Politics

NEC receives over US$2 Million

The National Elections Commission or NEC says it has received over US$2 million for the holding of the delayed senatorial by-elections in Bong and Montserrado counties, respectively.


The Commission had earlier complained of financial constraints after its initial budget of US$3.9 Million for the two by-elections was sliced by the Ministry of Finance to US$2.7 Million with only $500,000 initially provided.

But Chairman Jerome George Korkoya told a news conference here that he has received additional money that could help jumpstart the exercise.Addressing reporters on Wednesday, May 23, at the NEC headquarters in the Sinkor suburb of Monrvia, Chairman Korkoya says the commission has been meeting with relevant stakeholders to resolve the funding issue. “I am pleased to inform you that the Liberian government has provided additional US$1,009,938 for the by-elections. Earlier, the government had provided US$500,000; this brings the total amount provided by the government to US$1, 009, 938,” the NEC boss explains.

He says partners, including the United Nations Development Programme, the European Union, Sweden, Irish Aid and Canada have committed US$565,835, adding that the United States Agency for International Development or USAID through the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) committed US$11,450 to the electoral process.

He discloses the total amount received and committed so far for the conduct of the senatorial by-elections is US$2,087,223.He however says there is an outstanding amount of US$690,706.45 from the total budget of US$2,777,929.45 agreed upon by the NEC and the government for the two by-elections.

“With the amount on hand, the commission is consummating agreements for international procurement for the printing of ballots and provision of pre-packed kits for the elections,” he assures.

Cllr, Korkoya explains that the Commission has concluded nomination of candidates for the by-elections, detailing, “Eleven of the twelve aspirants processed have been notified of the acceptance of their nomination applications. Complaint against Bong County Representative Marvin Cole, the senatorial aspirant on the ticket of the Coalition for Democratic Change is being heard by the independent hearing officer.”

He notes that with the financial issue significantly resolved, new date for the holding of the by-elections is next concern of the board of commissioners.“As you are aware, the NEC is without authority to set a new date. The Commission is therefore, holding consultation with relevant authorities of the government to remedy the date issue. NEC will inform the Liberian people on the new date for the by-elections as soon as those consultations are concluded,” Korkoya concludes.

The two by-elections are intended to fill seats left vacant as the result of the election of former senators George Manneh Weah and Jewel Howard Taylor to the Presidency in 2017.

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

Who replaces Justice Banks?

The search for a replacement for Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks, who retires from the Supreme Court bench in June, is currently ongoing with the Executive said to be going all out to find a suitable candidate.


President George Manneh Weah is reportedly looking deep within his ruling Coalition for Democratic Change to find a caliber or cream of lawyer that can meet, if not surpass, the pedigree of the man who publicly boasted here recently that his private library is more up to date than the Supreme Court’s.

Finding a pick to step in the shoes of the 1976 graduate of Yale Law School, United States of America, might probably require more than it seems on the surface. And perhaps no one better understands that than the President himself.

Statutory age tenure on the high court bench is 70, and Justice Banks turns three scores-ten next month, which is also lifespan of man, as inscribes in the Holy Bible.

The New Dawn has been periscoping the legal landscape of Liberia, which lost two of its brightest minds in less than a month with the latest being the former Dean of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law, University of Liberia, Cllr. David A.B. Jallah, to suggest who probably could be the President’s pick.

Cllr. Jallah reportedly succumbed to the long hand of death over the weekend, suddenly at the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town, outskirt of Monrovia.This paper’s lenses have been directed at two experienced lawyers, who according to sources, President Weah is eying within the Coalition to appoint a successor for Cllr. Banks.

The names of Sinoe County Senator Cllr. Joseph Nagbe, and Deputy Agriculture Minister Cllr. Sayma Syrenius Cephus, both staunch members of the ruling CDC, have emerged with either of the two speculatively poised to be announced by the President to sit on the Supreme Court bench.

