ANC-Liberia Legislative Candidate Adopts “Dillon Doctrine”; Will Take Pay-Cut If Elected

Monrovia, Liberia, August 27, 2019: The candidate of the Alternative National Congress (ANC) in the Cape Mount senatorial by-elections, Mr. Simeon Boima Taylor, will on Friday, August 30, 2019, declare his commitment to abide by and uphold the “Dillon Doctrine.”

A press statement issued by the Liberian political party early on Tuesday said citizens of the administrative district of Grand Cape Mount County have invited Mr. Taylor to an endorsement and honoring program in Manor River Kongo, Grand Cape Mounty County.

ANC-Liberia Logo
ANC-Liberia Logo

“At the program, Mr. Taylor will announce support to the Dillon’s Doctrine and declare to the great people of Grand Cape Mount County that he will take a pay cut, and will not take a salary more than US$5,000.00. He will take whatever is above US$5,000.00 and place it in an escrow account for county development projects. Furthermore, Mr. Taylor will declare his assets on the first day of him taking office, and subsequently publish them. He will work hand-in-hand with Senator Darius Dillon, Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, Senator Steve Zargo, Sentaor Daniel Naatehn and other senators of the opposition bloc. Mr. Taylor will also launch a scholarship fund-drive in honor of his late godfather and mentor, Senator Edward Boakai Dagosseh, the father of Cape Mount politics. He will also pledge to complete all projects started by Sen. Dagosseh. In addition, he will also launch a small-business initiative to support struggling market women and petty traders in the county…,” ANC-Liberia said.

The party is fielding a candidate in the open legislative seat predicated on the passing of Senator Edward Dagosseh. The ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) who, in the last Senatorial by-elections for an open seat in Montserrado County, suffered a drubbing by the opposition coalition bloc, has announced that it would forego contesting for the seat in Grand Cape Mount County.

Liberia Grand Cape Mount County
Liberia Grand Cape Mount County

ANC-Liberia disclosed in its press statement copied to West African Journal Magazine that,”… its candidate has done more for the people of Grand Cape Mount County than any of the other visiting and passer-by candidates in the county. For example, he contributed to the construction of the Konja Bridge in Porkpa District with US$30,000,00; rehabilitated the road from Tienii to Mano River Kongo 2007/2008 with US$50,000; jointly constructed the Lorlia Bridge between Fornor Town and Kawelahun Town in 2016/2017 with US$200,000; constructed a five bedroom guest house and turned it over to the residents of Mano River Kongo in 2008, worth US$10,000; paid 75 students tuition for 3 academic years 2014-2017 with LD$750,000…”

The party enumerated a list of philanthropic contributions of its candidate to various communities in the County and says, “Mr. Taylor remains committed to a united collaborating political parties network, and calls on all partisans of the ANC and all supporters of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) to join the winning team and deliver  Cape Mount from the wrong hands.”

Liberia NEC Chief Jerome Korkoyah.jpgMeantime, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has announced that it will hold a limited re-run of by-elections in electoral district 15 on Wednesday, August 28, 2019. The limited re-run was occasioned by disputes and complaints filed by legislative candidates against poll workers.

Following a review of the complaints, the NEC issued a decision to hold a limited re-run in 20 polling places. After a rather brief appeal against that NEC decision, the ruling CDC candidate Mr. Abu Kamara agreed to participate in the limited re-run in the heavily contested District 15. He is being challenged by opposition-supported Telia Urey of the All Liberian Party (ALP).

By Our Political Correspondent in Monrovia

West African Journal

 

Int’l Justice Group Warns That Liberia Is Risking Sanctions

Washington DC, USA – August 8, 2019:

“That Liberia is a kleptocracy, this we know, but overwhelming tendencies of criminality, impunity, autocracy, banal disregard for human rights, and the elementary principles of good governance are worrying signs that, if corrective measures are not taken to reverse this trend, Liberia may slide back to the pariah state status it once was…”  – Cllr Jerome J. Verdier, Sr.

IJG Executive Director and Former Liberia TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier Sr.
IJG Executive Director and Former Liberia TRC Head Cllr Jerome Verdier Sr.

