As the Sierra Leone prepares for the holding of Presidential and General Elections, next March, outgoing President Ernest Bai Koroma has approved government’s subsidization of nomination fees.
In a press statement released on last Wednesday in Freetown under the signature of the Chairperson of the country’s Electoral Commission Mr. Mohamed N’fah-Alie Conteh, it said President Koroma had approved that “The Government will absorb the difference in cost between the proposed revised fees in the signed political parties resolution and the current fees contained in Statutory Instrument No 13 of 2012.”
According to the release, for the elective office of Local Council the 2012, nominating fee is $1 million Leones ($131.00 USD). The proposed 2018 nominating fee agreed to by political parties for this office is $500,000 Leones ($65.32). The government will subsidize a difference of $500,000 Leones ($65.32)
For the office of Mayor of District Chairman, the nominating fee is $5 million Leone ($653.17). And the proposed fee which political parties agreed to for the 2018 elections was $1.5 million Leones ($196). The Government will absorb the balance of $3.5 million Leones ($457.22).
Parliamentary including Paramount Chiefs and Members of Parliament nomination fee is $10 million Leones ($1,306.34) while the proposed nomination fee for 2018 is reduced to $3 million Leones ($392). The balance of $7 million Leones ($914.44) will be subsidized the government.
For political parties seeking the Office of President of Sierra Leone, the nominating fee is $100,000 million Leones ($13,063) and the proposed amount for 2018 elections is $30 million ($3,919). The Sierra Leone Government will absorb the balance of $70 million ($ 9,144.35).
The government subsidy will ease the hardship of political parties and independent candidates who are struggling to raise the relatively high nomination fee. Total Sierra Leone government subsidy is about $229,000.
President Ernest Bai Koroma is ending his 2nd term as President of the West African state. Registered political parties and independent candidates will contest next March for President and memebers of Parliament of Sierra Leon. Meantime, two new political parties have been certificated by the Political Parties Registration Committee (PPRC) to contest the March, 2018 elections. On Wednesday, the Coalition for Change (C4C) and the National Unity and Reconciliation Party (NURP) received registration certificates in the capital Freetown.
Philadelphia, PA – A vote on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly shows a total of 35 African countries in the General Assembly voting against the world super power the U.S. to reject its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state of Israel.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued a threat to countries which voted against the US saying international funding assistance could be cut off. Then candidate Trump had vowed during campaigning that, if elected, he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
African countries which voted against the US include:
United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe
Togo was the only African nation which joined in support of the United States along with Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.
African countries which abstained from the vote included:
South Sudan and Uganda
There were no votes recorded for the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zambia
Of the 16 member nations of the sub-regional economic grouping known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), all voted against the U.S. declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel except for Togo which supported the US while Benin abstained from voting.
Sierra Leone, as an ECOWAS member, recorded no vote.
Of the 15 member countries of the southern Africa regional economic grouping – the South Africa Development Authority (SADC) Swaziland, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia recorded no votes , while Lesotho and Malawi abstained.
20 African countries comprise the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a free trade region which stretches from Libya to Swaziland.
An 8-country trade bloc in east Africa makes up the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, the Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. The countries of South Sudan and Uganda recorded no vote at the UN General Assembly meeting on the issue while the rest of the members of the group against the United States.
Of the 5 nation Arab Maghreb Union, a trade and political bloc of North African nations consisting of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, all voted against the U.S.
35 African nations joined the world community in defying the U.S. at the U.N vote to demand that the world super power rescind its declaration of the contested city of Jerusalem as the capital of of Israel. The non-binding and symbolic vote puts the U.S. in an awkward ad isolated position internationally.
Even major allies like the UK, Japan, German and France voted for the UN Resolution.
It is unclear why Togo, the lone African nation, sided with the U.S. This long time African ally of the U.S. is facing political upheaval with calls and protests against President Faure Gnassingbe to step down from power.
