Weah Cautioned Against Interference in Elections at Capitol Building

The pro-democracy group, Legislative Watch Forum (LWF) is calling on President–elect Ambassador George Manneh Weah, not to interfere with the process of electing a new President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate.
The group, in a release, said its attention has been drawn to a recent meeting reportedly held at a local hotel where President-elect- Weah was said to have rallied senators to elect his kinsman Albert Chie of Grand Kru County as President Pro-Tempore.
Legislative Watch Forum reminds Ambassador Weah that executive interferences in legislative affairs have over the years affected the independence of the Legislature, especially in the twelve- year administration of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as such; the CDC- led government must not repeat those negative practices.
The civil society group said Ambassador Weah who speaks dearly about a people-centered and geographically balanced government must not contradict himself by attempting to influence senators to elect a President Pro-Tempore from Grand Kru, the county of his nativity.
The group is also cautioning members of the ensuing 54th Legislature to strengthen democratic governance in Liberia by demonstrating independence if they must attract and maintain public confidence.
“We call on Senator Weah not to allow any hidden hands to influence his thoughts and decisions into doing things that have the propensity to erode public trust in his government”; the release said.
According to the group, if Senator Albert Chie and Cllr. Fonati Koffa are elected, Liberia would have the President, Speaker and President Pro-Tempore hailing from the same county, something the civil society group described as counterproductive to genuine democratic governance.
Meanwhile, the Legislative Watch Forum is admonishing some members of the Senate who are reportedly drafting a resolution to bar their colleagues with three year left on their tenure from contesting the forthcoming Pro-Tempore election.
LWF described such resolution as pointless and unacceptable on grounds that the Senate has already set precedent twice by electing former Senator Gbehzongar Findley and Armah Jallah, both of whom had three years left on their tenures.

Recommendations For Future Elections

By Mafanta Kromah

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) over the weekend made several recommendations to the National Elections Commission (NEC), political parties and candidates, security, civil society organizations, the media, and stakeholders as well the international community and development partners.
Addressing the media, the former president of Kosovo of NDI,Mrs. Atifete Jahjaga recommended the NEC make available to the public data gathered on the gender data capturing sheet about respective rates of women and men’s participation as voters.
She requested that, for future elections, the NEC should eliminate impediments to civil society’s involvement in civil and voter education, conduct a review of 2017 voter registration process to improve the integrity of future voter register.
“The NEC needs to identify future entry point for greater transparency such as solicitation of an independent audit or procedures for the list to be publicized in full in a timely manner,” she stressed.
In furtherance, Mrs. Jahjaga suggested that political parties and candidates act against violence and encourage productive citizen engagement in politics, raise awareness of and express zero tolerance for violence against women in any electoral process and also toward female candidates.
She called for proactive measures throughout electoral cycle to recruit, train, and provide leadership opportunities for women to successfully meet the threshold of 30 person.
She acclaimed that political parties start to draw on experiences and lessons learned from the2017 election cycle to consult on, and advance recommendations for electoral reform.
“Political parties need to engage in proactive measures to strengthen consultative mechanism with the NEC such as the inter-party consultative committee and utilize information gathered on those individuals-especially youth and women who stood as candidates or volunteered as poll watchers to find opportunity to sustain their engagement with the party structures in the post-election period,” Jahjaga narrated.
At the same time, the former Foreign Affairs Minister of Ghana, Hanna Tetteh called on the security service to complete and make public results of investigations of any election-related incidents in a timely fashion to enhance public confidence and combat impunity.
She suggested they build on the successes of the decentralized, community-based policing approach used during the electoral period to consolidate security sector reform.
She called on the civil society to come together to compile lessons learned for reaching women, youth, rural and first time voters with an eye to conducting more effective, target civic and vote education campaign during future elections. Stressing that “Monitor political processes, including in the post-election period and with respect to electoral reforms.”
Mrs. Tetteh maintained that the media should only report verified information, clearly distinguish between articles written by journalists, editorials and materials that are produce by outside sources and publish for fees and discourage insightful language and dispel rumors.
She indicated that stakeholders engage in ongoing civil and voter education around issue related to election, legal dispute, and citizen engagement during all aspect of electoral cycle, including between elections.
In conclusion, she asked the international community and development partners to continue to stand I solidarity with the Liberian democratic process through support to democratic activists at all level of society and as well as sharing lessons learned and best practices for peaceful political transitions.

