovia; others grew up in the back country bush with little to no formal education. Few knew each other before this case, and they have little reason to collude, Thayer said.
For his own part, Jabateh says he never hid either his wartime role with ULIMO-K or the fact that his childhood nickname was “Jungle Jabbah.”
He sat quietly in a dark suit, his fist clenched against his lips, as the government laid out its case against him.
He maintains that he spent most of the war not in the jungles where the alleged atrocities occurred but working security in Monrovia at the Liberian equivalent of the White House.
When Taylor’s rival NPFL took control of the capital in 1997, Jabateh says, he was jailed and ultimately tortured. He eventually was released thanks to a West African peacekeeping force and fled to the U.S. soon afterward.
Since then, Jabateh says, he spent his time devoted to his family; his international shipping business, Jabateh Brothers Inc., and his mosque.
Speaking Tuesday, Pagano likened his client’s arrest last year in the current case – one he says is being driven by political considerations in Liberia – to the treatment that eventually drove him from Africa.
“This man has the scars to prove what happened to him over there,” the lawyer said. “All my client wants in this process is the fairness he did not get in Liberia.”-Culled from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

World Bank warns

The World Bank warns in its World Development report for 2018 that millions of young students in low and middle-income countries face the prospect of lost opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life thereby, warning of ‘a learning crisis’ in global education.

The report outlines that learning is not just a wasted development opportunity, but also a great injustice to children and young people worldwide.

It argues that without learning, education will fail to deliver on its promise to eliminate extreme poverty and create shared opportunity and prosperity for all, noting that even after several years in school, millions of children cannot read, write or do basic math.

According to the report, learning crisis is widening social gaps instead of narrowing them, with young students who are already disadvantaged by poverty, conflict, gender or disability reach young adulthood without even the most basic life skills.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim says: “This learning crisis is a moral and economic crisis. When delivered well, education promises young people employment, better earnings, good health, and a life without poverty. For communities, education spurs innovation, strengthens institutions, and fosters social cohesion. But these benefits depend on learning, and schooling without learning is a wasted opportunity. More than that, it’s a great injustice: the children whom societies fail the most are the ones who are most in need of a good education to succeed in life.”

The report recommends concrete policy steps to help developing countries resolve this dire learning crisis in the areas of stronger learning assessments, using evidence of what works and what doesn’t to guide education decision-making; and mobilizing a strong social movement to push for education changes that champion ‘learning for all.’

It also discloses that three-quarters of third grade students in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda are unable to read a sentence such as “The name of the dog is Puppy” in English or Kiswahili.

Carter Center raises more red flag

The United States Atlanta based Carter Center is raising a red flag here ahead of the October 10, 2017 presidential and legislative polls, with fear that the unprecedented tribal allegiance in this year’s election risk “aggravating historic tension”.

“Liberian politics have frequently been marked by ethnic rivalries, but this campaign has seen them injected into the presidential contest to a greater degree than in the recent past. In the counties, local populations use language that borders on divisive and speak about electing “one of their own” or putting “one of their men in office.” The Center’s election observes wrote in their first pre-election statement.

The center took keen notes of how candidates in the race have selected their running mate based on their appeal along tribal lines. “While this can be seen as part of the normal political process of building support, at the same time, it runs the risk of aggravating historic tensions,” the Center’s observers wrote.

Aside the tribal hype in this year’s politics, Liberia has a history of divide between the Americo-Liberians referred to as the Congo people and indigenous people known as the natives. This year’s election appears to have deepened such divide. The observers appear to have been concern about remarks made by speakers in Bong County about post –election reconciliation as well as the importance of ensuring that all Liberians accept the results of a credible process.

The Center calls on candidates to exercise caution in their rhetoric and remind their supporters that no matter their ethnic group or heritage, they and their opponents are all Liberians.  Besides ethnic politics, the Center observed that a number of parties are engaging in large-scale recruitment campaigns in which party activists gather voter registration information from potential supporters.

They described the practice as not illegal though “if done in a manner that doesn’t compromise the secrecy of the ballot or leave voters with a fear of retribution.”

The used of state resources is prohibited according to the Liberia electoral law. However, the Carter mission says it continues to receive complaints about the misuse of state resources by the ruling party and incumbents.  “In the context of elections, state resources include not only government vehicles and fuel, as well as public space, but also public office. According to good international practice, administrative officials should not use their office to support or show favor to a particular political party.”