Sierra Leone recorded no vote and although no explanation was given, and it is assumed that the outgoing Koroma Administration is playing safe so not to hamstring the “Jerusalem position” of a new government which takes over following elections in March, 2018.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, following the vote, declared it null and void and re-echoed the position of President Donald Trump to cut of aid packages to countries which voted against the U.S.
“We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” Ms. Haley said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
Sub-Sahara African countries are the biggest recipient of U.S. economic and development aid with the bulk going to the following countries in fiscal 2017:
Nigeria – $604.8 million
Ethiopia -$512.6 million
Kenya – $618.5 million
Uganda -$457 million
Zambia -$417 million
Egypt – $150 million
Senegal – $100.8 million
Liberia – $95 million
Ghana and Ivory Coast – $145.4 million
Egypt is the recipient of about $1.31 billion in security assistance.
It remains to be seen how the non-support and defiance of African countries against the U.S. on the “Jerusalem Declaration” will affect future economic and security assistance.
A local daily in Liberia is warning the leader of the opposition Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Senator George Weah about the intentions and the plethora of sudden endorsements from some political leaders and organizations in the run-up to the second round of the Presidential Election scheduled for Tuesday, December 26.
In an editorial entitled Weah, Be Careful of Endorsements published on Tuesday, the Daily Observer newspaper cited as “puzzling”, Weah’s recent endorsement by Senator Prince Y. Johnson of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR) political party and three executives of the Liberty Party (LP) which included Ben Sanvee, Party Chairman, Harrison Kanwea, the running mate of its Presidential candidate Counselor Charles W. Brumskine and the former Campaign Manager of the LP Mr. Musa Bility .
The LP executives, prior to their endorsement, did not consult or obtain the consent of their party leader Counselor Brumskine. In a rather bizarre endorsement stunt on last Thursday in Monrovia, the three UP executives announced their endorsement of Senator Weah and displayed t-shirts with the photos of their Standard Bearer and Vice Standard Bearer and the super-imposed image of Senator Weah to insinuate that the Liberty Party hierarchy had fully endorsed its rival Senator Weah of the CDC.
The Liberian newspaper, in questioning the growing list of endorsements for Senator Weah noted, ” What does this reaction entail in the stream of endorsements the CDC political leader continues to receive from people in the pending runoff election?” In warning the CDC leader, the paper cited what it called the “deceit” perpetrated by the LP executives in presenting their party leader as endorsing Senator Weah and the CDC.
Counselor Brumskine who was out of the country when the endorsements were announced but has now returned home has termed the “endorsements” of his party officials as an attempt to embarrass him.
“The first deceit Weah and the CDC should note is that these men have presented Brumskine as being in support of Weah, contrary to what Brumskine has said. The LP standard bearer did not even know of Weah’s endorsement by three of his (Brumskine) closest allies. Another thing Weah needs to be warned of is that while these men have their constitutional right to choose whomever they may, they have visibly demonstrated some level of insincerity and unfairness by plotting against their political leader by taking such a major decision without his knowledge, and doing it so hurriedly that they could not even wait until he returned to the country. The average observer would consider this nothing short of a stab in the back,” the Daily Observer maintained in its editorial.
Senator Prince Y. Johnson
According to its editorial, the Daily Observer noted that, “The euphoria became exceedingly high when Nimba County Senator Prince Y. Johnson, standard bearer of the Movement for Democracy and Reconstruction (MDR), endorsed Weah following the October poll”.
On the record of the LP Vice Presidential candidate Mr Kanwea who endorsed Senator Weah, the paper wrote “… So, what hope can you, Mr. Weah, have for votes in a man whose county refused to support him in a national election in which he was a vice presidential candidate? Moreover, Mr. Kanwea and his group are clearly demonstrating the plot that occurred between the Roman emperor Julius Caesar and Brutus. Are you, Mr. Weah, taking note of the kind of people from the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Administration joining your party?”
