Police concede in first electoral violence

Authorities at the Liberia National Police (LNP) say they had “shorting comings” in reference to procedural issues in an unfortunate situation in which opposition All Liberian Party (ALP) presidential candidate Benonie Urey’s private guards flogged Officer Roosevelt Jimmy in the first recorded elections violence on Monday, 31 July.

“During our after action review, we came to realize that we had some procedural issues as a police body and as such there was a need for us to correct them to avoid any future embarrassment”, Police Inspector General Col. Gregory Coleman said Tuesday, 1 August.

Flanked by his deputies and other senior officers at the Police Headquarters, Col. Coleman speaks of an unfortunate situation on Duport Road in which Officer Jimmy of the Police Support Unit (PSU) had an alleged encounter with opposition ALP agents, a situation which turned nasty leading to his flogging.

Though the police failed to explain their short comings, authorities insist that “there are sets of procedures that should have been followed” based on police intervention that they “believe were not fully followed”.

“We are not hundred percent saying that we are wrong for yesterday’s intervention”, Col. Coleman clarifies, and adds that so far to where the investigation has reached, there are charges that could be levied against the suspect whose name is being withheld for the purpose of investigation.

Police investigators want to have video evidence and expert testimonies on the Monday intervention so as to be able to come up with the most appropriate resolution in whatever that may have occurred on the first day of campaigning here.

Col. Coleman says the campaign started on Monday as per police analysis and projection of threats with an incident that has led the police force to go back to its drawing board for an “after action review” to avoid recurrence.

However, Col. Coleman notes that the victimized officer is safe, has reunited with his family, and will resume duty on Wednesday, 2 August on grounds that he is now fit for duty.

While reassuring the public of the police’s commitment to demonstrate fairness in the elections process, Col. Coleman adds that the LPN will acknowledge when it goes wrong in an effort to maintain public trust.

In a related development, police authorities say they have decided to do a tactical adjustment considering the prevailing circumstances here, announcing that they will relax regulation against commercial motorcycles during these elections process to accommodate political parties and candidates that may not afford vehicles for campaign purposes.

Making the pronouncement on Tuesday, Deputy Police Inspector General for Operations Col. Abraham Kromah said while regulations remain in force hundred percent, police will allow registered motorbikes submitted by parties or candidates that bear campaign stickers to move in the streets.

Col. Kromah says the police agree that political parties will coordinate with the police in regards to the usage of motorbikes during rallies.He says motorbikes were used in 2005 and 2011 elections, and therefore police will guide the usage of these bikes to accommodate the political process.

But he also sent a caveat that the adjustment in the regulation is not in any way giving commercial bikes operators the ground to come and violate the rights of people in the political process, noting that the no go zones remain in place.

Supt. Hoto tours Harper-Karloken Road

Pleebo Sodoken Statutory District Superintendent Tomaul Y. Hoto, accompanied by a high-powered delegation has ended a day-long tour of the ongoing road project connecting Harper City to Karloke, in Maryland County.

The first official visit of the district superintendent was intended to assess the level of work done on the road and to get acquainted with the project completion date. The 50 kilometers road with an estimated cost of US$55,441,029.09.00 is being executed by China Railway Engineering #5, funded by the African Development Bank or ADB.

Superintendent Hoto lauds President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her tireless efforts towards developing Liberian communities, particularly Maryland County.He laments that since 1847, lack of access to road has remained a major challenge for counties in south east Liberia.

After the tour, he describes the road as good and easy for travelling, and of good quality.The Chinese have started putting coal tile from Harper to Pleebo, and erecting street signs.

Superintendent Hoto calls on the people of Maryland to give every needed assistance to the China Railway Engineering #5 that would enable the company to complete the project.

He says if completed, the road will ease movement of people and goods in the county. Meanwhile, the Resident Engineer for the project, Francis Sirleaf, attributes slow pace of the project to change in climate.

Mr. Sirleaf explains that the road with several layers, has a life expectancy of 30 years, and calls on Marylanders to exercise restrain as the project is expected to be completed in a period of one year.

President Sirleaf frowned on the contractors during her recent visit to the county for the slow pace of the project. The President notes that the project is one year late, and calls on the county authorities to ensure that the contractor complete the road in the soonest possible time.

-Editing by Jonathan Browne

125 campaigners end conflict management training

At least 125 elections campaigners from all 25 communities in the Municipal Borough of New Kru Town, Monsterrado County Electoral District#16 have received training in Elections Conflict Management.

Formal opening ceremony for the training workshop took place on Tuesday, 1 August in Corner West Community, Bushrod Island. Participants are direct campaigners for the re-election of district#16 incumbent Representative Edward Ford, for a third term. Mr. Tonny Nagbe, senior coordinator of the workshop, warns participants to be very mindful in how they engage opposition supporters to avoid electoral conflict during the campaign.