UNSC Impressed With Successful Elections In Liberia

Members of the Security Council have congratulated the Liberian people and government, as well as political leaders, civil society organizations, and the media for the peaceful conduct of the December 26 presidential runoff election. They congratulated the two candidates for the responsible conduct of their campaigns.
In a statement issued Monday, members of the Security Council commended Liberia’s National Elections Commission, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the Government of Liberia for their preparation and execution of the presidential runoff election and for their efforts to address the issues from the October 10 legislative and presidential election.
The members of the Security Council further expressed appreciation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and all international, regional, and domestic election observation missions for their contributions to the transparency of the electoral process and timely assessments. The members of the Security Council expressed their appreciation for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Farid Zarif, and the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), for continued assistance and good offices through the electoral process.
The members of the Security Council noted the importance of the upcoming political transition and commended active engagement between the outgoing and incoming administrations leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Weah.
The members of the Security Council noted the significance of the first peaceful transfer of power between democratically elected leaders in Liberia in over 70 years. They encouraged the incoming Government of Liberia, and the United Nations, including UNMIL, to continue to coordinate closely on the transfer of responsibilities, taking into account UNMIL’s closure at the expiration of its final mandate extension on 30 March 2018, as set out in Resolution 2333 (2016).
The members of the Security Council encouraged the continued engagement of the international community and donors to assist Liberia’s continued efforts to achieve sustainable peace, including in support of the commitments made in the Liberia Peacebuilding Plan.

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Third Term Or New Breed?

Liberians seem to be pondering over the best alternative in deciding who gets to the Executive Mansion, having already disallowed 18 presidential candidates by vote counts in the 2017 elections not to handle the gavel of authority for the presidency.

Though the National Elections Commission (NEC) has not released final results to determine who wins the presidency, the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) are expected to go for a run-off as indicated by the percentages both parties have so far accumulated from the votes obtained.

With CDC Candidate George Weah  securing 39.0 % of the total votes while UP Candidate Joseph Boakai  obtaining 29.1% of the total votes, with 95.6% of the total polling places already reported,  the claim by  presidential candidates and their supporters about one round of election does not seem to hold.

Long before the elections were conducted, analysts and political commentators, having followed the trends of event in the country, surmised that the ruling party and one opposition party would enter second round for the presidency, no matter how popular any of the 20 presidential candidates might have claimed to be in the race.

Before  and during the period of campaign, opposition political parties struggled to amalgamate strengths  to oust the ruling Unity Party, on grounds that the UP has led the country for two uninterrupted  terms and that giving the party another chance for  third term would suggest supporting  a one party system.

However, supporters of the ruling party have argued that the UP is the best political institution to lead the country and continue the level of development which President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has undertaken in what is now becoming her 12 years of administration.

Influential members of the Liberian Senate and the House of Representatives joined the Joseph Boakai presidential bid and campaigned for his election while opposition political parties were segmented to take on the ruling party.

It is recalled months before active electoral activities kicked off, in their numbers, opposition political parties assembled in Ganta, Nimba County  for a conference geared towards determining what to do to oust the UP at the polls.

The Ganta conference produced what was called ‘The Ganta Declaration’ which those parties in attendance pledged their commitment to. It was then gathered that those parties concerned would support any opposition party that would remain in the race for a run-off.

