Without Genuine Reconciliation, the 2017 General and Presidential Elections are Critically Indecisive

By: Learsi Aynebil Alis, Philadelphia, USA, April 28, 2017

For the first time in almost 4 score years, Liberia is expected to witness a transfer of power from one democratically elected government to the other. That is, incumbent President – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- who was elected to the presidency at the 2005 and 2011 polls respectively should be turning over power to whoever is going to be elected at the polls in 2017. Whether that person is going to be the Unity Party’s Joseph N. Boakai, the Coalition for Democratic Change’s George M. Weah, the All Liberian Party’s Benoni W. Urey or the Liberty Party’s Charles W. Brumskine is anybody’s guess.

But for the ensuing reasons, Liberia faces a critical challenge of reconciliation as it swivels towards the 2017 general and presidential elections.

First, this is an election in which a governing party is seeking re-election after 12 years in power. Second, towards these elections, the retiring president admitted in her last State of the Union address that she failed in two essential areas of national governance: the achievement of reconciliation and the fight against corruption. And third, there is a general perception amongst ordinary Liberians, including a good chunk of partisans of the governing Unity Party that the outgoing president, who is either a member or an assimilado of the “congo” or “an Americo Liberian elites” is secretly supporting her fellow “congo man” or “Americo Liberian decent” against a “native man or indigenous Liberian”.

Even though the dual accused “congo people” have vehemently refuted the claims against them as contemptible, their supporters have also labeled the assertions as mere divisive politics. Some even pretend that “native – congo” politics doesn’t exist in Liberia, shouldn’t be an issue or discussed anywhere in our national conversation since political leadership and decision making in the country encompass both segments of people. Yet, the question they haven’t asked President Sirleaf is, how did she fail to reconcile Liberia after 12 years in the nation’s highest office?

Again, for the first time in many years, especially following the orchestrated killing of former President Samuel K. Doe, the Liberian nation state is in close prospect of a political aspirant with somewhat clear ‘Liberian agenda’. So, to indigenous Liberians who occupy about 80 percent of the country, Joseph N. Boakai represents their aspirations. For them, he is a true reflection of their hope to reclaiming Liberia after prolonged “Americo Liberian” rule. Even some of the “progressives” in Liberia hold secret believes that this is the closest they have come to the presidency. Some contend that VP Boakai has even demonstrated a lifestyle of patriotism by raising, schooling and maintaining his family, particularly his children in Liberia.

They further argue that their admiration for the Vice President is deeply rooted in his notion that the reconstruction and development of Liberia can truly be attained by thinking Liberia and loving it. This is why he continues to stress the need to invest into all local Liberian industries and businesses. Born in Lofa County and schooled meanly in Liberia, Joseph Boakai is accordingly a staunch champion of the view that utilizing local Liberian talents will fast forward the country’s development programs as oppose to importing expatriate Liberians from mostly the United States of America and Europe to staff the government. Who wouldn’t agree with him on this concept if that’s what he truly believes?

A risk, as witnessed in the recent past, where so-called Liberian consultants or expatriates were conveyed from the USA and Europe to ‘contribute’ to Liberia was that, all those ‘imported technocrats’ brought from overseas eventually went back to those places after they left their jobs. Some even took back with them public assets converted into personal use. Another risk was that most of them kept their families abroad, supporting them from Liberia with taxpayers’ dollars. Even now, some of them still do.

Liberia was also recently dragged into the history of it’s sad past. What appeared like the reemergence of the Tubman and Tolbert era came afloat. With one family or certain names – dominating the corridors of state power, it became apparent that this was ‘payback’ period. For instance, Antoinette Weeks – a failed Public Works Minister who now occupies a prestigious Liberian slot at ECOWAS had previously served the National Oil Company of Liberia.  Other Weeks who continue to permeate the Liberian government include, Angeline Weeks, Executive Chairperson – Liberia Telecommunications Authority, Kemmie Weeks, Board Chairman – Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation, Milton Weeks – Executive Governor, Central Bank of Liberia, Ophelia Inez Weeks – Vice President for Academic Affairs and is expected to be appointed as President of the University of Liberia soon.