Perversion of Justice

Speaking with journalists Thursday from Washington DC, Capital of the United States of America, a press statement of the IJG quoted the learned Counselor at Law as condemning the acts of criminal elements within government to pervert the ends of justice which got Cllr Varney Sherman off the hook in the Sable Mining bribery scandal case in Liberia.

 Criminal Conspiracy

The IJG statement said the Justice advocacy group has reliably unearthed that the presiding Judge in the Sable Mining case, His Honor Judge Peter Gbenewelee, the prosecution team headed by the Honorable Justice Minister, Cllr F. Musah Dean, Solicitor General, Cllr Cyrenius Cephas, County Attorney, Cllr Edward Martin and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Honorable Nathaniel McGill constituted themselves into a criminal syndicate to pervert justice in order that Cllr Varney Sherman be let of the hook and set free by minimizing evidence, executive coercion, diminution of records and other artifices to guarantee the acquittal of Cllr Varney Sherman on all charges. To ensure this, without let, His Honor Justice Nagbe posited himself in court at the acquittal verdict to demonstrate solidarity with the scheme in pledge of loyalty to the Chief Executive.

 “Tit for Tat”

According to the international Justice advocacy group statement, copied to West African Journal Magazine, it noted that the Varney Sherman/Sable Mining conspiracy to subvert the justice process was cooked up by the Executive Branch of Government led by Honorable Nathaniel McGill, who criminally solicited and enlisted the help of Cllr Varney Sherman, Senator Grand Cape Mount County, to overtly violate Article 73 of the Constitution of Liberia in order to facilitate the  unsavory impeachment of  Justice Kabineh Ja’neh through a kangaroo trial, in return for a promise by Honorable Nathaniel McGill, guaranteed by his boss, to get him acquitted of all charges in the Sable Mining Bribery Case, thus making way for Justice Joseph Nagbe’s enrollment.

Justice Kabineh Ja’neh was impeached for judgment he rendered in his judicial and official capacity as “Justice in Chambers Presiding” contrary to the expressed provisions of Article 73 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution, providing:

“Article 73 No judicial official shall be summoned, arrested, detained, prosecuted or tried civilly or criminally by or at the instance of any person or authority on account of judicial opinions rendered or expressed, judicial statements made and judicial acts done in the course of a trial in open court or in chambers, except for treason or other felonies, misdemeanor or breach of the peace. Statements made and acts done by such officials in the course of a judicial proceeding shall be privileged, and, subject to the above qualification, no such statements made, or acts done shall be admissible into evidence against them at any trial or proceeding.”

Justice Ja’neh, having been impeached, however illegal and unconstitutional it was, Cllr Varney Sherman has performed his part of the deal and was accordingly acquitted, as promised, following the visit of Justice Joseph Nagbe, at court under the gavel of His Honor Judge Peter Gbenewelee, said to be the stepson of Cllr Varney Sherman. The Honorable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Liberia, Cllr Frank Musa Dean, was one of Cllr Sherman’s Defense Counsels initially when the case was docketed in court.

Important also, is that the Honorable Minister of Justice, Cllr. Dean began, in earnest, his legal career at the Sherman & Sherman Law Office, and for many years was a member of Cllr Varney Sherman’s Law Office corps of lawyers and were for a long time publicly known to be buddies and inseparable craft masters.

Spiraling Violence

The IJG asserted that the introduction of violence and thuggery into the political space is abhorrent and ridiculously reminiscent of the ruthless era of the National Democratic Party of Liberia (NDPL) Youth Wing Task Force of the late President Samuel K. Doe.

“As ruthless as the NDPL era was, what is obtaining in George Weah’s Liberia is the euphoric escalation of violence, thuggery and lawlessness, threatening the democratic space and thereby constituting a major threat to our democratic aspirations for a free, open and competitive society without fear or intimidation but with security, protection and equal opportunity for all.”

What started as an isolated event with Honorable Yongblee Karngar Lawrence and the opposition Liberty Party (LP), spilled over to Honorable Yeke Kolubah who complained on diverse occasions of attempts by government operatives to kill him and some children within his electoral district.

