Special Feature

DEPRECIATION OF THE LIBERIAN FOREIGN EXCHANGE RATE  (CURRENCY OF THE LIBERIAN DOLLAR): ONE OF THE (MOST NEGATIVE) CRITICAL ISSUES OF OUR TIMES

Introduction
Throughout its history, Liberia has been involved in the use of foreign currencies as legal tender in circulation with Liberian currencies. The first foreign currency was the British Pound and later (1944), the United States Dollar up to this day.


Selection of a nation’s foreign exchange rate is not an issue of a “quick fix”. It is a serious matter that requires graduate study and knowledge of the proven Theory of Macroeconomics and years of requisite training and experience; but its application as rational public policy measure is easier, since governments employ trained/experienced Economists as advisors.

But we noted today July 11, 2018, that the Governance Commission (GC), Liberia’s powerful all-public policy Advisor, announced that “it will hold a Policy Dialogue on the state of the country’s currency today (New Democrat, July 11, 2018) on the theme ‘Factors impacting Liberia’s Foreign Exchange rate Regime’”, just at the time when the Liberian nation is deeply-plunged in a “messy economy” and concerned about prevailing depreciation of its foreign exchange rate, has been so concerned for long. Is this a GC Quick fix?

Article in Response
This article is in response to “Liberia: How Messy (national) Economy Could be saved” (Front Page, July 10, 2018) with respect to the continuing depreciation of the Liberian currency. Earlier, our article entitled, “Single-Currency Bill Submitted” (Analyst Liberia, April 28, 2014), was, also, a response to a Bill submitted to the National Legislature of the same title.

In that response, we wrote that “depreciation of the Liberia dollar has been, and is, the concerns of the Liberian people, including producers, consumers, CBL monetary policy Authorities; Fiscal, Ministry of Finance & Development Planning, the National Legislature, etc.; and that it was these concerns – the perennial, ever-present depreciation or decrease in the value of the Liberian dollar with the results of disastrous price inflation - that gave rise to the proposed Bill”.

This condition, we held, is the outcome of the interaction of the free-market forces of demand and supply of goods and services in the marketplaces of local, national, international, economic activities – trade and commerce - based on proven Theory of Economics which holds, that the more, and more a commodity is demanded by consumers, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises.

Now, in international trade and commerce, countries, business organizations and individuals, as consumers who desire to purchase goods and services from other countries need and must have the money/currency of the “other countries” in order to purchase desired goods and services. That is, that consumers must, first, purchase the money/currency of these other countries from banks or foreign exchange traders at a rate known as the Foreign exchange rate, a money/currency exchange rate regime established and maintained by, almost, all trading countries.

At this point, the foreign exchange rate of the exporting countries (USA, in our case, for example) has become and is, now, a commodity demanded more and more by consumers - Liberia, in this case - to purchase and import more and more of US goods and services. Therefore, the price of the US foreign exchange rate rises or has risen, in terms of or relative to the Liberian dollar, and that Liberia must, now, come up with more Liberia dollars per US dollar. Thus, the depreciation or decrease in value of the Liberian dollar and the buying power of the individual, Liberian consumer.

Value of Money/Currency
It is important to note, significantly, that although money/currency possesses no intrinsic (in and of itself) value in useful, human terms, but its worldwide acceptance as the medium of exchange for goods and services desired in the marketplace of economic activities, gave and renders it socio-cultural, economic, politico-psychological value or that which has come to be known as “Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency”. But the Liberian currency, the Liberian dollar, does not possess or is without the recognition of international, Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency status, but declared a national currency “tied” or “pegged” to the court tails of the US dollar which circulates as legal tender with the Liberia dollar (a semi-official currency substitution, in the effort, apparently, to ease the peculiar conditions of developing countries’ inflations).

The major path to this Storehouse of Value or Convertible Currency of a country lies, among others, in the production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries, that country’s trading partners and the general public. In other words, storehouse of value or convertibility depends on production of goods and services desired and demanded by other countries. This, in fact, is or translates to demand for the Liberian currency by others and, thereby, renders it the status of Storehouse of value or Convertible Currency.

Summary, Re-Statement of the Foregoing
We hold that depreciation or decrease in the value of a nation’s currency with result of price inflation are:

a) Expected outcome of the interaction of the free-market forces of Supply and demand consistent with the Theory of Economics;
b) That according to the Theory of Economics, the more and more a commodity is demanded, the higher and higher the price of that commodity rises, and that an exchange rate is the price paid by one country for the currency of other and, a commodity as well.
c) That a country which produces goods and services demanded more and more by other consumer-countries is the country whose exchange rate appreciates and currency increases in value; and
d) That conversely, the country which produces no goods and services but depends, excessively, on imported goods and services, as in the case of Liberia, is or will be the country whose exchange rate will continue to depreciate with decrease in the value of its currencies and price inflation.

Resolution of the Immediate Condition
In the light of the criticality of the prevailing condition what is or are the possible resolutions?
As indicated earlier, there are pre-conditions to the possibility of resolutions.

Pre-Conditions for Possible Resolution of Liberian Currency Depreciation
The satisfaction of these Pre-Conditions requires two, basic approaches (A), Production for Local Consumption and (B), Production for export Trade

A. Production for Local Consumption

a) Form, organize and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for local consumption. This approach will discourage, reduce and, eventually, eliminate Liberia’s excessive and dangerous dependence on imports. Local production of food - rice (our staple), cooking oil, sugar; orange, pineapple, tomato juices, etc; coffee, cocoa, mineral water, poultry products, cumber, leaf lettuce, plantain, banana, fish & fish-farming, cassava, yams, pawpaw, plums, etc., etc.

b) Other products for local consumption include Liberian clothes, furniture (made here by Liberians with Liberian wood), trained/experienced talent – vocational, academic/intellectual – scientific, technological, IT, for example.

B. Production for export Trade

a) Form, organize and develop industrial enterprises for production of goods and services for the export Trade – all tropical products – plantain, banana, rice, palm oil, Pineapples; pineapple, orange, tomato juices, etc.; coffee, cocoa, cassava, yams, cucumber, timber, rubber, furniture, including iron ore, oil & gas, gold, diamond, etc., etc.

b) Why not manufacture tires from our rubber and steel products from iron ore that we produce?
These are not quick fixes. They are long-term endeavors which require long-term commitments. As such, this is not unexpected. Given the long-term nature of some of the projects, they cannot be satisfactorily addressed over-night. It will require sustained and durable efforts; structures development, process refinement, further consultations, planning and programming, and resource mobilization.

But in the absence of these examples – organized production for local consumption and the export trade – Liberia’s foreign exchange rate will continue to depreciate, the nation’s Terms of Trade will continue to deteriorate due Liberia’s increasing demand for imports, according to CBL Executive Governor, “since the beginning of 2013 the exchange rate has come under pressure with a depreciation of more than 8% due largely to 17% deterioration in Liberia’s Terms of Trade and increased demand on (or for) imports” (New Democrat, December 9, 2013).

