January 16, 2018
President Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
As former U.S. Ambassadors to 48 African countries, we write to express our deep concern regarding reports of your recent remarks about African countries and to attest to the importance of our partnerships with most of the fifty-four African nations. Africa is a continent of great human talent and rich diversity, as well as extraordinary beauty and almost unparalleled natural resources. It is also a continent with deep historical ties with the United States.
As American ambassadors abroad we have seen Africa’s complex and rich cultures, awe-inspiring resilience, and breathtaking generosity and compassion. Even as some nations have faced challenges, we have counted among our contacts dynamic entrepreneurs, gifted artists, committed activists, passionate conservationists, and brilliant educators. We learned of novel solutions to complex problems, helped American companies find partners critical to their success, and counted on African military and intelligence officials who often assumed real risks to help achieve outcomes critical to our shared security.
We know that respectful engagement with these countries is a vital part of protecting our own national interests. The United States of America is safer, healthier, more prosperous, and better equipped to solve problems that confront all of humanity when we work with, listen to, and learn from our African partners. We also know that the entire world is richer because of the contributions of Africans, including the many Americans of African descent.
It was one of the greatest honors of our lives to represent the United States of America abroad. It was also a privilege to live in and learn from the diverse and spectacular countries of Africa.
We hope that you will reassess your views on Africa and its citizens, and recognize the important contributions Africans and African Americans have made and continue to make to our country, our history, and the enduring bonds that will always link Africa and the United States.
Mark L. Asquino – Equatorial Guinea
Shirley E. Barnes - Madagascar
William (Mark) Bellamy – Kenya
Eric D. Benjaminson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Michele Thoren Bond – Lesotho
Parker W. Borg – Mali
Aurelia E. Brazeal – Kenya, Ethiopia
Pamela Bridgewater - Benin, Ghana
Reuben E. Brigety II – African Union
Kenneth L. Brown – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Republic of the Congo
Steven A. Browning – Malawi, Uganda
Edward P. Brynn – Burkina Faso, Ghana
John Campbell - Nigeria
Katherine Canavan – Botswana
Timothy Carney – Sudan
Johnnie Carson – Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Phillip Carter – Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry
Herman Cohen – Senegal, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Frances D. Cook – Burundi, Cameroon
Walter L. Cutler – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tunisia
Jeffrey S. Davidow – Zambia
Ruth A. Davis – Benin, Director General of the Foreign Service
Scott H. DeLisi – Uganda, Eritrea
Christopher Dell – Angola, Zimbabwe, Deputy Ambassador at AFRICOM
Harriet Elam-Thomas – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Gregory W. Engle – Togo
James F. Entwistle – Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Robert A. Flaten - Rwanda
Robert S. Ford – Algeria
Patrick Gaspard – South Africa
Michelle D. Gavin – Botswana
Donald H. Gips – South Africa
Gordon Gray - Tunisia
Robert E. Gribben – Central African Republic, Rwanda
Patricia McMahon Hawkins - Togo
Karl Hofmann – Togo
Patricia M. Haslach - Ethiopia
Genta Hawkins Holmes - Namibia
Robert G. Houdek – Uganda, Eritrea
Michael S. Hoza - Cameroon
Vicki J. Huddleston – Madagascar, Mali
Janice L. Jacobs - Senegal
Howard F. Jeter – Botswana, Nigeria
Dennis C. Jett - Mozambique
Jimmy J. Kolker – Burkina Faso, Uganda
Edward Gibson Lanpher - Zimbabwe
Dawn M. Liberi - Burundi
Princeton N. Lyman – Nigeria, South Africa
Jackson McDonald – The Gambia, Guinea
James D. McGee – Swaziland, Madagascar, Comoros, Zimbabwe
Roger A. Meece – Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Gillian Milovanovic - Mali
Susan D. Page – South Sudan
David Passage - Botswana
Edward J. Perkins – Liberia, South Africa, Director General of the Foreign Service
Robert C. Perry – Central African Republic
Thomas R. Pickering – Nigeria
Jo Ellen Powell - Mauritania Nancy Powell – Uganda, Ghana
Anthony Quainton – Central African Republic
Elizabeth Raspolic – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Charles A. Ray – Zimbabwe
Fernando E. Rondon – Madagascar, Comoros
Richard A. Roth – Senegal, Guinea-Bissau
Robin Renee Sanders – Republic of the Congo, Nigeria
Mattie R. Sharpless – Central African Republic
David H. Shinn – Burkina Faso, Ethiopia
A. Ellen Shippy - Malawi
George M. Staples – Rwanda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Director General of the Foreign Service Linda Thomas-Greenfield – Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs
Jacob Walles – Tunisia Lannon Walker – Senegal, Nigeria, Ivory Coast
Melissa F. Wells – Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zaire (Congo-Kinshasa)
Joseph C. Wilson – Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe
Frank G. Wisner – Zambia, Egypt
John M. Yates – Cape Verde, Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Permanent Charge (3 years) Zaire, Special Envoy for Somalia
Mary Carlin Yates – Burundi, Ghana, Sudan
Johnny Young – Sierra Leone, Togo
January 16, 2018
Botswana has reportedly closed down the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church of the Malawian self-acclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri, citing concerns over 'miracle money' claims. Bushiri's church taught its members that they could make money through acts of magic. The government stated that this teaching violated the laws of the country. This is just one incident among many – recently, there have been many reported cases of abuses and controversial claims by Africa's self-styled pastors, priests, prophets, men and women of God.
In this piece, I discuss why African governments are cracking down on fraudulent miracle pastors and their churches. Their bogus claims and promises deceive, fracture, and extort vulnerable Africans, many of them already in precarious situations that cannot tolerate superstition as the prescription to ameliorate them.
Reckless and irresponsible Claims Miracle pastors make bogus and absurd claims to demonstrate their divine anointment and supernatural powers. They get their Christian devotees to believe that their counterintuitive declarations are actually direct revelations from God or forms of infallible prophetic verbiage. Despite no medical training, many pastors claim to know the cause and cure of diseases, of death and other misfortunes. They release prophecies pretending to know or predict the future. For instance, Bushiri once claimed that he cured people of HIV and brought the dead back to life. In one of his most notorious acts, Shepherd Bushiri released a video where he supposedly walked on air.
Pastor T.B Joshua and Reverend Enoch Adeboye of Nigeria have made faith healing claims as well as releasing prophetic declarations on the outcome of elections and football matches, aviation accidents and the death of presidents. A Zimbabwean prophet, Paul Sanyangore said he had a direct phone number to Heaven that he used to talk to God. Another pastor claimed that he had taken a selfie with the angels, visited hell and killed Satan. Many African pastors openly and publicly declare that God had spoken to them or that God sent them a message to deliver to their church members.
