Wednesday, 6 April 2011

GOL-Kuwait Sign Pact Value Put At 16.8 Million

The Government of Liberia and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development have signed three separate agreements aimed at enhancing the country’s post-war economic recovery. The agreements were signed on Sunday April 3, 2011 in the Kuwaiti Capital, Kuwait City with Finance Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan signing for Liberia while the Director General of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (Kuwait Fund) Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader signing for the Kuwait Fund.
The three agreements signed include an agreement for the provision of a grant of approximately US$3 million from the Government of Kuwait to be utilized for the clearance of Liberia’s debt obligation to the Kuwaiti Fund, a Debt Relief Agreement that ensures that Liberia’s debt burden of US$12M to the Kuwait Fund is reduced consistent with the Heavily Indebted Poor Country’s (HIPC) Initiative, and an agreement for the provision of a grant of approximately US$1.8 million to fund the technical and economic feasibility study and the preliminary design for the construction of the highway from Gbarnga to Mendicorma along the Sierra Leone Border linking the major cities of Gbargnga, Zorzor, Voinjama, Kolahun and Foya.
The signing of three agreements in Kuwait followed a two-day visit to Liberia by a three-man Kuwaiti Fund delegation in early March 2011 headed by the  Director General of the Kuwait Fund, Mr. Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader  and the subsequent approval of the three draft agreements  by the Board of Directors of the Kuwaiti Fund.
Speaking during the signing ceremony at the Fund’s head office in Kuwait City, the Director General of the Fund Abdulwahab Ahmed Al-Bader said he was excited by the signing of the agreement and is looking forward to restart operations in Liberia. Mr.Al-Bader said the penning of the agreement also opens a new chapter in the financial relations between Liberia and the Kuwait Fund. The Kuwait Fund Executive praised President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for reengaging Kuwait during her visit to the country last year.
 Mr.Al-Bader disclosed that the Kuwait Fund is interested in helping Liberia rebuild its infrastructures, especially roads. He said the fund will also be interested in helping programs in agriculture, education and health. Mr. Al-Bader wants enhanced economic, social and political cooperation between Liberia and Kuwait.

In his brief statement after the signing of the three agreements, Finance Minister Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan said the event represents a giant leap forward in Liberia’s march toward development and full recovery. Minister Ngafuan said the signing ceremony represented the culmination of more than two years of tough but productive discussions.  Minister Ngafuan said he was particularly elated because the signing of the US$1.8M grant agreement represented the first giant step towards the construction of the vital Gbarnga –Mendicorma Highway and brings hope to many ordinary Liberians.
He expressed thanks to his Royal Highness the Amir and the good people of the State of Kuwait for the remarkable gesture of generosity and partnership on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the people of Liberia and the people of Kuwait.
The signing ceremony was attended by the members of the Liberian government delegation, the Ambassador of Liberia accredited to Kuwait H.E. Konah Blackett and other senior members of Liberia’s diplomatic mission accredited to Kuwait and executives of the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.



GAAP concludes an awareness workshop aimed at combating the pandemic. 

The Global Assistance for All People (GAAP), a local non-governmental
organization, on March 25 concluded a three-day workshop on the prevention of the deadly HIV/AIDS virus in the Borough of New Kru Town.

The workshop brought together 60 participants from the community leadership, offices of the governor of NKT and commissioner of the township of West Point and representatives from the Redemption Hospital, Clara Town Clinic and MedLink Clinic among other.

Madam Kpannah Watson and Lawrence Myers, trained in HIV/AIDS prevention in Uganda, facilitated the three-day session. 

With a contract from the National AIDS & STI Control Program (NACP) of the Ministry of Health and the global fund of the United Nations, GAAP is tasked to disseminate HIV/AIDS prevention messages as well as awareness; distribute condoms, posters and other HIV/AIDS materials and hire the services of cultural troops to carry out drama presentation on HIV/AIDS.