The realization of points A and B above depend upon the necessary, enabling, infrastructure - all-weather roads/highways - for organization/establishment of organizations/enterprises for productions of Liberian goods and services. This requires priority, public policy diligently developed and implemented.

"Struggle Beyond words"

Struggle beyond words describes the current status of the Liberian economy; which is reportedly "causing hardship for scores of Liberians"; due to reported "fake inflation" allegedly created by self-styled, anti-government supporters and counterfeit- makers, whose intend is to demonize the Weah's led government.


The hike in the prices of important consumable and non-consumable commodities on the Liberian market need urgent attention because; self-proclaimed patriots and fake- money producers, who are allegedly "supporting the artificial increase in the prices of essential commodities, are using this unbearable situation against the Liberian society and its people; so as to gain undue popularity and ill -gotten wealth; which is totally troubling".

The continuous depreciation of the Liberian dollars due to huge rush for the United States dollars in Liberia needs urgent attention from the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Central Bank of Liberia and other institutions, void of politics.

Even though this government is making meaningful efforts to improve all sectors of our country in a short period; it is sensible that the Weah's led administration should focus on revamping the struggling Liberian economy; which needs urgent attention beyond words.

I stand to be corrected, it can be recalled that "financial experts and others expressed disappointment against the past government for its controversial monetary policy"; which created room for printing of new Liberian dollars or bank notes.

The popular call which was announced by the Liberian Senate during the past government that mandated Milton Week' leadership to vigorously remove all old Liberian dollars from the local market has allegedly not been "fully implemented, due to unknown reasons".

However, it is unclear, if the Senate requested a report from the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) regarding the mandate to remove old Liberian dollars from the local market; an issue that created debate before the recent resignation of former Central Bank of Liberia Executive Governor, Milton Weeks.

It is an open secret that CBL has qualified and competent staff members, and has made tremendous effort to improve the Liberian economy from "US$80 million reserve in 2006 to an appreciable level; which is one of the reported factors that led to the construction of the new Central Bank of Liberia building, and improvement in Liberia's gross Domestic Product (GDP), before the deadly Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in 2014."

It can also be recalled that the past government repeatedly said, the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, the decline in the prices of iron ore and rubber, coupled with the withdrawal of the United Nation Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) peacekeeping troops, are some of contributing factors that have reportedly declined the Liberian economy.

However, the decline in the Liberian economy which was repeatedly publicized by the past government; could be one of the factors that allegedly led to "constant budget shortfall during the administration of Amara Konneh, former Minister of Finance and development planning."

Another issue of serious focus looks at Liberia, a country that has an economy; which is import-driven, a dangerous economic path that needs to be changed; so as to overhaul the entire country's economy.

"The millions of Liberian dollars, controversial loans which were allegedly given to individuals and institutions by former Central Bank of Liberia, Executive Governor, Dr. J. Mill Jones who was popularly called "poverty doctor;" by recipients of his loans, should not be ignored; regarding the nonstop depreciation of the Liberian dollars against the United States dollars.

Dr. Jones argued with the Senate and others that his monetary policy to empower Liberian institutions was 'intended to stabilize the country's economy'.
He is reportedly on record of saying: 'I am not giving the money to aliens or foreigners, but Liberians,' one of the famous response or answers of the former CBL's Executive Governor, who contested in the 2017 presidential elections.

Have the CBL submitted the report requested by the Liberian Senate, about how much Liberian dollars or banknotes are currently in circulation?Therefore, we need to empower the Liberia Electricity Corporation to improve its service delivery, with reliable and affordable electrical power; which can attract local, international investors and others, if Liberia has stable electricity.

Big thanks to the United States of America, friendly countries, and others for their financial and technical support to LEC; in providing electricity in some parts of Liberia, which is commendable.However, robust step needs to be taken in reducing power theft; which is one of the major challenges leading to the inability of LEC to expand its services in all parts of Montserrado County and Liberia at large.

Also the hosting of economic/financial submit by the Central Bank of Liberia , Ministry of Finance and Development Planning ,and others ; which could help in reducing the huge economic burden currently facing the Liberian society and its people, cannot be overemphasized.

The expected gathering can bring together former Ministers of Finance, governors, financial experts from World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), local commercial banks, Liberian business actors, foreign business practitioners, and others, in brainstorming on issues affecting the Liberian economy; way forward, which could be in the best interest of the country and its people.

I am also aware that the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's led government constituted a committee, headed by a renowned financial expert, Tyron A. Brown to study the burdens facing the Liberian economy.

Where is that report or findings, if the study was conducted by the team constituted by the past government, headed by a Harvard trained economist (ex-President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf).

Finally, the empowerment of Liberia National Police, Liberia Immigration Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, agents of National Security Agency (NSA), and others, to enhance their intelligence operations; in getting useful information against counterfeit-makers, illegal individuals and institutions, whose aim focus on depreciation the Liberian dollars, which is badly affecting the country's economy.Disclaimer: The views expressed here represent me, and have no connection with any individual or institution, I have association with.

By Martin Blayon

Russia to host RAU Summit

Faced with persistent criticisms, Russia has finally announced it will most likely host the first high-level Russia-African Union forum next year, a replica or a carbon copy of Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) or European Union–African Union summit, signaling its readiness to work towards deepening and strengthening multifaceted engagement with Africa.


Working on a new paradigm collaboratively with African Union, Russia hopes to fill up pitfalls and cracks in the existing relationship, reinforce diplomatic ties and raise its staggering economic profile on the continent similar to the levels of China, India, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, U.S. and Europe.

On his official visit to Rwanda early June, Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov hinted that the forum rolls out a comprehensive strategic roadmap for more economic cooperation and wide-range of investment possibilities, find effective ways of addressing regional security issues and that of improving public diplomacy in Africa.

“We discussed Russia’s idea of holding a large African Union business forum with AU member states and Russia to be attended by entrepreneurs and politicians, possibly next year,” Lavrov said at a media conference after meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and East African Community Louise Mushikiwabo in Kigali, Rwanda.

“We have agreed to prepare a framework political document that will set out a concept for cooperation in the next few years and also several practical projects for implementation in the near future. We are now preparing for a meeting of Russian and AU experts,” he assertively added.

Just before his African tour early March, Lavrov also told Hommes d’Afrique magazine “we carefully study the practice of summits between African countries and their major partners abroad. At present, Russia’s relations with African countries are progressing both on a bilateral basis and along the line of African regional organisations, primarily the African Union and the Southern African Development Community.”

