Natives Vs Natives: Who’s Spotless To Lead Liberia?

 

By:  Lewis K. Glay 0886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

The debate about ‘Congo-Native’ politics used as campaign weapon before and during activities marking the conduct of the October 10, 2017 presidential and representative elections now seems immaterial as presidential candidates in the runoff election slated for November 7, 2017 are all natives.

The names Joseph Boakai and George Weah are all native- oriented; they are presidential candidates of the ruling Unity Party and Coalition for Democratic Change, now poised to contest the runoff.

However, the debate among Liberians at present is the spotless character with astute leadership ability to be entrusted with state power, amidst mounting uncertainties about where Liberia is leading after Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s  12 years of civil authority.

Campaign messages from both the CDC and UP, through  their propagandists and supporters claim negatives against  each other, while at the same time portraying  good images, persuading the voting populace about the next political dispensation to come, if either party is elected.

As time slips away for the runoff and campaign reawakens cross-cutting arguments as to who is spotless to lead Liberia, it seems critically less easy for Liberians to select one of the two candidates unanimously because defense postures from supporters of both candidates  are turning the electorate into waiting spectators until polling day reaches.

There has been a clashing point between the two groups of loyalists belonging to CDC and UP.  For instance, those supporting the CDC claim that Vice President Boakai does not need to be elected because he has been part of the 12 years of rule, which they allege has failed the Liberian people; hence it is time to change the leadership by bringing on board a new breed of state actors who should include the younger generation to lead the country.  Weah’s supporters also see most of the Liberians behind VP Boakai as people who have amassed wealth during the two terms of the UP and still want to add up their riches while the country retrogresses.

However, supporters of Vice President Boakai see Senator Weah as being inept to be elected president of Liberia to ensure growth and development for a success story to be told of the post-conflict country. The UP supporters also claim that electing Weah will derail peace and stability in the country because in their argument, they see people who have worked in the UP-led government with tainted characters, as well as those from the Charles Taylor’s regime lining up behind Weah to run a CDC-led government.

In any case, the 2017 runoff is likely to be tough as Liberia is seen as heading for another record- breaking moment; either to elect a football legend as president or elect a sitting vice president whose boss  is constitutionally relinquishing power through a smooth transition;

 

 

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Six “CDC’s Partisans”` Charged To Court

By: Yassah J. Wright

The Liberia National Police (LNP) has charged and forwarded to the Monrovia City Court six persons believed to be supporters of the Collocation for Democratic Change (CDC).

They were on three criminal charges including Terroristic Threats, Simple Assaults and Disorderly Conduct, allegedly against Mr. Henry Costa, a political talk show host.

According to a Police charge sheet, defendants Leroy Kolleh, Sulelman Fofanah, Junior Gibson, Nardoh Parley, Dennis Kanneh and Jeremiah Sackie on October 24, 2017, at about 1:30 P.M, aggressively approached Mr. Costa who was coming from a meeting and threatened to kill him (Costa) and burn his car on Mechlin Street in Central Monrovia.

Mr. Costa told the Police investigators that following the threats, the defendants allegedly began to throw objects at him, with one of them hitting him in the chest claiming that he (Henry Costa) insulted the Standard Bearer of the CDC Senator George Weah on his talk show, something that agitated them.

Police investigation also say that the video recordings viewed by the team revealed that indeed complainant Henry P.Costa was attacked on Mechlin Street between Broad and Ashmun Streets.

The report also says that the defendants, having been told of the allegation, did not deny or admit; but chose to remain silent as advised by their lawyer, Cllr.T.Joseph B. Debblay, in respect of their Miranda’s right.

However, witnesses Stephen T. Wrayee and Sylvester Tevez corroborated the allegation of complainant Henry P.Costa that he was being threatened, assaulted and insulted on the 24th of October, 2017 in the Monrovia.