Our history has proven that it is usually a national disaster when few cronies are empowered at the behest of the leader and at the expense of the masses. The results are usually disgruntlement on the part of the governed, disdain for the governors, the few elites and state parasites, and insecurity on the part of the leader who may seek to use obscured means to either stay perpetually in power or groom and or support a surrogate to replace him or her. This is usually a protection – exit strategy.  No wonder why after almost a decade in office, the President could admit openly that she failed in the corruption fight. It cannot be disputed that nepotism is corruption since Article 5 of the Liberian constitution says so.

Could the scenario being speculated by the Liberia people be something to believe? Is it that the Liberian people are unhappy with the President’s judgment to repeatedly appoint her family members and the Weeks to strategic positions in government? Could it also be that the Liberia people have observed that to protect her hegemony, President Sirleaf is now scheming against her Vice President to prefer opposition Liberty Party’s Charles W. Brumskine who she perceives could shield her after she steps down?

Again, whether these opinions are true or not, they promise to have a fundamental sway on the voting attitude of ordinary Liberians. This is why my crystal ball tells me that without genuine reconciliation, the 2017 general and presidential elections are critically indecisive and may pose a threat to peaceful transition of power in Liberia thus undermining our fragile democracy.

Early warnings in these fashions could help avert conflict. President Sirleaf must take note and act logically if her legacy at home is to be protected. Vague admittance to failure to reconcile Liberia is not enough. She must make a choice, leapfrog from her fear vault and take some calm headed, yet drastic and unorthodox decisions gear towards brooking genuine reconciliation in the country before the 2017 polls.


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Shielding “Dictatorial African” President Nguema: Semblance Of Media Censorship …Cllr. Gongloe Condemns Journalist’s Arrest

By T. Michael Johnny, Macpherson Marbiah

Human Right lawyer Cllr Tiawon Gongloe has strongly condemn the arrest and subsequent detention and release of New Democrat Senior Editor, Festus Poquie by the government.

The Human Rights lawyer said he usually goes to court in defence of journalists, but said the frequency of his representation in court is not yielding the type of result he expects in his advocacy.

Cllr. Gongloe stressed that his resolve is to deter the government from further arresting journalists performing their scared duty, stating that Liberia has a democracy and the constitution also obliged the protection of freedom of speech and information.

The New Democrat in its publication culled from the British Mail newspaper reported that Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema of being cannibal who allegedly skins enemies alive and eats their testicles.

Addressing a major press conference at the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) headquarters in Monrovia Thursday September 15, 2016, Cllr. Gongloe described as “big shame” on government to detain the journalist for exposing what is currently happening in another sisterly African country.

Cllr. Gongloe: “It is grossly undemocratic that citizens undergoing massive suffering at the hands of their leader can irritate the government to arrest journalist Poquie also implies government’s approval of what is happening in Equatorial Guinea.”

“I find myself here and feel compelled in the interest of Liberia to help stop this evil that the government keeps doing. The government has said that it is a friend of the press, the government through the President has won several awards, even African journalists have given awards to the President with affirmation that she was a friend of journalist,” he said.

Cllr. Gongloe said the arrest of Journalist Poquie is intended to intimidate him and serve as deterrence to other journalists who he said are performing excellently and fearlessly to be afraid of government not to report, write or speak the truth to their taste in educating society, noting that the government is wrong in this action.

He opined that the government has always being wrong, but said: “this one is so terrible that for a brutal dictator who everyone knows that he is killing people in his country and the information on the internet was what Festus Poquie wrote is despicable.”

The Human Rights lawyer said the arrest of journalist Poquie clearly shows that government does not have the political will to change the anti-speech laws, noting that it is only pretending to the international community because of the aids received or wants to get from the international community.

“They are only pretending, they do not have the political will because there is no way  you can have the political will and then try to change anti-speech laws to decriminalize speech and then at the same time arrest people for speaking,” he said.

The erudite legal luminary said the government is currently doing censorship and want to decide what media institutions or journalists should report, stressing that he is ashamed because it was not the purpose of President Sirleaf’s campaign.

“I can say without fear that had she not order the arrest of Festus Poquie, it would not have happen, and no amount of aid is worth scarifying our dignity and freedom in this country. We should never compromise our dignity and liberty,” he said.

Cllr. Gongloe elated that the dignity and liberty of any individual is higher than any authority in Liberia, stressing that it is what Liberia is and every Liberian should fight for is to be consistent with the law.

