United Bank for Africa (UBA) Liberia on Wednesday, October 16, 2019, launched its Chat Banking Product dubbed LEO.

The online banking product which can be accessed on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp will allow customers to make use of their social media accounts, to open account, transfer money from one account to another, get account statement, buy airtime, get customer service assistance, load their UBA Pre-paid Card and whole lot more.

UBA’s Leo platform is a highly advanced development for a financial institution in Africa, particularly in Liberia, which aims to simplify the way customers transact. The bank says it is something that has become necessary in today’s fast-paced world with demands for quick-time transactions and responses.

UBA Liberia Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Olalekan Balogun, who introduced the online banking platform said, the aim of the product is to create an easy convenient and easy kind of banking in the 21st century thereby, making banking easier for those who do not have the time to stand in the banking hall and always on the go.

Balogun expressed thanks and appreciation to the students and the rest of the audience who turned out for the launch of the product on the campus of the African Methodist Episcopal University. He further encouraged them to be a part of the digital age in banking that is being introduced by UBA.

Earlier, Melody Mezay Ketter, Head of Marketing and Corporate Communications at UBA Liberia, spoke on the importance of banking, informing the students of the many digital products UBA offers.

Mrs. Ketter said LEO is one of the many banking products being introduced by UBA, to encourage financial inclusion as part of the Central Bank of Liberia’s vision.

David Ojo, UBA Head of Digital Banking Sales, who made a step by step description about how to access the product, further give some statistics which according to him, birth the idea of the digital product.

He said, there are 2.2 million active users monthly on social media; Facebook, while 300,000 bots (an autonomous program on a network, especially the Internet, that can interact with computer systems or users) on Face Book.

He furthered that Facebook has 200 million subscribers in Africa, noting that 25,000 active Facebook subscribers are currently in Liberia.

“The idea of the Digital Product which started in 2017, is finally being introduced in Liberia” Ojo said, concluding his presentation.

To access the Artificial Intelligence LEO, existing and new customers should type UBA Chat Banking on Facebook Messenger, or send a WhatsApp Chat to +231777684919 and begin chatting.

The Central Bank of Liberia Assistant Director for IT and Cyber Security Regulation and Supervision Diakae Al Lewis, Sr., lauded UBA Liberia team for its innovative posture of bringing modern banking Liberia.

LIBERIANS HAVE LONG been consumed with an urge demanding their leaders to step down.

DURING THE 1980’s, many upset with the dictatorial tendencies of Samuel Kanyon Doe, who had shredded his military uniform for civilian clothes did all they could to get rid of Doe. Multiple Coup d’etats, alleged assassination attempts finally climaxed into a bloody civil war on Christmas Eve of 1989.

DOE WOULD DIE a year later at the hands of one of his nemesis, Prince Y. Johnson, head of the breakaway National Patriotic Front of Liberia, his ears chopped off, as he labored in pain, refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the millions he had supposedly stashed away in foreign banks.

THE IRONY of Doe’s death was clear for all to see. Nearly a decade prior to seizing power, he had led a coup d’etat that ended decades of Americo-Liberian rule under the age-old True Whig Party that dominated Liberian politics under a one-party system for more than a hundred years; depriving the ethnic and indigenous majority of their share of the economic spoils.

PRESIDENT WILLIAM R. TOLBERT, like Doe was slain to death on the morning of the April 12, 1980 coup while a dozen of his cabinet ministers executed like dogs. Like Doe, murmurs of his supposed millions remains entrenched in gossips and speculations. The latter stage of Tolbert’s reign was marred by mounting pressure from the progressives who finally staged a rice riots in 1979 that preceded Tolbert’s demise.

THE RIOT WAS SPURRED by a decision by then minister of agriculture, Florence Chenoweth, to propose an increase in the subsidized price of rice from $22 per 100-pound bag to $26. Chenoweth asserted that the increase would serve as an added inducement for rice farmers to stay on the land and produce rice as both a subsistence crop and a cash crop, instead of abandoning their farms for jobs in the cities or on the rubber plantations. However, political opponents criticized the proposal as self-aggrandizement, pointing out that the Tolbert family of the president operated large rice farms and would therefore realize a tidy profit from the proposed price increase.