In the interview posted to MFA website, he said “our African friends note the need for Russia’s active presence in the region, and more frequently express interest in holding a Russia-African summit. Such a meeting would undoubtedly help deepen our cooperation on the full range of issues. However, it is necessary to bear in mind that arranging an event of such a scale with the participation of over 50 Heads of State and Government requires most careful preparation, including in terms of its substantive content.”

Lavrov acknowledged in the interview: “The economic component of the summit has a special significance in this relation as it would be of practical interest for all the parties. As such, specific Russian participants in bilateral or multilateral cooperation should be identified, which are not only committed to long-term cooperation but are also ready for large-scale investments in the African markets with account of possible risks and high competition. Equally important are African businesspeople who are looking to work on the Russian market.”

On May 16, Lavrov chaired the Foreign Ministry Collegium meeting on the subject “Cooperation with Sub-Saharan African countries as part of implementing important tasks of Russian foreign policy.” The meeting noted that the consolidation of versatile ties with the Sub-Saharan African countries remains a major part of Russia’s foreign policy strategy, which is acquiring special significance in the context of deep changes in the global arena.

Some experts and researchers have, of course, identified low enthusiasm and lack of coordinated mechanism as key factors affecting cooperation between Russia and African countries, and suggested that this trend could be reversed if both Russian authorities and African governments get down regularly to serious dialogue with concrete business agenda.

Nearly a decade ago, Themba Mhlongo, Head of Programmes at the Southern Africa Trust, said in an emailed interview that “there is no effective Russia-African dialogue or mechanism for dialoguing with Africa. On the other hand, Russia has not been as aggressive as China in pursuing opportunities in Africa because Russia has natural resources and markets in Eastern Europe, South West Asia. Russia’s key exports to Africa might only be dominated by machinery and military equipment which serves their interest well.”

He suggested that Africa must also engage all BRICS members equally including Brazil and Russia in order to build alliances and open trade opportunities including finance and investment opportunities, African countries must not seem to show preferences in their foreign policy in favour of western Europe if they want to benefit from trade relations with Russia.

Tellingly, Vadim Trofimovich Kirsanov, an African Affairs Advisor at the Regional Projects Department of Russkiy Mir Foundation, (non-profit Russian NGO that promotes Russian language, literature and culture abroad), in an interview with Buziness Africa media, discusses the significance of developing bilateral ties not only in economic sphere but also in culture, exchange of people and ideas in the social sphere.

“We must use the full potential interest in Russian culture, Russian language, mutual sympathy and interest between the peoples of Africa and Russia, a great desire of Russians and Africans to visit each other to make friends, establish new connections. That’s where public diplomacy becomes an effective instrument for supporting business dialogue,” he said.

Kirsanov noted: use new opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation open to the accession of South Africa to BRICS group (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), taking into account the economic impact of South Africa on the African continent and the world at large. Besides the intensification of dialogue with the African Union (AU), the Russian authorities have the development of multilateral cooperation among African countries with Russian Federation.

Professor Gerrit Olivier from the Department of Political Science, University of Pretoria in South Africa, noted that Russian influence in Africa, despite efforts towards resuscitation, remains marginal. While, given its global status, it ought to be active in Africa as Western Europe, the European Union, the United States and China are, it is all but absent, playing a negligible role.

“Russia, of course, is not satisfied with this state of affairs. At present diplomacy dominates its approach: plethora of agreements have been signed with South Africa and various other states in Africa, official visits from Moscow proliferate apace, but the outcomes remain hardly discernible,” Professor Olivier, previously served as South African Ambassador to the Russian Federation, wrote in an email comment from Pretoria, South Africa.

Be as it may, he indicated further that “the Kremlin has revived its interest in the African continent and it will be realistic to expect that the spade work it is putting in now will at some stage show more tangible results.”

In his assessment, Rex Essenowo, a Moscow-based Economic Policy Analyst, pointed out to a known and well-established fact, which Russians have always shrugged off, that there have been many summits and conferences between the United States, EU and Asian states with Africa, but there has yet to be a single high-level Russia-African summit.

However, he believes that all was not yet lost, there is still an unexplored chance to strengthen Russia’s relationship with Africa if, for example, African countries work collectively together as AU to focus on improving all aspects of Russia-African relationship.

Large investments and comprehensive approach, similar to the Chinese, would help to bridge the economic and political gap between Russia and the African continent, Essenowo said, and reminded that Russia is very much involved in educating and/or training professionals who are playing key roles and could serve as excellent useful links between Russia and Africa. Russia has ignored this valuable product in its diplomacy with Africa.

Interesting, BRICS countries are vigorously moving into Africa and now three BRICS members: Russia is planning, India and China are also preparing for summits next year with Africa. As already publicly known, all previous summits held by many foreign countries with Africa, there were concrete financial packages earmarked towards infrastructure development in Africa.

From Russia’s perspective, there are undeniable important geopolitical implications working with Africa. Nevertheless, Russia’s efforts in the region have been limited thus far which some experts attributed to lack of a system of financing policy projects. While Russia government is very cautious about making financial commitments, Russia’s financial institutions are not closely involved in foreign policy initiatives in Africa.

Experts and researchers have recommended one new initiative that will largely interest African leaders, that is for Russia to create a Russian Development Fund for Africa (RDfA) as an agency to manage and run projects as business for Russia in Africa while Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) could become the key organiser and coordinator of future Russia-African Union summits. *Kester Kenn Klomegah frequently writes on Russia, Africa and BRICS

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT LIBERIANS WANT”

“If you elect me President, I will build your roads . . . if you don’t want Road and good healthcare system, let me know”: – President Weah
OUR ANSWERS, OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT WEAH

Monrovia
June 17, 2018

H. E. George M. Weah
President, Republic of Liberia
The Executive Mansion
Capitol Hill, Monrovia

Mr. President:

It is our honor to present sincere greetings, compliments of our highest esteem and privilege to invite Your Excellency’s attention to our suggested/recommended answers to your question raised as indicated above.

In your understandable frustration over criticism, as President of Liberia, you lashed out, angrily, at the multitude of the critics who question the quality and style of your political leadership with your statement, “I don’t know what Liberians want . . .”

You were born about some 50 years ago and raised in Clara Town, northeast of Monrovia, one of the City’s Slum enclaves; so, You (Mr. George Opon Manneh Weah) need no lecture on illiteracy, education, lack of general information; poverty, hunger, unemployment, over-crowdedness and congestion; lack of healthcare, electricity, safe drinking water, unsanitary living conditions, high crime without police protection; lack of ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, traditional identity, in terms of tribal dialect, etc.; and above all, the incidence of corruption or public dishonesty, described by the former President as “Liberia’s public enemy no.1”.

The theme of your campaign as candidate for President of Liberia was “Change, you will cry no more” and, also, since your election, you have announced and adopted a “Pro-Poor Agenda”, although you have been in office for less than a year – barely 6 months.