He emphasizes that campaigners for the re-election of Representative Ford should also be mindful in approaching issues arising from the opposition bloc to prevent fighting and other violations that could drive away individuals who may want to support their candidate. He recalls that electoral violence ensued after the 1985 elections because most party supporters never had the knowledge and skills how to resolve and avoid conflict during campaign period that led to the arrest of several opposition candidates and their supporters.

He urges the participants to build perfect relationship with opposition supporters, noting that at the end of the electoral process, both opposition and supporters would become one family again therefore, they should do noting that will dampen chances of their candidates.

By Emmanuel Mondaye-Editing by Jonathan Browne

CBL Governor Weeks wants a proactive WAMZ

Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) Executive Governor, Mr. Milton A. Weeks, sets the tone of the 26th meeting of the College of Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone (CSWAMZ) in Monrovia, urging members of the College of Supervisors of West African Central Banks to think through what is likely to cause a banking/financial crisis in the West African monetary zone as well as the efforts required to address such crisis.

Executive Governor Weeks: “The need for a zonal crisis prevention, management and resolution framework is more and more evident. Do we have the right mechanisms to address the potential risks associated with the increasing digitization of our financial systems?”

According to a press release, he also stresses the need to provide an enabling environment conducive for competition and innovation, while at the same time balancing risk management and internal control against overbearing regulations.

This view, he says is informed by lessons learnt by past failures/crises and the need to regularly assess existing practices and make future crises less damaging. Delivering the keynote address during the 26th Statutory Meeting, the CBL Governor continues: “In this new age of ‘hi-tech’ and financial technology, our supervisory approaches need to be scaled up and technologically powered”. He however expresses happiness that most countries within the West African monetary zone already have electronic systems for the rendering of the returns of financial institutions but that there was still opportunities in using computer-assisted techniques and other tools to facilitate enhanced early warning systems.

The importance of aligning the supervision of financial institutions with a rapidly-developing financial system was also underscored by the CBL Governor during the keynote address. This, he stresses, was all the more important because of the countless number of transactions facilitated, hence the need for analytical intelligence to capture the key issues and risks before they emerge.

While praising the College of Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone (CSWAMZ) for the annual publication of the Zonal Financial Stability Report and the critical role it plays in promoting financial stability in West Africa, he further emphasizes the importance of contemplating the most appropriate institutional design for the College to meet the growing needs of the Monetary Zone.

In addressing some of the supervisory and regulatory challenges faced by West African Central Banks, Governor Weeks shares with CSWAMZ measures the CBL is taking to mitigate some of those challenges, including financial sector reform and financial inclusion as contained in the Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan (FSDIP) as well as in the CBL’s 2017-2019 Strategic Plan.

Other speakers during the occasion included the outgoing chairman of the CSWAMZ and Director of Banking Supervision of the Bank of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Hanifa Addai, who is incoming chairman of the College, the CBL’s Director of Regulation & Supervision, Mr. Mussah A. Kamara (Deputy Director, Mr. Fonsia Donzo served as proxy) and the Director for Financial Sector Management of WAMI. The officials note progress and challenges the College faces and the need to continue the collaboration among member countries to improve the capacity of central bank supervision.

The College of Supervisors of WAMZ meets during the WAMZ statutory meetings on a bi-annual basis. The meeting is convened by the West African Monetary Institute. The main objective of the College of Supervisors of the West African Monetary Zone is to strengthen the capacity of central bank supervisors, share information on developments in the banking system and assess the risks to financial stability in member countries. Member states of the West African Monetary Zone are Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and The Gambia. Press Release

LEITI prepares 9th EITI Report

The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or LEITI is preparing its 9th report for Liberia to be released to the public shortly. An LEITI press release issued in Monrovia Tuesday says the report will capture all material taxes, including royalties, land/surface rentals and other administrative fees paid to, and acknowledged by the Government of Liberia from companies in the oil, mining, forestry and agricultural sectors for the fiscal period July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

LEITI has reportedly hired services of an auditing firm, Parker & Company LLC of Liberia in association with Moore Stephens LLP of the United Kingdom to prepare the report.
It calls on all stakeholders to the process, including companies of the mining, oil forestry and agricultural sectors, and other relevant ministries and agencies to fully comply with the process as the disclosure of taxes and revenues from the extractive sectors is fundamental to Liberia’s compliance with the EITI Standard and the LEITI Act of 2009.