Nevertheless, staunch supporters of  UP argued that the ‘Ganta Declaration’ would not hold because of power struggle among the very opposition politicians, citing what transpired in 2005 and 2011 when  most of those parties attempted forming coalitions but  did not achieve the goal;

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“Betting On Africa To Feed The World”

The African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, will deliver the Norman Borlaug Lecture today as part of the World Food Prize events taking place from October 16-20, 2017 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

The Norman Borlaug Lecture titled “Betting on Africa to Feed the World” will be on World Food Day, October 16, in conjunction with the annual World Food Prize celebration.

President Adesina will receive the 2017 World Food Prize on Thursday, October 19. The prize is to agriculture while the Nobel Prize is to peace, science and literature.

The World Food Prize board announced President Adesina as the 2017 Laureate (http://APO.af/nNtr9w) in June for his work in improving the availability of seed, fertilizer and financing for African farmers, and for laying the foundation for the youth in Africa to engage in agriculture as a profitable business.

The World Food Prize, founded by Nobel Laureate, Norman Borlaug, is the foremost international honour recognizing the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

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‘Remain Calm’!-Women Situation Room Cautions Political Parties & Supporters

By Abraham Morris-231886294820- abrahammorrisabrahammorris@gmail.com

The Women Situation Room (WSR) of the Angie Brooks International Center (ABIC) through its Establishment Coordinator, Cllr. Yvette Chesson Wureh, has cautioned standard bearers of political parties and supporters to remain calm and patiently await the collation, tallying and final results by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Addressing a news conference Monday, at the offices of the Women Situation Room (WSR), in Monrovia, the ABIC Establishment Coordinator said the WSR continues to monitor the counting, tallying and pronouncement of preliminary results.

Therefore, Cllr. Wureh reiterated that the phase of electoral process is as important as the registration, campaign and voting process, which has the propensity to derail the process and cause conflict.

The WSR appreciated the resilience and vigilance of the general public who called to report threats and incidence of violence which Eminent Women of the physical Situation Rooms in Monrovia and Suacoco were able to intervene in a timely manner in collaboration with NEC and the Liberia National Police (LNP).

She pointed out that the WSR is a women’s peace-building mechanism for the mitigation of conflict before, during and after elections in African countries.

According to her, the WSR mobilizes women in collaboration with youth to lobby and advocate stakeholders to support the call for peaceful elections.

She said the WSR is a non-partisan and neutral process that was initiated by the women in Liberia in 2011 with technical support from ABIC for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership, Development, International Peace and Security.

Cllr. Wureh said the WSR rollout a series of activities leading to the setting up of two physical situation rooms.

She said these included the setting up of a mini call center during voter registration; the talking bus which captured issues from communities in hotspots counties, the Youth Peace Torch, the  15,000 Women Peace March for peaceful elections, training for the Yanna Boys followed by the ECOWAS Youth Peace Summit.

As a result of its demonstrated effectiveness in preventing and mitigating election-related violence in several countries in Africa, the WSR was endorsed as best practice by the 2012 AU’s Gender is My Agenda campaign. The UN has also recognised the WSR as best practice in conflict and violence prevention.

The WSR is an initiative that mobilises, harnesses and taps into the expertise and experiences of women to act and mitigate potential conflict, leading to violence that could emerge before, during and after elections.

It empowers women and youth to play an active and direct role in peace and security efforts, and to engage in peace processes and conflict prevention mechanisms in accordance with UNSC resolutions 1325 and 1820.

The initiative was first used during the 2011 elections in Liberia, and has since been successfully replicated in Kenya (2013), Senegal (2012), Sierra Leone (2012), Nigeria (2014) and Uganda (2016), among other countries.

There were also plans to use it in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo. The operational approach of the WSR is expected to differ in individual countries, allowing for flexibility to adapt to local conditions and dynamics.

Cllr. Wureh said owing to the several challenges confronted by NEC during these elections, the WSR recommended that provision be made for lighting in the polling places to ensure increase visibility.

She also recommended that a change in the dates of elections should be considered so that elections are held in the dry season thus eliminating the problems during elections in the rainy season, which adversely affect the ability of NEC to distribute ballots materials and staff.

