Dear Editor,The unemployment rate in Guyana is staggering and climbing every day. In the three years of this A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition, the Government has demonstrated its inability to grow the economy and to create jobs, especially for young people in the rural areas. About two months ago, a 58-year old resident of Tempie, Marlin Kwok, invested over $400,000 to construct a car-wash bay for her 19-year old grandson, Joshua Johnson, to keep him gainfully employed. She was concerned of the high usage of drugs by youths in the neighbouring Number 30 Village, and was determined to give her grandson an opportunity to make something meaningful with his life. She viewed her investment as a means of creating employment for him and other youths in the village of Tempie. The wash bay employs three, with others on a part-time basic when things get busy on the weekends. But this is about to end.Last Sunday, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) APNU Regional Councillor, Dillon Crawford, hand-delivered a letter signed by his wife, Oneca Sam, the Overseer of the Tempie/Seafield NDC, advising of the imminent closure of this car-wash bay if it is not “demolished” within 48 hours.In an interview I had with Marlin Kwok, she claims that several members of the Tempie/Seafield NDC, including the Chairman, Frank Wilson, had prior knowledge of the wash bay at the time of construction and could have stopped her then, rather than waiting until she had spent over $400,000 to complete the project. The area is concreted with a wooden ramp. There is no building associated with the car-wash.Over 12 years ago, Kwok built a small wooden road-side shack on the same reserve, where she has been selling fruits and vegetables since. She was never given notice to move by the previous Administration, and wonders if her livelihood will now be taken away by the APNU+AFC she voted for in 2015.Admittedly, Ms Kwok is well aware that both her fruit shack and her grandson’s car-wash bay are illegally constructed on Government’s reserve. However, there is much need for both these services in the Tempie area, and the need to encourage more young entrepreneurs to help reduce the unemployment rate.In addition, there is no plan by Government that I am aware of, to utilise this piece of waste land in the foreseeable future. There are no neighbours close by to complain, and the water used by the car-wash is disposed of properly without causing floods. So why not leave them alone? These people are just trying to survive and make an honest living during the hard times we’re facing as a nation. And any attempt to “demolish” this wash bay will not only deny them a chance of achieving the “good life” the Government touts about, but this heartless act would send a strong message to their own supporters that the APNU/AFC Government is not caring at all.Sincerely,Harry GillPPP/C Memberof Parliament
Dear Editor,I am pleased to read in your media that an American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) will be formed in Guyana sometime soon, as announced by US Ambassador Perry Holloway. I have long championed for the formation of such a commercial outfit, but could not get takers. Business persons will listen to the Ambassador. And may I also suggest the formation of a US-Guyana Friendship Society that people of other nations set up between their countries and the US.Amcham and a US-Guyana Friendship Society will help to bolster economic and strategic ties with the US while leading to a higher standard of living and level of security from threats from hostile neighbours.Amcham will bring the two countries closer together. It will also help Guyana to address challenges in priority areas, such as security, energy, economics, infrastructure, foreign investment, and manufacturing, among others. Amcham will create tremendous opportunities that would benefit both countries’ economies with job creation and growth. It could even lead to high-level dialogue with US Administration officials on geo-political and strategic interests. Amcham will provide a solid foundation from which to work to strengthen bilateral engagements and reinforce Guyana-US strategic, economic, cultural, and people-to-people ties. One must also remember that more Guyanese live in the US than in Guyana.It is noted that Guyana had strong ties with Washington after the restoration of democracy under the Jagan and Jagdeo Administrations. Unfortunately, post- Jagdeo, relations with Washington inexplicably strained, including a blast against the US Ambassador Brent Hardt during the Donald Ramotar Presidency. Since becoming de facto leader of PPP, Jagdeo has been mending relations with Washington. The former President Jagdeo has signaled that he wants the next PPP Government to work closely with the US.There is need for a strong and collaborative partnership between Georgetown and Washington on a number of issues, not the least being: territorial security; trade; energy; attracting greater foreign investment, especially in manufacturing; and expanding access to skills training and education in the US.If Guyana is to achieve its economic and strategic potential, it must work collaboratively with the US and other western countries, like Canada and Britain. It must also try to overcome the many ghosts that Ambassador Holloway mentioned in his speech at Marriott on July 11 at the reception for US Independence Day.The country must boldly face the myriad economic and governance challenges, including endemic corruption and violations of the constitution that slow growth, development, and foreign investment. Amcham will help in this endeavor, and businesses should welcome and join it.Yours truly,Vishnu Bisram
Dear Editor,Once again, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s presence in the National Assembly, while performing the functions of Office of President, has become a contentious one. When it first occurred during the Budget Debates in late 2015, in an article titled “Prime Minister squatting in the National Assembly” I publicly condemned it as a violation of the Constitution and posited that his presence thereof was unlawful.In light of the Leader of the Opposition’s pronouncements last Friday in the National Assembly, the matter has become a live issue once again.Perhaps, a convenient place to begin is Article 96 of the Constitution. In the current circumstances, it is beyond disputation that the Prime Minister was appointed to perform the functions of the office of President under Article 96 (1) of the Constitution.Article 96 of the Constitution provides:“Whenever the President is absent from Guyana or considers it desirable to do so by reason of illness or any other cause he or she may, by direction in writing authorise any member of Cabinet, being an elected member of the National Assembly, to perform such functions of office of the President as he or she may specify and the person so authorised shall perform those functions until his or hers authority is revoked by the President or until the functions are resumed by the President.”Again, it cannot be disputed that the Prime Minister is an elected member of the National Assembly and a member of Cabinet. Therefore, he qualifies to have been appointed by the President, to perform the functions of Office of President.The next relevant constitutional provision which falls to be considered is Article 178 (4) of the Constitution. The relevant portion reads:“During any period when a Minister is performing the functions of the office of the President under article 96 or 179 or has assumed the office under the provisio to article 95(1), his or her seat in the National Assembly shall be regarded as vacant and may be temporarily filled in accordance with any provision made under Article 160 (3).”The language of Article 178 (4) is unambiguous and unequivocal. Once a Minister, (who must be an elected member of the National Assembly), of the Cabinet is appointed to perform the functions of the office of President, then that Minister’s seat in the National Assembly “shall be regarded as vacant.” Therefore, while he is performing the office of President, Mr. Nagamootoo’s seat in the National Assembly “shall be regarded as vacant.”It must also be excruciatingly clear that it matters not whether he is an elected member of the National Assembly or not. In fact, the framers of the Constitution specifically provided that it is only an elected member of the National Assembly who is qualified to perform the functions of the office of the President (See Article 96 (1) above).And in Article 178 (4), the framers of the Constitution, consciously rendered that seat as vacant, when that elected member is appointed to perform the functions of the office of President. The Prime Minister’s plea therefore, that he is an elected member of the National Assembly and therefore, cannot be “unelected”, is wholly devoid of merit and is simply puerile. It is the Constitution itself, under which he is elected as a member of