The LEITI Standard is implemented in 52 countries around the world. Countries under the EITI framework obligate themselves to annually publish a comprehensive EITI report that covers information on contracts and licenses award; exploration, production and export; revenue collection and allocation; and social and economic spending.
The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative is a part of the global EITI Standard that promotes revenue transparency in the extractive sectors in resource rich countries. It strives to ensure transparency over payments made to and revenues received by the Government from companies in the concerned sectors. Press Release

Amb. Alexander Wallace is dead

The Government of Liberia announces with profound regrets the death of His Excellency, Mr. Alexander H.N. Wallace, III, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Republic of Syria.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, this sad event occurred in Cairo, Egypt at 03:00 a.m., Sunday, July 30, 2017. Tuesday, August 8, would have been his 72nd birth anniversary. The release notes that the late Ambassador Wallace, III, was a career diplomat, and before his appointment in 2011, he served as Charge d’Affaires, at Liberia’s Embassy in Berlin, Germany with accreditation to Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the United Nations Organization in Vienna in 2010.

 The release says prior to that, the late Ambassador Wallace, III, served as Minister Plenipotentiary and Deputy Head of Mission at Liberia’s Embassy at the Court of Saint James in London, the United Kingdom with concurrent accreditation to the Republic of Ireland, the Vatican and the Order of Malta from 2008 to 2010.

He also served as Minister Counselor and Deputy Head of Mission at Liberia’s Embassy in Washington, D. C., and United States of America from 1992 to 2000. Before then, from 1999 to 2000, he served as Charge d’Affaires at the same Mission.

Earlier in his career, the late Ambassador Wallace, III, served as Second Secretary and Vice Consul at Liberia’s Embassy at the Court of Saint James from 1979 to 1982; and First Secretary and Consul at the same Embassy from 1982 to 1985.

The release says before joining Liberia’s diplomatic service, the late Ambassador Wallace, III worked with the Liberia Timber and Plywood Corporation as personnel manager from 1977 to 1979; United States Trading Corporation as assistant credit manager from 1975 to 1977; and the Firestone Tire and Timber Company as office and credit manager from 1973 to 1975. Press Release

NCSCL stresses strong civil society

The Secretary General of the National Civil Society Council of Liberia, Rev. Christopher W. Toe, says the role of civil society in any nation cannot be over emphasized, noting that civil society plays a major role by advocating and building capacity of young people.

He made the emphasis on Tuesday, August 1, at his office on Capitol Hill in an interview with reporters. Rev. Toe says the Council is embarking on a workshop that will play host to partners, including international organizations and foreign embassies accredited near Monrovia to look at the significance of project impact on the civil society over the past five years.

According to him, the NCSCL is facilitating the event in support of Search for Common Ground funding receives from the Swedish International Development Cooperation to close a five-year grant that was provided to civil society in Liberia under the title, “strengthening the capacity for sustainable governance in Liberia.”

Rev. Toe continues that the event is expected to close with a workshop to reflect on the significance of the project and its impact on the country. “The strengthening of civil society; the outcome of the project, among others are things that will be taken into consideration, whether there were challenges along the way in terms of implementation, and how can we learn from it, these are things that we will be looking at during the workshop on Thursday at the Belle Cassa Hotel in Sinkor”, says Rev. Toe.

He describes the National Civil Society Council as an apex body of all civil society organizations in Liberia, responsible to coordinate civil society activities as well as engage in policy advocacy and capacity building, among others.

By Lewis S. Teh-Editing by Jonathan Browne

Monrovia littered with campaign posters

Official campaign for the October 10th Presidential and Representatives elections kicks off here on Monday, 31 July with candidates and political parties erecting billboards and posters at street corners in Monrovia and its environs.

In a nationwide address on Monday, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf describes the start of official campaign across Liberia for the October polls as a test of the maturity of Liberian political leaders and citizens working to make the right choice at the ballot box.

She says the 2017 elections will signal Liberia’s irreversible course on the path of peace and democracy, noting “this is the first general elections organized by us, conducted by us, and therefore all ours.”

However, she cautions that as the campaign develops, political actors should strive to focus their discussions on the bigger issues and challenges of confronting the society by being clear on the kind of country they envisage for themselves and posterity.

“We must seek to inform and enlighten the electorate, treat each other with respect and clarify choices, while sustaining our electoral environmental free of violence and conflicts”, says President Sirleaf, who is ending two (six years) terms in office by October.

There were reports of some zealot partisans tearing down campaign posters of rival parties, while a guard of Presidential candidate Benoni Urey of the All Liberian Party allegedly tussled with a police officer in the Du-Port Road community of Paynesville.

A total of 26 registered parties are participating in the impending elections without the incumbent, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf contesting. The pending polls will deliver the first post-conflict political transition in Liberia after nearly two decades of bloody civil conflict.

President Sirleaf’s governing Unity Party, currently headed by Vice President Joseph Boakai, is seeking a third term in office against nearly two dozen opposition parties.

Members of the opposition bloc seem determined to halt the ruling UP third bid as demonstrated by ongoing massive preparations for the campaign.

The Coalition for Democratic Change or CDC led by Senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor, estranged wife of jailed ex-president Charles Ghankay Taylor.