THE PROGRESSIVE ALLIANCE of Liberia called for a peaceful demonstration in Monrovia to protest the proposed price increase. On April 14 1979 about 2,000 activists began what was planned as a peaceful march on the Executive Mansion. The protest march swelled dramatically when the protesters were joined en-route by more than 10,000 “back street boys,” causing the march to quickly degenerate into a disorderly mob of riot and destruction.

TOLBERT WAS OVERTHROWN after the progressives rightfully complained about some injustices in the system and members of the Progressive Peoples Party, formerly Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) marched and sat at the executive mansion at midnight and asked Tolbert to resign. They were arrested and jailed at the then post stockage. The next even after this was the 1980. The coup ended the over 100 years of Americo-Liberian rule but became a major development set for Liberia.

CHARLES TAYLOR, head of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia preyed on the vulnerabilities of a nation that had become fatigued by Doe with a firebrand tough-talking persona that won him a cross-section of support. Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf even acknowledged contributing US$10,000 to help Mr. Taylor and his rebellion, albeit she testified before the Truth and Reconciliation that she gave the $10,000 for “humanitarian” purposes.

WHEN MR. TAYLOR and his rebels finally gained traction and began capturing counties and territories, it was the very people who supported his rebellion that received the short-end of the stick. What followed was a trail of endless tribal and ethnic killings, looting and unprecedented flight of Liberians from their own country, into exile and strange lands where many have become citizens and residents after escaping the carnage in their homeland.

LIBERIANS WANTED Taylor out and he was replaced by an interim government comprising of warring factions that were seeking the interest of their individual factions and not national interest.

DURING THE FORMER regime of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, murmurs of resignation and step-down campaigns were a dominant chorus from the opposition, including some, now in the current ruling party.

THE IRONY of the Sirleaf era is as chronic as was that of Doe’s.

AFTER SERVING HER FIRST six-year term, the masses overwhelmingly gave Sirleaf a second term. But not long after that, in January, 2013, two years after the 2011 elections, a group of Liberians operating under the banner of the “Ellen Step Down Campaign,” emerged, calling on Africa’s first woman head of state to step down from her democratically-elected position.

THE CAMPAIGNERS, WHO had all voted in the 2011 elections, took President Sirleaf to task amid accusations that she was corrupt, nepotistic and overseeing a government that had failed to improve the lives of the Liberian people.

ORGANIZERS PENCILED in October 9, 2013 as the protest date, while allegedly distributing T-shirts to supporters of their campaign. But even as some members of the step-down drive, including Mulbah Morlu, now chair of the ruling CDC-led government, Julius Jensen, Bah-Wah Brownell and others were either arrested or under surveillance, a euphoria greeted Sirleaf as she returned home following a trip to the United Nations General Assembly.

PRAISE SINGERS gathered at the airport to welcome Sirleaf calling on her to continue to steer the state and maintain the ten years of unprecedented peace.

IN A FEW MONTHS, the current administration of President George Manneh Weah will be marking its second year in office and already, chants of step down are already in the air.

ON JUNE 7 THIS YEAR, thousands took to the streets to protest against the corruption and economic decline pointing the blame on Mr. Weah, an iconic figure, who made his name on the football pitch.

PROTESTERS TOOK aim at the stagnant economy in which most still live in deep poverty and a scandal in which the country last year allegedly lost $100 million in newly printed bank notes destined for the central bank.

IN THE WAKE of mounting challenges, some Liberians have in recent weeks questioned why the international community is not doing something about the declining economy, the failing political environment amid spurts of protests which is becoming a norm over the past few months.

MAYBE THE INTERNATIONAL community are simply tired and fed up with Liberia, and are also tired coming to their aid and maybe for once they expect Liberia and Liberians to cry their own cries.

PERHAPS SOME have become frustrated that the opposition never can seem to get its act together, often wailing and crying about the person in power but never willing to make the sacrifices to remove them from power through the ballot box with egos often colliding amongst political forces, most times to their own detriment.

RECENT RESULTS in District No. 15 and last weekend’s Senatorial By-elections in Grand Cape Mount County is just the latest in a season of discontent to expose the disunity and lack of cohesion amongst those in the opposition.