the National Assembly, that renders his seat vacant.The other contention of the Prime Minister that he is “Prime Minister” and not a “Minister” is equally specious and untutored. Article 103 (1) of the Constitution conclusively puts this issue to rest. It provides: “The Prime Minister and every other Vice President shall be a Minister of the Government of Guyana.” This provision establishes beyond any doubt that the Prime Minister is a Minister of Government.There are additional and even more fundamental reasons, quite apart from the above, which disqualify an elected member who is performing the functions of Office of President from sitting and participating in the business in the National Assembly.The National Assembly is merely one component of Parliament. Article 51 provides: “There shall be a Parliament of Guyana which shall consist of the President and the National Assembly.” So what is loosely called a Parliamentary Sitting, is technically not. It is merely a sitting of the National Assembly. It is the National Assembly that has the Constitutional responsibility of approving the annual estimates of expenditures, not Parliament. When estimates are approved by the National Assembly, an Appropriation Bill is then tabled, capturing all the estimates of expenditures approved and that Bill is then required to be passed by the National Assembly. Upon passage of that Bill by the National Assembly, it then goes to the President for his assent. The framers of the Constitution prohibited the President from participating in the National Assembly and in the approval of Bills because the President is empowered to assent to those Bills. It would be a contradiction in terms if the President were to participate in the passage of Bills in the National Assembly and then have the functional responsibility of assenting to those very Bills. That is precisely why the President has a power to withhold his assent from Bills. The President is, therefore, neither a part of, nor a “rubber stamp” of the National Assembly. The framers of the Constitution went to great lengths in creating a clear divide between the National Assembly and the President. In the circumstances, while performing the duties for Office of President, the Prime Minister’s presence in the National Assembly is institutionally incongruous and constitutionally incestuous.On the issue of convention and precedent, the record will establish that Mr Nagamootoo is the only elected member of the National Assembly who ever sat in the National Assembly while performing the functions of the office of President.Sincerely,Anil Nandlall, MP
Though concrete measures are not in place, President David Granger assured that his government is committed to introducing modern copyright legislation.For years, those in the creative industries have been feeling stifled owing to the absence of modern copyright laws.These outdated laws paved the way for the creation of a lucrative enterprise in intellectual piracy and counterfeit products.The current legislation, the 1956 Copyright Act, which Guyana inherited from Great Britain following Independence in 1966, has never been revised since, even though its former colonial master had long repealed the legislation that deemed copyright infringement a civil wrong.Though the current Act does provide protection of literary, musical, dramatic and artistic works, the fines are extremely low, ranging mostly from £5 to £50 (G$1750-G$17,500). Given the time and cost to pursue an infringement in court, some artistes view the exercise as a loss rather than gain.Former Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall had expressed that his administration is cognisant of the need for copyright reform, however nothing substantial ever came on stream.The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition during the campaign trail promised to update the laws in order to help develop the creative industry.The then APNU Member of Parliament and Youth, Culture and Sport shadow minister Christopher Jones had emphasised the need for updated copyright laws but guarded against persons thinking that the implementation of such laws would completely eliminate the problems related to plagiarism and piracy.During a recent interview on ‘The Public Interest’, President Grange expressed that he is uncertain about how soon the legislation will be introduced but assured government will definitely move in this direction.“I cannot say for sure when that legislation will be laid but it is a commitment on our part to protect the rights of artistes and publishers of other forms of material…we are committed to suppressing piracy,” he stated.According to the US Department of Commerce, about five to seven per cent of all world trade involves counterfeit products, and estimates the cost to the global economy at more than US$650 billion per year.The income raked in from pirated DVDs, CDs, the unauthorised photocopying of books and other intellectual materials here is a tiny, if not invisible, sum of the global counterfeit trade.Local artistes have raised their concerns about the lack of legislation to protect their work and had issued countless calls for those in authority to take urgent steps to address the situation.Soca Road March champion Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts had previously told this publication that the competition is starkly unfair.“Most locally produced CDs will retail at a price of $1500, but consumers can get the best of any artiste in the world for $200. Now how can a Guyanese artiste compete with that when you have to spend no less than $50,000 to produce a song?“Next, an artiste will spend no less than $150,000 to produce a music video to be aired on television, but because television stations basically get free video content from around the world, why should they be obligated to play ours.“I gave those two examples to say this: if we had updated intellectual property rights legislation in place, radio and television stations will have to be paying millions of US dollars to foreign companies for content. This will in turn force them to revert to more local content, making way for competitive, productive and economic growth for the creative industries in Guyana,” she said.In 2014, Mosa Telford, who has won several literary awards, had also expressed that the present Copyright Act is a dagger in the side of the creative industry.Gavin Mendonca, member of the band Keep Your Day Job (KYDJ), which is part of an advocacy group called Guyana Music Networks, also noted that the current Act needs to be updated as it cannot fully protect the work of creative professionals.From all indications, the issue of copyright will continue to be an ongoing subject of debate and will remain so as long as members of the creative industry believe that more needs to be done to protect their work.
A man who allegedly stabbed his wife on the night of 30 April, 2015 after a domestic dispute will finally face trial for the charge laid against him.Miguel “Allan” Barker of Bagotville, West Bank Demerara will have his day in the high court over the allegedThe late Donessa Barkerbrutal stabbing of Donessa Barker. The woman had collapsed after being dealt several stab wounds about the body.In evidence tendered in the Wales Magistrate’s Court, the woman died of incised wounds and it was proven that she was stabbed to the chest.At the packed courtroom, Magistrate Nurse ruled that there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial. However Barker in his response to the accusation maintained that he was not present at the time of the crime.“Me an me wife didn’t really [have] no problem, sir,” the defendant noted.The murder accused also pointed out that during the course of the investigation, police forced him to sign a statement which he did not understand since he cannot read.The Magistrate posited that the court will take his explanations into consideration but the defendant has to defend his alleged crime at the Supreme Court.Barker, before being remanded to prison, was told that at a later date, he will be informed as to when his high court trial will commence.It was on a Thursday evening last year that the mother of one was allegedly stabbed to death by her husband.The couple had been married for more than a year, but had been experiencing extensive marital issues. Reports had indicated that the murder accused would frequently accuse his wife of infidelity which caused intervals of separation in the marriage.On that fateful night, the couple were heard arguing which was followed by a scuffle and after some time, the man left the home but then returned and jumped through the bedroom window.Guyana Times had reported that Barker had reportedly taken a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his spouse several times. Neighbours attempted to rescue the woman and had rushed her to hospital where she was pronounced dead.At that time, Barker allegedly fled with the murder weapon but was later apprehended and charged for the fatal crime.