I pen this Open Letter to you, Mr. President, suggesting/recommending answers to your question because of my hope and wish that You, Mr. George Weah, must not fail for obvious reasons. Firstly, your credibility as President of Liberia, expressed by action, is on the line. State success, failure and your survival as President are all tied to your credibility.

 

Local, national and, particularly, international support (mainly economic in billions of US dollars) depends upon your credibility.

You see, Mr. President, that in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded, indeed mandated. This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment or immunity, given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning, Sir, is and will be your major test of your credibility.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Thus, the TRC approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa, was adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia that this necessity demands - open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due, a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.

But the-then President and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was surrounded by suspected war criminals and supporters who held powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military and other security-related portfolios, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., with high level of public dishonesty or corruption within her government. In fact, her success as the leading politician and survival of her presidency depended, exclusively, upon the support and cooperation of war, economic and corruption crimes suspects. As such, they enjoyed, continue to enjoy to this day, characteristic immunity or “impunity” from prosecution.

Given this reality, implementation of the TRC Recommendations with War Crime Court on ground, in Liberia, was unreasonable and, therefore, unacceptable to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and supporters, because it meant prosecution and possible long-term imprisonment. Therefore, the Report was side-lined on shelves in the offices of the suspected war criminals where it gathered and is gathering dust during the past 12 years, while the suspects of war & economic crimes are awarded high-level positions with “Honorable” titles.

Now Your current, George Weah Government
Your Administration may be likened to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government and the retired Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s “king-maker” political “don” in many respects, although You, Mr.George Weah, were not involved in any aspect of the war nor connected to rebellious war crimes, but:

a) As Candidate-for-President you “became too friendly with Mr. Charles Taylor for comfort” not only for the majority of the Liberian population who suffered the impact of his “Jungle Justice” rule and that the former President is a war criminal serving a 50-year term for war crimes against humanity, but also, that sub-regional leaders of the West African Sub-Region are, also, unhappy and suspicious with your associations.

b) Now, your Cabinet is dominated by senior, political loyalists and others appointed by former President Sirleaf who, reportedly, is the power behind your Presidential throne with you having been compromised, also reportedly, with support and campaign contribution by the former President Sirleaf in return for protection from prosecution for war crime allegations; and

c) Your Excellency is, also, surrounded with graduates of the civil war (child soldiers who survived the dangers of toting AK-47s and deadly RPGs) and by important political officials – judges and members of the National Legislatures, all suspected war criminals, who hold the key to your presidency. For example, these officials include members of the Legislature dominated by war, economic and corruption crime suspects - senators and representatives who were supporters-fighters of Charles Taylor’s NPFL/INPFL and members of his National Patriotic Party. Some of these members were “elected” from small communities excised or extracted from existing Counties and bestowed “county” status without legal merit, but only for political and economic reasons.

There are other suspected war, economic and corruption criminals, like in the past (of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government), who held/hold powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military, related security officials, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., including, also, the highest level of public dishonesty or corruption than any other government of Liberia in the past within Your Excellency’s government.

In the light of the foregoing conditions, it would be an illusion to expect implementation of the TRC Recommendations by placing the War Crime Court on-ground, in Liberia, repetition of the past 12 years. But, Mr. President, make no mistake about the demand for war and economic crimes trials – the demand has grown, growing and that it is highly likely to be held.

Our Suggested/Recommended Answers to Your Question
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, we recommend the following answers for Your Excellency’s consideration/implementation, that:

1) Firstly, you should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance You and your government/administration from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. Begin this process by rooting out and freeing the Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others who dominate the Weah administration. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials.

Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee your government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support (mainly economic, in hundreds of millions of US dollars) that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;

2) Left to Decision of Your Excellency’s entrapped, current government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;

3) Therefore, Sir, you must arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects – ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf warlord, Toga McIntosh, Dr. Amos Sawyer, etc.; INPFL’s General Prince Johnson; NPFL’s General Charles Bright, etc.; Maritime Commission’s Benoni Urey and LISCR agents for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war (now Liberia Maritime Authority) and LISCR agents now in Monrovia and their (LISCR’S) recently-reported stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds hiding behind their Legal Counsel (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and reported “ghost (of departed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, McClain) payment of US $207,277 on behalf (reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations” to a Washington, D.C. KRL firm out of Liberian public resources;

4) Beak up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer, to prevent the classic, patent conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, now given a wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is, the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and overstaffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel often to these counties at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan and develop nothing but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).

5) Mr. President, please pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section, Bureau of Revenue, the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority. The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that you consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.

6) The Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County market for sale. It is about time, Mr. President, to arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning must be re-structured as indicated at Item 4.

Sincerely yours,

Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
ACTIVE, MOST SENIOR CITIZEN-ELDER
GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, INC.

H. E. George M. Weah President, Republic of Liberia

Mr. President:

It is our honor to present sincere greetings, compliments of our highest esteem and privilege to invite Your Excellency’s attention to our suggested/recommended answers to your question raised as indicated above.


In your understandable frustration over criticism, as President of Liberia, you lashed out, angrily, at the multitude of the critics who question the quality and style of your political leadership with your statement, “I don’t know what Liberians want . . .”

You were born about some 50 years ago and raised in Clara Town, northeast of Monrovia, one of the City’s Slum enclaves; so, You (Mr. George Opon Manneh Weah) need no lecture on illiteracy, education, lack of general information; poverty, hunger, unemployment, over-crowdedness and congestion; lack of healthcare, electricity, safe drinking water, unsanitary living conditions, high crime without police protection; lack of ethnic/tribal, socio-cultural, traditional identity, in terms of tribal dialect, etc.; and above all, the incidence of corruption or public dishonesty, described by the former President as “Liberia’s public enemy no.1”.

The theme of your campaign as candidate for President of Liberia was “Change, you will cry no more” and, also, since your election, you have announced and adopted a “Pro-Poor Agenda”, although you have been in office for less than a year – barely 6 months.

I pen this Open Letter to you, Mr. President, suggesting/recommending answers to your question because of my hope and wish that You, Mr. George Weah, must not fail for obvious reasons. Firstly, your credibility as President of Liberia, expressed by action, is on the line. State success, failure and your survival as President are all tied to your credibility.

 

Local, national and, particularly, international support (mainly economic in billions of US dollars) depends upon your credibility.

You see, Mr. President, that in any democratic political community that is committed to the rule of law and in which mind-boggling illegal acts of atrocious summary executions, group massacres, genocides, human rights violations, rapes, maiming, thievery and corruption were committed without trial, as was the case in the Republic of Liberia, a legal house-cleaning effort for the arrest, trial of the suspected and punishment of the guilty are required, demanded, indeed mandated. This effort sends out the message, loud and clear, that there is, will and shall be, no preferential treatment or immunity, given to anyone, irrespective of position and standing in the community. Legal house-cleaning, Sir, is and will be your major test of your credibility.

Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC)
Thus, the TRC approach, based on the successful experience of the Republic of South Africa, was adopted and passed into law in Liberia as the reasonable option for peace and security in post-conflict Liberia that this necessity demands - open, free and fair trials of suspected human rights violators, punishment of the guilty and amnesty granted the guilty, remorseful violators to whom such amnesty was due, a transitional justice approach, from conflict to modern, peaceful democratic rule.

But the-then President and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was surrounded by suspected war criminals and supporters who held powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military and other security-related portfolios, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., with high level of public dishonesty or corruption within her government. In fact, her success as the leading politician and survival of her presidency depended, exclusively, upon the support and cooperation of war, economic and corruption crimes suspects. As such, they enjoyed, continue to enjoy to this day, characteristic immunity or “impunity” from prosecution.

Given this reality, implementation of the TRC Recommendations with War Crime Court on ground, in Liberia, was unreasonable and, therefore, unacceptable to Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and supporters, because it meant prosecution and possible long-term imprisonment. Therefore, the Report was side-lined on shelves in the offices of the suspected war criminals where it gathered and is gathering dust during the past 12 years, while the suspects of war & economic crimes are awarded high-level positions with “Honorable” titles.

Now Your current, George Weah Government
Your Administration may be likened to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Government and the retired Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s “king-maker” political “don” in many respects, although You, Mr.George Weah, were not involved in any aspect of the war nor connected to rebellious war crimes, but:

a) As Candidate-for-President you “became too friendly with Mr. Charles Taylor for comfort” not only for the majority of the Liberian population who suffered the impact of his “Jungle Justice” rule and that the former President is a war criminal serving a 50-year term for war crimes against humanity, but also, that sub-regional leaders of the West African Sub-Region are, also, unhappy and suspicious with your associations.

b) Now, your Cabinet is dominated by senior, political loyalists and others appointed by former President Sirleaf who, reportedly, is the power behind your Presidential throne with you having been compromised, also reportedly, with support and campaign contribution by the former President Sirleaf in return for protection from prosecution for war crime allegations; and

c) Your Excellency is, also, surrounded with graduates of the civil war (child soldiers who survived the dangers of toting AK-47s and deadly RPGs) and by important political officials – judges and members of the National Legislatures, all suspected war criminals, who hold the key to your presidency. For example, these officials include members of the Legislature dominated by war, economic and corruption crime suspects - senators and representatives who were supporters-fighters of Charles Taylor’s NPFL/INPFL and members of his National Patriotic Party. Some of these members were “elected” from small communities excised or extracted from existing Counties and bestowed “county” status without legal merit, but only for political and economic reasons.

There are other suspected war, economic and corruption criminals, like in the past (of the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf government), who held/hold powerful political and economic positions, including law enforcement – police, military, related security officials, lawyers, prosecutors, judges, political party leaders, private corporate officials, etc., including, also, the highest level of public dishonesty or corruption than any other government of Liberia in the past within Your Excellency’s government.

In the light of the foregoing conditions, it would be an illusion to expect implementation of the TRC Recommendations by placing the War Crime Court on-ground, in Liberia, repetition of the past 12 years. But, Mr. President, make no mistake about the demand for war and economic crimes trials – the demand has grown, growing and that it is highly likely to be held.

Our Suggested/Recommended Answers to Your Question
In the light of the foregoing and the reality of the prevailing conditions on the ground in Liberia, as in the past, we recommend the following answers for Your Excellency’s consideration/implementation, that:

1) Firstly, you should and must summon the political will and “guts” to distance You and your government/administration from the war and economic crime (corruption) suspects. Begin this process by rooting out and freeing the Weah Government from entrapment by the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf loyalists and others who dominate the Weah administration. Significantly, arrest and turn over all war and economic (corruption) crime suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague for free, fair and open trials.

Indeed, this decision-action will earn and guarantee your government the International Community’s support led by Liberia’s most major historical benefactor and political ally, the USA, to arrest and turn over the suspects of war, economic and corruption crimes to the (ICC). For, it was this support (mainly economic, in hundreds of millions of US dollars) that convinced Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to turn over her appointed war-front commander and ally, Mr. Charles Taylor, to the ICC for trial; the rest is history;

2) Left to Decision of Your Excellency’s entrapped, current government on the ground in Liberia and placing War Crime Court, also, on ground in Liberia, will not be only repetition of the past 12-year illusion, but also, in support of Ellen Johnson-Sileaf’s ear-shattering silence in support of AU condemnation and threat of withdrawal from the ICC, Africa’s only salvation and protection from war (crimes of human rights violations of genocide and related crimes against African humanity), economic and corruption crimes. The prevailing Liberian socio-political and economic conditions merit ICC intervention; for, the ICC was created, exactly and precisely, to remedy such conditions;

3) Therefore, Sir, you must arrest and turn over all bigwigs and related major-crime suspects – ACDL’s Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf warlord, Toga McIntosh, Dr. Amos Sawyer, etc.; INPFL’s General Prince Johnson; NPFL’s General Charles Bright, etc.; Maritime Commission’s Benoni Urey and LISCR agents for purchase of arms and ammunitions for the civil war (now Liberia Maritime Authority) and LISCR agents now in Monrovia and their (LISCR’S) recently-reported stolen US $123 million of Liberia Maritime Authority’s funds hiding behind their Legal Counsel (the already indicted Varney Sherman); and reported “ghost (of departed Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, McClain) payment of US $207,277 on behalf (reportedly) of Ellen’s Lobbyist Public Relations” to a Washington, D.C. KRL firm out of Liberian public resources;

4) Beak up or dismantle the Super Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MF&DP) from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning & Economic Affairs – separate paymaster from planner/doer, to prevent the classic, patent conflict-of-interest approach. The Ministry of Finance, now given a wider terrain with political power, influence and control, has been and is, the most historically-dishonest, corrupt agency of government. It is now over-paid and overstaffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia but with families living permanently in foreign countries and travel often to these counties at enormous cost to the public resources; they are provided housing, transport, electricity generators with service allowances, although they plan and develop nothing but collect payments from those that they pay nationally (retained from counties’ socio-economic development allocations).

5) Mr. President, please pay close attention to and evaluate/restructure the Ministry of Finance’s former Section, Bureau of Revenue, the now Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA). It has been, and is the nation’s second-most historically-dishonest and corrupt agency of government and may be re-named, Liberia Stealing Authority. The agency is, also, over-paid and over-staffed with dual citizens who do not live in Liberia. Its close association with the National Social Security & Welfare Corporation (NASSCORP) MD is cause for concern. Indeed, it is about time that you consider retirement of NASSCORP MD in the light of his payment of large sums of money to several politicians, including the recent, reported, payment to Honorable Harrison Karnwea of Nimba County that raised eye-brows on the internet.