Cllr. Cephus, an Agronomist and former media practitioner, served as legal counsel for President Weah’s Congress for Democratic Change party (now Coalition for Democratic Change) for several years prior to its victory in 2017.

He joined the Coalition government about three months after he was nominated by President Weah and subsequently confirmed by Senate, as Deputy Minister for Agriculture.

Similarly, Senator Joseph Nagbe has been a close ally of the CDC. On 10 May Senator Milton Teahjay, perhaps unknowingly gave a hint about who is being tipped to replace Justice Banks when he revealed that he would soon be the only Senator for his native Sinoe County, while making a motion on the senate floor during session last week Thursday after he was recognized by Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, who presided.

“I will soon be the only Sinoe County Senator; after all, people will not be here forever, as my colleague prepares to transition to the other side,” Teahjay hinted.
Recently, at the headquarters of the CDC where Cllr. Augustine Chea had gone to declare his membership, Sinoe County Superintendent Lee Nagbe Chea noted that the coming of Cllr. Chea should not been construed as to tussle for job, but to contest on the ruling Coalition’s ticket in an eventual senatorial by-election for Sinoe, which seems to suggest if Cllr. Nagbe were to be nominated to the high court bench by President Weah, by-election would be automatically imminent in the county to fill the vacant seat that could be created in June.

Also speaking at that program, CDC National Chairman Mulbah Morlu said the decision by Cllr. Chea to make a comeback to the party is in the right direction, and would beef up the numerical strength of the already ruling establishment.

Other names for the prestigious judicial post could emerge, even as the countdown for Cllr. Banks to step down draws closer, but the ultimate choice certainly lies with the President.

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

GAC threatens boycott

Liberia’s Auditor General Madam Yusador S. Gaye told the just ended cabinet retreat that, auditors would pull out of audits if auditees delay in putting together relevant documents needed for their review. She said the plan is part of the GAC’s new measures for the coming year.


“... I will take a new approach. If we go in and you are wasting our time for audit, we’re going to pull out … until you get ready,” Madam Gaye said last week in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County at a Cabinet Retreat.

Her statement drew concerns from Foreign Minister Gbehzhongar Findley who questioned why she would walk away from her constitutional and statutory mandates to audit.

He argues that she must insist on conducting audit instead of walking away, reminding her of her responsibility to the State and the people of Liberia that she needs to execute.

Madam Gaye conceded and clarifies that by saying she would walk away in no mean suggest that such institution won’t be audited. Instead, she says she meant that the auditee is not ready so they must get their papers together and she will give time to do that audit.

She suggests that regulations that are put in place here including the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) Laws and Public Financial Management (PFM) Laws need to be followed, or be cancelled if they are not needed.

“If you have put in your own laws, you need to be able to follow [them], such as the Decent Work Act ...,” she says.She observes that most times when institutions hear that auditors are coming, they would tend to hide all the things in the closets and when GAC asks for documentation, they can’t be found.

Madam Gaye wondered why public officials would conceal documents relating to money which has been spent by such institution that is due to face audit.
She said such attitude puts the anti-graft agency in a position where most of its audit opinions are disclaimers because without the documentation, the Commission cannot determine if said spending made by the institution is correct or wrong.
The GAC boss said these are some of the factors which have over the years contributed to the delay in the GAC concluding audits speedily.According to her, the way forward is for Internal Audit Agency (IAA) to work with the GAC and the Liberia Anti - Corruption Commission (LACC), adding that when they do recommendations they must be implemented.

Liberia is the 122 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. The Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries and territories based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be, and a country or territory's rank indicates its position relative to the other countries and territories in the index.

By Winston W. Parley

IREDD on lawmakers’ campaign promises

The Institute for Research and Democratic Development or IREDD catalogs campaign promises by lawmakers during the 2017 elections.Addressing a news conference in Monrovia this week, May 21, Executive Director Harold Aidoo said the Liberian Legislature over the past 12 years has had a rather checked image problem.