GAAP is also tasked to conduct workshops for community leaders, members, local government authority and representatives from various health facilities within GAAP control areas; train community members as peer educators; conduct training for religious leaders on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention as well as stigmatization and carry out outreach activities within the control areas of GAAP.

The workshop was held under the theme ‘mobilizing local decision makers to support to people living with HIV/AIDS’.


Government, UNDP Hold Townhall Meetings in Erosion prone-communities

Government and the UNDP have been conducting townhall meetings and providing details to Liberians in the counties that are benefitting from the coastline pilot project, on the initiative.
At one of the meetings recently held in Bensonville, Monsterrado County, Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister for planning and development pointed out that as part of the project, thousand feet revetments will be constructed in affected areas including Grand Cape Mount and Grand Bassa Counties.
Carlton Miller said the meetings are providing basic information on the project to the people.
 “We want the people to have a clear understanding of the project and its benefits,” he explained.
But while the UNDP and partners are moving to construct borders to prevent sea erosion, they still face a task of ensuring that people do not engage in activities that will also help to promote sea erosion.
“Beach sand mining is another catalyst for sea-erosion and we have to tell our people about this,” Minister Miller noted.
Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpan described the town hall meeting as a significant step towards providing basic education on the prevention of sea-erosion.
“Giving basic education at this time is important to help our people take precaution to prevent sea-erosion,” she mentioned.
54-year-old James Otto cupped his chin in his right hand as he shook his head repeatedly in the direction of the raging sea in Banjor, Montserrado County.
Otto is the chairman of the fishing community in the area. His posture was a reflection of how down-beat the residents of the Banjor beach community have become since raging sea erosion became a regular visitor to their area over the past three years.
“I am shaking my head as I look towards the sea because I fear the worst with the rainy season just around the corner.
“I just don’t know what is going to happen to the last remaining houses here with the rains knocking on the door,” Otto, with tears rolling from his eyes, wondered as he sat on a canoe, before emphasizing that “the worst might just be around the corner”.
Sea erosion is a common occurrence during the rainy season, which runs from April to November. 
During this season, many persons are made homeless and thousands of dollars worth of properties destroyed in coastal communities such as Buchanan, Grand Bassa, Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount and Banjor, Montserrado Counties.
The UNDP and its partners, including the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, launched a coastal pilot project last year to protect the coastlines in these counties.
The project, a four-year initiative, is aimed at constructing revetments in
these communities to help protect them against sea erosion.
Now that it is being initiated, Juah, a 32 year-old fish seller, is hoping that the beaches of Banjor and Robertsport, which are major fish trading posts, will not experience sea-erosion again.
“We are praying that the project works for us because anytime there is erosion, it affects our purchase of fish from the beaches,” Juah maintained.
She added that as long as they are unable to sell their fish, their homes will also be out of food and other necessities.