Drama and Deception
African pastors do not stop at making baseless and unfounded propositions. They dramatize, stage-manage and create scenes that make people believe that their claims are real and factual. The miracle pastors indulge in manipulative and fraudulent schemes to demonstrate the presence of God, their supposedly divine anointing and supernatural powers. Pastors fake being in conversation with God or in communication with the angels or holy spirit. They literally and habitually lie to the face of their congregants. Pastors organize 'faith healing' more accurately described at fake healing sessions. At these events, persons who have been previously briefed or bribed pretend to be blind or lame and subsequently 'receive' healing.
These fraudulent men and women of God organize sessions of exorcism where they fake the expulsion of demons in the form of reptiles or insects from the bodies of their members. One of the aims of these deceptive schemes is to obtain and dispossess gullible folks by trick.
Extortion and Exploitation
Miracle pastors in Africa peddle schemes that make people believe that they can make money through miraculous means. They extort money from their members by marketing 'miracle' money narratives in exchange for cash. For instance, Nigerian pastors have a miracle money scheme known as 'sowing a seed'. These pastors urge their members to 'sow a seed' by giving money to God. They make their church members, most of whom are living on less than $1 a day, believe that the money that they give to God has a multiplier effect. The more they give to God, the pastors claim, the more they will get in return. Furthermore, pastors publish in their bulletins names and testimonies of people who sowed seeds, gave money to God and had returns in proportion to the money, the seeds, that they had sown.
Motivated by these miracle money schemes, church members sometimes go to any length to get money to 'sow a seed' in their churches. They borrow money from friends and family members. People take loans to sow a seed and expect returns that will never come. There have been cases where people used money that was meant to take care of their families, some public funds or money that belong to their workplaces to sow a seed in their churches.
In addition, African pastors market all sorts of materials, water, handkerchiefs, olive oil, and soap. They designate them as holy and by so doing invest them with extra market value. Pastors compel their members to purchase and use these worthless and sometimes harmful 'holy' materials in order to receive divine healing or to enhance their fortune and luck. The time has come for African governments to investigate and shut down these illegal businesses.
Confusion, Division and Conflict in Families
Miracle pastors cause an incredible amount of disruption among African families and communities. They use their prophecies to fuel hatred, suspicion, mistrust, division, and conflict, turning family and community members against each other. African pastors use their so-called prophetic powers to point out those who are responsible for poverty, lack of progress, illness and death in families and communities. Those so identified are often attacked or killed in instances of mob violence.
In one particular case a few years ago, a Nigerian Catholic priest popularly known as Father 'No Nonsense' visited a community in Ihitteafoukwu, in Mbaise in Southern Nigeria. The youths invited this miracle pastor to conduct prayers against unemployment and lack of progress. During the prayer, Fr. No Nonsense claimed that demons preventing the youths in the community from making progress resided in nearby trees. He pointed out some of the trees that hosted these demons and instructed that they should be cut down. Some youths went around felling trees that they believed could be harbouring evil spirits. The demon-tree cutting exercise turned into an opportunity for some youths in the community to settle scores. They felled the trees of neighbours that they hated or envied.
In another case, a member of the community protested after some youth relatives felled a tree in his compound. The youths attacked him with a machete and he shot one of them in the leg. Subsequently, a mob of youths invaded the man's apartment, looted his property and burnt down his house. Such mayhem linked to the prophecies of miracle pastors is a frequent occurrence. African prophets poison family relationships. They instigate quarrels and disputes that linger in various communities.
Abusive and Dehumanizing Treatment
Miracle pastors also subject their members to inhuman and degrading treatment. Pastors abuse and humiliate their congregants publicly and privately, while claiming to be praying for them, or when they are 'exorcising demons'. There have been reports of pastors who ordered their church members to eat grass. Some pastors have told their congregants to drink gasoline or bleach. Other pastors have sprayedinsecticide on churchgoers. Another pastor ordered female members to strip naked and he marched on them. The same pastor declared a snake had become chocolate and gave it to the members of his church to eat. A Ghanaian Bishop who claims that he could enlarge the male private organ has been caught in videos caressing the penises of men. Finally, a South African prophet allegedly expelled demons by inserting his hands into the vagina of the congregants.
Death and Health Damage
The activities of some African miracle pastors have also been linked to the deaths or illness of church members. Many churchgoers who are HIV positive died after they discontinued their antiretroviral treatment following instruction from their pastors. Recently, a sick child died at prophet Mboro's church in South Africa. The mother of the child took the girl to prophet Mboro to be healed. The girl eventually died, having not been treated with conventional medicine.
A Nigerian community banished a prophet after a woman who came to seek spiritual help from him died. She died from health complications after the prophet poured a liquid substance on her genitals. Many Africans continue to die or suffer serious illnesses as a result of deceptive miracle pastors. The pastors present themselves as medical doctors, as health experts, and their churches as hospitals. Unfortunately, African governments have done little to address these fraudulent acts.
As a result of the aforementioned factors, miracle pastors are wreaking havoc in families and communities across the region. They peddle falsehoods and propagate baseless and absurd claims. Prophets extort money from their church members using all manner of shady schemes. Miracle pastors fuel hatred, division, and confusion in the society. They perpetrate criminal atrocious acts that damage the health of their church members or lead to their death. Other African governments should emulate the government of Botswana by tackling miracle pastors and shutting down their churches and illegal businesses. Governments should expose the fraudulent schemes of these charlatans and make them accountable for their crimes.
By Leo Igwe
Throughout history, Christianity has played a central role in the Middle East and North Africa. Distinct sites from both the ancient and modern times demonstrate Christianity’s unique and vast place in the region. Tragically, Christianity’s cultural and contemporary position in the region is persistently under attack.
According to the World Watchlist Report (2017) (https://www.opendoorsusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2017-World-Watch-List-1.pdf?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) , the persecution of Christians is worst in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, and is worsening in Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, and Algeria. The attack on Christianity is most visible by examining the number of Christians who now call the region home. A century ago, Christians made up over 20 percent of the region's population, while today they comprise under two percent.
Continuously, extremist groups destroy renowned churches, and kill those who worship there. For example, in 2015 the first ever attack on a church in Yemen occurred when the Catholic cathedral in Aden was completely destroyed by militants in affiliation with Daesh (ISIL). This attack was followed by the killing of 16 Catholics assisting victims of the country’s civil war at a Sisters of Charity Center in Aden. Until today, multiple attacks on Yemen’s Christian community occur every year, and in 2017 it was ranked the ninth worst country for Christians in the world.
Yemen is not the only example of a country experiencing newfound violence upon Christians. In Libya, 21 Christians were beheaded in 2015,while the number of Christians continues to decline as they are targeted in attacks by multiple extremist groups operating within the country’s borders. Iraq’s Christian population has dwindled from over one million to around two hundred thousand in the past seventeen years.
Within the past two years, it is estimated that over eight hundred Christians have been killed because of their faith in the Middle East and North Africa, and this does not include the Christians amongst the thousands of civilians that have likely been killed in attacks that were not faith related, including the detonation of explosive devices in public areas, attacks using motor vehicles, and other terrorist attacks as have been seen in the region.