Liberia President George M. Weah
Liberia President George M. Weah

Now, violence and gangster-style killings have taken on a national fervor, law and order is rapidly breaking down and a state of anarchy and lawlessness is brewing in Liberia and the Weah Government as yet remains silent spurring widespread suspicions that the President, is without doubt, behind the violence by his CDC’s goons to intimidate and coerce the opposition into submission and clamp down dissent as part of his political ambition to become a dictator in power for 27 years or more, surpassing President William V.S. Tubman.

Weah to be blamed?

  1. While it is true that all the problems of Liberia are not attributable to Mr. Weah, his non-chalant disposition on corruption and human rights and his seeming condonement of the violence is a flaw of his presidency, pointing to a leadership deficit demanding attention.
  2. The President is indecisive, demonstrating a lack of authority and capacity over his men and cannot rein them in to follow the law or operate within the confines of the law. Asset declaration is a case in point.
  3. The social life of the president is more of a priority to him than the welfare of the poor people who voted him to office.
  4. The President, wanting in knowledge and sophistication has surrounded himself with low life figures who have no vision or love for the country.
  5. The President and his team have failed to adopt any appreciable policy approach to address the issues confronting the country. They have no plan for redressing the economy, stimulating national development or national reconciliation.
  6. To date, the President and his team have failed to embrace or appreciate the mammoth demands for the establishment of the War Crimes Court in full implementation of the TRC Report and in furtherance of US House Resolution HR 1055.
  7. The President is giving lip service to accountability and corruption issues. Neither Mr. President nor his officials have been audited or complied with the assets declaration requirements of law. Just as the both the National Legislature and the Honorable Supreme Court have never been audited, Continuing the policies of Former President Sirleaf, rendering these venerable branches of government as now national institutions of corruption and disgrace.
  8. The President granted a construction contract to his friend he claimed offered him a plane as gift without making full disclosure to the national legislature or the people of Liberia directly as to the nature of the gift as is customarily the case. Bribery is an impeachable offense against the integrity of the state.
  9. The President presided over the criminal misapplication of US25m intended for a mapping exercise to remove excess liquidity from the Liberian market. With the explicit consent of the President the money was diverted for private, instead of public use, and a parallel market in foreign exchange was created to exchange missing Liberian banknotes with the US banknotes, bordering on exchange rate manipulation, insider dealing, money laundering, embezzlement, misappropriation of entrusted property, theft of property and fraud.
  10. The President and the Chief Justice presided over a bribery scheme to illegally and unconstitutionally remove a sitting Justice of The Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia, Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh, in express violation of the Constitution of Liberia, which OATH all elected and commission officers swore to defend and protect, the expressed violation of which renders the House of Representatives, The Chief Justice and President of Liberia unfit to hold office, hence, an impeachable offense.
  11. The President has directly supervised the stealing of public money for personal causes but without accountability. The President withdrew US$80m out of the Liberian International Reserves in New York. Out of this amount only US$55 could be accounted for at the Central Bank. The difference of US$25m was commandeered from the airport to the Rehab Residence of the President. This deliberate, blatant act of thievery by the President is a felonious transgression that renders him unfit for the public trust and office he occupies.
  12. The President, for repressive and dictatorial purposes, embarked upon rearming ex-rebel chiefs of staff that the International Community spent millions of US Dollars to disarm in furtherance of the Comprehensive Accra Peace Accord. This singular act by the President undermines the peace and security of the nation and is against the spirit of Security Sector Reform, and the Demobilization and Demobilization Rehabilitation (DDR) and also against the drive of the nation to move beyond the war experience in pursuit of National Reconciliation:
  1. General Ofari Diah – Asst. NSA Director for leeward Counties, former Chief of Staff, LURD;
  2. General Augustine Nagbe, INPFL
  3. General Daniel K. Bracewell, NPFL
  4. General Ciapha Norman, NPFL
  5. General Charles Bright, NPFL
  6. Other Generals and fighters, remobilize by the President includes Prince Toe, Sam Saryon, Sampson Nieger, Benjamin Taylor, etc

Risking Sanctions and International Isolation

The justice advocacy group is advising the Government of President Weah to be mindful of the precarious situation the country is in now and urgently adopt realistic proactive policies on human rights and justice; corruption and impunity; and good governance to project Liberia as a burgeoning democracy and a success story post UN intervention.