The Daily Observer reminded its readers about the prior statement of the LP Chairman Ben Sanvee against Senator Weah. “…During the 2014 special senatorial election, Ben Sanvee was your main contender who is still on record for boldly stating that “Weah makes mistakes in every statement and sentence he makes. Today, Sanvee has, without consulting his political leader, endorsed you with this statement, “Weah has been blessed to conquer the world using his legs.” Yes, he trusted his feet, as the emphasis indicates, but does Sanvee think Weah also trusts his head to deliver? What made Sanvee change his mind?” the paper questioned.
In concluding its editorial position on the endorsements, the Daily Observer warned that “…Now Weah’s popularity among the grass rooters has grown to the peak, and the officials who worked in government are flooding into the CDC.
Yes, we cannot be unmindful of the well-known fact that “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” But consider this other age-old dictum: “A hint to the wise is quite sufficient.”
It can be recalled that the LP led by Counselor Charles W. Brumskine, following the first round of voting on October 10th and coming third in the polls, alleged that the process was tainted by “fraud and irregularities” and filed legal suit to challenge the result and the conduct of the run-off elections.
The country’s electoral body, on instructions from the Supreme Court, investigated the LP’s claims of fraud and subsequently dismissed them. The LP then filed another appeal to the country’s highest court but was over ruled with instructions to the National Elections Commission (NEC) to clean up the voters’ roll before the conduct of the run-off vote.
Civil society groups and individuals have requested proof from the NEC that it has complied with the Supreme Court’s instructions to clean up the voters’ roll. In a press statement issued on last Friday, the NEC announced that it is undertaking several measures to comply with the Supreme Court’s mandate and include:
1. Removal of Multiple Voter IDs
…There are 998 voters affected by the multiplicity of Voter IDs- sharing 488 Voters IDs. The proposed solution is to retain existing Voter IDs for 488 Voters (the first voter that registered with an ID retains the Voter ID) and issue new IDs for the remaining 510 voters.
An Inclusion Form (a variant of the OMR Form) is filled for each of the 510 voters, and scanned. The new records generated will be used to replace the existing record on the FRR. This therefor means that the roll that will be printed and displayed at the polling places and also used for the runoff will bear the new Voter IDs for the 510 voters.
A new voter card will be created for each of these 510 voters and would be exchanged for the old Voter Cards at the Polling Places on or before the Election Day.
The new FRR will have an indicator for this set of voters, to ease the identification on Election Day.
On completion of this assignment, a list of affected voters, with their old voter IDs and newly generated voter IDs would be created and shared with the Political Parties.
1. Further de-duplication of the FRR
NEC carried out an initial de-duplication before the FRR was published in September 2017, where 4,567 multiple registrations were removed from the voter roll.
However, with the decision of the Supreme Court to conduct a full clean-up of the FRR, it was agreed that the FRR should be further checked for multiple registrations. Due to non-biometric nature of the voter roll, de-duplication process is quite time consuming as it involves a lot of manual checks and re-checks to confirm multiple registrations before they are removed from the roll.
It has been agreed that due to time limitations, this process would start immediately. This will enable the timely update of the voter roll for printing, in preparation for the publication.
At the end of this assignment, a list of the suspected multiples, the records removed and those retained will be generated and shared with the Political Parties.
2. Publications of the Final Registration Roll
The printing of the voter roll in hard copies will be display at each Precinct and Polling Places Nationwide before the runoff election; is being worked on between NEC and the ECOWAS Technical Team.
3. Availability of FRR in Hard-Copies to Election Magistrates and Polling Places
NEC and ECOWAS are also working on this in accordance with the two procedures above.
4. Limiting the Eligibility to Vote to only those on the FRR
This shall be adhered to. Only voters whose names are on the FRR would be allowed to vote. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.
5. Limitations of the addendum to FRR to those listed in NEC’s Polling and Counting Manual
This shall be adhered to. Only those on special assignments at the Polling Places around the Country, such as members of the election security sector, NEC officials, international observer drivers and escorts would be allowed to vote in the Polling Places other than where they are registered, using the addendum to FRR. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.
