DEN-L Outlines Achievements, Challenges

By Mafanta Kromah

 

The Director of the Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L), Ms. Dorothy Toormann, has outlined achievements and challenges of the network.

She made the outline over the weekend at her office on the DEN-L compound in Gbarnga, Bong County, saying the center for residential blocks, administrative building, a theater, a pub and training halls are available to the public.

Madam Toomann maintained that they have three core programs, which include the Civil Action Program (CAP), Gender Action Program (GAP) and the Outreach for Change Program (OFC) as well as agriculture program.

She said the purpose of the institution is to see Liberia at peace with its neighboring countries and to be a contributor to the peace building of the country through an empowered society at all levels.

She said DEN-L aspire to contribute to empowerment, human rights and equality of women and girls as citizens of the nation in all aspects of their lives and to strengthen and maintain the institution as an effective, efficient organization committed to a Liberia at peace with itself and nearing.

Madam Toomann explained that they are generating funding from partners and donor nationals and  international, such as UN Women, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), United States African Development Fund (USADF), Save the Children, European Union (EU), and among others organizations.

She said their training is include but not limited to community development, organizational development, conflict management and resolution, adult literacy, gender and development, and small business management particular rural appraisal.

She indicated that many of their trainers have visited and benefited from training conducted in South Africa, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Benin and among other countries in Africa.

Meanwhile, she named the provision of light energy as one of the main challenges faced by the institution, explaining that they use too much resource to maintain electricity in the facilities.

She appealed to the government to help bring the Liberia Electricity Cooperation (LEC) to the county so as to reduce the cost of electricity.

 

“My Condition Can’t Hold Me Back” -Physically Challenged At PQSJ Graduation

By: Stephen G. Fellajuah

Success M. Zayzay (with crutches) and fellow graduates

On April 13, 2017, the Peter Quaqua School of Journalism (PQSJ) run by the MediaAid Foundation graduated its second circle of 45 trainees on completing a nine-month course of training in journalism. The graduates include 24 females and 21 males.

Among the 21 males who walked out with diplomas was physically challenged, Success M. Zayzay, who did not allow his condition to stop him from acquiring quality diploma in journalism.

Graduate Zayzay believes that being physically challenged is no bar to education. “I am proud today walking out of the walls of Peter Quaqua School of Journalism. My condition can’t hold me back. I have to persevere and that is why I am honored as ‘Most Courageous Trainee of the year 2016/2017,” he said.

Speaking at the program, Assistant Minister for Technical Services at Ministry of Information, Cultural and Tourism, Jacob Jallah congratulated the graduates for the remarkable field they have chosen.

Min. Jallah indicated that there is no way Liberia can have a vibrant, productive, and healthy governance of the environment without the essential contribution of the media.

He said the Government of Liberia remains committed to the development of the Liberian media stating that the media is an important component to the democratic processes of the society. “The Government’s commitment to the development of free and independent media to decriminalize free speech offenses remains solid,” he emphasized.

For his part, Peter Quaqua, in whose honor the journalism training project is named, explained that this is the second circle of graduation that the school continues to impart knowledge to the next generation of journalism.

He cautioned the graduates to be careful that there will be challenges especially during these elections. “We are in an environment that most of the media are owed by politicians. They have interests and those play into elections. You have ethics and you have to exercise your ethics to the extent of education you acquired from the school,” he notified.

At the same time, the Executive Director of MediaAid Foundation, Titus Togba stated that “out of the 53 trainees shortlisted for graduation, 45 qualified for graduation. Of the total figure, 24 are females. This indicates the growing interest of young women in journalism and that 25 of the graduates are actively involved in media work, he narrated

The Vice president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Octavin William, also graced the program.

 

 

 Media War Waged: Twist In Sable Mining Case? Criminal Court “C” Awaits S/ Court’s Opinion

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

“You don’t run the court in the media and judges are not politicians; they are lawyers who take oath to abide by ethical standards in prosecuting cases brought before them. There is nothing wrong which Judge Gbeisay has done in the proceeding but people are playing politics to taint his hard earned legal reputation…. Because   Judge Gbeisay is not reacting to the barrage of accusation does not mean that the insinuations in the media against him are true”

Criminal Court “C” at the Temple of Justice appears to be hard hit by media war in the wake of the Sable Mining Case involving the state and high profile former and current officials of the Liberian Government.