Liberia-Political Map
Liberia-Political Map

The statement further said that the posturing of an autocratic state does not portend well for the country. Manipulating the ouster of a Justice of the Supreme Court because of opinions or judgement rendered during active duty on the bench is unconstitutional and therefore illegal, unpatriotic and immoral, the IGJ statement warned.

The IJG statement further lamented that corruption in government is at an all-time high while essential social services, including hospitals, education, schools, healthcare, sanitation, hygiene and other public services are left wanting as the living standards of the Liberian people continue in rapid decline.

The IJG Statement further decried the government for turning a blind eye to massive human rights abuses, especially against women and the girl children. The alarming rate of murders from rape and other forms of sexual assaults and abuses throughout the country is a cause for condemnation underpinned by the callous indifference of the government, especially the President to condemn these brazen acts of criminal cowardice or demand swift and prompt investigations that will redress the wrongs against our precious women and help to restore their dignity.

The statement called for strong governmental actions from all branches of government against these wanton acts of human rights abuses including the recent deaths of two prison inmates in Nimba County, which sad incidences occurred unnoticed by government or its functionaries and the society at large.

“We condemn this state of affairs in the country and calls on all civil society actors and the international community to deplore government’s lack of action and indecisiveness over human rights, corruption and important national issues including the issue of justice, war crimes court and the full implementation of the TRC Report.

The absence of a well-articulated, conspicuously pro-people policies on changing or strengthening rape laws, like castration of perpetrators, public interest, transparency in government and proper stewardship of scarce resource and justice is a pro-impunity, pro-corruption and anti-people policy, a stance this Weah Government must consider moving away from. Otherwise, our government risk international sanctions and the isolation of the state to the detriment of our people and regression of gains already realized, the statement from the IJG signed by its Executive Director Counselor Jerome J. Verdier Sr. concluded.

By Our International Affairs Correspondent in Washington DC

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Liberian Student Activist Martin K.N. Kollie Writes Opposition Bloc

Monrovia, Liberia-July 3, 2019:

Dear Political Leaders: 

With optimism for a new era of an egalitarian Republic and in pressing pursuit of a fresh beginning which offers genuine hope for millions of peasants who remain very vulnerable to peril and despair, I bring you patriotic greetings during such a difficult time as this when our nation is fast descending into an abyss of economic paralysis, creeping dictatorship and mass looting of public resources. 

Leaders of Liberia’s Opposition Bloc (l-r) Cllr Walter Brumskine (LP), Alexander B. Cummings Jr (ANC), Joseph Boakai (UP), Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence (LP) and Benoni Urey (ALP)

The future seems scaring and cloudy under footballing President George M. Weah as a result of massive leadership bankruptcy and increasing hardship. Vision is lacking – no concrete agenda – no realistic strategy – and an unquenched greed to amass illicit wealth are new normal under this ruling CDC clique. The “Change for Hope” mantra is yet to offer any real hope firmly built upon those cherisheddemocratic values of justice, equality, civil liberty and prosperity for all. 

Such failed slogan especially under a domineering presidency is a reflection of a PROMISE BETRAYED. Liberians are left alone in a state of obscurity and beggary after 16 months of participating in a historic democratic transition. The CHOICE made in 2017 has proven futile so far. Such barren decision has made them even more vulnerable, miserable and hopeless. 

Amidst these harsh realities virulently crushing Liberia and Liberians, there are two (2) fundamental questions to ponder over: 

1. Do Liberians still have hope? If yes, where can they turn for relief/reprieve? 
2. Can 2019 Montserrado Senatorial and Representative By-elections offer any real hope or change for Liberians especially ahead of 2020 and 2023? 

Of course, all is not lost – there is still hope far beyond prevailing odds. The Republic can be rescued from this national tragedy or nightmare only if revered patriots begin to unite in words and deeds. This rescue mission MUST begin with these 2019 senatorial and representative elections in Montserrado County – The hotbed or powerhouse of politics in Liberia. 2019 is a defining moment. In fact, it is a litmus test for 2020 and 2023. 

Beyond this end, I thought to pen this open letter to you as key opposition leaders in Liberia who command huge following and influence/affluence in our body politics.  This is a form of caution and a call to action. The nation needs you most to rekindle a unifying spirit of solidarity during these challenging times especially in these impending 2019 senatorial and representative elections. 