TO BE HONEST, how many times can the world come to one country’s aid? How many times should one country, as old as methuselah, the oldest on the African continent, continue to make SOS calls to the world to come to its aid.

THE WORLD WAS not a party to the 2017 elections and was never a party to the two elections held in 2005 and 2011. Going back to 1985, when Doe won, the world was not a party and neither was the world a party to the 1997 elections won by Taylor, marred by now infamous chants – He killed my ma, he killed my pa, but I will vote for him.”

THE STARK REALITY is that Liberians have always taken it upon themselves to put the leaders or rulers they desire in office, often voting on lines of friendship, populism, family – or who will be better for them to enrich themselves.

THE PAINFUL truth is that in the end, often rapidly, they regret their votes and begin complaining, suddenly turning their attention to the rest of the world to help them correct their mistake.

ALSO PAINFUL is seeing those who were in power and were defeated or overthrown quickly becoming broke and so agitated to be given employment back in Government, creating the infamous “recycled politicians”.

WELL, THE WORLD appears to be tired cleaning Liberia’s diapers and has perhaps had enough.

MR. WEAH OVERWHELMINGLY WON the 2017 presidential elections, ahead of an impressive field of candidates with more than 60% of the vote in the second round.

MR. WEAH, IMMEDIATELY TOOK to Twitter after the final results were announced, declaring: “I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on.”

MR. WEAH won fairly and squarely, according to the National Elections and he deserves to end his six-year term, peacefully.

IF ANYONE is unhappy with the way things are, now is the time to mobilize, set egos aside and do what they feel needs to be done to defeat Mr. Weah at the ballot box.

SINCE 1847, Liberians have been clamoring for change.

THEY SEIZED the opportunity when the American Colonization Society encouraged it to proclaim independence, as it no longer wanted to support it. Although the United States declined to act on requests from the ACS to make Liberia an American colony, or to establish a formal protectorate over Liberia, but it did exercise a “moral protectorate” over Liberia, intervening only when European powers threatened its territory or sovereignty.

LIBERIA RETAINED its independence throughout the scramble for Africa by European colonial powers during the late 19th century, while remaining in the American sphere of influence.

EVEN AS AN INDEPENDENT nation, the country has for more than a century, appear unwilling to seize control of its destiny. Governments have come and gone, repeating the same mistakes – over and over again.

THIS IS WHY we strongly believe that no amount of protests can save Liberia. Protests only prolong the suffering of a people, exploit the vulnerabilities of those languishing at the bottom of the economic ladder and enrich those advocating for change, often driven by their own selfish agenda to the detriment of a nation in desperate need of redemption and social, political and economic cleansing.

THOUSANDS OF LIBERIANS died in an endless civil war and scores also died in vain attempts to overthrow a sitting government, many felt was not governing right.

WHAT HAS CHANGED since 1847? What new ideas have been thought of in a bid to make a difference – or to do things differently? What has the nation learned from April 14, 1979, April 12, 1980, November 12, 1985 or December 24, 1989 – key dates that remain entrenched in Liberia’s rugged history – for all the wrong reasons.

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED since June 7; Save the State protest this year? What needs to be done differently? What do planners have in place in case of a premature end to the Weah presidency? Another political stalemate? Uncertainty?

THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER is even those who advocated change on those dates – would not even know the answer when the stuff begins hitting the fan.

AS HISTORY HAS SHOWN, many of them were in positions of power – and still are, repeating the very same things they accused others of yesterday.

FOR THIS, Liberians need to rethink and reprogram themselves to the changing realities of what it is they really want and how they really want to go about achieving it.

THE SAD REALITY is, Liberians can protest from now until judgment day, if the mindset remains the same, if the corrupt tendencies and urging for greed, nepotism and favoritism are still entrenched in those with aspirations for power, no amount of protesting will bring about any kind of change.

IT IS IMPORTANT that all Liberians advocate for the perseverance of the country’s bourgeoning democracy and resist any attempts by anyone to revert the course of the political dispensation.

WHAT GUARANTEE IS THERE that this latest stepdown call will yield anything different? If the Weah-led government is as bad as those advocating for his early exit feel it is, the democratic route is their best chance at removing the government from power.