Furthermore, governments oftentimes suppress and persecute those who simply wish to practice their faith freely. Sacred texts are banned by governments, as is the long standing practice in Saudi Arabia, where bibles are confiscated upon entry to the country. Similar practices have been carried out in Libya, when former president Muammar al Gaddafi was in power, and it is still carried out by the various groups in control of different sections of the country.
Subsequently, such actions have been reported to have occurred by national or local authorities in nearly every country in the region, even if it is not state policy. Furthermore, Islamist movements ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria, have expressed support of such actions. A unique exception among Islamic parties to the seemingly widespread persecution of Christians is Morocco’s Party for Justice and Development (PJD), which supports a ban on foreign missionaries, but is vehemently opposed to any ban on Christianity. (https://www.hudson.org/research/12286-islamism-and-the-state-in-morocco?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID])
In short, the disturbing rise in violence against Christians in the region is dire. Iin 2007, not a single targeted attack on Christians was recorded. Starting in 2008, the number of assaults on Christians has increased annually, reaching over fifty violent assaults in 2015 (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/26/opinion/why-the-middle-easts-christians-are-under-attack.html?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) . Consequently, Christianity’s presence nowcontinues to dwindle (https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/883141/christian-persecution-all-time-high-middle-east-copts-syria-iraq?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) in the Middle East, where the religion began millenia ago, and thrived until recently. Consequently, once vibrant Christian communities are now abandoned, and the vast majority of the region’s citizens are not aware of both the historic and modern Christian communities in their respective countries, nor have they had a personal relationship with someone who practices another faith.
The Kingdom of Morocco, at the westernmost edge of the region, presents a unique opportunity to preserve and even restore the role of Christianity. Christianity has been practiced in Morocco for millennia, originating during the days of the Roman Empire in the fourth century (http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/morocco.htm?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) . Today, the kingdom is home to a sizable Christian community that continues to grow, despite some repression including confiscation of bibles, accusations of cooperating with foreign missionaries (an illegal practice in the kingdom), and a lack of places to worship (https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/269150.pdf?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) , as many large cities are home to one church. In 2014, it was estimated that the Kingdom is home to more than 380,000 Christians.
The unique place that Christians, and in fact all religious minorities play in Morocco is underlined in the Marrakesh Declaration, a religious document supported by the King of Morocco, His Majesty, Mohammed IV, which states that all religious minorities must be able to freely practice their respective faith (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/03/01/middle-east-regimes-are-using-moderate-islam-to-stay-in-power/?utm_term=.d0e0c369d961&mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) . In comparison, neighboring Algeria is home to around 100,000 Christians, and the conditions of religious minorities in the country continue to worsen. (https://www.ecoi.net/local_link/256856/381906_de.html?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID])
Along the Atlantic coast, in the city of Essaouira, there in a Franciscan church that has fallen into neglect and ruin, with a history dating back to the eighteenth century. In many ways, this church is emblematic of the Kingdom’s distinct historical experience, built by the Portuguese, and utilized by the French, Arabs, and others. It is a special representation of the multiculturalism, respect, and diversity that is part of Morocco’s identity and codified in its Constitution. Unfortunately, today this collapsed church in Essaouira is unable serve as the beacon of an exceptional past and present.
In a region of the world where christians continue to be targets of terrorist attacks, and governmental policies that oppress christians are becoming more common, opportunities should be seized to preserve Christian heritage sites in the Middle East and North Africa. This is especially true when preservation leads to advancing human development. In the case of this church, it will be dedicated to local civil associations, to provide them a work and meeting space for education and inclusive development planning of community projects. The King of Morocco, Mohammed VI, is a champion of cultural projects that are a “driving force” for dialogue and development. These projects require leadership at all levels.
The High Atlas Foundation seeks to restore the Franciscan church in Essaouira so that it may serve as a reminder of the central role that Christianity has, and continues to play, in Morocco and the region. However, we do not simply wish to restore the building. The city government will transfer the church to civil society to serve as a location for public workshops, family education, and a meeting point for interfaith relations and development stakeholders. Restoring the Franciscan church in Essaouira will not only preserve the Moroccan cultural past, but can serve as a catalyst in the Kingdom’s strive to set an example of religious and social integration toward shared prosperity in a region where these very values are being fundamentally challenged.
Richard Bone supports communications for the High Atlas Foundation (http://highatlasfoundation.org/?mc_cid=783eea7e8f&mc_eid=[UNIQID]) from Washington, D.C., where he currently studies International Affairs at the George Washington University.
The Franciscan Church in Essaouira, Morocco was once a lively center of faith and community. Today, it is crumbling and not accessible to the public. Photo by the High Atlas Foundation
By Richard Bone
By Wednesday night, December 27, 2017, the political atmosphere in Liberia was charged with mixed feelings of tears, joy, and discontentment. For some, it was a feeling of overwhelming hilarity that revealed a promising future for Mama Liberia. For others, it was a feeling of leaving Liberia and never to return. It was also a feeling of death and a lost hope in the future of Liberia. It was certainly a feeling that changed the face of politics in Liberia for many years to come. But there was another feeling. That feeling was associated with disappointments, endless tears, political deception and a dampening moment.
It was a feeling of hard truth, tolerance, perseverance and hard-earned political maturity exhibited by Ambassador Boakai to have acknowledged a political defeat openly in the presidential race that caught the eyes of hundreds and hundreds of Liberians including Liberians who did not vote for him. It was a feeling that spoke to the melancholy nature of an ensuing 2017 tension oriented presidential race that definitively lifted the dying political spirit of Ambassador George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah who won the golden keys to the doors of Liberia’s presidency.
It was a feeling that shut the doors on Dr. Boakai's longstanding political career in Liberia after many years of dedicated and sincere services to the outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. But the million-dollar question that still lingers on the minds of well-wishers, sympathizers, and supporters of Dr. Boakai, is: “Who is responsible for his presidential defeat? It has been unearthed from numerous sources that Dr. Boakai was defeated on multiple occasions long before the elections began in earnest. Amb. Boakai was used as a sacrificial lamb by the outgoing President Sirleaf in many different ways.
Historical narratives speak to so many undisputable and dependable corroborative source that pointed directly to President Sirleaf who willfully forsakes Dr. Boakai at the time when he needed her most during the presidential race after serving her for more than 12-unbroken years of unquestionable loyalty as a stable and unwavering VP. President Sirleaf abandoned Dr. Boakai during the heat of the campaign trail for unspoken reasons, this too was another form of betrayal of her own VP. When the President’s son, Robert Sirleaf did cross-over to the CDC, it raises a red flag in Amb. Boakai’s campaign, but President Sirleaf kept tightlipped on the many.