Judge  Yamie  Quiqui Gbeisay,  one of  Liberia’s respected  Cllrs, who is presiding  over  the Sable Mining  Case  seems to be portrayed  in the media as someone who has done wrong in the proceeding.

Judge Gbeisay is being accused by prosecution lawyers in the case of  inadvertently erring  by marking the evidence (spread sheets, e-mails) temporarily, thus taking exception to such ruling.

The accusation which  scores of media outlets have amplified in recent weeks, has come in the wake of  the state lawyers’  appeal to Judge Gbeisay to give them the period of 10 days  to import their witnesses from abroad  to continue the trial.

Prior to this appeal, Judge Gbeisay denied state lawyers of a motion to rescind judgment for the suppression of evidence which is currently being used in the court to prosecute the defendants in the trial.

The  In Profile Daily has gathered from learned legal minds  that the court has insisted that as a doctrine, the accused should face the accusers in open court; as such, prosecution witnesses need to appear in court to face  the accused and answer questions.

“ You don’t run the court in the media and judges are not politicians; they are lawyers who take oath to abide by ethical standards in prosecuting cases brought before them. There is nothing wrong which Judge Gbeisay has done in the proceeding but people are playing politics to taint his hard earned legal reputation,” one lawyer who spoke to the In Profile Daily on condition of anonymity over the weekend indicated.

The lawyer said Judge Gbeisay cannot say anything on the accusation from state lawyers to the media now because the case has gone to the Supreme Court, adding, “ Because  Judge Gbeisay is not reacting  to the barrage of accusation does not mean that the insinuations in the media against him are true.”

It is recalled that prosecution’s decision to take the matter to the Supreme Court was based on Judge Gbeisay’s stance not to accept their request to have the controversial e-mails and spreadsheets marked permanently to be included as their oral and documentary evidences.

In his stance, Gbeisay declared that the spreadsheets and e-mails will be marked temporarily, pending the arrival of Heine Van Niekerk, who is the major participant in the alleged e-mails exchanges, who prosecution listed as one of its witnesses and informed the court, during argument that he would be brought to testify.

Gbeisay’s judgment indicated: “On the question of conversation referred in the e-mails between defendant Varney Sherman and Klaus Piprik with regards to co-defendant Alex Tyler, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, demanding a payment of US$250,000, making reference to Tyler, a third party, in his absence, it is a truth hearsay,” adding,” But, said statement may be admitted not necessarily for its truthfulness, but for the fact that such statement was made.”

These were some of the wordings in the judgment that prosecution relied upon to take their case before the Supreme Court, arguing that they were not interested having Gbeisay to continue with the matter.

Outlining their reservations, state lawyers argued that for the court to demand them to produce their own witness, Heine Van Niekerk to appear, “It means that Judge Gbeisay was in error; even, when he ruled that every precaution should be taken to ensure that the defendants have maximum opportunity to and prove their innocence.”

“The judge was also in error to say that Niekerk made a grave allegation against the defendants and that was an error for the court to accept that the alleged conversation between co-defendant Sherman and Klaus Piprik with reference to co-defendant Alex Tyler was a heresy.”

Prosecution had also argued that the e-mails and spreadsheets were voluntarily given to the government investigating team by Heine Van Niekerk, Sable Mining West Africa Director with whom co-defendant Sherman had the series of e-mail exchanges.

Sable Mining is a UK based mining company that Global Witness’s report claimed gave over US$950.000 to have the defendants including Tyler to change the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) to award the Wologizi Mountain to the company without going through the competitive bidding process.

In support to the argument, prosecution claimed their investigators obtained a notarized affidavit in which Niekerk confirmed the contents of the e-mails and disposed that he gave the documents to the Liberian Government under an immunity agreement.

Despite these arguments, Gbeisay maintained that Heine Van Niekerk should appear in person to testify about the documents, which prompted prosecution’s action to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention.