Our Judiciary reporter said the six defendants were taken to the Monrovia Central Prison pending court trial. However, charges against the defendants are subject to bail under the laws of Liberia.

Complainant Henry Costa is a political commentator and host of a widely listened to radio talk show named the “Costa Show” on a local radio station 90.2 F.M in Monrovia.

Costal contested the October 10, 2017 Representative and Presidential elections as a representative candidate of District # 6 in Montserrado County but was defeated.

Since then, Costa returned to his radio program and continues what some believe he preaches hate messages.

Since the occurrence, officials of CDC have been denying the claims that Costa’s alleged attackers are members of the party; even though Moses Carter of Kings FM of Amb. Weah was the first to break the report.

Be as it may, all eyes are on the judiciary to play its part in determining the fact.

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Lawmaker Charged -For Alleged Threats

By: Yassah J. Wright

Montserrado County District #7 Representative, Solomon George, has been charged for allegedly threatening to beat and strip naked Commerce Ministry’s Chief of Maintenance, Mrs. Macactoh Wreh Togba.

Cllr. Philip Gongole, in-house lawyer for the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, filed the complaint with the Liberia National Police (LNP), indicating that the incident occurred on October 23,2017, when Rep. George entered the Ministry. People subsequently charged and forwarded Rep. George to court.

Court documents say Rep. George entered the first floor of Ministry of Commerce, but did not see Mrs. Togba. Cllr. Gongole, according to the complaint, alleged that Rep. George returned on the ground floor and destroyed one water cooler and one flowers pot.

According to the document, the lawmaker intentionally destroyed the Ministry Commerce water cooler and the flowers pot, further alleging that Rep. George admitted to all the allegations.

Accordingly, Rep. George, upon hearing that his administrative assistant, William C. Wea, was beaten and hand cuffed, allegedly on the instruction of Mrs. Togba, aggressively walked into offices of the Ministry of Commerce verbalizing that he will beat Mrs. Togba.

“In view of the above facts and circumstance, the investigation has resolved to charge Hon. George with the crimes of criminal Mischief in violation of chapter 15.5 menacing chapter 14, subchapher14.25 and disorderly conduct chapter 17.3 of the revised penal code of Liberia pending trial by court,” the police charge sheet

National Food Fortification Alliance To Be Launched Today

By Mafanta Kromah

The official launch of the National Food Fortification Alliance (NFFA) of Liberia is expected to take place today in Monrovia.

Deputy Minister of Commerce and Industry, Roland S. Carey, told a Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism regular press briefing on Thursday that the program takes place at the Alliance’s head office at the Nancy Doe Market in Sinkor.

Carey explained that the program seeks to keep mind and body strong to fight disease by eating fortified food. “The institution is promoting production of fortified food that will include vitamin and mineral to keep the body and mind strong,” he added.

He quoted statistics that 33% of the Liberian children is malnutrition which he said leads to a lot of physical and mental deficiency, considering it as critical to their growth and health. Carey said there is also malnutrition in adults which leads to high blood pressure, sugar and among others.

The Commerce Official said the program also seeks to protect and make sure that there are good and fortified food on the market for the Liberian citizens.

“This initiative will record significant gains in the fortification of food in Liberia, recognized the contribution made by organizations and individuals for the establishment and implementation of food fortification in Liberia, to enhance the border large scale corporation in collaboration with national stakeholders both private and public sector and to raise awareness on the National Food Fortification Alliance in Liberia among the general public in and around Liberia,” he said.

Carey revealed that the institution has established institution and legal framework and carried out series of capacity building functions and studies.  He averred: “They have quality ensure testing, industrialists advocacy and social marketing and among several others.”

He indicated that the Minister of Commerce for signing the Weed Fortification Regulation something he said help them make sure that flowers used to make bread and other food are well fortified for eating.

The National Fortification Alliance of Liberia was established in 2015 with with collaboration between the Ministry of Health and Commerce and some international partners with the purpose of knowing the types of food that are made and imported to Liberia.