President Sirleaf has enormous influence on her son Robert Sirleaf. Robert Sirleaf’s decision to take up membership in the CDC did not happen in isolation or unknowingly to President Sirleaf. She certainly approved her son’s decision, because she was also a silent sympathizer of the CDC party. Because of President Sirleaf’s Son departure from the Unity Party (UP), to the CDC party, some UP’s members also defected to the CDC’s party as well. But the President has remained conspicuously quiet on the defection of her son and the migration of few other UP’s diehard members to the mighty CDC party.
On a very sad note, President Sirleaf was not seen physically with Dr. Boakai campaigning publicly together. They were not on TV advertainments, radio publicity platform and even on social media jingoes together as they did in 2005/11 presidential races. Many Liberians believe that President Sirleaf deliberately held back her influence and moral support in order for VP Boakai to suffocate politically in the race which did happen under her watchful eyes. Even the Executive Manson's Press Secretary, Jerolinmek Matthew Piah, in June 2017, when he helplessly struggled to painstakingly twist his tongue in denouncing the long-running rumors that President Sirleaf did not approve Dr. Boakai’s presidential ambition in practical terms.
On another serious note, Dr. Boakai’s running mate, James Emmanuel Nuguay, the Speaker of the House of Representatives was also a complicated element responsible for the defeat of the VP in the presidential race. Some members of the Unity Party complained to be apprehensive about Nuguay’s sudden selection as vice running mate to Dr. Boakai. Some confessed that Nuquay was very combative and intimidating during the presidential race. He lacks interpersonal communication skills and poor manner of approach. One insider says that Nuguay spoke rudely to some UP’s partisans. Nuguay’s actions were also responsible for the mass exodus of most UP’s partisans to the CDC party during the heat of the campaign.
Nuquay was regarded as a dangerous outsider in the UP party. He nonetheless managed to exert his political influence and power to seize the vice-presidential nomination at the displeasure of most UP’s partisans during their convention, calling him a “stranger” and a “gravy seeker”, several partisans lamented. What was more important, is the idea that Nuguay was not an impressive marketable vice-presidential material. Another source said that he didn’t have the require charismas as a strong vice standard-bearer. His poor and devastating interactions drove away Dr. Boakai’s immediate supporters, sympathizers, and well-wishers from electing him as President of the Republic of Liberia.
Many of the UP’s veteran defectors predicted that Nuguay would have undermined Dr. Boakai had they succeeded to win the presidential race in Liberia. Nuguay was a severe political impediment and a staunched stumbling block and a total embarrassment and a potential disaster to Dr. Boakai’s presidential vision which was also a sign of deep betrayal and defeat to Dr. Boakai’s presidential ambition. There was another segment of grave concerns as it relates to the defeat of Dr. Boakai. That segment has to do with the sons and daughters of Lofa County.
The sons and daughters of Lofa County also let Dr. Boakai down terribly. But other Lofans also accused the VP of abandoning other districts in Lofa County. Lofans in other districts in Lofa County felt Amb. Boakai didn’t care for them. There was undivided loyalty among and between the people of Lofa County regarding Dr. Boakia’s candidacy during the elections. But one young Lofan from the Lorma tribe in Lofa County, who pleaded to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, said: “most Lofans from the other districts in Lofa County deliberately refused to vote for Amb. Boakai, because he was always interested in his tribal people, that is the Kisi people in Foya district. When the VP was in office from 2005 up to present, he didn’t one day visit any of the other districts in Lofa County apart from his beloved Foya district where he visited more than 64 times according to my records. Most Lofans, finally consented that they had been marginalized by the VP’s lukewarm attitudes towards the rest of Lofan in the other districts the VP never visited, not even once”.
“I see this as the promotion of tribalism on the part of Amb. Boakai. The Oldman puts his tribal people, that is the Kisi people above the rest of the other districts in Lofa County, was in mind was a terrible political mistake. Even most of we the young people from Lofa County did not feel the presence of Dr. Boakai in our lives as a father for all Lofans. He was rather a father for few Lofans, that is the Lofans in Foya district which is Dr. Boakai’s district. These are some of the problems associated with the defeat of Amb. Boakai in the presidential elections to the point that most of we the young Lofans had no other choice but to embrace George Weah, with the hope that he George Weah will think about we the young Lofans in Lofa County, since the VP’s Boakai did not have any plan for young Lofans.”
When asked about the huge victory the VP obtained in Lofa County, she replied: “That was just a peanut vote. George Weah wouldn’t have gotten any of the votes in Lofa County if the VP didn’t divide the people of Lofa County by abandoning we the young people in pace of his tribal group from Foya district only.” “I want to let you know that all of these problems took place long before Amb. Boakai ever decided to run for president for the Republic of Liberia.”
“Let me say that some of Amb. Boakai’s campaign officials were told about these problems in Lofa County, but they simply decided either hide the news from him or they were not willing to help the VP move forward. They kept the information until the VP felt from grace to grass. But the VP himself was aware of his own problems in Lofa County.” The lady re-interated. All of these ugly undertakings were nothing short of mere political games to stab the VP in the back. These are some of the reasons why Dr. Boakai was defeated long before the elections were held on Tuesday, December 26, 2017.
The Making of President George Weah With minor hiccups, Liberia has successfully completed three Presidential election cycles- something we haven't seen in our lifetime until now. In spite of the odds, Liberia is proving to the world that western democracy can find a home and flourish in sub Saharan Africa.
Firstly, we would like to congratulate our fellow countrymen/women whose sacrifices have placed the country on an irreversible path of sustainable democracy. Next, the Unity Party led government headed by Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Ambassador Joseph Boakai, deserves our respect and admiration for keeping the country on a democratic path through maintaining the rule of law, respecting citizens' civil liberties, initiating and promoting reconciliatory programs across the country, and conducting peaceful elections. Kudos also to the international community for efforts in supporting and sustaining democratic institutions in the country, including the government itself.
How Did We Get Here?
Like most western democracies, Liberia has had its fair share of civil unrests and war. According to conservative estimates, about 250,000 of our compatriots lost their lives during the Liberian Civil War between 1989-2003. It took about a dozen peace accords before the guns could finally cease. Liberians were scattered across the sub region in refugee camps while more than a million people were internally displaced in their own country. Liberians of all stripes prayed to God for restoration of their nation that had turned into a killing field.
Notable amongst many groups that protested the prolonged war and prayed for its conclusion was the Women In Peacebuilding Network headed by Nobel Peace Prize winner Madam Leymah Gbowee. When the guns finally ceased in 2003 and disarmament of various factions completed in 2004, Liberia successfully held its first post-war elections in 2005. Madam Sirleaf eventually emerged as winner over Ambassador Weah. During Madam Sirleaf's first term, she instituted sweeping policy changes intended to create a small but efficient government with plans to expand the private sector as the main engine of growth and employment in the country.