6) The Public Procurement & Concession Commission (PPCC), General Service Agency (GSA) and Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MF&DP) have not, yet, accounted for the US $5M, some 300 vehicles and medical supplies donated to Liberia for the Ebola Emergency. Some of the vehicles and medical supplies were found in Saclepia, Nimba County market for sale. It is about time, Mr. President, to arrest the GSA MD, the Executive Director of the corrupt PPCC for prosecution by the ICC and replace the entire PPC Commission members. The so-called Ministry of Finance & Development Planning must be re-structured as indicated at Item 4.

Sincerely yours,

Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
Bai M. Gbala, Sr.
ACTIVE, MOST SENIOR CITIZEN-ELDER
GRAND GEDEH COUNTY COUNCIL OF ELDERS, INC.

H.E President George Weah President-Head of State & Commander-In-Chief, Armed Forces, Republic of Liberia

Dear President Weah:
My Little Advice to You

I extend my homage and felicitations to you and your entire government in the name of Jesus. I am Jones Octavious Mallay, Sr. I hail from Somalahum village, Kolahum district Lofa County-Liberia. I am a current resident of the US and a syndicated columnist in the “New Dawn Newspaper” column titled: “From Where I see The Weah’s Presidency”. I did not vote for you. I am not a member of your CDC's party, neither was I counted in the votes that eventually made you president, head-of-state and commander-in-chief, Armed Forces of the Republic of Liberia. Though, I didn't vote for you, you are still my president. I will continue to acknowledge you as our President, despite all the negative social, economic and political odds and as long you continue to respect your legal constitutional boundaries and not tampering with the constitution and laws of Liberia.


Be reminded that many African presidents rise up and are quickly dethroned, killed or sometimes removed from office either due to their own political deportment, or political proudness in which they see themselves as “small gods” and also by making themselves untouchable or by exercising access uncontrollable political power. I am writing you purposely to advise you of your bad temperament, your defiant spirit to ordinary Liberians, and your uncontrollable anger problems. No one hates any leader in Liberia, it is the leaders themselves who create conditions for their own citizens to hate them or turned against them.

You need to put your emotion under control if you want for Liberians to be free with you. You need to speak with Liberians in a very politely and peaceful manner with passion and in love and not with the use of political power and set of presidential authorities. You need to do away with a potential defiant spirit and be the listening type of president. For example, women in Nimba recently demonstrated against the increase of the US dollar rate on the Liberian market, 1 dollar to 145 LD, yet you took offense and did not pay heed to their concerns, that was a bad sign for your presidency.

You need not to be defiant of whatsoever Liberians are going through under your leadership. For example, most Liberians pointed at some of your bad appointments in government, yet you refused to listen to them because it is your government. Liberians are speaking to you about their terrible living condition, you simply careless about their plight. It is God who speaks through people to their leaders. I want for you to kindly take note of this.

The spirit of proudness and holding things against your fellow Liberians is not a good sign for your presidency. Liberians are suffering. Many of them do not even have bread to eat from sunrise to sunset, yet nothing is happening from your end as president, to enforce policies that can ease the burden of Liberians, which is not a good sign for your presidency. The US dollar is going up every second in Liberia, which has continued to affect the lives of Liberians directly and indirectly, which is not a good sign for your presidency.

Most Liberians are becoming mere beggars in their own country while the foreigners have continued to hike the prices of goods like rice, building materials, transportation and many other, which is not a good sign for your presidency. Innocent Liberians are being killed and their body parts being extracted from them especially in Monrovia and their bodies are thrown in street corners with your office not speaking to these type of gruesome killings, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

School fees are rising both in the public and private schools, your office is doing nothing to speak against the enforcement of policies that can reduce huge school fees on poor mothers in Liberia. New fees for students from elementary school to 12 grades have continued to rise up at a pace that even the average Liberian family cannot cope with such situation, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

The foreigners have hijacked the Liberian economy. They are all in the bushes in Liberia far and near digging gold, diamond and felling our logs, with no one stop such madness, if though Liberia has no government in place, this is not a good sign for your presidency. Nigerians, Fulani, Lebanese, Ghanaians, Guineans, Chinese and other equally dangerous foreign nationals have captured all the small markets in Liberia depriving small Liberian businesses of functioning effectively, this is not a good sign for your presidency. This cannot happen in Ghana, Nigeria or China. For example, the Chinese are mining rocks, sands, charcoal, burning fish, selling cool water, ice cream, ice water if though, Liberia has no government. This is not a good sign for your presidency for the future of Liberian businesses.

Your security men are harassing common and innocent Liberians who speak against you, this is not a good sign for your presidency. For example, Journalist Jonathan Paye Layleh left the country under the cover of darkness for fear of his life, that was not a good sign for your presidency. The United Nations, human rights commission and the US have taken note of this journalist issue, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

Your vice president is calling for Liberians who are not Cedecians to be marginalized, this is not a good sign for your presidency. You have submitted a bill to paralyze or destroy the press freedom law that was crafted by former president Sirleaf, this is not a good sign for your presidency. Since your inauguration, you have made more than five international trips with a huge delegation at the expense of taxpayer money when Liberians cannot get fitting drinking water or a meal a day, this is not a good sign for your presidency. You referred to your government as ‘pro-poor”, yet you are engaging in the signing loans that will have dangerous effects on the future generation of Liberia, yet foreigners are in our bushes smuggling our gold, diamond and log that should bring money to the government. Even those who voted for you are getting out of patient due to the hardship they are experiencing, which is not a good sign for your presidency. You are beginning to erect buildings and receiving a plane as a gift from a friend, this is not a good sign for your presidency.

Woewiyu’s trial highlights complicated U.S. legacy in war-torn Liberia

Thomas Woewiyu outside the federal courthouse in Philadelphia during a break Monday from his immigration fraud trial. Nearly 30 years after a force of rebels seized much of Liberia, executed its president, and kicked off a devastating civil war, Herman J. Cohen’s first face-to-face meeting with the country’s most infamous warlord, Charles Taylor, remains cemented in his memory.-The Inquirer (Philly) reports.


Cohen, then serving as an assistant U.S. secretary of state, had been dispatched in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush in hopes of securing assurances that American interests would be protected from the fighting that had already killed hundreds of civilians. But he quickly realized this was to be no ordinary meeting between diplomat and foreign leader.

“We were greeted by these teenagers, all of whom had very large automatic weapons. It was quite frightening,” Cohen recalled Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia. Taylor, he said, sat at their center, lounging in fatigues under a thatched roof on what appeared to be a makeshift throne.