6. Limiting the eligibility to vote for poll watchers to their being on the FRR and at their Precinct and Polling Places.
This shall be adhered to. Poll watchers will only be allowed to vote at their Precincts and Polling Places. The necessary documentation will be adjusted accordingly.
The joint Technical Team, comprising the ECOWAS and NEC, shall implement the above-mentioned directives of the Supreme Court of Liberia, the NEC announced.
The fifth place holder in the first round of voting, the Alternative National Congress (ANC) says it will not support any of the two candidates in the run-off elections. The ANC’s position has been strongly criticized by a former warlord turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson whose Movement for Democracy and Recontruction (MDR) came fourth in the October 10th polling.
The run-off election will pit incumbent Vice President Joseph N. Boakai of the ruling Unity Party (UP) against Senator George M. Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) on next Tuesday and the winner will replace two term incumbent Ms. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
Agnes Reeves Taylor, the ex- wife of former Liberian President Taylor who is in custody in the UK has made a brief appearance in court via video link. from her prison cell.
The rather brief appearance was for an administrative hearing. Ms. Reeves Taylor who was arrested by Metropolitan Police in June this year was refused bail at the hearing. She is accused of inflicting severe pain or suffering “in the performance of her official duties” as First Lady between 1989 – 1991 in the small West African nation.
The ex-wife of Taylor had been living in the UK and was a lecturer at Coventry University since 2012..
Ms. Reeves Taylor is facing very serious charges of conspiracy to commit torture under UK Criminal Law Act of 1977 and additional charges of torture.
Charles Taylor himself is in jail in the UK serving a 50 year sentence following conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone for arming and supporting Sierra Leone rebels who killed thousands of people in that neighboring country.
Charles Taylor’s Timeline:
Jan. 28, 1948: Charles Taylor is born in Arthington, Liberia to an Americo-Liberian family.
1970s: Taylor resides in Boston, Massachussetts US and graduates with an economics degree from Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts.
1983: Taylor flees Liberia after he is accused by the Samuel Doe Administration for stealing about US$1 million. The US government detains Taylor on an arrest warrant from the Liberia government and jailed.
1985: Taylor mysteriously escapes jail in Boston and surfaces at a rebel training camp in Libya.
– On December 24, 1989: Taylor launches an armed rebellion by hise National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL). His rebel war claims over 250,000 and 300,000 lives in Liberia and neighboring countries..
– In August, 1990, ECOWAS countries forcefully insert a peacekeeping force which secures Monrovia in October.
– March 23, 1991: The Foday Sankoh and his Revolutionary United Front, rebel allies of Taylor, cross into Sierra Leone from Liberia.
The civil war lasts until January 2002 and over 120,000 are killed dead and thousands of civilians mutilated.
– July 19, 1997: Following a Peace Accord signed by all Liberian warring factions at a Peace Conference in Ghana, Taylor contests and emerges as the winner of Presidential elections in Liberia and takes office as President on August 2, marking the culmination of a peace accord.
– August-September, 1999: Fierce fighting breaks out in Liberia between Taylor’s government forces and rebels in northern Liberia.
– January 25, 2001: The United Nations issues accusations that Taylor of responsible for supporting and arming rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone from which he is also profiting from the sale of “blood diamonds” from rebel controlled areas. Sanctions are placed on Taylor’s government.
In June, 2003, The Special Court for Sierra Leone backed by the UN unseals an indictment against Taylor for committing war crimes in neighboring to Sierra Leone’s civil war.
– August 11, 2003: Taylor is heavily pressured by the world community, resigns from office and goes into exile in Nigeria.
– March-July, 2004: In pursuit of Taylor, the UN and the United States freeze Taylor’s assets.
– March 29, 2006: Taylor is arrested in Nigeria and sent back to Liberia and promptly taken into custody in Sierra Leone by the Special Court to await prosecution.
On June 20, Taylor is flown by the Special Court for Sierra Lone to the Netherlands for prosecution.
– June 4, 2007: Taylor’s war crimes trial gets under way and later ends in March, 2011.