The staff of Scotiabank, Robb Street, Georgetown, branch on Friday launched their annual cancer awareness month.October is designated to bring understanding and awareness of this form of cancer that affects both men and women. Scotiabank has been involved in raising funds for cancer institutions over the past 15 years. The bank’s annual cake sale has been the flagship of the charitable event.The Robb Street branch last year raised $1.4 million through the support from customers and friends. The funds raised are matched by Scotiabank and donated to the cancer institutions.The usual beneficiaries are the Periwinkle Cancer Club and Avon Cancer Society, now Guyana Cancer Foundation. This year the Robb Street branch is hoping to garner higher funds to make a larger contribution towards people living with cancer.The event is supported by employees, who bake cakes and pastries, customers, friends and other Scotiabank branches in Guyana.This year’s grand cake sale will be held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 in front of the Robb Street branch from 07:30h.Every Friday in October staff will wear pink to demonstrate solidarity with breast cancer patients in particular and those living with other forms of cancers.
Barely a week following the imposition of the state of emergency by President Ellen Johnson, some poverty-stricken families, who usually depend on their children to serve as their bread-winners through petty trading, were left to encounter further hardships when some of the them (sellers) were asked to abandon their wares in the name of the state of emergency.One of such parents who reportedly encountered the wrath of law enforcement officers—a mother, Sarah Manitoe, 32, had accompanied two of her children on their selling assignments over the weekend when they reportedly experienced such actions on the part of two unidentified police officers.She told the Daily Observer that the two officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) on patrol at the intersection of Benson/Lynch streets stopped them from selling their coconut signs in Central Monrovia.She quoted the police as telling her that they (police) were acting on the law regarding the presidential state of emergency being imposed.By that stop order from the LNP, Madam Manitoe claimed her children were forced to lie down before a half-opened grocery shop, while she sat nearby to watch over them.This allegation, the two LNP officers, who suddenly encountered the Daily Observer, vehemently denied, but they did not say what had transpired prior to the children’s being stopped from selling. The two officers in dramatic fashion disappeared in thin air without uttering a word when they noticed that our reporter had pulled out his camera to capture the scene.Earlier, some commuters were reportedly encountering similar difficulties while in the process of selling their wares in central Monrovia. Those reports are yet to be independently confirmed.At the same time, the ongoing state of emergency has given rise to the increment of the prices of basic commodities including rice, where a 25kg bagnprevious sold for L$1250, is being sold on the market for L$1500.In post-war Liberia, 90 percent of the population lives below US$1 daily since they earn their livelihood by petty trading. However, President Sirleaf’s imposition of the state of the emergency last Wednesday is part of the fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus that continues to take away precious lives across the country.The President announced that the nation is currently affected to the extent where the disease has now spread to eight counties — Lofa, Bong Margibi, Nimba, Bomi, Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Grand Gedeh.Liberia, the President said, is among three countries, experiencing an unprecedented outbreak of the virus, the largest since the virus was first discovered in 1976.“It now poses serious risks to the health, safety, security and welfare of our nation. And beyond the public health risk, the disease is now undermining the economic stability of our country to the tone of millions of dollars in lost revenue, productivity and economic activity,” the President said. As such, and out of fear of being infected with the disease, health care practitioners are afraid to accept new patients, especially in community clinics all across the country. Consequently, President Sirleaf added that many common diseases which are especially prevalent during the rainy season, such as malaria, typhoid and common colds, are going untreated, which may lead to unnecessary and preventable deaths. Based on her concern for Liberians, the President said, her government requires extraordinary measures for the very survival of the state and for the protection of the lives of Liberians. “Therefore, and by the virtue of the powers vested in me as President of the Republic of Liberia, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, and in keeping with Article 86(a) (b) of the Constitution of Liberia, hereby declare a State of Emergency throughout the country effective as of August 6, 2014 for a period of 90 days.”Under this State of Emergency, the President said, the government will institute extraordinary measures, including, if need be, the suspensions of certain rights and privileges.By that, the President further instructed all non-essential government staff to stay at home for 30 days, ordered the closure of schools, and authorized the fumigation of all public buildings. Markets in affected areas have been shut down and movement restricted in others.While sending children out to sell in the streets amounts to child labor, the above incident speaks to a different issue, as the officers were clearly not acting in the interest of child rights and fled the scene upon encountering a reporter. If they were simply abusing their powers, that presents a problem.There is a need to define exactly what rights and priveleges are being suspended in line with this State of Emergency, especially as far as the Armed Forces are concerned, in order to prevent the abuse of power and the state of emergency.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The two United States (US) Army generals who now replaced the other as commander of the U.S.-led Military Operation United Shield in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) across Africa have both commended Liberians for their resilience and positive spirit in the fight to contain the disease.The two American top brass military personnel made the commendation over the weekend at the Barclay Training Center (BTC) in Monrovia at the official ceremony marking the Operation United Assistance Joint Force Command’s Transfer of Authority (TOA).At the brief but well coordinated occasion, the former Commander of the force, Major General Darryl Williams, transferred authority to another Major General, Gary J. Volesky. The transfer of authority was characterized by military traditional activities.The exercise was attended by Defense Minister Brownie J. Samukai, Jr. and U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Deborah R. Malac, among other officials.Maj/Gen Volesky replaces Maj. /Gen. Williams, who led the US soldiers to Liberia since five weeks ago.