“This man took power in 1979 after killing his uncle and even though his country is one of the richest countries in Africa, it has some of the poorest people on the continent as well, simply because he is not sharing money. We have heard what his son is doing around the world, spending money as if it is water,” he said.

He asserted that the war that was fought in the country was not because of tribalism or religious difference, but because of bad governance, stressing that the menace is still happening in the society.

Cllr Gongloe continued: “I cannot just understand what happened today that a journalist writing for a newspaper write about a dictatorial leader in another African country and our government gets angry and arrest that journalist, I just cannot understand it, so I do not think that going to court to represent that journalist is sufficient in terms of dealing with what government has done.

“I came here to express solidarity with the journalist and everyone of you, I stand by your side, but I think that we should have a greater civil society force working with political parties to put an end to this, because those opposition leaders who are not shocked by this kind of development are people we should be concerned about,” said Cllr. Gongloe

Cllr Gongloe: “I have said before and right after leaving government noted that our president, a democratic leader is befriending a dictatorial leader in Africa speaks volume of unforeseen circumstances; it means that we should all be alert and should act out of the box.”

For his part, the Press Union of Liberia President K. Abdullai Kamara also condemned government’s action and said the arrest of Journalists Poquie undermines freedom of speech and information.



Major Reshuffle!   -Pro Tyler Lawmakers Affected


Deputy Speaker Hans Barchue has carried out a major reshuffle in Statutory Committee Heads and Deputies at the House of Representatives.

Making new appointments Tuesday in Plenary, Deputy Speaker Barchue noted that these appointments were as a result of a communication written by Representative Samuel Kogar and a decision taken by that body in line with Rule 54 of the House Standing Rules.

Those appointed are Representatives Prince Moye and Jeremiah Koung, Chairman and Co-chairman on the Committee on Ways, Means, Finance, Budget and Development Planning, once chaired by Representative Moses Y. Kollie and Sekou Kanneh.

Representative Worlea Saywah Dunah was appointed as the new Chairman on the Judiciary Committee replacing Bomi County Representative Garyah Karmoh.

Deputy Speaker Barchue also appointed Representative Thomas Fallah and Edward Karfiah as Chairman and Co-chairman on the Public Account Committee, replacing Representative Ben Fofana and Mariamu Fofana.

Another committee is the Committee on State Own Enterprises now Chaired by Representative Garrison Yealu, replacing Representative Zoe Emmanuel Pennoh.

Deputy Speaker however retained Representative Jeh Byron Brown as Chairman on Rules, Order and Administration but however appointed Representative Bill Twehway as Co-chairman.

It can be recalled that Representative Kogar on Tuesday, September 13, 2016, wrote the Plenary through Deputy Speaker Barchue, complaining that several committees in the Lower House were not functioning properly thus impeding the smooth operations of the House of Representatives.

“As you will be aware, the House runs its activities through committees and their non-performance has hindered the effective and efficient operations of that body,” Kogar’s communication noted.

In keeping with Rules 54.2, Kogar craved Plenary’s decision to mandate the Presiding officer to replace all Chair and Co-chair persons to Committees that have ceased to function and thereafter make necessary changes to enhance proper functioning of the House.

Those Committees mentioned by Representative Kogar are the Judiciary, State Enterprise, Foreign Affairs, Public Account, Commerce, Contract and Monopoly, Agriculture, Ways, Means Finance, Budget and Development Planning, Defense and Executive.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Barchue disclosed that other subsequent appointments will be made next Tuesday, assuring the appointments will cut across so as not to create division in that body.


Pregnant Women At Risk In Rural Mont. ….As Liberia Fights Maternal Mortality


Investigation conducted has revealed that public health centers in most parts of Rural Montserrado County are struggling to make impressive marks in the fight against increase in maternal mortality cases reported in Liberia.

Maternal mortality is a pregnancy-related death and is referred to as “death of a woman” during pregnancy or within one year following the end of pregnancy.

An independent survey unearthed that out of three major health facilities in Rural Montserrado County, only one has a maternal waiting home, which women in those  areas predict as major  threats in the fight to reduce maternal deaths.