Should there be a run-off declared, the WSR through its Establishment Coordinator recommended that NEC conduct as immediate training of polling staff due to the high percentage of invalid votes (7.2%), which as their observer reported, were due largely to polling staff inking fingers before ballots were deposited as well as inefficiencies.

 

 

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Bahá’ís To Climax Founder’s Anniversary

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Liberia is expected to climax the observance of the 200th bicentennial celebration of the birth of its founder, Bahá’u’lláh at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Monrovia.

The Bahá’i Faith is the world’s fastest growing religion established in every country and territory across the globe with closed to 7 million believers. It is an independent world religion that teaches the oneness of God, the oneness of religion and the oneness of mankind.

Its founder, Bahá’u’lláh (The Glory of God), was born in Persia; modern day Iran in 1817 and declared Himself to the world in 1863 as the promised Manifestation for all religions and peoples of the earth. Here in Liberia, the Bahá’i National Spiritual Assembly was established since 1975.

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’is of Liberia in a press release issued in Monrovia recently, encouraged friends and everyone to investigate the healing message of Bahá’u’lláh for all mankind.

“Bahá’u’lláh, the founder of the Bahá’i Faith has brought teachings to unify the whole world; teachings that address the current situation of the world’s countless challenging problems,” said the release.

“Bahá’is are using the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh to offer service in communities they reside in through moral and spiritual educational programs for children, spiritual empowerment of adolescence girls and boys through mentorship and collective community worship for youth and adults,” the release furthered.

The Bahá’is Faith came to Liberia in the early 1950s and has taking root in all fifteen counties before the civil war through its popular radio programs (Radio Bahá’i) and community engagements.

Today, Bahá’is in most of these counties are very active, spreading the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh through religious and social activities and are all planning to host guests as they celebrate the 200th birth anniversary of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of The Bahá’i Faith in accordance with guidance from the Universal House of Justice (The Bahá’i World Center) on Mount Carmel, in Haifa, Israel.

 

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Let The Will Of The People Prevail

FOLLOWING MONTHS OF intensive campaign for the presidency and representative seats in Liberia, Liberians have demonstrated their power in deciding the fate of their politicians.

THOUGH THERE ARE reported irregularities which some candidates have cried fouls over with threats of legal redress, and to some extent a call for re-run of election, we must hail Liberians for the peaceful atmosphere under which the elections were held across the country on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

WE ARE EXTREMELY grateful to individual Liberians for electing their next 73 representatives, majority of whom will be new comers at the 54th National Legislature.

AS A MATTER fact, what we observed regarding the election of members of the House of Representatives in the 2017 elections is a repeat of what transpired in 2011 and 2014 elections, when majority of the lawmakers who sought re-election were ousted thereby signaling that the power is inherent in the people and not in those who serve them.

HOWEVER, WE STILL have the biggest decision to make, judging by the results so far  being released  for the presidency which no one presidential candidate has been able to secure 50 plus one percent of the total votes cast to be declared a winner.

YET, WE OWE it to our people as watchdogs in society to acknowledge that the people have spoken and their determination is that the number of presidential candidates in the race could not give any candidate an outright win for the presidency, except a run-off which is now seen irreversible.

ALREADY, JUDGING BY the results released, it is clearly shown that the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the ruling Unity Party (UP) will go for a run-off once the National Elections Commission announces the final results and no party gets the 50 plus one percent votes of the overall votes counted across the country.

INDEED, WE POISE to witness the process as we have done throughout the months, weeks and days ago, hoping that the voices of the people will be heard and respected.

FINALLY, LET THE will of the people prevail, by allowing whosoever that is truly elected through the ballot box is given the chance to lead Liberia in fulfilling a smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another.

 

 

 

 

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Three Elections, Three Runoffs

THE NATIONAL ELECTIONS Commission (NEC) is expected to commence the release of preliminary results of the October 10, 2017 presidential and representatives’ elections on Wednesday, October 12.