“What we’ve documented over the past 12 years is that, there is a clear lack of mechanism that will ensure the accountability of the elected representatives. Beyond elections, there is no means of tracking promises of elected officials as often these promises are not documented, and citizens themselves rely only on what their personal expectations are of a particular lawmaker during an election year to make a decision,” he notes.

According to him, IREDD has no way of documenting and validating campaign promises of members of the House of Representatives in the 54th Liberian Legislature who contested under banners of political parties, noting that many of the promises made by legislators are extremely broad and not time bound.

“We believe this is an important first step in deepening Liberia’s democracy and a tool that can be used to hold legislators accountable by citizens,” Mr. Aidoo underscores.

He explains, “Like many democratic institutions in post-war environment, the legislature had had its fair share of challenges. The public perception about the legislature has not been pleasant. Citizens have often accused legislators of either not being sensitive to the plight of ordinary Liberians or not working for their interest. This public perception has led to an average turnover of 60 percent at the legislature since the 52nd Legislature.”

Mr. Aidoo agues strongly that many of the reasons used by citizens to vote in or vote out lawmakers are not founded on democratic principles, primarily because the level of education and awareness about the role of lawmakers among the population still remains low.

By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor

SDPL willing to comply with recommendations

The Management of Sime Darby expresses its willingness to comply with recent recommendations by members of the House of Representatives.


Speaker before lawmakers Tuesday at the Capitol during hearing the head of operations at Sime Darby Ali Kamal, said management is willing to comply with all 15-count recommendations one by one in line with timetable provided.

The House issued three ultimatums to the company, ranging from one month to a year to improve its basic services, operations and tackle claims of bad labor practices or else, risks contempt.

Among others, the lawmakers recommend that Sime Darby installs pipe-borne water and constructs latrines at school campuses, camp sites and other places in the plantation within 30 days as well as hire qualified Liberians to occupy senior managerial posts in three months, respectively.
They also want the company to remove and replace asbestos roofing sheets; provide healthcare for family members of all contractors, and that salary of teachers, nurses, security officers and all other professional staff be corresponding with their qualifications and positions, including equipping science laboratory and library of school operated by SDPL, among other in a year.

At the same time Montserrado County Representative Saah Joseph, wants Sime Darby to take care of the health needs John Davies, who was videotaped being toured for allegedly stealing a palm bunch in the company’s plantation.

The victim told reporters that since the incident, he has been feeling pain. For his part, the Director General for the National Bureau of Concession Gregory Coleman says he would work with SDPL Management in ensuring ity complies accordingly.

By Bridgett Milton-Editing by Jonathan Browne

U.S. Ambassador visits A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine

United States Ambassador to Liberia Christine Elder visited the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine (AMD) Wednesday, 23 May as part of a high-level visit to observe a new eLearning- platform implemented by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) through support from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).


Ambassador Elder was welcomed by Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, Vice President, University of Liberia College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Z’Sherman Adams Jr., Dean, A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine.
The eLearning platform used at the college is intended to improve teaching and learning at AMD, boost the number of qualified doctors, reduce the workload on lecturers, and be scalable in the future.
The program is part of HRSA’s Resilient and Responsive Health Systems (RRHS) Initiative, a five-year US$9.5 million grant. It is a component of Liberia’s national Health Workforce Program, a seven-year inter-ministerial initiative designed to achieve targeted improvements in the quality, quantity, and skill diversity of the national health workforce.
The goal is to also improve access to safe and quality health services in Liberia.
The prime recipient of the RRHS grant, Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, subcontracts three other institutions, including Yale School of Medicine, that are working to strengthen the health worker education system in Liberia.
Both Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Yale School of Medicine work at A.M. Dogliotti School of Medicine on a range of interventions, including strategic planning, curriculum restructuring, and permanent faculty development through teaching apprenticeships and study abroad.
It also supports the visiting faculty, new campus development, pedagogy improvement, and eLearning platform development.
During the visit, the delegation received an eLearning demonstration and spoke with faculty and students about the impact that the intervention has had.
Ambassador Elder said, “A key priority of the U.S. government’s work in Liberia is to improve the general health status of Liberians and to strengthen its health care delivery system.
The eLearning platform used at AMD represents an important contribution toward achieving that
goal by improving the world-class preparation of medical students and faculty and attracting more Liberian men and women to the profession.”
Also attending the event was Dr. Myat Htoo Razak, Director of the Division of Global Programs at HRSA.
The A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine (AMD), founded in 1968 as part of the University of Liberia, is Liberia’s only medical college.
The college has a five-year medical pre-service program modeled on the U.S. training model. AMD has graduated 392 medical practitioners since its inception in 1968, with continued growth in the past 10 years.
AMD graduates approximately 40 medical professionals per year. The total student enrolment for 2015–2016 was 201 students.
There are 31 instructors at the College, including those working part-time.--Press release