‘Be Agents Of Change’ -Foreign Minister

By: Teacee Gbeway-0770464275

Minister Marjon Kamara addressing beneficiaries on Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Madam Marjon V. Kamara, has urged alumni of the Girls Ebola Recovery Livelihood Support (GERLS) project to be agents of change and drivers of transformation within their families, communities and the country at lager.

Delivering the keynote address at the Ministry of  Gender, Children and Social Protection main compound in Monrovia during the Ministry launching program of the (GERLS), she said they must utilize the opportunities being afforded them under this project because the assistance assumes some accountability and responsibility for success.

The project was launched under the theme: Eliminating the Culture of Dependency by Investing in Adolescent’s Girls through Livelihood Support and Business Skills, that is expected to hit three counties Montserrado, Margibi and Grand Bassa.

According to her, the selected beneficiaries are being given a second chance to recover from the disastrous impact of the Ebola virus; to shape or reshape; to become productive members of society and champions of the rights of girls and young women.

Giving outline of some changing face by girls and young women, the Minister Kamara said before the Ebola crisis, the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) conducted in Liberia in 2013 showed the precarious situation of Liberian children that 56% of them under 18 years not living with both parents, In fact, a majority of them were found to be living with single mothers and highly disadvantaged in terms of prospects of achieving educational and other goals.

The Foreign Affairs Minister noted that the survey revealed a substantial gap between males and females in terms of educational attainment: where about 47% of women had never attended school compared to 33% of their male counterpart.

The situation was even worse within the productive age range of 15-49 where 33% of the women had no education compared to 13% of men. It further revealed that 42% of women between the ages of (25-49) had married at age 18 compared to 7% of men. “These are the constraints and challenges that require collective remedial action,” she sounded.

She said it is established that girls and young women encounter a high level of discrimination and violence in public and private spaces including trafficking, sexual, physical and psychological exploitation. Minister Kamara noted that they also experience particular difficulty in obtaining paid jobs in the labor market and that the unemployment rate among young women aged 15-24 in Liberia is twice that of young men in the same age group.

Minister Kamara noted this gap can be attributed in large measure to differences in opportunities especially in the areas of education and skills training emphasizing that young women assume family obligations quite early because one in every three Liberian adolescent girl has a child and the pregnancy rate for girls between the ages of 15-19 stands at 221 per 1,000 – the second highest rate in the world and despite the overall decline in fertility rate in Liberia, 6.7% to 4.7%, the pregnancy rate remains high among adolescent girls.

“We expect this GERLS project to empower the girls and young women selected from these three counties in a manner which give them greater access to social and economic opportunities and we have high expectations that the income support and training being offered to our girls and young women will transform their lives for the better and they in turn will become agents of change and drivers of transformation within their families, communities and, ultimately, our country’’ she said.

The Keynote Speaker used the occasion to encourage GERLS to see this project as an opportunity of a life time and must be taking for granted as it may not come their way again and should make positive impact in the life of others

Giving the overview of the program, the project Manager Vivian N. Innis said the project is one of the government and her partners’ response programs to reduce suffering cause by the devastating effects of the EVD on the economy nothing that the project supports the ultimate goal of strengthening the country’s safety net system and its ability to respond to shocks and increasing the resilience of poor households that have been adversely affected by the EVD outbreak, as well as promoting inclusive economic growth in Liberia.

According to her, the project will directly benefit 2,000 adolescent girls who were already engaged in self wage employment activities before the EVD outbreak, whose businesses have collapsed or are on the verge of folding up; and half of the selected beneficiaries will be previous beneficiaries of Economic Empowerment of Adolescent Girls and Young Women program (EPAG), that was implanted by the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP), who meets the project’s eligibility criteria.

Innis explained the project will provide life and business skills training to support the re-entry and participation of targeted adolescent girls into the labour market and the Ministry will lead the implementation of the GERLS project in the selected communities.