FORMER US ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE, Herman Cohen once said: “If this war should reach Monrovia, it will take Liberia one hundred years back”. Liberians did not listen but were welcoming Taylor because we wanted President Samuel Doe out. Today, Liberia that was once considered the beacon of hope in Africa that attracted immigrants and investors from around the world is now considered as one of worst, corrupt or poorest countries in Africa.”

PHILOSOPHER AND WRITER George Santayana in his original writing or quote, wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

FOR THOSE advocating for Weah to stepdown or be removed, the best way is through the ballot box in the next presidential election in 2023.

THE COUNTRY’S FRAGILE history has shown that modern Liberia experienced major setbacks when our leaders were removed before their constitutional terms ended.

SEVERAL DEVELOPMENT projects that would have benefitted the nation from Tolbert last development plan produced by the Rural Development Task Force were not implemented because of the coup.

THE DEVELOPMENT PLAN called for electing county Superintendents by the residents of the counties, construction of vocational schools like those that were in Grand Gedeh and Lofa at a community college level in each county, expansion of the University of Liberia, Construction of the Atlantic Highway from Grand Bassa to the southeast by Mensah Construction Company, a Liberian Construction Company that constructed the Monrovia-Robertsfield Highway. The company was in the process of carrying out a survey of the road when the coup occurred, bringing that program to a halt. It should have been completed by 1983. Also, the pave road from Ganta would have been connected to this road through Grand Gedeh to Maryland. We lost all these because of the 1980 coup.

Under Samuel Doe, Liberia saw the first group of inexperienced and incompetent Liberians at the top of government entities during his first three to four years. After the 1985 election, Doe tried to transition himself from a Military man (Master Sergeant) to a statesman. He brought in some of the most competent Liberians and came out with his development agenda – whether some were inherited or not. He started or continued the Ganta-Harper highway that would have connected Nimba to the southeast, a road from 12th Street Sinkor to Gardnerville, called the Beyan Kessely Drive, extending the Gardnerville road to four lanes by a company called Armtel, construction for a bridge from the YMCA broad street curve to Garnerville, battery factory and the construction of the Ministry of Defense where the New Ministerial complex is located.

IT IS CLEAR THAT LIBERIA HAS lost a lot because of removing our leaders pre-maturely, often replaced by governments that were corrupt or worse.

THE MILLION-DOLLAR question is, would removing Mr. Weah pre-maturely immediately solve Liberia’s economic, social or other problems?

IT IS HIGH TIME that Liberians begin to wake up to the realities that violence is simply not the answer, it only prolongs the suffering and exploit the vulnerable masses. The experience of the players in the current government, who were in opposition yesterday is the best lesson anyone can learn about how the shoe fits when one is on the outside looking in.

A Hint to the Wise!!!

Just before President George Manneh Weah inherited the mantle of authority from former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, something sinister took place under the radar when no one was looking – or paying attention.

Authorities at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the dying days of the Sirleaf era, finalized the extension of the restated biometric passport contract, committing Liberia to the Ghanaian printers, Buck Press Limited for a whopping USD 11.5m (eleven and a half million), on or before March 2021.

100 Percent Proceeds to Buck

The contract seen by FrontPageAfrica states that it can only be terminated when the following conditions are met:

“All 174,000 passports have been personalized; and Buck Press realizes USD 11.5m (eleven and a half million), Should Buck Press not achieve USD 11.5m the contract Period is extended for an additional term of twenty-four months until March 30, 2023 (the extended term) to allow for the personalization of additional ePassport application up to 60,000.” Buck Press shall receive one hundred percent (100%) of the proceeds from the Personalization of all additional 60,000 ePassport applications up to the unrealized portion of the contract value of USD 11.5M.

‘Cancellation Notice’

Now, FrontPageAfrica has gathered that in the wake of the recent shortage of passports at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Weah administration has notified Buck Press of its intentions of cancelling the contract. The company’s representatives have reportedly been summoned to Monrovia for a meeting on July 29 during which notice of cancellation is expected to be finalized.

A copy of the “Notice of Cancellation” from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the printing press obtained by FrontPageAfrica outlined a number of contract breaches from the company which made the deal nearly impossible for Liberia to continue, signed April 7, 2017, it gave Buck Press Limited an immediate Notice of Cancellation of the Contract

Among the reasons given, the government through the Foreign Ministry said Buck had failed to establish Passport Application Centers in all Liberian Foreign Missions despite its agreement to do so at the signing of the extension in 2017.