– April 26, 2012: Taylor is convicted of war crimes and on May 30, 2012 sentenced to 50 years in jail.
On January 9, 2009 Taylor’s son, Emmanuel “Chucky” Taylor, was convicted of torture by a US Court and sentenced to 97 years in prison.
Taylor’s ex-wife Agnes is scheduled to go on trial in the UK in October, 2018.
Abuja, Nigeria – Leaders of the West African economic grouping known as ECOWAS say they will impose sanctions on Guinea-Bissau unless the country’s grinding political crisis was resolved within two months.
At a meeting in the Nigeria, capital Abuja over the weekend, the leaders said they were “disappointed with the absence of progress in the peace process” . Guinea Bissau has had a intractable political stalemate since 2015 since the sacking of President of former Prime Minister Domingos Simoes Pereira by the President.
Curent African Union (AU) Chair and Guinean President Alpha Conde and Ecowas Chair and President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe had been working to resolve the political crisis and the naming of a prime minister and formation of a unity government.
Conde and Gnassingbe were asked by the ECOWAS leaders to “continue consultation within the next two months without which collective and individual sanctions will be handed down against all those who constitute themselves into an obstacle.”
President Vaz says he is open to talks with the opposition in an effort to resolve the crisis; something the opposition has already rejected.
In Ghana, the People’s National Convention (PNC) chairman is accusing the government of conniving with Togolese authorities to suppress voices protesting against human right abuses in that country.
According to the Myjoyonline website, Mr. Bernard Mornah’s accusations come in response to his arrest alongside 17 others for embarking on a “rally” Saturday against the Togolese government to draw attention to the human rights abuses being perpetrated by authorities.
Speaking to Joy News, Mr. Mornah said the police behaved in an unprofessional manner and that their actions suggest that the Ghana government supports the abuses in Togo.
“…What is happening suggests that that the government support the undemocratic happenings in Togo, they support the abuses and killings of our brothers and sisters,” he said.
He also described the “Rambo-style” of their arrest as “uncouth, unreasonable, and that it defies any reasonable thinking that the police in recent times can behave like that”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mornah and security analyst Irbard Ibrahim who was also among those arrested have since been released on bail.
18 December 2017 – At least four civilians are reported to have been killed when an aid convoy transporting food supplies was ambushed by armed individuals in Nigeria’s strife-torn north-east region, the top United Nations humanitarian official in the country said.
The UN News Center says the attack took place along the Dikwa-Gamboru road in Borno state, and also resulted in the destruction of basic aid items initially destined to alleviate the suffering of thousands of conflict-affected women, children and men.
“Violence against convoys carrying humanitarian aid is unacceptable and can result in concerning limitations in our ability to provide life-saving relief to those who need it the most,” said Edward Kallon, the Humanitarian Coordination in Nigeria, in a news release issued Monday.
“We must ensure the safety of aid workers and aid convoys across the north-east of Nigeria, so people in need of assistance can access it in a timely manner and in sufficient quantity. Many lives are at risk,” he underscored.
The conflict in Nigeria’s north-east provoked by the Boko Haram terrorist group has triggered a deep humanitarian crisis. Since the start of the conflict in 2009, more than 20,000 people have been killed and thousands of women and girls abducted.
Borno along with Adamawa and Yobe are the worst affected with nearly seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 50 per cent of whom are children.
Since January 2017, despite major challenges, relief efforts by the UN as well as partners have managed to assist over five million conflict-affected people, reaching about five million with health care assistance, three million with food security interventions, 936,000 with nutritional support, and over 1.3 million with safe drinking water.
Owing to such humanitarian efforts, for the first time since the onset of the crisis, hunger has considerably declined in the region.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the number of people facing acute hunger has halved since June-August – from 5.2 million to 2.6 million people.
However, there are fears that without sustained and timely assistance, the good work could quickly be undone, leaving more than 3.5 million people with acute hunger, as well as at the risk of famine, by August 2018, warned the UN food security agency.