Madam Sirleaf prevailed on Firestone Rubber Plantation in Liberia to improve the living conditions of its poor Liberian employees. She also lobbied with the international community especially the U.S. Government to waive Liberia's debts and provide the country access to new credit opportunities.
The UP led government also implemented modest infrastructure projects in the country through the rehabilitation of the Roberts International Airport and highway, the paving of a number of community roads/highways, the construction of the Jackson Doe Memorial Hospital in Tappita, amongst others. These efforts by the UP led government were sufficient for the electorate to give the party another mandate in 2011.
The party was flying very high and enjoyed the confidence of at least majority of the Liberian people at this point. UP's Internal Crisis: The Beginning of its Downfall Following the 2011 elections, Unity Party began to experience internal party conflict. This conflict eminated from disagreements amongst hierarchy of the party on formation of the government. Madam Sirleaf prevailed and formed a government that included few prominent members of the opposition including Ambassador Lewis Brown and Eugene Nagbe. The disagreement was so strong that the current Chairman of UP, then Secretary General of the party refused his appointment as deputy minister at the Ministry of Commerce.
It appears as though no one try to resolve the conflict from early 2012 until it became public during the 2014 Senatorial elections when then Secretary General of Unity Party, Wilmot Paye, declared the President's son "Public enemy of the UP" and would be treated as such. Mr. Paye further insinuated during that press conference that Mr. Robert Sirleaf's sexual preference was for people other than women. While the UP was self imploding and destructing, its bitter political rival (CDC) continued to activate its supporters and assured them that state power was not an elusive venture. George Weah/CDC:
The Ordinary People's Hope?
A class system has always existed in our society. During the age of my grandparents, it was Americo Liberians versus those of indigenous descent. Even though some people in our society still point to this divide, the biggest class divide in contemporary times is "educated versus uneducated" or "haves versus have-nots". Whether it's fair or not to the Unity Party, there has been this public sentiment or outcry that the party caters to the rich and powerful in our country; while CDC is the party of the struggling masses. Due to this(real or imaginary)sentiment, there has been periodic tension between government's security forces or the city government on the one hand, and street peddlers/petit traders on the other. And in most cases, these petit traders are members of the CDC. They also come from slum communities in the city that are considered political strongholds of the CDC. CDC was the largest opposition political party in the country for the past 12 years in part due to the commitment of most of its supporters- those especially who have been on the margins of society.
The jubilation that broke out in Monrovia today after NEC announced provincial results of the December 26 runoff, putting CDC in a commanding lead, is a testament that ardent supporters of the party have kept their part of the bargain- they have voted for a party and a candidate they have reposed their confidence. Will the party and President-elect keep their end of the bargain by providing opportunities: jobs, education, a decent life, recognition in society, etc.? Will it be a betrayal of promise or promise kept? Only time will tell! Weah's Electoral Mandate; Prince Johnson's Role As stated earlier in this piece, George Weah has been perceived by many ordinary Liberians as a source of inspiration. He came from a humble beginning to world prominence. From Clara Town to Cameroon. From Paris to Rome. From Rehab Road to the Executive Mansion. Weah has conquered all obstacles placed in his way that would prevent him from achieving a desired goal.
Politically, there are two counties in Liberia that have prevented him from reaching the Executive Mansion in the past: Lofa and Nimba. But, in 2017, he would overcome one of the two obstacles (counties) thus paving his way to the mansion. Weah performed poorly in both counties as usual during the first round of elections in October and it appeared that would be deja vu again. But, this time Weah had a strategy to overcome his Nimba County nightmare. Candidate Weah appeared with Nimba County strongman, Prince Johnson at Prophet TD Joshua's church on a faithful Sunday morning following the first round of elections where no candidate obtained an absolute majority. Weah and his new political ally returned to the country and few days later he was endorsed by Prince Johnson. Critics made mockery of the new political marriage, stating that Johnson could not be trusted. The next day a group of women in Sanniquellie denounced Prince's endorsement of Weah and vowed to vote UP. The rest is history. Prince Johnson campaigned with Weah in Nimba, he kept his word, CDC won Nimba and that was sufficient to crown him President of Liberia. Weah owes a depth of gratitude to his ardent supporters, Prince Johnson, and the people of Nimba. All Liberians should pray for Weah's success because the country's success depends on his success for at least the next 6 years.
About the Author:
Samuel Barbay Gaye, Jr., holds a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, MN. He lives in New Jersey with his family.
“Democracy Is The System of Government That Surpasses all Others”
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says democracy is the system of government that surpasses all others; grounded in rule-of-law, respect for individual and human rights, and for institutions, which can arbitrate between competing political interests on behalf of the people.
According to a dispatch from the U.S. the Liberian leader was speaking on Wednesday, December 6, 2017 at Georgetown University during a forum on the theme: “Women’s Political Leadership in Africa: The Next Generation”.
Addressing the gathering, President Sirleaf said: “I accepted this invitation months ago, believing that Liberia’s historic 2017 elections, an event marking the first time since 1944 that presidential authority would be transferred democratically from one elected leader to another, would have been completed. It has not. In fact, it has become more complicated, but that is the nature of a post conflict democracy.”
She recalled that in the past, close to twelve years of her Presidency, she promoted democracy, protected fundamental freedom and encouraged an open society. President Sirleaf said there were many times when she wondered if she had it right; if under the circumstances of a war-torn country like Liberia, there were alternatives that would lead to more civic responsibility and accelerated development.
President Sirleaf averred that “Yet democracy, as we all know, can be messy. It can be unpredictable. Recent cases in point are Liberia, Kenya, Zimbabwe and even the United States. As many of you may know, no one candidate running in Liberia’s October 10thpresidential election was able to meet the threshold required by our constitution to secure a victory. As such, a run-off election was required.
The Liberian Chief Executive informed her audience that the first-round election results were challenged by three contesting political parties through formal procedures as defined under Liberia’s electoral law. As a result, the Supreme Court placed a stay order on the presidential run-off.”
She said since that time, the National Elections Commission (NEC) conducted hearings and finally ruled that there was no systematic fraud in the first-round election, and that the run-off election should proceed. The Supreme Court is now deliberating an appeal of the challenging parties to this decision - although in the meanwhile anxiety amounts as Liberians await a decision.
“So today, we find ourselves still in the electoral period. Liberia has yet to decide who its next leader will be, but this is a decision that belongs to the people and the people alone. And I maintain full confidence that our institutions are working to ensure the integrity of the process. A technical team from the Economic Community of West Africa States is now in country to assess the results of the first round and provide technical assistance to NEC to strengthen their capacity for the run-off,” she pointed out.
President Sirleaf noted that Liberians are watching democracy play out in a compelling demonstration that the institutions we have built following 30 years of conflict are strong and resilient. These institutions – she assured, are laying the foundation for our next generation of democratically elected leaders. President Sirleaf said: “It is worth noting, and applauding, that during this time of uncertainty, almost two months now, there has not been a single act of violence. While partisan rhetoric has been heated, the Liberian people have remained patient and calm.”