Launching the project Gender Minister Madam Julia Duncan Cassell, said the Ministry in particular is delighted to collaborate with the World Bank Group and the Liberia Country Office in the launch of the GERLS because it provides in some way a platform for sharing knowledge, experiences and lessons on implementing gender empowerment programs, emphasizing that the training is free of charge for girls enrolled in the project and certificate of participation will be awarded upon completion.

According to her, research has proved that almost any investment made in women and girls will have multiplier effect saying the statement is true, but only to the extent that government provide an environment that is conductive to the empowerment of women and girls and the creation of good jobs.

Serving as chief launcher of the project she challenged the beneficiaries to be committed to their training schedule because the country stands to benefit when they are empowered economically, in the same way she also think the GERLS project, EPAG and the SCT teams for the hard word done and encourage the teams to do more for the betterment of the beneficiaries because they are the future leaders.

COC’s Catch: Who Gets Edge?

By: Lewis K. Glay

Liberia, a country with fifteen political sub-divisions has more than twenty political parties to contest the presidency and legislative seats on October 10,2017; as over two million Liberians have, by the record of the National Elections Commission from recent voter’s registration process poised to cast votes.

However, a catch-22 situation which all would-be candidates have to confront is a brand new constitutional check-point – the Code of Conduct (COC), ensuring that no contender is in violation of such law to run for any of the public offices to be contested.

The Code of Conduct which was delayed at the National Legislature on Capitol Hill for passage into law, with claims from critics against members of the legislature that they were not interested in legislating such law, emanated as a bill from the Executive Branch of the Ellen-led government.

Section 5.1 of the Code of Conduct  which is termed as an act on political participation mandates that “ All presidential appointees such as ministers and other public officials, including those in tenure positions  desirous of contesting for elected offices must resign two  and three years respectively prior to elections.”

Recalled in 2011 and 2014, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, before  the COC would  become a forcible legal instrument as it stands to be during the pending presidential and legislative elections, mandated, perhaps as a prelude, presidential appointees in government who intended to run for public offices to resign prior to the processes of  elections.

By then, the mandate became controversial in several quarters, as the President was to some extent lashed at by her arch-rivals, who claimed that she was denying qualified Liberians their right to participate in the democratic process of governance.

Some presidential appointees including former Public Works Deputy Minister Johnson Gwaikolo; and former Internal Affairs Deputy Minister Ranie Jackson,   resigned their posts at the time to contest legislative seat, while former Nimba County Superintendent Edith Gongloe Weh was relieved of her post because she reportedly refused to resign.

At present, the Code of Conduct has developed a row following the Supreme Court of Liberia’s opinion handled down that the COC is legal and a law binding on Liberians to respect.

The Supreme Court’s opinion came as a result of a lawsuit filed against the Liberian Government by Bong County Superintendent Serena Marpay Polson that the law was discriminatory and unmeritorious thus indicating that the Temple of Justice needed to intervene into the fray.

Seemingly unbending on the enforcement of the law, President Sirleaf  recently constituted a team to serve the office of Ombudsman, aimed at addressing cases that would  flag out of  the Code of Conduct against would-be violators.

Nonetheless, public reactions appear unfavorable for those named on the team- Cllr. Chris C. Massaquoi; Atty. Edward Dillon and Atty. Massa Jallabah (who was immediately withdrawn due to her age).

Currently, some civil society organizations have called on President Sirleaf to reconstitute the Ombudsman Team by replacing all those already named with new and credible people but whether Madam Sirleaf would heed to the call remains uncertain.

With the fray intensifying, the National Elections Commission has declared its support for the law as it is in line with the Constitution of the country, as it is already reportedly reflected in its (NEC) electoral guideline for candidates to meet.

Meantime, supporters and sympathizers of opposition political parties whose would-be contenders are likely to be hooked by the Code of Conduct seem to be getting uneasy, not looking at legality, but insinuating that the sole intent of the law is to give leverage to incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai to win the pending presidential election.

Other opposition supporters have taken the argument to incumbent lawmakers wishing to seek re-election that they want the law to work in their favor against other potential contenders who are eyeing legislative seats.