The government was taken aback over the fact that Buck had put the government in a difficult situation of not being able to provide the means of fulfilling its commitment to provide consular services to its citizens residing outside the geographical territory of Liberia.

The government’s cancellation notice said Buck’s deliberate omission to meet these obligations under the contract, and the further instance by Buck Press by a confirmatory notice dated March 5, 2019 amounts to a material breach of the contract.

The cancellation notice added that Buck’s omission amounts to deliberate attempt to extend indefinitely the biometric passport supply contract to the detriment of the Government and people of Liberia, a fact that has been on-going since April 2004, a total of fifteen years to date.

The cancellation notice notified Buck Press that it had not kept either the International Bank(IB) nor the vaults at the Ministry, the established quantity of passport required for personalization as contracted. “The result being that Government has had to restrict and deny Ordinary Passport applications from deserving Liberian citizens.

 

 

Source: 

Liberia’s economic growth will stall this year as high inflation overwhelms gains made in revenue collection in the West African nation, the International Monetary Fund staff said in a report on its website.

The economy will expand 0.2 percent in 2019 under current policies, down from an earlier estimate of 4.7 percent, the IMF said Friday. The agency said 2018 growth was 1.2 percent, lower than 2.5 percent in 2017. Inflation jumped to 28 percent in December, the Washington-based IMF said.

“Liberia’s economic situation is challenging, and strong policy actions will be required to maintain as favorable outlook as anticipated at this time last year,” IMF team leader Mika Saito said in the statement. “Stability has proved elusive despite improved revenue collection in the first half” of the 2019 fiscal year.

The IMF staff in Liberia recommended fiscal policies and improving the efficiency of government spending.

“Policies should aim at improve the monitoring, accountability, and transparency of spending,” Saito said. “Intensifying actions to improve governance and fight corruption, including through rigorous adherence to existing procurement rules, would also be effective.”

 

Bloomberg

In 1973 Liberia introduced its Aliens and Nationality Law. This, and the country’s 1986 Constitution, allow only people of “Negro descent” – those who are black – to obtain Liberian citizenship by birth, ancestry or naturalisation. The 1973 law also banned dual citizenship.

Many Liberians at home and abroad have questioned the citizenship regulations. But historical and contemporary developments explain why the laws are seen by some as “protectionary”. They are viewed as guarding Liberians against any kind of foreign domination.

What has become locally known as the “Negro clause” was driven by free blacks and manumitted slaves who fled 19th century racism and economic servitude in the US and the Caribbean. They established Liberia as a haven where they would be the sole owners of capital, land and the means of production.

Other countries – among them Chad, Malawi and Mali – historically restricted citizenship to people of “African origin” or “African race”. But those laws have been scrapped over time. Liberia is one of two countries in Africa that have maintained the “Negro clause”. Sierra Leone is the other. There, however, so-called non-“Negros” can naturalise. Liberia is also one of only eight countries on the continent that ban dual citizenship.

Liberian President George Manneh Weah has suggested it’s time to amend the laws. He believes the current citizenship regulations are unnecessarily “racist” and restrictive. He also argues that upholding them would hinder Liberia’s progress and prosperity, especially after its long, devastating armed conflicts.

My research on how Liberians view citizenship in general and dual citizenship in particular suggests that Weah won’t easily get his way.

Ideas about citizenship

My research involved interviewing more than 200 people who identified as Liberians by birth or ancestry, regardless of their citizenship status. They were based in cities in West Africa, Europe and North America.

The findings suggest that Liberians experience citizenship differently based on their class, gender and ethnicity. These factors greatly influence whether they reject or accept dual citizenship and the “Negro clause”.

For example, I found that poor Liberian-based Liberians were more opposed to abolishing the “Negro clause” and adopting dual citizenship than their better-off diaspora counterparts. They are worried that amendments to the citizenship laws would infringe upon their own already limited rights.

My findings echo the stance of Liberian delegates at a 2015 conference held in the country. They were invited by a committee set up in 2012 to review and make recommendations for amending the 1986 Constitution based on a series of national consultations with citizens. They vetoed the enactment of dual citizenship and removal of the “Negro clause”. Survey data from 2018 generated by Afrobarometer also shows that two-thirds of Liberians are pro-“Negro clause” and anti-dual citizenship.