IF THE RUNOFF holds, it would be the third time in three consecutive elections; 2005, 2011 and now 2017.

WHILE THE PROCESS is nerve rocking and leaves the nation open, it must be said that our democracy is being tested to the brink of making or missing it.

AS IT STANDS now, unconfirmed statistics from various polling centers around the country is a glaring indication that the ruling Unity Party and opposition Coalition for Democratic Change will certainly faceoff in a possible runoff,”

THESE TWO PARTIES, over the past two elections have faced off, with CDC withdrawing from the last runoff in 2011.

WHILE EACH PARTY anticipates a resounding one round victory, the preliminary results coming through media lines from across the country may not be the kinds of numbers needed for such victory.

ALTHOUGH NEC CHAIRMAN Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, told a news conference Wednesday, October 11, 2017 that the process was freely conducted despite delays in opening polling precincts and verification of names in some instances,

THE POSSIBILITY OF a 50 plus one victory may not be possible for either CDC or UP.

AT THIS JUNCTURE, Liberians are bracing themselves for one of the hottest runoff campaigns in the history of Liberian politics.

THE HOPE NOW is that Liberians will embrace yet another runoff without violence.

THE ELECTION WAS impressive, it shows that our democracy is gaining strength and that the nation is moving in the right direction.

THREE NOTEWORTHY ELECTIONS, three runoffs, Liberia is on the move, especially if a run off can successfully be conducted, that is violence free.

 

Amb. Ruhle Presents Letter of Credence …..To Sierra Leone’s President Ernest Bai Koroma

Liberia’s newly accredited Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Sierra Leone has pledged to work tirelessly and in concert with officials of that Government, to further solidify the already excellent relations subsisting between both countries and peoples.

“The natural ties that bind our two peoples transcend the physical boundaries. Liberia and Sierra Leone have so much in common: culture, language and tradition, among others,” she said.

Highlighting the two countries’ shared experiences, she stressed that today, both countries are applauded for their courage, strength and resilience. “Our countries are considered to be tested and positively evolving democracies; success stories of post-conflict recovery and firmly committed to peacebuilding and inclusive socio-economic development,” she added.

According to a dispatch from Freetown, Liberia’s Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Her Excellency Mrs. Musu Jatu Ruhle, made the statement when she presented her Letters of Credence to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma at State House recently.

Ambassador Ruhle succeeds Ambassador Jarjar M. Kamara, who has been appointed Senior Ambassador-at-Large, Republic of Liberia.

She indicated that the close relations nurtured between Presidents Sirleaf and Koroma have cascaded to the peoples of both countries. “It is no surprise that the volume of cross border trade has increased significantly, involving imported goods and locally produced agricultural food items. Trade fairs on either side of the border are regularly attended by marketers from both countries. Security networks along our border are united in formulating strategies that foster peace, security and integration,” she emphasized.

Ambassador Ruhle stressed that while the natural integration of peoples of both countries is a welcome phenomenon, she looks forward to strengthening cooperation with Sierra Leone as the world is becoming more challenging as criminals engage in transnational crimes, including drug and human trafficking, smuggling of goods and small arms.

She also highlighted the Mano River Union which has given confidence to its member states and provided a mechanism by which simultaneous infrastructural growth can be developed and sustained in the sub-region. “We look forward to collaborating with your government for the implementation of projects beneficial to the people of the Union. The ongoing initiatives for construction of road network, peacebuilding, security and environmental protection and progress towards the establishment of a sub-regional framework to sustain and ensure peaceful democratic transition in member states, all offer prospects for a brighter future,” she added.

Accepting Ambassador Ruhle’s credentials, Sierra Leone’s President, His Excellency Dr. Koroma first appreciated the warm sentiments and fraternal greetings extended to him, the Government and people of Sierra Leone by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

He indicated that both countries have long standing bilateral relations built on a platform of mutual trust respect for sovereignty and the belief that all nations have the right to aspire for prosperity and peaceful co-existence. “Both countries have gone through turbulent times with civil wars in the 1990s and the Ebola virus outbreak in 2014 – 2015,” he recounted.