 

 

 

 

 

PREVAIL Publish Ebola I Vaccine Results …Study Produce Year-Long Immune Response

 

The Co-Principal Investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Virus in Liberia (PREVAIL) Dr. Fatorma Bolay has released statement on the institution’s Ebola 1 Vaccine Study results published in New England Journal of Medicine at the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT).

Dr. Bolay said the clinical study was launched on February 2, 2015 and that PREVAIL is still trying to bring the Ebola outbreak under control in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.

“Let me hasten to say that PREVAIL conducts collaborative biomedical research in accordance with best practices, to advance science, strengthen health policy and practice, and improve the health of Liberians and people worldwide.

Dr. Bolay said PREVAIL was established in 2014 in response to a request made by former Liberian Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwinnegale to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell for the United States Government to assist Liberia in the development of vaccines and therapeutics to tackle Ebola.

He indicated that the project is a joint clinical research partnership between the Liberian and U. S. governments through the Ministry of Health of Liberia and the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

“PREVAIL 1 was the first large-scale Ebola study conducted in Liberia. Between February 2 and April 30, 2015, 1,500 men and women ages 18 and older were enrolled into the study at Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town in Monrovia. People who enrolled in the study has no reported history of Ebola virus disease. The participants were divided at random into three groups of 500 each,” said Dr. Bolay.

The Prevail Co-Investigator revealed that one group of people received one test vaccine, the second group received another test vaccine, and the third group received a placebo, or saltwater injection, noting that it was important to include the placebo so that their research team could compare how well the test vaccines worked.

“The study was originally designed to enroll 27,000 volunteers to see whether the vaccines could prevent Ebola virus disease. However, it had to be scaled back to be much smaller when the decline in new Ebola cases made it impossible to conduct the larger study,” Dr. Bolay indicated.

He furthered: Participants gave blood samples before vaccination and again at one week, one month, six months, and one year post-vaccination.

The medical practitioner noted that the study team tested each of these samples for infection-fighting antibodies against the Ebola virus and that after one week, only modest levels of antibodies were seen with both vaccines.

However, he revealed that by one month, 71 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 84 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients developed an antibody response compared with three percent of placebo recipients.

“At one year, the antibody responses were largely maintained in both groups: 64 percent of cAd3-EBOZ recipients and 80 percent of rVSV-ZEBOV recipients had antibody response compared with seven percent of placebo recipients,” Dr. Boley told journalists.

He said that some participants who received the test vaccines had temporary mild to moderate side effects, including headaches, muscle pain, fever and fatigue, stressing that these side effects varied from one person to another.

“Our two volunteers, Emmanuel Lansana and Ambassador Endee, will share their experiences with you all. Overall, no major safety concerns related to the vaccines were identified. The results show that the two test vaccines, cAd3-EBOZ and rVSV-ZEBOV, pose no major safety concerns and can produce immune responses within one month after vaccination that last for at least one year. This result was published in the October 12th issue of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine,” he indicated.

He stressed: Like my colleague and co-Principal Investigator on the study, Dr. Stephen Kennedy, said two weeks ago, “by developing research capacity and infrastructure to answer questions about Ebola and other infectious disease that are threats to global health, PREVAIL has become a successful model for the implementation of clinical trials during health outbreaks in resource-constrained environments.”

“The other co-leader in addition to Dr. Kennedy and myself is Dr. H. Clifford Lane, Deputy Director for Clinical Research and Special Projects at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), which sponsored the study in collaboration with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MoH),” said Dr. Bolay

Prevail said the institution is extremely thankful to have enrolled more than a thousand Liberian volunteers into the trial so quickly and to have more than 98 percent of those who enrolled return for their follow-up visits during the year and that the study was a true collaboration with the people of Liberia who participated and made it a success.