Why is this the case?

My previous and ongoing research offer four key reasons. These are:

  • the fact that displacement and dispossession define the country’s past and its present;

  • land in Liberia, and by extension land ownership, is violently contested;

  • the country is extremely unequal; and,

  • current laws on citizenship are not properly enforced.

I will focus here on displacement and dispossession as well as the lack of enforcement of citizenship laws.

Historical concerns

Scholars like human rights law expert Bronwen Manby have illustrated how struggles over citizenship and belonging are most apparent in African countries that experienced widespread colonial-era migration of people. These migrants came from within the continent, as well as from countries in Asia and Europe.

Liberia was never formally colonised by Europe. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, black migrants created citizenship tiers that barred some indigenous men and women from obtaining citizenship for almost a century. This has resulted in Liberians feeling very protective of their privileges as citizens in the 21st century.

I have argued previously that a divide between settlers and indigenes in the 19th century has been replaced by a rift in the 21st century between returnees and non-returnees. These differences pit those who fled the country’s protracted wars – and are now returning to demand citizenship rights – against those who never left and feel that they haven’t benefited sufficiently from the institution of citizenship.

Another factor contributing to the tension around citizenship is that regulations intended to protect Liberian citizens are unenforced and flagrantly disregarded, especially by political and economic elites. These regulations include the ban on dual citizenship and the prohibition on land ownership by non-citizens.

For instance, despite the current gridlock on dual citizenship, some Liberians – among them the country’s ambassador to the UK– allegedly break the law by carrying two passports.

Such stories leave many Liberians wondering if changes to the constitution would give the rich and powerful the licence to infringe on their already limited citizenship privileges through land grabs, voting in national elections or holding high public office.

There are a few things President Weah can do if he wants to tackle people’s resistance to adopting dual citizenship and abolishing the “Negro clause”. For one, he should make the rhetoric of his “pro-poor” agenda a reality. If he improves the material and living conditions of Liberians at home, people may stop viewing those abroad as a threat.

 

This article is based on one which originally appeared on Al-Jazeera English.The Conversation

Robtel Neajai Pailey, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, University of Oxford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry has disclosed that testing conducted on pig meats brought in the country by Cheaitou Brothers Incorporated showed signs of Salmonella poison.

According to the electronic encyclopedia, Wikipedia.com, Salmonellosis is a symptomatic infection caused by bacteria of the Salmonella type. The most common symptoms are diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. This typically occurs between 12 hours and 36 hours after exposure with symptoms lasting from two to seven days.

Cheaitou Brothers Incorporated is one of the major importers of frozen food in the country.

On January 16, 2019, the government of Liberia through the Ministries of Health and Commerce confiscated 2,754 barrels of pig meats contaminated with Salmonella that was brought in the country by Cheaituo Brothers Incorporated.

The decision to confiscate and quarantine the unwholesome pig meats came as result of an alert by the European Union (EU) to the Liberian government.

The EU issued an alert to the Health Ministry that a business house in the country was bringing in a consignment of contaminated pig-feet from a slaughter house located in Europe.

After confiscating and quarantining, the Ministry of Commerce then conducted a full testing at the National Standard Laboratory in the compound of the Ministry of Public Works.

Addressing journalists Wednesday, January 30, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Wilson Tarpeh, said the health of every Liberian will be protected under the George Weah-led government.

“The outcome of the testing that was conducted by our technical team at the National Standard Laboratory shows that majority of the samples of the pig meats submitted for testing was contaminated with salmonella,” Minister Tarpeh said.

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry head added: “Inasmuch as government welcomes an open and participatory market, it will not equally condone harmful business practices in the country.

“Let the message go forth that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry remains committed to ensuring that anyone found in any business practice that endangers the health of the Liberian people will be made to account for their actions in accordance with law,” Minister Tarpeh said.

According to the Commerce Minister, investigation is ongoing to identify whether the frozen food company intentionally brought the contaminated pig meats into the country.

He added that if it is established that Cheaitou Brothers Incorporated knowingly brought the unwholesome meats in the country, penalty will be taken against the company.