But it was the artwork hanging behind the West African strongman that caught Cohen’s eye. “There was a large portrait of the Kennedy family – John F. Kennedy and his wife,” Cohen said. “I got the feeling he was identifying with him.”
AP Photo

Liberian warlord Charles Taylor in May 1990.
Cohen’s recollection of that 1990 encounter in the West African bush came as U.S. prosecutors presented the opening week of their trial against one of Taylor’s top lieutenants, Thomas Woewiyu. They contend the Collingdale, Delaware County, man lied to U.S. immigration authorities in 2006 about the role he played in the former Liberian president’s murderous rise to power.

Though he faces only immigration-related charges, the trial that is set to resume Monday has made Woewiyu one of the only wartime leaders to face any criminal consequences for his actions during the bloody, tribal brawl that ravaged Liberia between 1989 and 1997.

And Cohen’s testimony – along with the string of other former U.S. diplomats and war correspondents called as government witnesses so far – amounted to a crash course in history for a jury largely unfamiliar with a conflict in a nation thousands of miles and an ocean away.

Their accounts also highlighted Liberia’s own complicated history with the United States and American efforts to influence the civil war – efforts that Woewiyu now cites as key to his defense.

As Taylor’s chief spokesman throughout the war, he spoke with U.S. officials so often back then that his lawyers argue it is ludicrous to suggest now that he would attempt to hide that association. They have dismissed his failure to mention it on his citizenship application as a mistake.

“Everyone in our government knew [his history] … long before he applied for citizenship,” defense lawyer Catherine Henry said to jurors Monday.
Liberia’s politics and conflicts have been driven for centuries almost entirely by ethnic discord tied to its association with the United States – a history dating to the nation’s 1847 founding as a home for freed and repatriated American slaves.

Those former slaves and their descendants, known as Americo-Liberians, have long clashed with the nation’s multifactioned indigenous population — one often mired in its own internal battles.

Tensions reached a boiling point in 1980 when Samuel Doe, a Liberian of the indigenous Krahn tribe, stormed the country’s capital, Monrovia, executed its president, and seized control of the government from the Americo-Liberians.

Courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
Liberian president Samuel Doe, right, visits with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan during a White House visit in 1982
Though uneasy with the circumstances under which Doe came to power, President Ronald Reagan was eager to maintain a relationship with the nation, then home to thousands of American citizens and assets, including a rubber plantation owned by the tire company Firestone that supplied the U.S. military.

He welcomed Doe to a 1982 White House reception, where he famously flubbed his introduction of the Liberian leader he called “Chairman Moe,” and showered the country with U.S. aid — more per capita than any other nation in sub-Saharan Africa at the time.

But Doe’s regime quickly showed that it was as violent and riven by corruption as the one it had replaced. All the while, a group of Liberian expats — including both Taylor and Woewiyu, then a legal permanent resident living outside Newark, N.J. — were launching a plan to remove him.

The organization they formed to support their effort would later become known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). They made their first successful strike on Christmas Eve 1989 and within months Taylor had seized much of the countryside.

For a time, the United States sought to play both sides of the conflict – eager to avoid being shut out of the country by whichever faction emerged the victor, James K. Bishop, the former U.S. ambassador to Liberia, testified Wednesday.

Yet, neither side presented an ideal ally. Doe’s government had become increasingly unpopular among Liberians and he was eventually assassinated by an offshoot of Taylor’s forces less than a year into the war. Taylor was a convicted felon who had escaped from an American prison in the 1980s before his attempt to violently seize control of his own nation.

Meanwhile, conditions on the ground in Liberia deteriorated.
“Both sides were savaging civilians,” Bishop said. “Many thousands of Liberia had crowded into [Monrovia], fleeing from the violence. And the food situation was becoming critical.”

Woewiyu emerged from that fray. He called Cohen, the Bush-era State Department official, days after the NPFL invasion to introduce himself as Taylor’s chief spokesman and defense minister. He assured the U.S. that its goal was to replace Doe’s regime with a democratically elected government.

LIBERIAN DIALOGUE
Thomas Jucontee Woewiyu photographed in the early 1990s.
Cohen testified Wednesday that upon first blush Woewiyu, an erudite family man who by that time had lived in the U.S. for decades, appeared to be a voice of reason amid the chaos.

“He impressed me as someone of reliability,” Cohen said, echoing sentiments later expressed by Elizabeth Blunt, the BBC’s former West Africa correspondent.
She interviewed Woewiyu several times during the war and also described him during testimony Thursday as a seemingly respectable figure.
“He was very articulate – not as flamboyant as Charles Taylor, but in a bit of the same style,” she said. “If you’re trying to put someone forward that gives the impression that yours is a serious political movement, he was a good PR man.”

Prosecutors say, however, that that “acceptable public face” was just a ruse Woewiyu used when dealing with international leaders to hide the worst excesses of Taylor’s fighting forces including summary executions of civilians, looting, and the conscription of child soldiers. His claimed desire for a quick, democratic resolution to the conflict quickly evaporated, they maintain, and several witnesses have testified they saw him in Liberia commanding NPFL troops.

“Tom Woewiyu is responsible directly and indirectly [for] the acts that were committed throughout this conflict by the NPFL,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nelson S.T. Thayer Jr. told jurors in opening statements.

In the first four days of the trial — one expected to last three weeks — defense lawyer Mark Wilson sought in questioning the government’s witnesses to cast Woewiyu as a freedom fighter who stood in opposition to the corrupt and oppressive Doe.

Woewiyu played no part in the regrettable atrocities that were undeniably committed, he and cocounsel Henry have argued. “There was not one good guy and one bad guy,” Henry said. “There’s plenty of blame to go around.”

 

OFFICES OF THE VICE PRESIDENT, REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA LOCATED IN FARAWAY CAPITOL BUILDING HOME OF THE NATIONAL LEGISLATURE:SOME THOUGHTS

The Vice President of Liberia, under the Constitution, is Deputy or Assistant President of the Nation. As such, he/she becomes President in the event of death, disability or any other inability of the President to serve in performing his/her functions.


The Vice President is bound, by law, to assist the President in the planning, coordination and cooperation in carrying out the duties of their common responsibilities – local, national and international – to the best of their abilities. Thus, the offices of the Vice President should and must be located closed to the President at the Executive Mansion national offices of the Chief Executive of the Nation, to facilitate a close, cooperative and cohesive work relationship and to achieve the best interest of the nation and people.

For 170 Years
But, throughout the nation’s history of more than a century and half to this day, the Vice President has been, and is, banished to faraway Capitol Building, home offices of the National Legislature as “President of the Senate” where he/she has no meaningful function befitting the position of Deputy President of the nation, but to cast a tie-vote, although the Senate has a presiding officer, the President Protempore. This approach is not only demeaning, but also, that it is wasteful of useful talent, commitment, loyalty and patriotism.

Why was the Vice President or Vice Presidency of the nation so banished? For whatever reason, the banishment has outlived its usefulness for today’s liberal, progressive world of pro-democracy.