“Let me state here that the PREVAIL I study will continue to follow for several years those who had enrolled into the study to determine the long term benefits of the vaccines,” Dr. Bolay noted

“At PREVAIL, we are doing our best to make an impact on the global public health through clinical research. As Tolbert Nyenswah, Director General of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) noted recently, and I quote, “We cannot succeed in the fight against Ebola unless we identify primary prevention tools.  Through PREVAIL, we are developing vaccines and therapeutics in our region that can help Liberians and the rest of the world“, unquote,” he noted.

He concluded: “The cAd3-EBOZ vaccine candidate was co-developed by NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), while rVSV-ZEBOV, initially engineered by scientists from the Public Health Agency of Canada, is now licensed to Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., a subsidiary of Merck & Co. GSK. Merck provided the test

Liberia’s Quest: Leadership Or Dealership?

What is being suspected of politicians in determining Liberia’s quest for governance appears to be gradually unfolding in the wake of the presidential runoff expected to be held on November 7, 2017.

Poised with their voting cards close to their chests, while Liberians are awaiting the day for the runoff between the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) to decide who takes the mantle of power after Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in January 2018, negotiations for political consensus are said to be held between defeated presidential candidates and the two candidates who are going for the runoff.

Narrowed down to only two  parties for the runoff, campaign is now taking place across the country between the CDC and UP, as supporters of both parties have begun appealing to the electorate for their votes to make either candidate be elected to replace Madam Sirleaf.

Apparently sitting on the fence but not seemingly inactive on the political scene are eighteen presidential candidates whose support to either CDC or UP is being regarded on some quarters as one of the determining factors  to get a CDC or UP elected for the presidency.

It is recalled that contacts for support from candidates and political parties during a runoff have been noted for paving the way in the past for political accommodations for public positions apportioned to politicians at the will of the winning party.

This trend was observed in 2005 and 2011 and the ruling UP successfully sealed deals with political parties and candidates who trusted the party for such political bargaining.

By then, it was Madam Sirleaf and Mr. Weah at one point; and Madam Sirleaf and Cllr. Winston Tubman at another point, who sought support behind the scene from defeated presidential candidates and political parties for runoffs.

After two successive victories of the Unity Party, it is now VP Boakai battling for control of the presidency, but coming second in terms of the total percentage of voted obtained in the first round of elections, to Senator Weah who has the highest percentage of the total votes secured.

Meanwhile, negotiations are said to be ongoing either between the CDC and various defeated presidential candidates, or the ruling UP and the very presidential candidates for support in the runoff, a development political analysts claim is geared towards seeking ‘dealership’ rather than ‘leadership.’

Analysts have also claimed that candidates and parties that lost the elections would put their expenses made during the electoral process on the table to be either underwritten by either candidate seeking their support, or certain slots be provided them, if the candidate wins the presidency.

However, these negotiations do not necessarily guarantee the chances up right because supporters of the candidates contacted  have their individual rights to decide on the candidates they prefer in the runoff ; writes Lewis K. Glay 0886469835/lglay.inprofile@gmail.com

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NEC Commissioners Under Threats -Chairman Alleges

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has alarmed over reported threats on the lives of its commissioners.

NEC’s Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, at regular briefing on Wednesday, made the disclosure, warning the alleged doers to desist.

“The National Elections Commission would like to remind every Liberian citizen, political parties and their supporters to act with responsibility. There is no place in an election for threatening words or behaviour,” Korkoya warned.

He revealed that a direct threat to the commissioners by someone on social media has been reported to the authorities, adding that this type of behaviour is not acceptable.

Korkoya equally called on the media to reinforce their efforts to separate news and opinion in their reporting of the elections. “Unfounded claims are not helpful to the election process and the National Elections Commission calls on journalists to check facts before publication and if required contact our press department for information on an issue so the full story can be published,” he indicated.