UK Backs Liberia’s return to the Inter- Parliamentary Union

The governments of the United Kingdom and Liberia- have recounted the pioneering role of both countries that proudly culminated into the establishment of the global parliamentary network: the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).


The Vice-Chair of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU), Lord John Whittingdale - opined that such important epoch has formed the basis for substantive discourse and cooperation around global governance and leadership between parliaments of the world.

Presenting a plaque- in honour of the delegation from the lower house of the Liberian legislature, while celebrating the historic ties that continue to foster between the UK and Liberia, Lord Whittingdale stressed that Liberia’s re-entry to the global Parliamentary network is a matter of both historic importance and contemporary relevance.

Lord Whittingdale recognises - that Liberia continues to broaden its democratic space while improving citizens’ participation- assuring that the United Kingdom looks forward to deepening its relations with Liberia via the IPU framework.

According to a dispatch from London, The BGIPU Vice-Chair intoned that the visit of the Liberian delegation to the Westminster Parliament has rekindled the profound spirit of cooperation with their counterparts in Liberia.

Responding, the head of the Liberian delegation, Hon Johnson Gwaikolo, ideally situated Liberia’s pathway to returning to the fold of the global Parliament forum, despite periodic inactivity. He recalled Liberia’s delegation to Santiago, Chile during the early 90s; where he and other colleagues presented Liberia’s case for realignment, notwithstanding the state of uneasiness Liberia was dealing with.

He asserted that Liberia’s democratic transformation has witnessed a vigorous interaction with the comity of Nations; where Liberia is fully represented at regional and international Parliamentary levels, referencing ECOWAS, African Union amongst others.

Representative Gwaikolo emphasized Liberia’s commitment to adopt a more progressive re-engagement through the Inter-Parliamentary Union framework, the IPU; he commended his colleagues at the British Parliament and British Group of the( BGIPU)- for the recognition and reflection of how far both nations share in common.

Rep Gwaikolo expressed the hope that history and emerging dynamics will form the basis for the new dimension for UK-Liberia relations; exploring increased collaboration and maintaining strategic partnership with their counterparts in Westminster.
A delegation from the House of Representative in Liberia- was guest of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary (BGIPU) - holding discussions with the British Parliament on matters concerning International development and increasing British Private capital n Liberia.
The delegation was in London from the 7-11 of May 2018.

The members of the delegation included: Nimba County Representative and Co-chair of the Committee on Public Works, Hon Johnson Gwaikolo.Montserrado County Representative and Chair of the Modernisation Committee, Hon Rustonlyn Dennis. Others were Rivercess County Representative and Chair of the Committee on Internal Affairs, Hon Byron Zahnwea; Lofa County Representative and Chair of the Committee on Gender Equity and Child Development, Hon Julie F. Wiah; and Maryland County Representative Mike Jurry, who’s also Co- Chair on The Committee on Education. The delegation also included, the Chief Clerk of the House of Representative, Madam Mildred Sayon.