“The fight to contain EVD is faced with enormous challenges, but we are grateful to Liberians and other partners for their collective efforts to stamp out the disease,” the two soldiers asserted in their separate statements as they, to the delight of the audience, exchanged colors marking the TOA. In a separate remark earlier, the outgoing commander, Maj/Gen Williams expressed gratitude to authorities at the Ministry of National Defense (MOD), and the Chief of Staff (COS) of the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL), Brigadier General Daniel Ziankhan, for the “friendship and excellent” leadership qualities exhibited during his tenure, which sets the condition for onward operations of the U.S. Military.According to him, Operation United Shield involves the efforts of the AFL and the U.S. military team to build a united front in the fight against the EVD.For his part, the incoming Commander, Maj/Gen. Volesky, described the exercise as challenging since its operations have to include the training of healthcare givers in the fight against the EVD and the manning of the various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) across the country.Prior to coming to Liberia, he served in his latest assignment as Commanding General, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Fort Campbell. As the Army Service Component Command for U.S. Africa Command, the US Army Africa, Southern European Task Force (USARAF/SETAF) enables a full spectrum operation, while conducting sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote security, stability, and peace.As directed, USARAF/SETAF deploys a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response. USAARAF is America’s premier Army team dedicated to positive change in Africa such as the fight to contain the outbreak by providing their respective expertise.As of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), it provides the US with an unmatched expeditionary Air Assault capability to conduct forcible entry and other worldwide unified land operations in support of combatant commanders. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Sixty nine Corrections Officers, who were recruited, trained and subsequently assigned to various prison facilities throughout the country, are seeking intervention to have their names placed on the government’s payroll.The group claims that since their deployment in October 2014 to man prison facilities in the country, they are yet to receive a dime from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).The aggrieved officers, who last week walked into the McDonald Street office of the Daily Observer, said they would not get themselves involved into any violent activities, instead they would continue to seek dialogue with relevant government agencies, including the Ministries of Justice and Finance to address their situation.Their spokesman, Jackson K. Kolako, appealed to the Liberian government to place their names on the payroll in keeping with government’s policy.Kolako told this newspaper that “despite the economic hardship imposed on Liberians as a result of the Ebola outbreak, we remained at our respective assigned posts around the country.”According to him, since they were assigned effective October 5, 2014 to present, they have not been paid.“They have not compensated us. We don’t even have proper identification cards (ID cards) neither have we been certificated to confirm that we actually completed our training,” he contended.“Since December,” Mr. Kolako claimed, “the names of 69 of us have not been placed on payroll and we are working without any benefit. Our children are also unable to attend school. This is why we are appealing for our names to be placed on government’s pay system.”According to him, since June last year, they have not be able to meet their domestic responsibilities including making sure that their families are properly fed and sheltered and receive medical attention.Though authorities at the MOJ are yet to make an official statement in response to the officers’ appeal, Kolako claimed that they have already reduced their appeal into several written communications submitted to the MOJ as well as to members of the National Legislature with reference to the office of the Senate Committee on Defense and Intelligence.It may be recalled that during President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s visit on December 23, 2014, to the Monrovia Central Prison, representatives of the concerned 69 corrections officers brought their plight to her attention.The President immediately instructed the Minister of Justice to handle the matter with urgency.A source close to the Minister said the case of the 69 officers is being looked into and that an appropriate action was pending. A highly placed source in the office of the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh, has assured the aggrieved officers that their issue will be attended to with the utmost urgency.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
A Few weeks ago, I was doing research online and came across a news story published February 25, by the Inquirer Newspaper titled, “Residents Deny ‘Massacre’ Claim.” The story is related to charges of war crimes against one Martina Johnson, a well-known former NPFL rebel commander who was arrested last year by Belgium authorities and placed in custody regarding whatever roles she must have played in several massacres inside Mr. Taylor’s rebel territories, particularly, during the deadly “Octopus” war (she reportedly oversaw). Prior to reading the Inquirer story, I had read a similar story written by Mr. Nvasekie Konneh entitled, “Alieu Kosiah is a Victim of the Liberian Civil War.” Alieu Kosiah is an ex-ULIMO-K rebel commander whose story of violence against civilians stands out during the ULIMO-NPFL-LDF wars in Lofa and like Martina, Alieu Kosiah was arrested and subsequently imprisoned last year in Switzerland due to his roles in alleged “Tortures and killings” after he was identified by some of his victims. His detention has been extended to three more months by a judge before his trial can begin. Kosiah’s alleged victims who gave a tipoff that led to his arrest are expected to be represented by Civitas Maxima of Liberia and its Swiss branch, Global Research and Justice Project (GRJP). The Inquirer story was based on what it calls, “Fact-finding mission” by a “Team of international and local journalists” that allegedly toured “Dry Rice Market and Johnsonville” communities and spoke to residents regarding a wartime “massacres” in the areas and Martina’s possible connection to any. The Inquirer however failed to state what exactly prompted a fact-finding in the Martina case because, other Liberian ex-warlords and rebel commanders arrested previously by the ICC on similar war crimes charges, like former Pres. Taylor, his son, Chuckie Taylor, Tom weoiwiyou and Alieu Kosiah, never enjoyed such privileges of background investigations in their behalf by local reporters, let alone a group of local and foreign “Journalists” as reported by the paper. Of a group of “journalists” who allegedly formed part of the “Fact-finding” tour in the referenced communities, it is interesting to note that only The Inquirer so far has released a story though seemingly skewed in a way to serve a particular interest. Who the rest of the journalists are, and when they will publish their own findings are things not clear. And why The Inquirer took special interest in the Martina Johnson’s case is also something worth for the general public to know since this is untraditional. In any case both stories’ headings appeared conclusive, particularly the Kosiah story with no quotation or question marks, as usual considering the gravity of the crimes involved in both cases. Except that one was written presumably by an independent daily, and the other by a freelance writer who holds tribal affiliation to one of the war crimes suspects, the objective for both stories are clear in the story contents-they set out to defend the two former hardcore rebel commanders against “War crimes” for which the two have been separately indicted and are awaiting trials. And just by coincident, the Inquirer-Konneh stories also exhibit striking similarities in many forms. On separate notes, the two vehemently denied the accused, Martina and Kosiah, were ever involved in committing egregious crimes against civilians during the war as alleged. Indeed, the Inquirer story and that of Mr. Konneh’s went to extra length to portray the two diehard-rebel militias as “innocent” bystanders and “victims” of the brutal African war that killed an estimated 250,000 people. This is all happening when in fact, no trial has begun and although both accused may have initially denied every charge brought against them, it is universally the normal thing all war crimes