Credit: Front Page Africa

A Liberian court has issued arrest warrants for more than 30 former Central Bank officials in connection with 104 million dollars that went missing on the way to the bank, according to a court document released on Friday.

Former bank Governor Milton Weeks and Charles Sirleaf, the son of the west African nation’s former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, were among those ordered arrested.

Weeks has said he had nothing to do with the missing cash and was cooperating with investigators. The media has not been able to reach Sirleaf for comment.

 

Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA

Former soccer star George Weah has won Liberia’s presidential run-off election and will succeed incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf next month, the country’s first democratic transition in over 70 years.

With 98.1 percent of the vote counted, Weah led with 61.5 percent to Vice President Joseph Boakai’s 38.5 percent, National Elections Commission Chairman Jerome Korkoyah told reporters in the capital Monrovia on Thursday.

At his party headquarters outside Monrovia, tears streamed down Weah’s face as he greeted supporters from a balcony. Below, hundreds of young people sang and danced to a live performance of Hipco, Liberian hip hop music popular with the country’s impoverished youth.

“Success for George Weah is victory for the whole country,” a 47-year-old engineer named Randall Zarkpah said as he walked home with his young son through streets ringing with honking car horns and loud cheers as dusk fell.

“When you feel sick for some time and you receive proper medication - that is how I feel now. He will be good for our country. He is King George!”

Weah grew up in Clara Town slum in Monrovia and went on to become the only African to win FIFA World Player of the Year, starring for AC Milan, Paris St Germain and Chelsea.

His popularity at home fueled a previous run for president, in 2005. He won the first round then but lost the second round to Johnson Sirleaf, whom he will now succeed.

His rags-to-riches story helped him tap into dissatisfaction with Johnson Sirleaf’s 12-year tenure. She drew a line under years of civil war but drew criticism for failing to root out corruption or persistent poverty. 

“My fellow Liberians, I deeply feel the emotion of all the nation,” Weah wrote on Twitter after the results were announced. “I measure the importance and the responsibility of the immense task which I embrace today. Change is on.”

Weah’s critics, however, say he has offered few concrete policy proposals. His choice of running mate has also raised eyebrows: Jewel Howard-Taylor, the ex-wife of Charles Taylor, a former president of Liberia who is serving 50 years in a British prison for war crimes in neighboring Sierra Leone.

“I think Weah is not fit for the work. He will see it,” said Anthony Mason, 34, who had huddled around radios at the headquarters of Boakai’s Unity Party for the results.

Weah looked set to sweep 14 of Liberia’s 15 counties in the run-off. Turnout in Tuesday’s vote stood at 56 percent, the election commission said. Earlier on Thursday, Boakai said he doubted that the vote was “free, fair and transparent”, without elaborating. He did not say whether he might challenge the eventual result.

The second round was delayed by more than a month after the third-place finisher in October’s first round, backed by Boakai, alleged fraud. The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the challenge. The U.S.-based Carter Center and National Democratic Institute said on Thursday there were notable improvements in the handling of the run-off, echoing positive assessments from other international observers.

Founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847, Liberia is Africa’s oldest modern republic. But the last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944, a military coup took place in 1980 and a 14-year civil war ended only in 2003.

 

(Reuters)

For a possible third time since multi-party elections were restored, Liberians will be revisiting the polls to decide on who becomes the country's next president in a run-off presidential election between the two candidates who have obtained the most number of votes from the October 10 polls.

The two candidates with most of the votes so far have not been able to secure 50%+1. So far the top opposition contender, George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), has secured 572,453 votes, which amounts to 39.0% of the 1,550,923 votes already tallied across the country. Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP), trails behind Weah with 427,550 votes, 29.1% of the national tally so far.

And with the The National Elections Commission (NEC) having tallied 95.6% of all votes cast on October 10, it is quite unavoidable that a run-off election will ensue.

Weah is contesting as a presidential candidate for the third time since the end of the 14-year Liberian civil war in 2003.

According to the Liberian Constitution, the President and Vice President must receive an absolute majority of the votes in order to win the election. An absolute majority means that the candidate must receive fifty percent plus one (50%+1) of all valid votes cast. If no candidate receives an absolute majority, then there will be a run-off election between the two candidates who received the most votes.