She indicated: “It is clear that the ballot box has replaced bullets and electoral disputes are settled through the courts. I take pride as a woman in the fact that this transformation has taken place under my leadership. I wish that I could say more about this ongoing experience but as the matter is before the Court, I will focus the remainder of my remarks on women’s political participation in Africa: the progress we have made, and the challenges that remain.”
Focusing on the theme, President Sirleaf said African women have made great strides - expanding their roles in political participation at virtually all levels of government. This, she noted is certainly worth noting and worth celebrating. “Over the course of the last 20 years, sub-Saharan Africa has boasted some of the most dramatic breakthroughs in women’s political representation in national legislative bodies. According to the Brookings Institution, the number of female legislators on the continent grew from 9.8 percent in 1995 to 23.2 percent in 2016. In comparison, Europe, excluding the Nordic nations, comes in at 24.3 percent and the Americas at 27.7 percent,” she underscored.
She reminded the forum that - at the national level, five of the world’s top 15 countries for the number of women serving in parliament are found in Africa. “Rwanda, under the leadership of President Paul Kagame, stands out with the highest ratio at 61 percent, followed by South Africa, Senegal, Namibia and Mozambique. Eight African countries have parliaments with more than 30% female membership,” she historicized.
These numbers, President Sirleaf observed - taken at face value, show 22 African countries outperforming more developed countries across the globe, including the United States, where the current Congress is composed of less than 20 percent women. She said in Liberia’s October 10th elections, an unprecedented number of women ran for political office, including one presidential candidate and six vice presidential candidates. “This is significant progress for women’s leadership in Liberia but, admittedly, much more remains to be done both in my country and across Africa,” she highlighted.
According to President Sirleaf, the growing number of women in political leadership roles across the continent is, partially, a result of deliberate policy decisions supported and sometimes demanded by civil society. In response, at least 16 countries have parity legislation and quota systems in place. But, it is becoming increasingly evident that top-down legal and constitutional changes will be insufficient on their own in the long run to bring the equality that women seek.
On a number of questions for all of us to consider; she reckoned: “Do these increased strides represent a true rise in the power of women in national decision making? Is such progress, fundamental and sustainable, or superficial and temporary”?
Interestingly, President Sirleaf alluded to a 2016 McKinsey and Company report: “Women Matter Africa, found an increased number of women in legislative bodies and cabinet positions do not necessarily translate to greater political influence. Approximately half of female cabinet ministers hold social welfare portfolios, with arguably limited political influence and no direct path towards top leadership roles. African women ministers are half as likely as their male peers to be appointed to influential portfolios. This limits the redistribution of real political power.”
Said President Sirleaf: “I, as Head of State, have had my own limitations. As of 6th December, 2017, we have not passed the Domestic Violence Laws due to the battle with the Legislature who continue to view the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a valid cultural practice. Admittedly, I am running out of time, but will continue to work with the many progressive men of the Legislature to pass this law before the end of my Administration. That is my promise.”
Regarding why do we continue to face limitations; President Sirleaf said there are many reasons, but for her, there are two, which stand out. First, women, by definition, are generally political outsiders in Africa. They represent change, greater democracy and transparency. She intimated that although women at all levels continue to find their voices, we are still regarded as a threat to the status quo.
Second, political party structures continue to be hierarchical, and based upon patronage and patriarchy. This must change. There must be a global effort to ensure that women have access to resources and networks required to propel them to positions of power in government. A 2011 United Nations General Assembly resolution aptly reads, “Women in every part of the world continue to be largely marginalized from the political sphere, often as a result of discriminatory laws, practices, attitudes and gender stereotypes, low levels of education, lack of access to health care and the disproportionate effect of poverty on women.”
“Statistics can paint an incomplete picture, leading us to believe that we should conceptualize political leadership in vertical manner –as a ladder that men and women ascend. Today, I would like to invite you to challenge that image. We must reach beyond counting and analyzing the few women at the highest levels of politics and transition into building and sustaining a strong and well-resourced horizontal bench for the next generation of leaders,” she stressed.
President Sirleaf said “This horizontal bench should exist across a wider cross-section of society and address the multifaceted challenges and social norms which marginalize women, stifling both their voices and their potential. This should start at the grassroots level with reinforced regulations and institutions, which codify and uphold the rights of women and girls.”
She argued that the stage to empower women’s political participation begins when households and communities denounce the subordination of women, when the girl child is entitled to the same educational opportunities as her brother. She maintained that there is much to be done in Liberia in this regard, but added she was glad that today, in even the remotest village a woman will stand up in a Town Hall Meeting and say “Thank you, Madam President, I now have a voice in decision making. I am glad that a little girl can challenge her marginalization on the basis that a woman is President.”
President Sirleaf concluded as saying: “In a few weeks, in compliance with the constitution, I will hand over leadership to another democratically elected president, which for Liberia, will be first time in 74 years. It is an example I hope my African contemporaries will follow. I will leave behind a nation transformed from despair to hope; from a destroyed nation, to one with a functional government and an open democratic society from a pariah state to a post conflict success story. Many of you in this room played a part in this transformation and I thank you.”
The occasion was graced by former U.S. Ambassador to Liberia - Linda Thomas-Greenfield, former Minister of Finance, Ms. Antoinette Monsio Sayeh, longtime colleague - Steve Radelet, Georgetown University family, members of Liberia’s Mission in Washington, among others.
Liberia’s recent history is characterized by political disputes, and a cataclysmic civil war which reports say led to the death of more than 2000 thousand people. The country’s recent history also recalls the election of the first woman president in Africa in 2005. Twelve years later, the president is struggling to deliver a smooth transition to the Liberian people.
In the build up to the October 10, 2017 elections, the President came under a fusillade of criticisms, in some cases, she was insulted by members of her political party. Her main wrongdoing has been her refusal to support her own political party, which ushered her to the presidency, and her negation of the man who stood with her for twelve years as her vice president. By losing the support of the president, Vice President, Mr. Joseph Boakai has lost the moral and political support he craves as the chosen successor. He also lost the financial resources he would have received from government to lunch a credible campaign.
Meanwhile, Madam President has been accused of delivering this critical support to the opposition, first to the Liberty Party of Charles Brumskine, and later the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) of the internationally acclaimed footballer George Weah. The October 10, 2017 elections were conducted peacefully as everyone had hoped. No sooner the results were announced that George Weah and Joseph Boakai would face each other in a run-off, Charles Brumskine of the Liberty Party refused to accept the results, alleging fraud and irregularities and filed a complaint with the National Elections Commission (NEC). The NEC, conscious of its rules and mandate, set a date for the run-off, but Charles Brumskine took exception and filed a complaint to the Supreme Court, seeking prohibition against holding of the run-off before he is accorded due process by NEC.