Missing Checks Resurface In Court

By: Yassah Wright

 

The controversial missing checks in the Sable Mining corruption trial  believed to be in the possession of the International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL) resurfaced in court on Tuesday April 4, 2017 at the Criminal Court “C” in Monrovia.

Prior to this dramatic incident of the missing checks resurfacing, the International Bank Liberia limited (IBLL) was served a subpoena by the court on behalf of the state on March 4, 2017 to give account of the checks in question but, the bank’s branch manager said all efforts had been done and the checks vanished in thin air.

The prosecution asked the court to take serious measures against IBLL for its deliberate delay to hand over the document for a speedy trial; noting that the subpoena relating to this document was served since January 2017.

The checks were signed for by A. Blamo Dixon Jr., the office assistance of the Montserrado County Attorney, J Daku Mulbah. “We respectfully refer to the writ of Subpoena Deuces Tecum/Ad Testificadum of 2017 requesting the Manager of the International Bank Liberia Limited (IBLL) to appear before this honorable court on March 29,2017 at 9:00am to produce the original copies of the checks therein described, which were drawn on and paid out of Sherman And Sherman’s account #02.2010 0433801 maintained with IBLL in the months June, July, and August 2010 and were not requested, signed for and received by Sherman and Sherman”.

Further, “in obedience to your Honor’s order, IBLL diligently searched all its records and has been searching up to this morning and the two outstanding checks were found”, among other things the communication noted.

The amount of US$10,000 is on the check of June 23, 2010 paid in the name of G. Moses Paegar, while the amount of US$75,000.00 was paid in Roberta Parker’s name on August 25, 2010.

Meanwhile, lawyers representing the interest of the state in the Sable Mining Corruption trial have appealed to the court to import witnesses from abroad within the period of ten days or more to enable them continue the trial.

The state lawyers told the Criminal Court “C” Judge, Yamie Quiqui Gbeisay that, they needed the period of 10 days to import their witnesses from abroad to continue the trial.

The state appeal came after the Judge denied their motion to rescind judgment for the suppression of evidence which is currently being used in court to prosecute the defendants in the trial. The state argued that, judge Gbeisay inadvertently err by marking the evidence (spread sheets, emails) temporarily.

The state has taken exception to Gbeisay ruling and up to press time it is not yet clear whether a writ of certiorari will be issued against the Judge for his ruling. If no legal step is taken, the trial will continue on April 11, 2017.

“The prosecution is hereby warned that all of its witnesses-be it foreigner or local witness-are required to be present in court and on time, failure of which the prosecution will be penalized including fine for each of the lawyers,” the judge added.

(Edited By Fredrick P. W. Gaye)

 

Six Nigerians Arrested With Illegal Drugs

By Mafanta Kromah

The suspects

 

The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA) has arrested six Nigerians for allegedly involving in selling and distributing narcotic substances on the Liberia market.

Speaking in an interview with journalists at the Head office of DEA in Fiama Sinkor in Monrovia, the Chief of Operations of the LDEA, Johntor R. Wolo said they found 182.8g of Narcotic and Heroin worth L$ 666,960.

The suspects include: Victor Kamara, a 37-year-old Nigerian businessman who lives in Caldwell, Uzaa Kamara, a 28-year-old Nigerian businessman who also lives in Caldwell, Prince Ken, a 35-year-old Nigerian businessman who lives in Paynesville, Anthony Enechi, a 26y-year-old Nigerian businessman who lives in Paynesville(ELWA), Sunday Moses, a 29-yr Nigerian constructor who lives Red Light and Iko Nso, a 30-yr Nigerian Motorcyclist who also lives Caldwell.

The Director called on citizens to be more tolerant with the DEA staff on the field and stop insulting the staff while on duty. He also encouraged the media to seek information in DEA office and stop speculating.

Researches indicate that the continued use of heroin can bring devastation to both physical and mental health and is likely to culminate in a number of social legal ramification for the user. Heroin is the name of a modified version of morphine that is a very addictive and illegal opioid drug.

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, it is available on the illicit market in a number of different varieties, with purer product tending to occur in white power form and can be mixed with other white substances, such as sugar, power milk, starches and quinine.