suspects do. Charles Taylor denied “Everything” and likewise, Chuckie Taylor, and Kosiah. Even former Chadian leader Hissene Habre, indicted by Belgium courts on similar crimes, according to reports, “Is still denying.” Though either story failed to give accounts on the war activities of Martina and Kosiah, all agreed the two served as ‘commanders’ for the rebel National Patriotic Front (NPFL) of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, and Prof. Alhaji Kromah’s ULIMO-K rebel factions. Taylor is presently serving a 50 year sentence due to war crimes he reportedly committed in neighboring Sierra Leone during the 90s. However, it is not the Kosiah story this piece is about. What prompted this article is that unconventional “journalistic style” that The Inquirer adopted in treating an important matter that hold not just local but deep international interest as well. It ignored all journalistic ethical rules and published story ostensibly embedded in pure deception. The paper did so cleverly, making it to appear the story was based on feedbacks gathered from residents of two townships. Notwithstanding, it was no different from a case where someone would describe this way: “Rabbit thought it was hiding, not knowing its tail was still exposed.” In other words, the Inquirer editorial compromised its so-called “Fact-finding” report in attempt to cover up for war crimes suspect, Martina Johnson. For example, the paper’s story, among many others things failed to even draw a connection between the Taylor-led NPFL that recruited and armed Martina Johnson along with thousands of Liberian youths to fight. Mind you, the suspect Martina Johnson, fought for the NPFL, the faction known to have systematically targeted and murdered thousands civilians, mainly Mandingo and Krahn, on the basis of their ethnic affiliations. These are basic facts no news organ writing about such high-profiled case will ever ignore, unless the primary goals for that organ isn’t about protecting and serving the public interest. For the referenced Inquirer report, one doesn’t really have to be a savvy editor or reporter in order to detect that something is wrong, that the story was indeed compromised. Any literate individual can easily tell this just by basically examining the paper’s story contents, version of the “Fact-finding mission.” Let’s go over a few paragraphs in the referenced Inquirer story so as to attempt to find out whether or not the Inquirer editorial followed the rules or did in all fairness apply “Objectivity” in in the referenced report as required in the journalism profession. In its opening paragraphs, the following is what Liberia’s Inquirer, once considered, a credible source by international news agencies during wartime, wrote: “Some residents of the Dry Rice Market and Johnsonville communities have clarified that there was no incident of massacres in both communities during the Liberian civil conflict. The residents further clarified that no act of massacre was committed by a former SSS Officer who later became the head of the Roberts International Airport (RIA) Madam Martina Johnson as has been alleged. Members of the communities said both communities were considered free zones during the heat of the civil conflict something that contradicts allegation by Global Research and Justice Project.” As indicated earlier, the paper stated the information was gathered last January when a group of “Journalists” visited the areas during which the reporters conducted interviews with “Over 70 elders and youths” concerning reports that “Massacres occurred” in those vicinities. The Inquirer story said, citizens denied such allegations. However, what seems unforgivable is when the paper alleges without quotes that “residents” in both townships described the GRJP’s report as “misleading and intended to destroy Madam Johnson” and demanded they “want all charges against Martina Johnson dropped.” “Meanwhile, residents of Dry Rice Market and Johnsonville communities want all charges against Martina Johnson dropped adding that the allegation by Global Research and Justice Project is intended to solicit international support and attention from the international community. Residents in that area also stated that the information provided by Global Research and Justice Project is misleading and intended to destroy Madam Johnson.” But those are not all; perhaps, the most revealing and damaging to this questionable report that seems to lend credence to suspicion that the Inquirer “report” may have been heavily influenced by a special favor, including money, due to the following line in its story: “Currently residents of the various communities are benefiting from the humanitarian gesture under aegis of Madam Martina Johnson the former RIA boss, one of the leaders of the community disclosed.” It is inconceivable that a paper of this caliber as The Inquirer will attempt to rob the public of its right to know the truth in an allegation that involves genocide by failing to provide an accurate picture surrounding a so-called “Fact-finding” tour of which other participating “journalists” are yet to publish their own accounts. From reading the above sections of the Inquirer story, isn’t it rather ironic that a “Fact-finding mission,” with the sole purpose to thoroughly investigate and verify gruesome mass murders, could now suddenly turn into a praise and worship band by the usage of unnecessary and flattering praises as per this remark, Currently residents of the various communities are benefiting from the humanitarian gesture under aegis of Madam Martina Johnson the former RIA boss? And see, the paper even referred to the suspects multiple times as “Madam” in its well-polished story. Can a newspaper claiming “Independent” actually afford to condone such practice by also joining a chorus of praise singers in such high-profiled critical matters? In the first place, it is outrageously awful that the Inquirer editorial would choose to use phrases as: “Residents have clarified” that Martina Johnson didn’t commit “Act of massacre” in the two communities, as if the alleged mass murder incidents are more like the everyday corrupt practices Liberians have come to be accustomed to, like the discussion is about some stolen goods. At least, that’s how simple the paper made it looked when in fact the entire episode is about genocide in one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars, heavily fuelled by strong anti-tribal sentiments, and often the victims were vulnerable women, children and elderly, some often raped before they were viciously beheaded by drugged rebels. It isn’t a honeymoon story-this involves peoples’ loved ones-just like us, the living and that’s why it sounds bizarre that the Inquirer’s editorial team will think such a case can be closed with a mere “Clarification” and after that everyone walks away. Another section of the Inquirer’s story that raises eyebrows is the claim that “Over 70 elders and youths” were interviewed by “Journalists” regarding the suspect’s role during the “Fact-finding” but failed to identify a single interviewee, for the sake of its own credibility. Also, the story had no byline which adds to a long list of questions as to the sincerity of the report. Even twenty is too big of a number let alone, “Over 70” that an “Independent” newspaper will not cite a single name in a crucial story especially when the war crimes suspect is being highly “Hailed” by all and not even a single person gave contradictory view of her. With this apparent level of eagerness by “Residents” of the areas to tell the “Good deeds” Martina, it is however shocking that no one appeared bold to speak on record. But few of the troubling questions in this case are: Who, and where exactly, are some of the residents that were allegedly interviewed by local and foreign reporters? How credible are they? And how can they prove they lived in the referenced communities during the first phrase of the civil wars? For the sake of trustworthiness, I would have provided names and also group