Giving election updates, the NEC Chairman disclosed plans to have a recount of votes in Electoral District Number 8, Nimba County in respect to the House of Representatives elections. This, he said, is due to the fact that the difference in votes between the two leading candidates was only 19 and under the rules such difference triggers automatic recount.

At the same time, Korkoya noted that, so far, 56 election-related complaints have submitted to the National Elections Commission. Of these, he explained 54 were filed at magistrates’ offices. Thirty three of these cases have been concluded or have led to further appeals to the Board of Commissioners (BOC), he added.

According to him, hearing has commenced into the complaint of the All Liberian Party (ALP) challenging the conduct of the presidential elections.

Korkoya confirmed that on 23 October 2017, the Liberty Party also submitted a complaint to the Commission, seeking a re-run of the 10 October 2017 election and a suspension of the planned second round runoff election on 7 November 2017.

All these complaints, Korkoya averred,  are being handled according to due process and in a transparent and open manner by the magistrates and hearings office.

Meanwhile, the NEC Chairman said, presidential ballot papers for the runoff elections are expected to arrive in Liberia on October 28, 2017.

 

 

Settled? /Court Seeks Confirmation In Freeman-Democrat Case

The Supreme Court called the case involving Mr. Simeon Freeman and the New Democrat Newspaper; on Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Surprisingly, only the Appellant (New Democrat Newspaper) lawyer, Cllr. Tiawan Gonglo, was present andinformed the high court that the matter has been settle already between the paper and Mr. Freeman.

A marshal’s return on Wednesday indicated that Freeman’s lawyer Cllr. Marcus R. Jones could not be served on grounds that his offices were not operating. “Inconsideration of the above, we decided to contact the appellee (Freeman) himself, but all efforts made proved futile”, the Marshall’s return added.

The Chief Justice has however requested the clerk of the court to write Mr. Freeman and inform him about Gonglo’s claims that the matter has been settled.

It can be recalled that the Consolidated Group won a lawsuit against the New Democrat Newspaper for publishing findings from the GAC audit report in which the paper reported that the group On October 31, 2008, quoting a GAC report, the paper reported that the state spent US$814,195.00 on scrapped road construction equipment that was virtually neglected at the compound of the Ministry of Public Works.

Mr. Freeman alleges that in 2010, a story that ran in the paper portrayed him as incompetent. In the story, the paper criticized a deal, citing a General Auditing Commission report, in which Freeman, a satellite television mogul, received a US$800,000 government contract to import road equipment that was never used

During the trial, counsel for Freeman argued that his client (Consolidated Group Inc.) acted in good faith and without any criminal motive or intent, it honorably performed its obligations pursuant to the memorandum of understanding by delivering the equipment stipulated to and the Ministry of Public Works, the intended beneficiary to the memorandum and the Ministry of Public works commenced using said equipment with their own personnel but the GAC released a report claiming the contrary.

The General Auditing Commission of Liberia, in an audit conducted on the Ministry of Public Works during the period 2006 recommended that the Consolidated Group of Mr. Simeon Freeman restitute US$877,945 for allegedly violating the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and the bid specification by supplying old equipment to the Ministry. “This amount should be restituted along with imputed interest that is compounded daily from the date of payment in 2006 to date,” the report stated.

Liberia Gets Global Lottery/Gaming Body Membership

The National Lottery Authority (NLA) has been admitted into a global lottery/gaming organization known as the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR).

The NLA which is the regulatory body of all games-of- chance in the country including sporting betting, casinos, and lottery-ball games, among others, was accepted as a full member of the IAGR during the just-ended annual conference of the organization held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from October 16-19.

According to the Director General of the NLA, Martin S. Kollie, Liberia’s membership to that global gaming body was obtained after his delegation which included the Board Chairman of the NLA,  Claude J. Katta, fulfilled requirements and standards set by the IAGR for becoming a member.

Mr. Kollie explained that to be qualified to become member of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) a gaming regulatory institution must submit the Act establishing said institution and must also have an approved and standardized regulations which conform to those of other countries.