By: John B. Kollie

Following the April 14th, 1979 rice rebellion during which the security forces shot and killed over 140 Liberians  and jailed hundreds more, Liberians in Monrovia adapted a popular song which they sang everywhere in protest against the atrocities committed by the goons of the Tolbert administration.  It went something like this:  “April 14, aye yah, Tolbert mistake, yeah…..”.  It was not long after this tragedy, 11 months to be exact, that the Tolbert Government fell in a coup d’etat led by Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe.
The Ellen Sirleaf administration seems to have made its own mistake on 22 March when its police and other security personnel brutalized students of the Tubman High School and GW Gibson High School in Monrovia.  The students, in a peaceful demonstration, had taken to the streets to protest the absence from classes of their teachers who were boycotting their teaching assignments over demand for an increase in their salaries.
As in 1979 when Tolbert’s security forces murdered innocent citizens, the students were non-violent and well-meaning. But this was not enough to stop the blood-thirsty security forces from inflicting serious injuries on the students.   The blood spilled on the floors of the teachers’ lounge, bathroom and class rooms, and the tears flowing down the faces of many of those who witnessed the police brutality--all speak of the atrocities visited upon the students by the very police who are paid to protect them. Indeed, the police forciby entered the classrooms and unleashed their batons and knives on the unarmed students.  Among the injured was a handicapped student, Cecelia Parker, whoby was severely assaulted.
Not satisfied with brutalizing the students, the police went on to engage in  petty theft.  According to the principal of G. W. Gibson High School, Mr. Terence Moore, the police forced their way onto the school’s campus, brutalized the students and made away with some money, a lap top, and several cell phones. Mr. Moore is now consulting with his lawyers to charge the police to court inorder to recover the properties stolen by them.
Ofcourse, this is not the first time that the police have unleashed their cruelty on unarmed  students.  In  January, 2010, the leadership of the Liberian National Students Union was arrested, beaten and jailed for as yet unexplained reasons.  The students were only released days later as a result of the hue and cry raised by the Liberian people.
To add insult to injury, the police, led by that agriculturist masquerading as law enforcement chief, have refused to apologize for their illegal and unethical behavior and are insisting on making all kinds of assinine justification.  For her part, the Minister of Justice, a scion of the defunct Tolbert regime, has called on the police to investigate itself, forgetting, if she ever cared to know it, that age-old legal dictum: You cannot be a judge in your own case.
And what reaction do we get from President Sirleaf?  Instead of calling the police to book, all we get from the President is an undignified silence.  But this is Ellen’s mistake.  For as the saying goes, silence gives consent.
The President’s mistake also extends to her refusal to re-appoint as Auditor General Mr. John Morlu who has been in the forefront of the battle against corruption in Liberia.  Ellen’s mistake, again!  For if she had charged to court all those Morlu had nailed for corruption; and if she had implemented Morlu’s many recommendations to curb corruption, Liberia would not today be occupying that disgraceful position of being “one of the most corrupt countries in the world”. That is why much applause must be given to Ambassador (Prof) Dew Tuan-Wleh Mayson who has assured the Liberian people that when elected President, he will re-appoint Mr. Morlu as Auditor General inorder to have a most trusted general in the war against corruption.
This is not all.   Ellen’s mistakes also include: 
·      The current destruction of the houses and businesses of people at the ELWA road junction at  a  time like this when times are hard and no alternative is being offered to these people.
·        the refusal to grant protection to Liberian refugees in Ghana when they were under attack by the police in that country;
·        the refusal to repatriate the many Liberians who have been caught in the on-going civil strife in La Cote d’Ivoire and in Libya.
In the forthcoming presidential elections, after counting so many mistakes made by Ellen, Liberians will have the opportunity to give her  her due marks.  And those marks will inevitably give Ellen not a passing grade but a passing out grade.



The Supreme Court of Liberia will hear Oral argument in legal challenge to the automatic loss of citizenship law today in a case likely to impact scores of Liberians who fled due to the civil war. More importantly, the case could alter the fate of many others who returned from exile and are currently serving in government positions while holding passports of a foreign nation.