President Koroma assured Ambassador Ruhle of his personal support and that of his Government and people in the accomplishment of her mission. “I also wish to acknowledge your desire to further strengthen the bonds of friendship between Sierra Leone and Liberia and to chart other areas of cooperation that will be beneficial to our two peoples,” he said.

He noted that Liberia, in recent times, witnessed the plummeting of its post-war GDP that were unarguably and admirably the best but unfortunately not resilient enough to stem the fallouts from the outbreaks.

However, he stressed that the fortitude, patience and hope have paid off as both countries weathered the various storms; noting that in spite of such difficulties, they both have also celebrated years of democratic maturity, peace, security and stability; respect for human rights; and manifested, with tangible evidence, their aspirations for the attainment of sustainable and inclusive development.

On the democratic front, President Koroma said both countries, from the end of conflict at the turn of the century, have observed and enjoyed peaceful democratic transitions, and are on the verge of conducting elections, which hopefully and certainly, would receive local and global acclaims as well as accolades as being peaceful, transparent and fair.

On the global front, he said, as developing countries, both have had convergent views in their global engagements.

He used the opportunity to again on behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone express deep sense of gratitude to President Sirleaf, the Government and people of Liberia for the outpouring of condolence messages, financial resources, medical and emotional support following the August 14 mudslides and flooding disaster that claimed the lives of an uncountable number of his compatriots while wreaking untold havoc in the hillside communities.

 

 

 

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As NEC Announces Provincial Results: CDC, UP Battle Presidency

 

By T. Michael Johnny 0886571899/0775820581

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released its preliminary results of the October 10, 2017, presidential and legislative elections tallying 15% of the total results throughout the country with the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) leading the chart with 42.66% and the Unity Party (UP) snatching 25.88% of the votes.

NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya announced that the provisional results released represents 15% of the total population of valid votes cast and that additional result will be announced in subsequent days until October 25, 2017.

The provincial tally shows that in Bomi County, the CDC obtained 44.4% of votes, while UP snatched 33.1%. In Bong County, the CDC received 39.4% and UP 24%, while in Gbarpolu County the CDC also obtained 41.6% and UP 37.4% as in Grand Bassa County the Liberty Party (LP) received 48.4%, CDC with 32.5% and 8.3% for UP.

In Grand Cape Mount County, the CDC received 46.4% and 37.5% for the UP, while in Grand Gedeh, the CDC got 76% and the UP 12.07% and in Grand Kru County, the CDC receives 58%, the UP 10.8%, while the LP received 9.2% respectively.

In Lofa County, the UP received 78.1% of the votes, the LP with 8.8% and the CDC with 5.87%, while in Margibi County, the CDC got 47.8%, the UP with 34.6%, Alternative National Congress (ANC) 7.2% and the LP with 6.8%.

In Maryland County, the CDC obtained that 26.2%, ANC 31.5, UP-15.0%, while the CDC in vote rich Montserrado County received 76%, UP 26.6%, ANC 9.6% and the LP 7.2% and in Nimba County, the Movement for Democratic Reconstruction (MDR) of Senator Prince Johnson topped with 52.6% while the UP obtained 18.17% of the votes.

In River Gee, the CDC snatched 60.7%, while the UP got 15.9%, while in Rivercess County, the LP obtained 37.3%, CDC with 36.1% and the UP with 13.7% respectively and in Sinoe County, the CDC received 69.3% and the UP with 13.17% of the results.

The NEC in a statement said it is important to point out that results published by the Commission are only provincial results and that all other organizations should refrain from announcing anything other than the official results released.

“Candidates and political parties should also be patient and await the official results and not rush to premature conclusions.

The NEC said it is committed to the timely release of the results, but cannot be done at the expense of accuracy, pleading that reports results that are not verified by the commission should not be reported because it has the propensity to ferment problems.