Maternal waiting homes are residential facilities, located near qualified medical centers, where women categorized as “high risk” can await delivery or transferred to a nearby medical facility shortly before delivery or earlier if complications arise.

The construction of such homes near every public health facility within hard – to -reach communities could be one of the surest means to save the lives of pregnant women and the babies during delivery, but the availability of the facility are seemingly unavailable in most places across Liberia.

According to health reports, Liberia now has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the sub-region and that during the pre-Ebola era, Liberia had 1,072 live deaths out of every 100,000 birth, which was stated in the 2013 Liberia Demographic and Health Survey (LDHS). This is evidence; according to medical sources are indicators of non-improvement from 770 out of 100,000 live births in 2007.

Maternal waiting homes, according to some health personnel must be built in every rural city considering Liberia’s high mortality rate, which has resulted from a struggling health system over the years.

Due to the importance of Maternal waiting home, the In Profile Daily freelancer investigated key public health facilities in rural Montserrado County, which included the Bensonville, Johnsonville and the Harrisburg Health Centers.

Importantly, the investigation was necessitated due to the remoteness of these areas and considering the risk it poses to pregnant women in these areas, usually under intense conditions, which compels them to travel long distances in search of medical care.

For her, the Maternal Child Health (MCH) Supervisor at the Bensonville Hospital Albertha Kortie revealed that maternal waiting home is not available at the hospital and believes that its construction will address the health needs of over 15-20 pregnant women who visit their medical center daily.

She regretted two maternal deaths at the hospital, which the Bensonville Hospital Supervisor attributed due to delay by the families of the deceased, noting that their death could have been prevented if there was a maternal waiting home in the area.

Madam Kortie then requested the donation of a Land Rover jeep as an ambulance to the hospital, stressing that it would be timely because of the inaccessible road to these rural areas, which is hampering the free movement of the only ambulance in the area.

In another interview, Sando Gayflor a Registered Nurse (RN) at the Johnsonville Community Health Center also sounded that the construction of a maternal waiting home in the township is exceptionally vital to the survival of women in the area, noting that its availability would have prevented the loan maternity death at the center recently.

She also appealed for the construction of staff quarter to allow nurses reside overnight if these deaths must be reduced or curtailed.

For her part, the Officer in Charge (OIC) at the Harrisburg Medical Center Menikili Paye, via mobile phone confirmed the construction and operation of the only maternal waiting home in the area.

According to her, it was constructed by Save The Children in 2012 along with two bedroom staff quarter, which is enabling nurses to conduct 24 hours service at the health center.

She told this reporter that its construction is yielding positive results on grounds that rural women in Harrisburg and parts adjacent have seen the facility as their own, which results to less than 10 deliveries outside of the center every year since 2012.

With regards to her communication strategy to encourage more women take advantage of the center, Madam Paye told this paper that she works alongside traditional midwives, providing them health talks once every month.

“The midwives are well informed about the number of pregnant women reported in their control areas— midwives take interest in these cases and immediately consult the clinic and together we take charge of the women to avoid deaths,” said Madam Paye.

Despite the intended success, however, she complained of lack of electricity at the health center, which she stressed: “The situation usually compels nurses to conduct deliveries with candles and touch lights, while the poor ambulance services being experienced often compel us to contact a nearby private clinic at the government’s power plant in the case of referrer.”

“The lack of motivation at the Harrisburg Community Clinic is hindering operations. These include transportation, rain gears, phone cards, soap, hand sanitizers and many others needed medical materials”. She explained.

Only identified as Princess, a pregnant woman in rural Montserrado County said she’s convinced that if maternal waiting homes are constructed in the area, the lives of babies and their mother would be saved.

Statements collected form these rural health facilities as well as pregnant women suggest that the Liberian Government has  remarkably strive to improve Liberia’s health facilities over the years , but an increase in international support will play a more strategic role in curbing maternal deaths across the country.

Follow-up carried out at the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Congo Town could not be concluded because the personnel responsible could not be reached as he had been away for a remarkable period.

However, chapter  III Article 11.a) of the Liberian Constitution, article III of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR) and chapter six of the International Convection on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)  ratified by Liberia in 2004,support the right to life by every person regardless of his / her status.

These provisions embraced by the government can further be achieved if the international community and the MOH exert additional efforts to construct maternal waiting homes in hard –to –reach communities.