Monrovia -

Heralding the contention that the fundamental rights that are enumerated in the Liberian Constitution do not belong to the Government of Liberia, advocates against the denial of natural-born Liberian citizen the full rights of Liberian citizenship are taking their challenge to the Supreme Court of Liberia in hopes of laying to rest a controversy threatening to shut the doors of Liberia to many who fled due to the civil war.
The case was filed before the Supreme Court on July 12, 2010, challenging as unconstitutional the automatic loss of citizenship provisions of Sections 22.1 and 22.2 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia. A petitioner’s brief was filed on November 22, 2010 before the high court.
The lawsuit, according to its backers, does not ask the Liberian government to recognize dual citizenship but does require the Liberian government to respect all of rights of natural-born citizens.
Irony amid controversy
A.T. Jalloh, Attorney-in-Fact, based in the United States who is the brainchild of the effort says it is ironic that Liberia embodies a notion which ignores that a person from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and other countries that recognize dual citizenship, can become a naturalized citizen of Liberia and simultaneously retain his or her birth citizenship regardless of what Liberia's oath-of-allegiance says, be elected to the national legislature, serve as a justice on the supreme court of Liberia, and occupy other positions within the Liberian government.
Jalloh says the challenged provisions of Sections 22.1 and 22.2, which purport to automatically deprive a Liberian of his or her Liberian citizenship without a prior hearing judgment consistent with due process, are in direct conflict with Article 20(a) of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, which requires a law to hear before it may deprive: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, security of the person, privilege or any other right except as the outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this Constitution and in accordance with due process of law."
GOL given 48 hours
Jerome Kokoyah, who appeared before the high court Tuesday to make the case against the Liberian government, was unable to do so after the government said it was not ready to proceed.  The court has given the government 48 hours to prepare its defense.
At the core of the debate is the perceptions held by many that the failure to allow some 500,000 Liberians residing in the United States and other parts of the world a chance to return home and work and contribute to Liberia’s development could kill the dream of many looking to make a return to their homeland.
Since the war subsided, Liberians residing in the United States and other places reportedly send millions annually friends, relatives and loved ones in Liberia
For Jalloh, the basic principles of fundamental rights requires that Liberia belongs to all who have birthrights. ‘‘Here, you have a situation where the National Legislature has decided to usurp the roles of the executive and judicial branches of our government. By legislative fiat, the Legislature, as it did in the Wolo v. Wolo matter, has enacted a self-executing law in which it claims that a Liberian can be deprived of a protected right without due process of law, and without any involvement from the executive and judicial branch. This is clear violation of our system of government.’’
The case, according to Jalloh is an unconstitutional attempt to deprive him and others of their natural-born Liberian citizenship which is why he is pursuing his quest to the high court. ‘‘The law I am challenging here, Sections 22.1 and 22.2 of the Aliens and Nationality Law of Liberia, states that a person automatically loses his or her Liberian citizenship from the moment that person becomes a naturalized citizen of another country, votes in a foreign election, or serves in a foreign armed forces without prior approval from the president. The law also specifically prohibits the government from instituting any proceedings to nullify or cancel a person's Liberian citizenship.’’  
According to Jalloh, as far back as 1937, in the case of Wolo v. Wolo, the Supreme Court told the government how it could comply with the constitutional right of due process: (1) a law must hear before it may condemn; (2) there must be a tribunal competent to pass on the matter in dispute; (3) the process must proceed upon inquiry; and (4) a judgment of deprivation maybe rendered only after trial. Accordingly, Jalloh asserts, in order to at least comply with the Honorable Supreme Court's mandate that there must be a tribunal competent to pass on the matter in dispute, the government will have to start by instituting a revocation of citizenship proceedings against me, serve me with notice of its allegations, and provide me with a meaningful opportunity to be heard before it may deprive me of my natural-born Liberian citizenship. How can the government, in this matter, claim that it has complied with the first step of the Supreme Court's due-process mandate, when the challenged automatic loss of citizenship law specifically prohibits the government from instituting any proceedings to at least comply with the first step of the Supreme Court's due-process mandate?
Jalloh insists that the case is not about the law of a foreign country; it is about the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia, which prohibits automatic loss of citizenship. ‘‘We believe we are right on the law, and that ultimately we will prevail,’’ the lawyer laments.
The citizenship issue has been a serious concern for Liberians residing in the Diaspora. In January this year, a group of Liberians in the U.S. state of Minnesota launched a 10,000-signature petition drive to urge the government of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Liberian legislature to embrace the idea of dual citizenship.
For Jalloh, the fight is a test case for Liberia’s commitment to the constitutional principle of due process. ‘‘When isolated from the politics of distraction and caricature, the rule is too settled to be denied: whenever there is a conflict between the Liberian Constitution and a legislative enactment, the Constitution always wins.’’