Several lawmakers here this year use the grounds of the Capitol Building to endorse the ruling party standard bearer Joseph Boakai’s presidential bid. Carter Center observers in their report said they have received allegations of superintendents and other local administration officials openly supporting the ruling party in Margibi, Nimba, and Lofa).

“Two local administration officials for Margibi County told the Center’s observers that they felt pressure to do so as well. Chiefs in Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount candidly informed the Center’s observers that they are supporting the vice president and urging their communities to do the same.”  


Ellen downplays “next generation” hysteria

President Ellen Johnson - Sirleaf downplays the hysteria which greeted her next generation comments people like to turn low hills into mountains.

She, however, clarifies that her statement in no way [impugn] anyone who is not young. President Sirleaf in a final major address at the 72nd meeting of the United Nations General Assembly said the October elections here would pave the way for the next generation of leaders to move the country forward.

Many interpreted her comment as a direct campaign against her septuagenarian Vice President who is seeking to replace her. “There’s no issue. You people turn low hills into mountains by your own interpretations. There was no …, nothing meant to say Liberia is a young country. Many of our people are young; we will continue to have [them]. It does not in any way [impugn] anyone who is not young,” Mrs. Sirleaf said Monday, 2 October in an interview upon her arrival here from the United States.

In response to what she meant by the next generation of leaders call at the U.N., Mrs. Sirleaf says “the time is now,” telling journalists to look at the many ministers in her government that are all young.

Upon her return on Monday, an intercessory service was held in her honor at the Philadelphia Central Church in Congo Town, during which pastors offered series of prayers and gave thanks to God for having sailed the Sirleaf - Administration through two six years - terms and enabling her to deliver her final presidential address at the U.N. General Assembly in New York.

Concerning her trip for the past two weeks, Mrs. Sirleaf says she decided to go to the international community to express Liberia’s appreciation to them, having considered that many people do not realize the things they do and the support that Liberia gets to achieve what it has achieved during her term.

According to her, she expressed thanks to the U.N. for the peace Liberia has and the many agencies the world body has here, and to also appreciate all other foundations and NGOs that many people do not know what they do here and tell them to continue to remember and support Liberia.

Also at the U.S. Congress involving both Democrats and Republicans, Mrs. Sirleaf says she expressed Liberia’s gratitude for standing firm on the Liberian side and doing what was necessary even during times when its administration was not fully responding to Liberia’s requests.

Having reminded the U.S. that Liberia is a place it has made a major investment, Mrs. Sirleaf says she told the Americans that it’s now time to retain that investment …, meaning that they can’t stop now.

President Sirleaf says she is glad that on behalf of the nation she was able to go back to nations including Kenya and organizations that have helped Liberia to say thanks.

By Winston W. Parley

CDC announces pre-victory march

Ahead of next Tuesday’s polls, the Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC announces a pre-victory march set for Friday, October 7, at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia where hundreds of thousands of supporters, sympathizers and friends of the Coalition are expected to converge.

Addressing a news conference here on Monday, 2 October at the CDC headquarters in Monrovia, Vice Chairman for Operations, Mulbah Morlu says the pre-celebration will be carried out throughout the capital to be marked by an all night tarry.

The National Elections Commission has set October 8, as end of political campaign here for the ensuing elections. Morlu, who is vying for seat in Montserrado County Electoral District #10, says the all-day event will commence with a march throughout the capitol, with two separate venues being set for the Standard bearer, Senator George Weah to address his supporters.

He names the headquarters of the CDC in Congo Town as one venue where the senior partisan will address partisans, supporters, sympathizers and friends from Gardnerville and Congo Town, while the rest of the county will be diverted to the Antoinette Tubman Stadium where Weah will climax the day with another powerful speech.

According to him, the close of campaign event will be conducted in all 15 political sub-divisions of Liberia with powerful speeches and reenergizing mandate of the Liberian people.

He notes that of recent, some political parties tried to play ‘political crowd friskiness’, adding that some used the major streets of the country to hold political rallies, while others used more cars than human beings to fill the streets of Monrovia.

He claims that from the visitation of the CDC campaign team throughout the country, Liberians are yielding for one round victory and nothing will stop that, on grounds that effort of the CDC will be appreciated by Liberians who will turn out to vote overwhelmingly against the governing Unity Party.

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

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