Therefore, the offices of the Vice President, or Deputy President, must be located at the Executive Mansion Offices of the Chief Executive to facilitate close, cordial, understanding, coordinative, cooperative, cohesive and mutually-respectful work relationship between President and Vice President, in the supreme interest of the Nation and People.

Brics nations to take cooperation to a new level From Kester Kenn Klomegah based in Moscow

Experts on regional strategic policy have urged BRICS member countries to step up efforts towards setting up its own credit rating agency as an effective mechanism to consolidate the bloc’s new multifaceted spheres of cooperation. BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is currently working on a set of new proposals including the establishment of women business club and a rating agency, among others, for the 10th edition of BRICS Summit scheduled to take place from 25-27 July, 2018, in Johannesburg, South Africa.


As far back in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India called upon members of BRICS to take begin the BRICS credit rating agency. India has long held the view that a new rating agency would provide an immense contribution to the existing knowledge of rating systems. Since then, there have been discussions at several conferences and forums, the latest was during the special panel session on the future prospects of BRICS at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum late May.

“As a first step towards creating such an agency, we propose the countries offer their national agencies to form a network. Our partnership with one of the Chinese rating agencies, Golden Credit, could be used as a prototype of this network,” Ekaterina Trofimova, Chief Executive Officer of the Analytical Credit Rating Agency, said.

There are also similar views. “Many foreign countries most often consider or rate BRICS countries, enterprises and financial institutions get a biased evaluation. We would like to see more neutral ones that we can further relate to,” according to Sergey Katyrin, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation. It’s necessary to have unbiased ratings of institutions of BRICS countries as there are is open to the world and consistently expanding ties with concerned countries and seek integration into business associations, he explained.

Jayshree Sengupta, a Research Fellow from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi, India, thinks that BRICS want to have their own rating agency and are set to have it soon because the three international rating agencies Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor that dominate the world sovereign rating market have been rather unfair to BRICS members and other developing countries. They frequently downgrade them on unjust grounds and criteria that serve western political interests. They downgraded Brazil and Russia in 2017 and keep changing their grading about India, creating much uncertainty.

Sengupta indicated in an email interview that “their 'issuer paid' model of rating is biased and BRICS members are perhaps contemplating having their own rating agency on 'investor pays' model which may be more appropriate for their Emerging Market economies.”

While expressing the fact that the idea is highly laudable, Francis Kornegay, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Global Dialogue, University of South Africa, explained recently to me that “it has something to do with the global economic balance of power as to whether there is sufficient leverage among BRICS countries and other emerging powers to provide such an alternative.”

Kornegay specializes on global geopolitical and strategic trends and he is also a long-term analyst of global South and emerging power dynamics and US foreign policy. As such, he recently produced, as lead co-editor, Laying the BRICS of a New Global Order: From Yekaterinburg 2009 to eThekwini 2013 (Africa Institute of South Africa).

The BRICS economic growth rate is increasing. “Starting last year, all BRICS countries have demonstrated positive trend in economic growth. Moreover, we expect that the growth rate will be increasing through 2018 and 2019, especially in India,” according to Yaroslav Lisovolik, Chief Economist and Managing Director for Research at the Eurasian Development Bank.

Thus, a BRICS own rating agency has the benefit of reducing the dependency of sovereign and corporate ratings of the developing world on the verdicts of the “big three” referring to Moody’s, Standard & Poor and Fitch. “The fact that all five BRICS economies are to participate in launching the ratings agency serves as a wide enough base to create sufficient demand and use of its ratings compared to the relatively narrow potential of national rating agencies,” he explained.

In other words, an alliance among the largest developing countries is crucial in launching such an enterprise - on top of the possibilities of operating in the BRICS countries themselves and there may also be the possibility to expand the operations of such an agency to the regional partners of BRICS countries, Lisovolik suggested.

On his part, Brazilian Ambassador to Russia, Jose Vallim Antonio Guerreiro questioned how the procedures of existing rating agencies could be applicable to all economies. “The question is whether this procedure includes all the relevant factors. You may need to look for alternative indicators and broad approaches to assess the health of economies,” he argued. “I do not believe that the new agency will be something to resist the existing institutions. They do their job, and certainly, there is a demand for their services. But it is possible that the BRICS countries will elaborate a different approach.”

Some experts still cast doubts about the feasibility of the project. “As far as I know, this endeavour was considered too expensive and not feasible at the moment,” Professor Georgy Toloraya, Executive Director at the National Committee on BRICS Research in Russia, wrote me simply without detailed discussion on the topic.

But, an Associate Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), who requested for anonymity, strongly suggested that the BRICS credit rating agency as a business project could be well-managed if given to India, or at best, to China that previously offered a larger part of seed capital for the establishment of the New Development Bank.

The Financial Times reported that BRICS countries have long deliberated on plans to establish their own rating agency along with the formation of the New Development Bank. The BRICS member countries (namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) collectively represent about 26% of the world’s geographic area and are home to 2.88 billion people, about 42% of the world’s population. *Kester Kenn Klomegah frequently writes about issues connecting Russia, Africa and BRICS.

NEW SONG AND DANCE

There is a New Song ‘n Dance, call it the Paradigm Shift from conventional to unconventional approach or method of seeking, acquiring and ratification of external financing - Loans, etc.- for national, socio-economic and political development.


According to the vibes from the new Weah Government, a government dominated and controlled by civil war and economic crimes suspects, loyalists appointed by former President Mrs. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the paradigm shift is occasioned by the failure of the proceeds from the conventional, external loans to finance infrastructure development, but ended right back to the conventional financiers – the IMF, WB, ADB and offshore salaries of their in-country advisors, etc., etc.

This includes massive corrupt leakages into the private pockets of the very same, present Liberian government officials in the form of overnight, rags-to-riches, mansions, hotels and related private business ventures, foreign health trips all at public expense; top-of-the-line automobiles, gasoline, electric generator and mobile phone scratch cards allowances with over-paid monthly salaries.

These government officials believe and hold that this time around, the proceeds from the unconventional, external financing with 4g instant ratifications and sizable leakages beneficial to the government officials will reach the Liberian people in the form of roads construction, agriculture, healthcare, education, etc., etc. But . . .

We wonder, seriously, where is the Change – Reforms and Improvements – in the lives of the Liberian people, especially, with the same such individuals as the “politically-connected Lawyer” indicted for demanding/receiving/dishing out bribes, Cllr. Senator Varney Sherman, legal counsel to LISCR; convicted, disbarred for embezzlement and “politically-connected Lawyer”, Cllr. Representative J. Fonati Koffa; Field Marshall, General of the INPFL who executed several innocent citizens without trial, now Senator Prince Y. Johnson; and many, many other civil war generals and economic crime suspects as General Charles Bright, etc., with the same mind-set ordained to massive corruption and disloyalty to the Nation and people, NOW Calling the shots!!

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