The NLA head disclosed that his institution is young, having been established in 2014; however, the requirements demanded by IAGR were submitted in advance of the 2017 Johannesburg Conference as they (requirements) among others, seek to curtail illegal gambling, money laundering and other negative practices in the gaming sector. “As a member, each country is being monitored by IAGR to ensure that it conforms to the rules and regulations within the organization’s bylaws” Mr. Kollie emphasized.

He noted that by joining the IAGR, Liberia, through the NLA stands to benefit a lot from knowledge and experience sharing through seminars and new devices to prevent illegal gambling and money laundering; as each jurisdiction of member countries will avail their programs to one another from which others could copy and improve their country’s lottery/gaming sector.

“As per request to improve our lottery/gaming sector, we make good friends and mainly asked for monitoring machines to determine activities being done in the sector so as to detect fraudulent acts and also tract revenues raised from gaming activities to enhance revenue generation for national government,” he said.

According to him, joining the IAGR brings to three the number of international gaming regulatory bodies that the NLA is part of with the others being the African Lottery Association and the World Lottery Association.

The just ended Johannesburg IAGR conference was attended by about 260 delegates from countries in five continents included North and Central America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The next (2018) conference of the IAGR is scheduled to be convened in Copenhagen, Denmark, a release has indicated.

Ellen Commends Visiting Islamic Scholar

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received in audience Sheikh, Khalid Yasim, an American Islamic Scholar who is currently visiting the country and commended him for his decision to come to Liberia. “Let me give you a big welcome for making the decision to come to Liberia” President Sirleaf noted.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf made the commendation on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 in the Cabinet Room of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs when Sheikh, Khalid Yasim, an American Islamic Scholar paid a courtesy call on her.

President Sirleaf welcomed and commended him for choosing Liberia at this time stressing; Liberia has a policy of equality for all and policy of no discrimination. She said her administration has preserved and committed itself to maintaining and sustaining the peace. She told the Islamic Cleric that Liberian Muslim brothers and sisters have supported and continued to support her leadership.

President Sirleaf said that members of the Islamic community in Liberia have always responded to calls from the government of Liberia in honoring certain invitation when called upon “Whenever we have problems, crisis or we have an endeavor that we want to pursue, we invite them, to be with us, to find solutions together and to implement it,” President Sirleaf told the visiting American Cleric and delegation.

The Liberian leader commended Sheikh Yasim for the content of his message, noting that despite the fact Liberians are heading for elections, which often divide people but his message has helped to change some negative actions.

“Your coming into Liberia is at a strategic time in the history of our country; especially in the midst of the nation’s elections. The lectures you are giving; and words of unity of quality are things that are resonating well. “We are asking you to continue to remember Liberia in your prayers,” President Sirleaf urged.

She challenged the visiting American Islamic and others to continue to pray and advocate for Liberia, and be Ambassador for Liberia. “Wherever you go, continue to be a strong partner to Liberia,” she cautioned.

Speaking earlier, the visiting American Islamic Cleric, Sheikh, Khalid Yasim, who said he has visited 23 other countries – commended President Sirleaf and the people of Liberia for the period of stability that she is responsible for. He said he has been lecturing on the theme: “Islam in the 21st Century’ which aims at removing misconceptions about the Islamic Faith and misconceptions that some Muslims have created and misconceptions that non-Muslims have about the Islamic Faith.

“Firstly, I want to commend you for the period of stability in this country, which you are responsible for the last 12 years,” he noted.

Also speaking on behalf of the National Muslim Council of Liberia was Sheilkh Abubakar Sumaworo – Liberia Grand Chief Mufti. He thanked President Sirleaf for the warm reception and lauded her for the peace and stability in the country. Meanwhile, President Sirleaf was presented a Certificate of Appreciation by Muslims United to Invite Scholars for promoting gender equality, peace, stability and youthful participation in government among others in Liberia.