picture of interviewees and I think the paper should do so without delay in the public interest. For what is the reason for one to hide when he thinks highly of neighbor that presumably holds a clear record and gives to the community? I hope the paper editorial is aware of the serious credibility questions its publication raises. Perhaps, it may recover by releasing names, photographs, or phone numbers, addresses of the interviewees with consent for verification since it seems the rest of “Journalists” on the trip disappeared. It claimed further that residents described Barnersville Township as “Free zone,” meaning, the area was a safe heaven that was untouchable in the wartime. By now, it is no surprise that The Inquirer of today will take such assessment from someone without a second thought to verify such claim before publishing. Of course, this type of act will be little any paper when after all, almost everyone who rode out the wars in Liberia, not to mention journalists, knows that not even an inch of Liberia was deemed safe, or left untouched. Except the ECOMOG-IGNU’s controlled territory of Monrovia, no part of the capital including, suburbs were safe. For if there existed a so-called “Free Zone,” why then did the soldiers over 600 slaughter Gio and Mano civilians, who were forced by circumstances to stay at the Sinkor Lutheran Church where they perished? The Inquirer story repeatedly cited a place it called, “Dry Rice Market.” What is it exactly? It is a tiny Flea like-market, about the size of a football field and located inside Barnersville Estate in Monrovia’s northwest suburb. It isn’t itself a “town” as inanely portrayed by the paper. The portrayal however is typical of the way some local reporters communicate, write stories, with only Liberian audiences in mind. The market is probably less than a mile from the last bus stop before entering the estate. The same place (near the last bus stop) the Inquirer report now says residents claimed to be a “Free zone” is where the charred remains of a small vehicle used by two of the five murdered American nuns were found in 1992 during NPFL’s multipronged attack on the capital. How do I know? I was among a team of local reporters taken on a tour of the Barnersville area by former press secretary at the Ministry of National Defense, Col. Arthur B. Dennis, now a resident of New Jersey, just days after the combined forces of ECOMOG peacekeeping troops, the Sawyer-IGNU’s led Black Berets, assisted by Mr. Alhaji Kromah’s ULIMO movement ejected Taylor’s men from the area. I was able to photograph the charred remains of the car owned by the murdered American nuns, films editors at The Associated Press would take interest in when I began to work for the agency as stringer photographer. The story goes that two of the nuns, Muttra and Joel Kolmer left their Barnersville Convent on October 20, 1992 to drop off a security guard and were murdered moments later by Taylor’s rebels when they encountered them. Years after the murder of the nuns, an investigations compiled by US FBI agents blamed the NPFL that controlled the area. The FBI’s probe was based on countless testimonies given by mostly eyewitnesses, including NPFL kidnapped survivors, the Catholic Archdiocese, US Embassy, ECOMOG soldiers and residents who saw the killings. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this work has been who to pinpoint among the “killer commanders” for the deaths of the nuns. While some suspect Martina, others blame one Christopher Vambo, who goes by the nom-de-guerre General Mosquito. Read: Is This Man Responsible for the Murder of the 5 American Nuns?Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
As we head towards the one-year anniversary of Ebola’s attack on Liberia’s terrain, bearing in mind brave people and their contribution towards the fight is essential.A young female journalist who says she endured the reality of Ebola, its destruction and how it turned citizens of Liberia into paranoid and cautious individuals wants her story told.In the early part of March 2014, Yewa Sandy, a multi-media journalist says she awoke to the death news of two popular doctors in the Caldwell community – doctor’s whose names she says should not be mentioned.“Mainly because I get flash backs of what happened to me the day I tried to do my job as a reporter, I don’t want that to happen again,” she says.“First thing that came to my mind the day I heard that the two doctors had passed away days apart, was that Ebola was definitely real and ready to kill. And with the instinct of any journalist, I went to find out details,” she recalled.According to the single mother of two, she ran to the scene of where the two late doctors had lived. Unaware that the homes of both doctors had been quarantined, she says, she leaped head on into a danger zone.“I never knew what Ebola was and how dangerous it could be if I was exposed to it. The only thing on my mind at that moment was getting details of how the doctors passed away,” she admitted.Upon arriving on the scene, Yewa says she met dozens of people standing in and around the premises of the late doctors. And like any journalist would have done in her situation, she began to gather her information.“People started yelling at me that Ebola was not real and that both doctors hadn’t died from it. It became so intense for me that within a split second, I was jumped on, assaulted and aggressively handled by men and women of all ages,” she recalls.Yewa and the group of people who held her under arrest for “doing her job” were taken to Zone 7 Base police station in Caldwell. It was there that the officer of the zone explained to the angry crowd that Yewa was a journalist.“Thanks to the police, I was released and walked out of the police station with my feelings hurt and my body in pain. I continued with my story and it was published,” she said.From that moment she says, everyday became a day of running up and down trying to figure out what Ebola was and why it had come with so much force.“I started seeing people in my community dropping dead like flies. But there was no news about it and how our community had become a hot zone. Out of fear, I stayed clear of reporting Ebola activities in Caldwell and I think that’s how it spread so badly there,” she admitted.Within weeks, Yewa says she returned home one evening to find an Ebola task force spraying the house where she normally left her children.“When I tried asking for my children at their babysitter, they kept telling me to go home and how they were being quarantined. I fainted. I immediately thought that I had someway or another brought Ebola into their home,” she thought.Hiding her situation from relatives, her work vicinity and telling people that she had allergies whenever she was seen crying, Yewa remembers it was a nightmare.“For a complete 21 days, my kids were stuck and so was I. I stood on the sidewalk near the house and watched people being taken away from where they spent their quarantined days. Some were already dead while some died in the various ETU’s,” she remembers.Again she says, she had to do her duty and publish her experience.“I wrote about what was happening to me by sharing parts of my dairy that I was writing as each horrible day passed on. I thank God my kids made it, but feel so bad that so many people that they knew lost their lives,” she added.Yewa says that her ambition heightened during the period her children were being quarantined. It inspired her to cover orphans and survivors of Ebola and remembers having to quarantine herself on numerous occasions.“Sometimes when I would go to cover situations and stories, I’d find myself being physically touched, stepping in vomit and forgetting the no touching rule,” she said.For instance, the late Shaki Kamara who was gunned down in the WestPoint community in August of 2014 is Yewa’s most memorable moment.“That day I ran to him while he lay bleeding on the ground and tried to console him. He begged me for help and water and asked me not to leave his side. I also had to help remind my counterparts to avoid stepping in the dying teens blood,” she recalled.