It is not enough to channel such deep sense of resilience, patriotism and urge for CHANGE through audio and video recordings. Though endorsed as senatorial and representative candidates by UP, LP, ANC and ALP, but it appears like candidate Abraham Darius Dillion and candidate Telia Urey are left alone to woo voters and canvass for opposition victory in vote-rich Montserrado, which in my opinion seems unpredictable and unfair.  

Ruling CDC Logo

Like Weah as president of Liberia and political leader of CDC is frantically campaigning almost everywhere for candidate Paulita Wie and candidate Abu Kamara, how I hope Boakai, Brumskine, Cummings and Urey as prominent figures of The Opposition could go all out to campaign for Dillon and Telia. This could seal THE DEAL and send a resounding caveat to President Weah and CDC ahead of 2020 and 2023. Lest you forget that vote-rich Montserrado holds the key to the presidency, and any elected seat won in Montserrado is a plus or political boost. 

These elections are about Weah as President/CDC/NPP/LPDP and MDR on one hand versus UP, LP, ANC and ALP on another. These elections are not about Dillion and Telia. Mr. Weah is taking these elections very personal evident by his outburst against the opposition during his party’s campaign rally on June 22, 2019. It was good to have endorsed Dillion and Telia but it would be far better to roll up your sleeves and begin to canvass for them in trenches and hamlets. A lot of your supporters who are eligible voters would be far more inspired to vote for Dillon and Telia just by seeing you (Boakai, Brumskine, Cummings and Urey). 

Opposition Candidates In Bye Elections Abraham Darius Dillon and Telia Urey

This is why ‘physical presence’ counts more than audio and video recordings in a process such as this. 

If Weah along with collaborating parties wins (Worst-case Scenario): 

1. The opposition (UP, LP, ANC and ALP) would be rendered ‘impotent and weak’
2. Weah would have his way and even break more laws andamass more wealth (domineering presidency)
3. Weah’s claim of having exclusive ownership of Montserrado would be justified/proven
4. It would appear like Weah is doing well. This could validate his performance rating
5. It would place CDC in a better and stronger position for 2020 senatorial elections and 2023 presidential elections.

If Opposition Collaborating Parties (UP, LP, ANC and ALP) claim victory:

1. This will send a clarion message against misrule and bad governance (especially corruption, dictatorship, and increasing hardship) under ex-Soccer Star George Weah and CDC
2. It would render CDC as a ‘frail and unpopular’ ruling clique in vote-rich Montserrado after a period of just 16 months
3. Weah’s popularity in his ‘political stronghold’ would be deflated/diminished. This would further disprove Weah’s wild claim of having absolute control/ownership of Montserrado
4. It will strengthen opposition parties and solidarity forces to unite even more ahead of 2020 and 2023 elections in order to SAVE Liberia
5. The people’s hope and aspiration for a new future would be reawakened through an alternative and opposition victory. 

Boakai, Brumskine, Cummings and Urey, I admonish you as key opposition political leaders to consider “The Montserrado Factor” as an indispensable political capital you could leech and/or lane on for future elections. With just 5 more days to these upcoming by-elections, I encourage all ofyou to leave your comfort zones and move across Montserrado to canvass for your candidates (Dillon and Telia). Yet another opportunity has been made available for you to resist Weah’s overly ambitious plan of consolidatingexcessive power ahead of 2023. You must prevent this moribund semblance of fascism and authoritarianism. 

Ruling CDC candidates Abu Kamara and Paulita Wie

You have all it takes to WIN in 2023 as opposition collaborating parties (UP, LP, ANC and ALP). But such victory begins now in 2019 and beyond! Yes, you can win Weah and his Coalition of Desperate Crooks (CDC, NPP, LPDP and MDR). Let me dig out some NUMBERS quickly: 

2017 Elections: 

1. Weah and his Coalition:
a. CDC, NPP, and LPDP – 596,037 votes (38.4%)
b. MDR – 127,666 votes (8.2%)
c. Total – 723,703 votes (46.5%)

 

2. Opposition Collaborating Parties:
a. UP – 446,716 (28.8%)
b. LP – 149,495 (9.6%)
c. ANC – 112,067 (7.2%)
d. ALP – 24,246 (1.6%)
e. Total – 732,524 (47.2%) 

So this means that the four (4) opposition collaborating parties stand a better chance to win in 2023 if they remain on this plinth of unhindered unity, honesty and loyalty. But victory in 2023 is largely dependent on 2020 and 2019 elections. This is why all four political leaders MUST consider these senatorial and representative by-elections very crucial. Getting fully involved with this process could even avert or discourage any form of electoral fraud/malfeasance (November 2018 Sinoe County Senatorial By-election is a case to reference and a lesson learned). 