So as it is becoming evident and since neither of the leading presidential candidates (Weah & Boakai) has or could acquire 50%+1 votes, the NEC is mandated by Article 83 (b) of the Liberian Constitution to conduct a run-off to determine the next President of Liberia.

Meanwhile Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party (LP), Ex-Coca-Cola executive Alexander B. Cummings of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) and Sen. Prince Yormie Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) are trailing in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, and will not be qualified to participate in the run-off as a candidate. Each of them, however, has significant number of devoted voters who they could encourage to vote in favor of either of the two top in the run-off.

Brumskine has so far received 144,359 votes (9.8%), while Cummings has received 104,127 votes (7.1%) and PYJ gets 102,564 votes (7.0%).

According to Article 83(b) of the Liberian Constitution, a runoff election is held within two weeks following the announcement of the results of the ballots cast in the first round of the presidential election. The NEC, by the same law, has until October 25 to announce the final results of the first round of voting and the possible run-off.

Role of other parties not contesting the run-off

All political parties, even if they are not participating in the run-off, have a stake in the electoral process. Their accredited representatives may monitor the election to ensure that it is free, fair and transparent. Also, political parties that are not contesting the run-off may encourage their members who are registered voters to participate in the election by voting for a preferred candidate between the two leading candidates.

Party representatives may witness every process at the polling place except the act of a voter recording his or her vote. Inside the place, representatives may not communicate with voters in any way. During polling, the party or candidate's representatives for the run-off election are allowed to stand to witness the polls from a visible position.

This step is to ensure the transparency of the process by allowing a party or a candidate representatives to observe the process of identification of the voter in the Final Registered Roll (FRR).

Run-off campaign period

The campaign period for the possible run-off election shall commence on the day following the announcement of the final results, but the NEC may announce the results earlier and the campaign shall end 24 hours before Election Day. Campaign guidelines issued by the NEC for the October 10 elections remain in effect; parties and their supporters must campaign in compliance with these guidelines and regulations.

What regulates campaign expenditures?

Campaign expenditure limits set forth in the 1986 New Elections Law as amended by the 2004 Electoral Reform Law shall include the additional campaign period for the run-off Election. As amended in Section 13 of the Campaign Finance Regulations, the post-election campaign finance report for candidates contesting the run-off Election shall be submitted fifteen (15) days after the official results of the run-off election are announced.

 

Source: Liberian Observer

Former soccer star George Weah maintained his lead over Liberian Vice President Joseph Boakai as more provisional results from the West African country’s presidential election were announced on Friday.

If current trends hold, the rivals would contest a runoff next month to decide who will succeed Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in what would be Liberia’s first democratic transfer of power in decades. Based on returns from about a third of the country’s more than 5,000 polling stations, Weah has received 39.6 percent of votes cast, with Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) at 31.1 percent, the elections commission said.

“We are still confident that there are places that we believe are our strong support ... We are very optimistic that with reports coming in, UP is going to take the lead,” Boakai told Reuters after Friday’s results announcement.

Charles Brumskine, a lawyer, was running third with 9.3 percent of the vote. The final certified results from Tuesday’s poll must be announced by Oct. 25, although the provisional first-round winner is expected to be known in the coming days.

Weah, a star striker for Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan who won FIFA’s World Player of the Year in 1995, came in second behind Johnson Sirleaf in a 2005 election that drew a line under years of civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians.

He has served in the senate since 2014 for the Congress for Democratic Change opposition party. Boakai, the former head of Liberia’s petroleum refinery company and agriculture minister, has served as Liberia’s vice president since 2006. Brumskine and the parties of two other candidates have said the vote was marred by fraud and vowed to contest the results, though international election observers have said they saw no major problems.

“The Liberian people deserve to know what was done,” Brumskine said. “They deserve a valid, transparent election. So many Liberians were deprived of their constitutional right to vote. We will, therefore, be requesting a re-run of the election.”

Liberia, Africa’s oldest modern republic, was founded by freed U.S. slaves in 1847, but its last democratic transfer of power occurred in 1944. Johnson Sirleaf’s nearly 12 years in office have seen the country’s post-war peace consolidated, although Liberians complain about poor public services and widespread corruption.

 

(Reuters)

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