“I was with him up until the next day when I went to redemption hospital and met his dead body on the ground in front of the hospital bed in which he had lain before his death. Unfortunately for me, I walked in on the Defense officials taking his body. I was able to get footage of the scenery but was apprehended by Defense Ministry Deputy for Operations, St. Jerome Larbelee. He took my camera and threatened to arrest me for being on the premises, all this happening while I watched with tears in my eyes the body of the late Shaki Kamara being taken away,” she added.Yewa’s camera was returned but she says not long afterwards, her safety and freedom were in jeopardy because of her findings.“I did a story on the situation of Shaki Kamara’s death up until his burial. It put a lot of pressure on me by people I can’t name, but it also taught me a strong lesson: Ebola.”Meanwhile, Yewa, since the Ebola outbreak, has not only saved lives but has made necessary links between survivors and orphans.“I have done nothing but put myself and my health on the line to help see to it that all the necessary information surrounding the outbreak got published. I only regret not being able to save the lives of some of those who I followed throughout it all,” she added.Now that the one year anniversary is just around the corner, it is appropriate that journalist like Yewa and other courageous women be highlighted. Leaving their families, safety and crossing boundaries to keep the public informed not only saved many lives, but it also shows what being courageous is all about.“I lost my cousin and uncle to Ebola, my kids are afraid to leave my side now and through it all I am still fighting the battle.Presently I sponsor orphans, check on survivors and also try my best to share my stories with the world so everyone can understand the mistakes that were made that caused so many people’s lives and how we have been battling it out while staying Ebola free,” she said.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The suffering of 25 Liberian Students who were sent on scholarship to Egypt in pursuit of higher education appears to be far from over as the student leadership has written a new letter outlining their present distress. In their recent letter, the students re-echoed their appeal to the Government of Liberia (GOL) to restore their allowances reportedly discontinued four years ago. Education Minister Etmonia Tarpeh’s director of communications, J. Maxim Bletahn, told the Daily Observer via mobile phone yesterday that the plight of the students in Egypt had not reached the MOE authorities. However, Mr. Bletahn promised to bring the matter to the attention of Minister Tarpeh, for “immediate and appropriate action.” He did not indicate when the MOE would intervene. It may be recalled that the 25 students earned the scholarships through the MOE and were vetted by both GOL and the Egyptian Embassy in Monrovia to undertake undergraduate studies at universities in Cairo, in 2011. The students are appealing to the GOL through the MOE and the Inter-Ministerial Scholarship Committee at the Civil Service Agency (CSA), which vetted them in 2011, to restore their allowances. In their latest letter, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer, the students argued that on September 3, 2012, they gathered at the premises of the Liberian Embassy near Cairo and condemned the “cruel treatment” being meted out to them. After their protest, the letter continues: The Ambassador, Alexander H. N. Wallace, III terminated all student related services at the Embassy and even warned that any student that attempted to reach the Embassy for any service “would be doing so to his/her own detriment.”The letter noted that after three months of failure to address their plight, they again converged on the Embassy grounds on November 5, 2012, to call the attention of GOL to their plight.“Unfortunately, they were all arrested and placed behind bars by the Egyptian National Police authority on the alleged order of the Ambassador.”Some of the students who managed to escape arrest communicated to George K. Werner, head of the Ministerial Scholarship Committee to seek their release, but allegedly, nothing was done. They recalled that the Egyptian government, through its National Police, later ordered their release, “since, in fact, we pleaded not guilty to the allegations leveled against us by the (Liberian) Embassy.”“In line with the aforementioned, Mr. Werner demanded that before he did anything about our plights, we must apologize to the Ambassador for going to the Embassy. The demanded apology letter experienced no delay, and was filed on October 28, 2013,” the students’ letter said.“After meeting all demands by Mr. Werner, we experienced nothing regarding the solution to our plight.” Werner, the students said, has remained completely silent about their wellbeing.Meanwhile, six bilateral scholarship beneficiaries were deleted from the beneficiary list and termed as illegitimate students for no explained reason from the scholarship committee, said the students. The students’ letter of apology was signed and approved by the secretary-general of the Liberia Student Union in Egypt, Lansana M. Kabbah and the president, Mohammed A. Kiawhen. The students are Abdulla M. Barry, Abdullah O. Syllah, Alieu M. Jalieba, Sheik K. Sesay, Yusuf Swaray, Losene A. Dukuly, Abduasise A. Dakawah, Abraham Z. M. Kromah, Seliaman A. Kanneh, and Mohammed A. Kiawhen.The rest are Alieu A. Kiazolu, Mustapha M. Sheriff, Fuad F. Nyei, Alieu V. Kamara and Sekou M. Sherif, Alieu F. Sheriff, Mustapha M. Kromah, Kalifa M. Kamara, Sekou A. Barry and Mohammed M. Turay.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
It could very well be called “the game of the decade,” when tomorrow, Liberia’s Lone Star meets the Elephants of La Cote d’Ivoire in a World Cup qualifier football match. We choose to call it the game of the decade, because this is the 12th time in 50 years that the two teams are meeting. In their 11 previous encounters, the Elephants defeated Liberia eight times, with three draws. This is the Lone Star’s fifth meeting at home in Monrovia with the Ivorian Elephants, who are Africa’s reigning champions. These brief historical notes show that tomorrow’s game will be a very serious clash between the teams of two great West African sisterly neighbors. Their very close relations date back to the early 1960s, when President W.V.S. Tubman forged warm, friendly relations with Ivorian President Felix Houphouet-Boigny, even before La Cote d’Ivoire attained its independence from France on August 7, 1960. As is customary, the day of August 7 was celebrated in Liberia as a national holiday. During that Independence season—the 1960s—President Tubman made it a policy that each time an African nation got its independence, the day would be observed in Liberia as a national holiday. So La Cote d’Ivoire’s was no exception.As Liberia meets the Goliath of African football, the Ivorian Elephants, the Lone Star must play with their hearts and muster all the determination, faith and stamina to play the match, and play like David to win. The story of David and Goliath is all too familiar to us. For David, it was not the Philistine giant’s height, weight, strength or armor that mattered. None of these did. “You come with your strength and armor,” murmured David, “but I come in the name of the Lord, the God of Israel.” Besides his faith and total reliance on the power of God, all else that David had was his sling and a rock. And when he had finished using them, the giant lay on the ground, dead!We pray that Coach James Salinsa Debbah has done well his coaching work, and prepared his team for a victorious encounter with the Elephants. What they need now are: faith in God, belief in themselves and the determination to do one thing—win the match.All Liberians should join our team in fervent prayer that Liberia will rise above the past defeats and draws and go on to be triumphant against the Elephants both here at home and subsequently in Abidjan.Remember, nothing is impossible. Indeed with God ALL things are possible. Remember, too, President Edwin Barclay’s enduring challenge to all Liberians of every age. In his immortal Anthem, “The Lone Star Forever,” Barclay wrote, “Then forward, sons of Freedom, March!Defend the sacred heritage!The nation’s call from age to ageWhere’er it sounds ‘neath Heaven’s arch.Wherever foes assail.Be ever ready to obey‘Gainst treason and rebellion’s front,‘Gainst foul aggression. In the brunt Of battle lay the hero’s way!All hail, Lone Star, all hail!”