The High Court agreed with him and ordered the National Elections Commission (NEC) not to conduct the run-off election…… “until the complaint filed by the petitioner is investigated by NEC, and, if need be, the appropriate appeal process to the Supreme Court of Liberia is availed and the matter is decided by the Supreme Court.”
The High Court further said “Given the critical nature of the complaint, subject of these prohibition proceedings, and its implication on governance of the nation, the NEC is directed to give urgent attention to the expeditious hearing and determination thereof…”
By the time the Supreme Court handed down its ruling, it was clear that no matter what the NEC did, Charles Brumskine would return to the Court with an appeal. This is the game plan to stall the run-off and ensure that by 15 January 2018, the current government becomes illegal, paving the way for all to now begin the scramble for positions in an interim government.. Reports of delays are therefore not surprising because that is precisely what the Liberty Party and the Unity Party desire in the hope that this matter drags on beyond the mandate of the current government.
Running down the mandate of the current government and creating a leadership vacuum in the country is fraught with challenges. Firstly, the question of succession will arise. Secondly, arguments will be made about the formation of an interim government, which could exacerbate the prevailing polarization among political parties and other stakeholders in the country.
Not unexpectedly, I have read from the FrontpageAfrica Publication, that Liberty Party and Unity Party issued a joint statement on November 16, 2017, in which they alluded to succession provisions of the Liberian Constitution in the event that the mandate of the current government expires. In my view, Liberia needs to be careful here, and this is why.
Legal ramifications associated with succession in this case should not be taken lightly. Under Article 63(b) of the Liberian Constitution, “Whenever the office of the President shall become vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, or the President shall be declared incapable of carrying out the duties and functions of his office, the Vice President shall succeed to the office of President to complete the unexpired term.” This implies, in my view, and legally appropriate, a government in office, or a CONTINUING GOVERNMENT whose chief executive cannot perform his functions for obvious reasons. Emphasis in this provision should be placed on UNEXPIRED TERM. In other words, this provision does not speak to a situation where the mandate of the government has expired. Simply put, after January 15, 2018, there would have been no government. The framers of the Constitution did not foresee what could become a conundrum.
By January 15, 2018, without a new government being inaugurated, the Executive Branch of Liberian Government would have suffered a leadership deficit. And since the Vice President who is a contender in the election saga cannot succeed to the office of the President, also because there would have been no UNEXPIRED TERM to complete, any succession arrangement under Article 63 (b) of the Constitution would have no legal basis. In a CONTINUING ADMINISTRATION, the Speaker would be in direct line of succession under Article 64 of the Constitution. However, the Speaker is also a contender and the government by January 15, 2018, would have had no mandate for him to succeed to.
The National Legislature has to convene in its 54th session to elect a new leadership but this is further complicated by the fact that a large number of members of the lower house were only recently elected during the October 10, 2017 elections. Will NEC be allowed to certificate them under an election whose results are being challenged? Failing their induction the House of Representatives will not be able to elect a new Speaker and could further lack quorum to carry out any business. There will be no legal basis for the Deputy Speaker to ascend to the office of President under Article 64 for the same reason that there will be no governing administration. Under the same article 64, “Members of the Cabinet in the order of precedence should succeed to the office of President when the Deputy Speaker is barred. Here again, cabinet ministers would not have legal basis to continue to function in their respective duties under an executive branch without a head and a mandate.
There have been assertions that the President Pro Tempore of the Senate would succeed to the office of President. This too doesn’t seem to have any constitutional basis and may not be constructive.
In the event the succession provisions cannot resolve the impasse, there will be calls for formation of an interim government. The age old division in Liberia will emerge again and political parties and stakeholders will queue to go to another Akosombo or Abuja conference to form an interim government. There will be crisis. This internal problem of Liberia will again threaten the peace, security and stability of the sub-region, especially neighboring states.
The international community has invested a lot to safe Liberia and keep it peaceful. There should be no going back to anarchy and brutality. Liberty Party and Unity party should see reason to withdraw their complaints. They have made the point, and NEC will learn from its mistakes. Liberia now needs to move on. LIBERIA SHOULD NOT BECOME PARIAH AND A DISTABILIZER AGAIN.
BBA, LL.B, MA
Developing political events/issues of national/international significance concerned with Mr. George Weah, motivated this write-up. Although I have not met nor did I know young George Weah before or played any role, personally, in the “discovery, aiding and promoting” the young man to his world soccer fame, but as the senior “Pappy” of the Clan credited with Mr. George Weah’s rise, also, to national/international political fame, I am honored and pleased to be his natural, reasonable support.
Weah’s Political Problems Like, almost, all young (and old) and rising politicians, the issues of training, money and related problems are inherent in the political process and that the issues are not unexpected, especially, for the young, given the usual peer pressure, cultural flux and all other critical issues of today’s modern, political world.
To many observers, King George Weah’s problem is “Weah na no book” or that Weah lacks “book or academic knowledge”, while others (we fall in this group) hold that Weah’s major problem is not so much the absence of book knowledge, as such, but:
Firstly, it is the absence of the requisite political training/experience, the required executive management concerned with the problems of the people or group dynamics; and
Secondly, the lack of on-ground, in Liberia involvement, experience and knowledge of socio-cultural, economic and political dynamics of who says and does what to whom, why, where, when, where and how, and the context of these dynamics.
In these days of vicious, intensive “dog-eat-dog” world of political competition, it is necessary, indeed mandatory, to gain in-depth knowledge and experience of the political dynamics from bottom to top, not from top to bottom. Specifically, King George Weah:
1. Sold his “Political Soul” to the political Devil-in-Chief, Mr. Charles Taylor, who is now in prison for 50 years for Political Crimes Against Humanity. Apparently, King George Weah does not know Mr. Taylor, the anti-social revolutionary, but flamboyant center-stage seeker and “play-boy” political actor whose inordinate greed for power and money took him from here, Liberia, to Sierra Leone for the diamonds, to the International Criminal Court and you know the rest - to prison.
2. Surrounds himself by graduates of the civil war - child soldiers, and elements that looted, destroyed, killed indiscriminately and some human rights violators, now the major source of high crimes and disobedience of law. King George Weah has already announced that there will be no human right court in Liberia during CDC administration.
3. One of Mr. Weah’s major problems is that he knows not those who are his friends or enemies. Although he lost twice to EJS, but he is now playing ball with her, and the sly-fox manipulator is now bank-rolling him in return for protection from prosecution for alleged war crimes. Meanwhile, Mr. Charles Taylor’s ex-wife snoozed him to become his Vice Standard Bearer while, also, she is in touch with US officials for release of Mr. Taylor. George Weah may not be around, politically, when Taylor comes home, takes command and becomes the Vice’s husband, again!!
4. Weah is now Prince Johnson’s endorsed candidate for President of Liberia. He (PYJ) took Weah to the politically-famous Nigerian Pastor in Lagos a few days ago for Devine endorsement/intervention. But PYJ is pictured below brandishing an AK-47 surrounded by heavily-armed fighters with the statement that “Liberia will back to war if Weah becomes President”.