Lawmaker wants increased allotment for young people

Nimba County District #7 Rep. Roger S. Domah is calling on his colleagues at the Legislature to improve allotment for young people’s program here.He made the call Wednesday, 23 May while being certificated by the Concerned Student Group of Liberia as Best Legislative Humanitarian based on his outstanding and extra performances in the private sector and government.


As the 2018- 2019 budget is being presented to Legislature, Rep. Domah observes that the allotment of US$70,000.00 for young people is unrealistic.He expresses hope that the conversation ongoing at the Legislature can help improve on the allotment made for young people’s program such as the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) and others.

He says young people’s programs need to be improved because they make up larger portion of the society. Rep. Domah thanked the group for the recognition and promise to work with them at any time.

He says his coming to the Capitol results from his relationship with the young people, especially the student community.Rep. Domah says he knows there are many young people out there who desired to be empowered so that they can become leaders of this nation for tomorrow, but the opportunity is lacking.

According to Concerned Student Group of Liberia Secretary General Alexander Harris, they look at people and grade them for what they have been doing for their people.
Student Harris says for the past four months, they have been monitoring the work of Rep. Domah and he has contributed to health care, school, market and other developmental things in his county.

By Bridgett Milton--Edited by Winston W. Parley

LCC, consults stakeholders on By-elections

The Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) Tuesday May 22, 2018 led a consultation with key stakeholders on the pending by-elections of Montserrado and Bong Counties.


The consultation, which sought to find a way forward to the current impasse on the by-elections, brought together the host LCC, political parties and the National Elections Commission (NEC) at the LCC Headquarters in sinkor.

The NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, updated members of the LCC, led by its president Bishop Kortu Brown, and representatives of major registered political parties in Liberia on the status of the two senatorial by-elections. He cited financial reasons for the failure of the Commission to conduct the elections in the specified constitutional timeframe of 90 days.

Chairman Korkoya informed the LCC and Political Party’s Representatives that the May 8, 2018 election date, set by the Commission for the Senatorial By-Elections, was within the ninety day constitutional period, which has since elapsed and that the Commission has no constitutional authority to set a new election date for the two by-elections.

However, the NEC Boss said the government, through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, since last week, has committed itself to providing one million dollars but that the Commission had not received the money up to present.

Chairman Korkoya said that as soon as the Commission receives the money, it would seek the necessary consultation as to who is responsible to set a new election date.

For their part, representatives of political parties at the consultation resolved to take a definite position on the way forward to conduct the two Senatorial By-Elections on Friday at a one-day Inter Party Consultative Committee (IPCC) meeting in Monrovia.

Some said the government has deliberately violated the Liberian Constitution by not supporting the conduct of the two By-Elections on May 8, 2018, the Election date set by the NEC.

Other political party’s representatives suggested that the parties consider lawsuit against the CDC led Government for failing to conduct the by-elections. Political Parties attending included the Unity Party, Liberty Party, Union of Liberian Democrats, Democratic Justice Party, All Liberia Party, and the Alternative National Congress.

Young entrepreneur recovers from unconsciousness

A Liberian youth leader and an international award winning entrepreneur James Tarnue, has recovered after being rushed to hospital late Monday evening unconscious.


He was found unconscious along the Soul Clinic Road in the city of Paynesville following an alleged attack by unknown individuals on May 7, 2018. Family members of Mr. Tarnue told this paper on 22 May that prior to the ordeal, the victim received series of threats but, he didn’t take them serious until the unfortunate incident occurred.

Medical reports reveal that Mr. Tarnue had bodily injuries consistent with assault by the unknown individuals.KollieTarnue, elder brother to James Tarnue narrates that the case has since been reported to the Soul Clinic Police Depot.Kollie says a warrant has been issued for the arrest of two individuals (names withheld) that were allegedly associated with the threats and attack.

He declines giving details regarding the entire tussle involving his brother, but is pleading with the public to provide tips leading the arrest of the suspects.
Mr. Tarnue is currently safe in a secured location but he has not openly addressed the press about issues that surrounded his torture.

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

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