Out of two (2) senatorial seats in Montserrado, CDC is already occupying one. You must not allow CDC to win this other seat. Even the late Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff who later became a prominent political figure in the oppositionbloc and vigorously campaigned against CDC in 2017 won’t be happy if this happens. The Late Senator didn’t campaign or canvass through audio and video recordings. She wore her boots and moved into the trenches. Amidst a declining economy coupled with high unemployment, inflation,corruption, rape and mysterious deaths, this could be an easy victory for opposition political parties. Such victory is only possible if your physical presence (full involvement both in words and deeds) is with Dillon and Telia. The people are looking up to you for guidance and direction. 

Using White-collar approach (speaking to voters through audio and video recordings) in order to woo voters may yield less impact. Had these voters and stalwarts of your parties used similar approach in 2017, you wouldn’t had accumulated thousands of votes. If they do in 2023presidential election, your support-base would dwindle. The nation is in dire need of transformation and visionaryleadership. Paulita and Abu are far from possessing such quality or trait. But they could be imposed through whatever means if you keep a distance from this crucial process. 

The country is in a state of trance (subconscious state) and its image is being ruined. The democratic gains made so farare fast diminishing while corruption is being institutionalized under Mr. Weah and his cabal of kleptocrats. No foreign appointment or interest is greater than Liberia’s interest right now. Acting too busy to campaign and abandoning this 2019 senatorial and representative elections could cause you a lot. So far, I have only seen ALP Political Leader Benoni Urey in mass rallies campaigning and directly interacting with voters. All of you must muster this courage to do same if an opposition victory is to be secured in 2019, 2020 and 2023. You cannot be too busy or overly tight with personal matters during these very critical times. 

Remember, any form of defeat for Dillion and Telia is a defeat for you (Boakai, Brumskine, Cummings and Urey). And this could likely spill over or become a big blow in future elections. It now appears in some quarters that if it is not about you, it can’t be about anyone, which I still do not want to believe. Therefore, I caution you to disprove this public notion and move into action with urgency for an opposition victory in these elections. Stand up and act now for our nation needs you more than ever before. You cannot spectate or play a laissez-faire role during these very criticaltimes. Doing so would certainly make Weah overly powerful and ambitious to further ruin our Republic. 

Out of love for Country, this is a caution and a call to action from a young patriot. 

Yours in pursuit of a New Liberia, 

Martin K. N. Kollie 

Youth and Student Activist 

 

Cc: Mr. Wilmot Paye, Chairman, Unity Party (UP)

Sen. Steve Zargo, Chairman, Liberty Party (LP)

 Sen. Daniel Naatehn, Chairman, Alternational National Congress (ANC)

 Mr. J. S. Theodore Momo, Jr., Chairman, All Liberian Party (ALP)

Candidate Abraham Darius Dillon and Candidate Telia Urey 

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: ANC-Global Org To Launch In Atlanta This Saturday

Atlanta, GA USA June 25, 2019: A single coordinating organization known as ANC-Global Diaspora Network has been formed to serve as the umbrella and anchor for various support organizations of the Alternative National Congress(ANC) political party in Liberia, West Africa. 

Senator Daniel F. Naatehn Sr, ANC-Liberia National Chairman

According to a source, the formation of ANC-Global is the direct result of the lack of coordination resulting in overlap of efforts and efficiencies among Liberians and groupings in the Diaspora who support the political leader of the ANC-Liberia Mr. Alexander B. Cummings Jr. and the party. 

 Various Liberian communities around the world have shown interest and enthusiasm in supporting local ANC organizations in the Diaspora and have formed auxiliary organizations in Australia the US and Europe over the last few years. 