People with continued heroin use for long period of time may experience decreased dental health marked by damaged teeth and gum swelling, excoraited skill from scratching, serve constipation and increased susceptibility to disease from diminished system. Others include poor appetite and malnutrition, sleeping problem and decrease in sexual functioning.

Meanwhile, effects of the narcotic drug and other depressants narcotics initially produce a feeling of euphoria that often is followed by drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. Users also may experience constricted pupils watery eyes and itching.

COC Row Rolls: Ellen’s Misstep? -Qualification Crisis Greets Ombudsman

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

 

“Massquoi was issuing UP batches and other campaign materials to people when he was Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization during campaign time for the 2011 elections.”

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, presumably wanting a close on the argument on the controversial ‘Code of Conduct’ now being made by the Supreme Court of Liberia as a law binding on Liberians, seems to have slipped in her judgment in naming appropriate team members of the office of the Ombudsman released on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Already, the wave of public criticisms over the appointments of members of the Ombudsman Team has compelled the President to rescind the nomination of Atty. Massa Jallabah due to her age limit which is said to be a qualification deficiency, coupled with her alleged inexperience to occupy such critical position that has very significant bearing on the pending 2017 elections.

It also appears that the wrong judgment of the President points to the appointment of the Chairperson of Ombudsman Team, former LNP Director Chris Clarence Massaquoi, who most recently was admitted into the Liberian Bar Association as Counselor of the Liberian Judicial System.

Critics have claimed that Cllr. Massaquoi is still inexperienced to handle judgments expected to arise from cases coming from complaints the Code of Conduct would prick against would-be violators.

Moreover, it is not only Massaquoi’s  alleged inexperience in the legal profession for such a delicate duty, but he has been branded as being ‘unreliable’ to pass fair judgment due to his link to Ellen Cockrum’s imbroglio  which  brought the Ellen-led administration into public dispute, coupled with his alleged bad ‘administrative practice’ at the Liberia National Police over the years.

In many political gatherings, Massaquoi is still known to be a staunch member of the ruling Unity Party whose Vice President Joseph N. Boakai is a strong contender for the presidency during the pending elections. As one observer noted, “Massquoi was issuing UP batches and other campaign materials to people when he was Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization during campaign time for the 2011 elections.”

Another member of the Ombudsman Team, Atty Edward Dillon, is not off the hook of suspicion as critics focus the make-up of the team by President Sirleaf. Dillon is linked to a close tie with Cllr. Charles Brumskine who is political leader of the Liberty Party, a party President Sirleaf is being alleged of supporting for the 2017 presidency, even though this is yet to be proven.

Atty. Dillon is also seen as having a strong connection with the Liberty Party on grounds that his brother- Darius Dillon is an influential partisan of the LP; however, it is not established  the kind of correlation  to justify such claim.

Accordingly, Section 5.1 of the contentious Code of Conduct termed as an act on political participation dictates that  “all presidential” appointees such as ministers and other public officials, including those in tenure positions desirous of contesting for elected offices must resign two and three years respectively prior to elections.”

As  it stands, three opposition political  parties- Liberty Party, Movement for Economic Empowerment and Alternative National Congress whose contenders are seemed to be in violation of the Code of Conduct are fiercely resisting the legality or lawfulness of COC to bar their would-be candidates  from participating in the pending elections.

However, opinions are divided over the Code of Conduct row, as there are some Liberians who support the enforcement of the law while others have argued that the law only targets certain potential would-be candidates in the elections.

Meantime, the wave of reactions from the public including that from the House of Representatives as quoted in the News Newspaper on Wednesday, April 5, 2017, following the release of the names of members of the Ombudsman office, appears to create deepened concerns as to how and when the legal fray would be laid to rest before the conduct of the pending elections.

 

‘Lies?’- As Counterfeit Reportedly Hits New Banknotes

Central Bank Governor Milton Weeks

“The counterfeit issue is difficult to easily control. What some of the BMs do is that they travel abroad where money printing machines are and print the money. When they are coming back they buy televisions and only use the frames to conceal the counterfeits and cross borders to enter the country… The government needs sophisticated detecting instruments at entry points across the country to hunt down those involved in such business.”