5. Then there are thousands of the usual sycophants who are or want to cash in on Weah’ popularity. Some know about Mr. Weah’s political short-comings, that “he does not have it”, but are willing to go along for the ride, and benefits.
And finally, King George Weah’s soccer popularity is not transferrable to political popularity without the required executive political management training and experience, which he does not possess, nor any of his Rebel Aides.
1. Welcome to this press conference and update on the presidential runoff elections.
2. I want to highlight and respond to arising issues including:
a. Complaints and appeals process;
b. Status update;
c. Claims being made by political parties.
Complaints and appeals process
1. On the request of the Liberty Party, the Supreme Court has issued a Writ of Prohibition ordering the National Elections Commission to stop preparations for the organisation of the 7 November 2017 runoff election until the complaint and petition of this political party is concluded. The National Elections Commission, in line with this order, will follow the court’s instructions. This means all activities in preparation for the presidential runoff election are suspended and will not be resumed until the court orders otherwise.
2. The loss of today due to the Order already means the 7 November 2017 date that was set for the runoff presidential elections does not look possible to meet.
3. Prior to the Supreme Court Stay Order election preparations were on track. Ballot papers arrived as scheduled on 28 September 2017. Packing has been on-going and ballot papers and other sensitive material were being prepared and despatched to centres across the country.
4. Parts of the shipments of material had already arrived in Maryland, Grand Kru, River Gee and Grand Gedeh at the time of the Order. Today shipments were scheduled for the remaining material to Maryland and River Gee as well as Upper and Lower Nimba, Margibi and Upper and Lower Bong. These are suspended, and in some cases, they were recalled back to the warehouses as they were en route. Tomorrow deliveries were scheduled for Bomi, Grand Bassa, Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe as well as parts of Montserrado. These are suspended.
5. Training of National Elections Commission staff is suspended. Magistrate and Election Supervisor training was completed before the Stay Order was issued. Training that was scheduled to commence today for presiding officers has been suspended in line with the Order. Presiding Officers from across the country had arrived at training centres at the time of the Order. Training for the polling staff scheduled for the 3 and 4 November 2017 is suspended. The training of all staff was supposed to be completed on 5 November 2017 to allow staff members to reach their polling places.
6. The National Elections Commission has requested its partners carrying out civic and voter education to suspend activities.
Claims being made by political parties
7. There are a number of claims regarding the integrity of the 10 October 2017 elections being made by political parties. It is essential these claims be submitted in the form of complaints and evidence produced in support. The legal framework clearly outlines a legal process for complaints and the National Elections Commission follows this framework. And there is a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
8. The Commission appeals to all political parties to use the appropriate channels to air grievances and complaints. The National Elections Commission recognises their right to freedom of speech, but announcing unsupported claims in the media risks inflaming the situation and dividing people.
9. On one point raised in a joint statement this weekend from the three political parties the National Elections Commission reassures all stakeholders the President of Liberia has met the magistrates on the request of the National Elections Commission on 17 September 2017. As head of state the president has supported the National Elections Commission strongly in its mandate to hold free and fair elections. The Government as well as other branches of the state are a stakeholder and the National Elections Commission has a duty to engage all stakeholders in its work.
10. At no point has the National Elections Commission’s independence been questioned by the president. The meeting was simply to highlight the importance of these elections to the citizens of Liberia. And to encourage the magistrates to do a professional job and be independent. The National Elections Commission is independent and will fiercely defend that independence at all times.
11. The National Elections Commission wants to stress that these elections were free, fair and credible. It stands by the election results published.
12. All of the international and national election observers have concluded that so far the election process has been well conducted, transparent and credible. None of them have identified any fraud in the election process. There were some lapses in places, but in nowhere did this impact on the results of the elections.
13. The claim that ballot papers were found dumped in Grand Gedeh County has been investigated and we have the material that was allegedly discovered for inspection. These are not ballot papers at all but parts of the ‘know your candidate’ civic education that was distributed by the National Elections Commission. There is no way at all anybody can vote with these since they do not have the security feature and are different sizes to ballot papers.
14. At every stage of the elections the process is transparent and open to scrutiny. The steps the National Elections Commission takes are fully in line with international best practice.
15. The National Elections Commission calls on all political parties to be responsible in the claims they are making.
16. More updates will be issued throughout the next days. And the National Elections Commission awaits legal clarity on its preparations.
Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya
A new study jointly released by the African Development Band and OpenOil, a Berlin-based financial analysis firm has revealed how African Governments use financial models to manage the oil and gas sectors and mining projects.
“This report is the first of its kind in Africa and we hope that it will stir debate within the continent’s mining sector and contribute to countries getting more out of their mining projects,” they told the participants.
The report was launched at the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) in Geneva, Switzerland. Over 150 experts and representatives of international development institutions, governments, civil society and extractives companies attended the launch. These included the World Bank, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Mining companies and miners’ associations such as Newmont Mining Corporation, AngloGold Ashanti, Anglo American and International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) also attended. The joint report was presented by Pietro Toigo of the AfDB’s African Natural Resources Center and Olumide Abimbola from OpenOil.
The report, Running the Numbers: How African Governments Model Extractive Projects, analyses the capacity of 19 African resource-rich countries to use financial models, which simulate a simplified version of a real-world project in order to determine their financial benefits to the countries. AfDB and OpenOil conducted a survey of nearly 50 government officials to illustrate not only how widespread use of financial models is, but also how their results are utilised to inform policy.
“Financial models are essential throughout the life-cycle of extractive projects,” said Johnny West, Director of OpenOil. “They are not just important during the development of the fiscal regime, but also for the negotiation of fiscal terms with companies, for revenue forecasting, and for auditing and tax-gap analysis.” “This report not only stresses the need for African Governments to make efforts to close the information gap with extractive companies, but also shows where there are capacity gaps and how those gaps could be addressed,” Traore said, urging development partners to invest more in capacity building.
Also, there is a substantial gap in access to data that are key inputs for financial models in African countries, with the largest gaps in assessing information on capital costs and operating costs of projects. In addition to the need to build in-house financial modelling capacity, the report suggests that governments need to improve internal business processes and address the large gap that the report shows exist between information available to different agencies, departments and ministries.
“This study forms a crucial part of the Center’s support to African countries in realising the full potential of their natural resources”, Traore said. “How are countries supposed to enter into negotiations with extraction companies that use financial models if the governments of such countries are not in possession of the latest and best models to calculate what a potential project is worth?” Toigo asked.
The report also encourages development partners to make capacity building in financial modeling a more significant part of their support to the management of extractive resources. Partners doing so already were encouraged to not just supply financial models as part of isolated technical assistance, but to also invest in equipping government officials with skills to create and use models.-Press release