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The Government has vowed to use Sinoe County’s Development Funds (CDF) to pay for damages caused by rioters at the Golden Verolum-Liberia (GVL) recently.At the Ministry of Information press briefing yesterday, Minister Lewis Brown explained that the relevant government authorities, including the Ministries of Justice and Labor have been directed to work with the GVL to carry out a full assessment of the damages to the concession’s properties. He said the government will use the Social or the County Development Fund to pay for properties damaged by the rioters.Minister Brown said the Liberia National Police (LNP) had begun a thorough search and seizure of operations in Butaw for the looted properties of GVL. During the incident several persons were held hostage, including the Minister of Gender, Julia Duncan-Cassell, who acted as Chairman of the Cabinet in the absence of the President from the country, and the Deputy Minister for Administration at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Varney Sirleaf.Minister Brown further disclosed that when the rioters or their ring leaders are found and properly identified they will be arrested along with anyone that harbored them. The retrieved looted properties will be returned to the company.“Authorities at the MOJ have also been instructed to press for additional charges including that of economic sabotage against such persons whenever applicable.” According to Min. Brown, the violence in Butaw does not threaten our peace and security. “It undermines our collective livelihood and unfairly portrays the country as an unsafe destination for foreign investments,” he pointed out. The government, he declared, had worked hard to return the country to an enviable place for foreign and domestic investments in order to create much needed jobs and improve the living conditions of its citizenry.The government will decisively and effectively resist any effort by anyone or any group either to alter our course or reverse the collective progress gained over the years by all Liberians, he emphasizedHe stated that “the government will not accept the misuse or abuse of international protocols to undermine its sovereign duties and responsibilities, thereby making it difficult, if not impossible, for her to meet the needs and fulfill the expectations of its people.”Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has announced that Golden Veroleum-Liberia (GVL) has agreed to begin rehiring former employees laid off as a result of the May 26 riot there. She granted Executive Clemency to three inmates at the Sinoe County prison and announced the venues of the next two Independence anniversary celebrations covering the duration of her administration.En route to Monrovia, President Sirleaf along with the World Bank –Liberia Country Manager, Ms. Inguna Dobraja, dedicated the Kingston Weagba Public School situated in Tarjourwon District, Sinoe County.According to an Executive Mansion release, the President, spoke to journalists before her departure from Greenville, Sinoe County following the successful co-hosting of the 168thIndependence Anniversary.She informed journalists that GVL has agreed to government’s request to start the rehiring of 50 of its former employees beginning last Monday, July 28 2015. “As I leave Greenville, they will go back to their jobs and the process of adding numbers of re-employed people will continue as we work with them to implement the security arrangement which is very important for their operation,” she indicated.President Sirleaf said government had been consulting with GVL because of the May 26 incident that resulted to people not only going to prison but also the layoff of all GVL staff. The company sought assurances for its security to prevent a recurrence of what happened two months ago.Government assured GVL that the Liberia National Police will speed up the plan to work with them to ensure that LNP sets up in the communities the right kind of security arrangements to protect the citizens and the company.In another development, citing her constitutional rights as President of the Republic of Liberia, President Sirleaf instructed the Superintendent of Sinoe County, Mr. Roosevelt Quiah, to work with prison authorities to release three inmates. They are Amos Tarpeh 47, who was charged for arson, convicted and has been serving a prison sentence since June 28, 2013, David Tarpeh (68), charged with the same offence and serving a sentence during the same period and the only female, Baby Girl Togba (25), who was charged with assault and convicted. She has served two years of her sentence.“Mr. Superintendent, you will please ensure that these three persons are released from prison with the advice to them that we expect them now to be good citizens, to abide by the law and ensure that they do not get into acts that would lead them back into a situation from which we have just freed them,” President Sirleaf directed.On the hosts of next year’s Independence Anniversary, the President named Maryland, River Gee and Grand Gedeh as the next co-hosts. She urged them to begin their preparation immediately. “Don’t wait until June of next year,” she warned.She indicated that government will support the construction of some of the facilities in the counties in preparation for the Independence celebrations, but also encouraged citizens of the three counties to initiate individual development projects in their counties of origin.Madam Sirleaf reiterated that the spirit of rotating the Independence Anniversary is not only for government to bring development to the people but to inspire the people from those counties to go back home and do something for their people.President Sirleaf thanked the authorities and people of Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties for the warm reception, fullest cooperation and excellent hospitality offered including the largest number of diplomatic representation to the country. On the impression the diplomats left with, she said, “They all left from here very pleased. They had a very good time and I’m sure that this is going to strengthen our relationship with the countries which they represent.”She expressed appreciation to all Liberians – most especially political leaders, non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, among others– who attended especially the Thanksgiving and Intercessory Service in Barclayville, Grand Kru County using their own resources amid the difficult circumstances.Meanwhile, en route to Monrovia, President Sirleaf along with the World Bank –Liberia Country Manager, Ms. Inguna Dobraja dedicated the Kingston Weagba Public School situated in Tarjourwon District, Sinoe County.In Sinoe County, under this project funded by the Global Partnership for Education and the World Bank, two schools have been completed while another is undergoing construction.The Ministry of Education is constructing 41 schools across the country while 27 of them have already been completed including the Kingston Weagba Public School. The remaining 14 are at various stages and a majority is nearing completion.The newly dedicated Kingston Weagba complex includes a library, computer lab, latrines for boys and girls, ramps and rails for the disabled, teachers’ housing, kitchen and cafeteria, administration building, two wells and a football field.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)