Its standard bearer Senator Weah had confirmed here following media reports that he held telephone conversation with Mr. Taylor from his prison wall in Britain. That was about three months to the campaign, and since then he has been mobilizing campaign resources.

The Coalition, which is a conglomeration of Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) party, ex-president Taylor’s former ruling National Patriotic Party (NPP) and criminally indicted former speaker Alex Tyler’s newly organized Liberian People Democratic Party or LPDP is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to take state power in October.

The CDC has mobilized a logistical arsenal for the campaign, including an air plane said to have been brought in from Burkina Faso, while awaiting a helicopter from the same. However, others say it from France, the first ever since Weah entered Liberian politics in 2005.

Burkina Faso, like neighboring Ivory Coast provided strong support for Taylor’s invasion of Liberia, including fighting men. The CDC also recently acquired fleet of Nissan Patrol Jeeps, characteristic of Mr. Taylor besides motorbikes.

At the same time, the opposition Liberty Party of two times contender Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine seems equally prepared with hundreds of twin-cabin pickups and motorbikes for the campaign. The LP had vowed to outspend all parties in the race for the October polls.

Others in the race, including the ALP of businessman Benoni Urey, MOVEE for ex-governor Joseph Mills Jones, ANC of cocao-cola executive Alexander Cummings are equally determined to attract the votes of Liberians for the nation’s highest seat. Story by Jonathan Browne


Fahnbulleh speaks on October elections

The Standard Bearer of the Liberian People’s Party or LPP Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr. has spoken for the first time since his resignation from government as national security advisor to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Dr. Fahnbulleh, who is seeking the Presidency in the ensuring October 10, 2017 Representatives and Presidential elections, says here that his quest for the nation’s highest office is to build on foundation already laid by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Speaking to this paper on Sunday, 30 July the former education and foreign minister from slain President Samuel Doe regime explains that President Sirleaf ‘s strong desire for change in Liberia by walking 19 to 20 hours daily to achieve progress of State, is something that inspires him and gives him the zest of continuing with the dream of completing the goals of the President, if given the opportunity by the Liberian people through the ballot box on October 10th .

According to him, President Sirleaf is well focus in getting the country where she wants it to be, and he’s optimism that if emerged as winner, the starting point is to build on the solid foundation of the President.

Well-schooled and long-time lecturer at various universities globally, Dr. Fahnbulleh argues that his time spent on the national scene as one of the major actors puts him in a better position to understand Liberia’s limitations and progress, and where to start from in moving forward.

The LPP Standard Bearer claims he’s better placed for the kind of leadership that the country needs currently, which will allow stability, enhance national security, noting that security will be high on his agenda to transform Liberia for the better.

He says he intends to run a transformative economy that will be participatory and inclusive, focusing on the county and national levels.

“My attention is people-centered, mobilizing the young people, grassroots people, bring on board civil society organizations, where everyone can come on the table and discuss together,” Dr. Fahnbulleh says.

According to him, civil society and the business community will play greater role in policymaking that will affect the economy of the state, stressing that no one man has monopoly over wisdom, ideas, noting that the collective approach of thousand people is far better than one brilliant man.

“As a young man, my presumption about our country is there were many patriots but now as old man, my thought was wrong because there are many patriots but with approaches and different styles, so the best option is to tap in these approaches and everyone’s contributions to the development agenda of the country.”

Commenting on the issue of corruption in government, Dr. Fahnbulleh says corruption is the least thing on his mind on grounds that it can be handled by going back to audits conducted by the General Auditing Commission and findings can be used to prosecute those who are liable.

Dr. Henry Boimah Fahnbulleh was educated in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya and the United States. He graduated from Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone, having studied politics, philosophy, and history.

He gained his graduate degree in politics from Howard University in Washington D.C., and his doctorate from George Washington University in political philosophy and international politics, respectively. Editing by Jonathan Browne

MOFA closes passport, visa sections temporarily

Authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have announced the temporary closure of the Bureau of Passport and Visas sections to new applicants and individuals applying for passports as they prepare to begin the issuance of e-Passports shortly.

The Foreign Ministry said in order to get this vital process underway, the Bureau of Passport and Visas doors will be closed to all new applicants beginning Tuesday, August 1, to Friday, August 4, 2017.  The Bureau assures the public that it will resume full operations on Monday, August 7, 2017.

An e-Passport will contain an electronic chip that holds the same information that is printed on the passport's data page: the holder's name, date of birth, and other biographic pieces of information. An e-Passport also contains a biometric identifier. Most times, the chip will contain a digital photograph of the holder.

The pieces of information on the chip can be used to authenticate the identity of travelers.  E-Passports will help to securely identify the traveler, provide protection against identity theft, protect privacy and make it difficult to alter a document for use in gaining admission to some countries, including the United States of America. The Bureau apologizes for any inconveniences this may cause the public.

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