Reports are emerging that the much talked about new Liberian banknotes are falling prey to counterfeit, one of the major reasons which financial experts in the Unity Party-led government defended the printing of the current banknotes in various denominations for circulation.

Those in the know of printing the Liberian currency, when the now circulated banknotes were printed and released, were quoted as justifying that the action on the part of the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) was meant to replace the mutilated banknotes of the country with hard code security feature new banknotes.

However, already, people in the business community are said to be experiencing counterfeited hundred dollar bill of the new banknotes, thus defeating the argument about the so-called hard code security feature of the currency which authorities in the regulatory banking sector have boasted of.

“The counterfeit issue is difficult to easily control. What some of the BMs do is that they travel abroad where money printing machines are and print the money. When they are coming back they buy televisions and only use the frames to conceal the counterfeits and cross borders to enter the country,” one source who begged not to be named claimed.

The source observed that people who undertake this risky venture are mostly in the private sector, but use their connections to engage into money laundering and counterfeiting, adding, “The government needs sophisticated detecting instruments at entry points across the country to hunt down those involved in such business.”

Before then, the previous Liberian banknotes which are still in circulation had suffered mutilation and the hundred dollar bill widely counterfeited and periodically, some of the unscrupulous individuals involved in counterfeiting the money were reportedly booked in the country.

However, the new banknotes entered circulation with acceptability problem; especially when they were printed in different looks with the inclusion of a five hundred bill which members of the 53rd National legislature raised qualm against, claiming that they did not authorize authorities of the CBL to print such denomination.

Unlike  the printing of the previous  banknotes  during the regime of  Charles Taylor, which replaced the two currencies  used during the civil war ( JJ and Liberty  banknotes) in a shortest specified period of time, there has not been any indication as to when  the new banknotes would  replace the old banknotes.

Since the new banknotes came into circulation late 2016 amidst public outcries and mounting criticisms, the disparity between the United States and Liberian dollars remains widened with corresponding consequences characterized by inflation.

Currently, prices of essential commodities including food stuffs, petroleum products and transportation fares are on the increase, while vendors decry payments government owes them for goods and services already delivered.

Early this year, the business community protested peacefully for days against the advancing US rate on the money market as well as the high tariff paid for goods imported into the country at the ports of entry, particularly the Freeport of Monrovia.

Consequently, there was very little impact due to the days of protest which took place when President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai were out of Liberia on official duties.

It is recalled that when President Sirleaf returned, she set up a committee to dialogue with the business community to disengage the protest and by the same token, the US rate dropped slightly, but as it stands, the rate has stepped up again.

It is no illusion that the  country is faced with economic uncertainty, which the government has blamed on the fall in the prices of iron ore, rubber and other commodities on the world market, squarely  termed as ‘ recession’ that is affecting  the global economy.

 

Chinese Envoy Puts Liberians On Taiwan Alert -As Elections Approach

By: Fredrick P. W. Gaye, Monrovia, China-Africa Press Center (CAPC) Fellow 2016

DCM LI Zhuang with Liberian journalists at the forum in Monrovia Friday (photo/Chinese Embassy)

 

Liberia’s 2017 presidential and general elections, expected to take place in October, are widely viewed as critical to the country’s success or failure.

While the elections serve as a way to democratic transition in many years, concerns are growing on who to take the mantle of authorities of the country to build on current gains including maintaining the right external relations.

It is based on this that some foreign missions near the country’s capital are putting Liberians on the alert as to which diplomacy would continue to assist the country following the elections.

One of them is the Political Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China near Monrovia, Mr. Li Zhuang, who has put Liberians on the alert, warning against establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Though Liberia maintains the “One-China” policy, Li said, “It is known that Taiwan authorities still have underground information channels and brokers in Liberia now as they would make use of the October 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections through Dollar Diplomacy.”

The Chinese envoy made the statement on Friday, March 31, 2017, at the Edward Wilmot Bladen intellectual forum organized by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) in Monrovia.

Li pointed out that Taiwan authorities are prepared to do business with some politicians, especially presidential candidates by providing campaign funds in order to establish or maintain so-called “diplomatic relations” when they come to power.

He noted that Taiwanese authorities are attempting to enlarge their international space by making use of some countries’ political situations and temporary economic difficulties through “dollar diplomacy” or other means.

Speaking on the topic: “One China Policy: Its Impact In Africa,”  the Chinese diplomat said in this context, both China and Africa, including Liberia, are required to be on an alert of the true motives of Taiwan and deal with the Taiwan issue cautiously.

Li said Taiwan authorities will do this by supporting politicians with campaign money which will set obstacles and also make troubles in the development of China-Liberia relations.

He indicated that some Liberians do not understand the one China policy comprehensively for their personnel interests or are blinded by Taiwanese authorities.

“They might have some incorrect understanding on the Sino-Liberia relations, and could therefore tamper with smooth development of the bilateral relations,” he noted.

He pointed out that historically, China-Liberia relations were hurt and suspended twice because of the Taiwan issue and the Liberian people did not benefit from the so-called “diplomatic relations”.

Li said that the Chinese Government appreciates that the Liberia Government adheres firmly to the one China policy, and added that they are willing to develop friendly relations with all Liberians and political parties on the basis of a one-China policy and to further strengthen China-Liberia partnership.

He added: “We hope that the Liberian people and the political parties will continue to cherish what we have achieved over the past 14 years since our two countries resumed the diplomatic ties.”

According to him, adhering to the One-China Principle is in line with the common interests of China and African countries, “Today, 52 African countries adhere to One-China Policy, we are gratified and heartened by the progresses in a wide range of China-African cooperation.”

He recalled that in 1971, the UN Assembly adopted the Resolution 2758 which expelled the representatives of the Taiwan authorities and restored the seat and all lawful rights of the government of PRC in the United Nations.

This, Li noted, was a milestone of China-African friendship, which will go down in history and still remains fresh in Chinese people’s minds.

“Today, 52 African countries adhere to One-China Policy, we are gratified and heartened by the progresses in a wide range of China-African cooperation, he indicated.

Li further recalled that in August 2005, the National Transitional Legislative Assembly of Liberia adopted unanimously a Resolution which recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legitimate Government representing the whole of China.

“The Resolution has demonstrated a very clear and strong commitment of the Liberian people and government to the One-China policy, which has laid down a strong political foundation for the establishment and development of a new long-term stable relationship of mutual benefit and all-round cooperation between our two countries and two peoples. Dear friends, allow me to recall some important events in China-Liberian relations,” he said.

For the deployment of UNMIL in 2003, Li explained that China, as a permanent member of the Security Council of the UN, voted in favor of Liberia and consistently supported the peacekeeping operations in Liberia afterwards.

When Ebola crisis broke out in 2014, China was the first country which provided assistance to Liberia, the diplomat narrated. Currently, he stated that several major projects are underway, “our cooperation in security, agriculture, education, health-care, trade,etc., has made a rapid progress and achieved tangible outcomes which are beneficial to the Liberian people”.

Also speaking at forum, the Managing Editor of the Inquirer Newspaper, Mr. Philip Wesseh, challenged Liberian journalists to read and know more about the One-China policy in order to educate the public.

Wesseh said the One-China Policy has increased PRC’s assistance to Liberia in recent years and maintaining would move the country to a higher height.

Wesseh also informed journalists to read more about the policy in order to educate the public.

Meanwhile, Wesseh has launched an appeal to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, through its Embassy near Monrovia, to expand its ongoing media empowerment by providing scholarships and other training opportunities to more Liberian journalists for further studies in China. This, he said, will further promote the Sino-Liberia relations as well as help in educating Liberians on the One-China policy and its future because they (journalists) are the main channels for information dissemination.

The One-China Principle had been evolved in the course of the Chinese people’s just struggle to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is the premise and basis for China to maintain and develop friendly relations with countries all over the world.

At present, 174 countries in the world maintain diplomatic relations with China in conformity with the principle on One-China Policy.