“This single organizational approach is intended to ensure a streamlined and unified process for messaging, mobilizing and fundraising while giving Liberia a single point of coordinating Diaspora support activities…,” ANC-Global said in a statement over the weekend. 

 

ANC-Global Launch Flyer

According to the organizers, ANC-Global the will formally launch on Saturday, June29, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia USA with a retreat session and fundraiser.

Mr. Alexander B. Cummings, Political Leader of ANC-Liberia and the newly elected Chairman Congressman Mr. Daniel F. Naatehn Sr. are expected to attend the program and engage with attendees and partisans. 

Hundreds of Liberians from across the US, Africa and a Europe are also expected to attend the formal launch of ANC-Global.

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Day One Of Mass Protest Ends; No Petition Presented

Day one of what appears to be several days of planned protest has ended in Monrovia with no compromise reached between the government of Liberia and Protesters under the banner, Council of Patriots (COP).  

Liberian Protesters On June 7th

The much publicized protest began Friday, June 7, 2019 with the protesters demanding that they can only deliver their petition to President George Weah or Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor.  

Earlier, President George Weah designated his Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor to be the one to receive the petition from the Council of Patriots.

Is not clear why the Vice President did not show up as expected, but multiple sources close to the office of the VP said, she was unable to show up due to illness. 

Protest Organizers Henry P. Costa (in white top) Marching With Protesters

However, the government requested the leadership of COP to hand deliver their petition to Foreign Minister Gbezongar Findley – a decision protesters vehemently rejected, saying, they cannot present their petition to an appointed official. 

Among other demands, the protesters are demanding that Finance Minister Samuel Tweh and Central Bank Governor Nathaniel Patray be dismissed and turned over to the Justice Ministry for prosecution for their roles in the mismanagement and misapplication of the US$25 million allocated for a mop up of excess Liberian dollar liquidity.

The protesters also want the government to find solution to the persistent skyrocketing of the US dollar against the Liberian dollar.

The protesters further indicated that they want an immediate end to what they described as massive corruption and bad governance, which, according to them have hampered Liberian’s image abroad. 

ECOWAS Official Addressing Protesters

The protest which has been described by many including international media outlets as the most peaceful post war protest, was by monitored by both local and international observers including Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS). Local officials of ECOWAS in Monrovia were seen working alongside their Liberian counterparts to ensure peaceful and orderly protest. 

Liberian Security Officers

Elites forces of the Liberian joint security were also seen posted at various points to ensure that things were under control. 

Observers say this was the first time in several years in Liberia that a mass protest has been held without any scuffle between the police and protesters, even though tension heightened between the police and supporters of one of the leaders of the protest a day prior to the much publicized June 7 protest.

Liberian Protesters

Meanwhile, after several failed attempt to deliver the their protest petition, the leadership of the protest appealed to their supporters to go home and prepare themselves for the next course of action, which will be announced on Monday, June 10, 2019.  

By Paul Kanneh in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Mass Citizens Protest Underway In Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia – June 7, 2019: The day is finally here.

Hundreds of  thousands of dissatisfied citizens in the small and poor West African country of Liberia have invoked their constitutional right to “petition” their Government over several grievances and the economic malaise the country is enduring under the Weah Administration.

Early Friday, West African Journal Magazine observed protesters assembling at various agreed designated points to begin their peaceful march to Capitol Hill, the seat of the national government, where, they say, they will submit their 19 count list of “grievances” to the Weah Government for a commitment to redress. President George M. Weah is not expected to receive the petition but has designated a proxy instead.

Shadowed by armed Liberian security forces in riot gear and vehicles, the protesters converged from points in the east and west of the city Monrovia. They chanted anti-government slogans. “We are tired, We are the masses but we can get tired, We want change”. One banner with the photo of President Weah and  carried by protesters read, “Generational Traitor”.

Supporters of the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Liberian President have criticized the protests as an attempt to unseat the Government.

Monitors from ECOWAS and the international community are also keeping an eye on the march. The organizers Council of Patriots (COP) are leading the march and have assured that the exercise will be peaceful.

On Thursday, the eve of the protest, Liberian security forces mounted a “show of force” of vehicles, weapons and riots gear. Some observers have termed the “show of force” as unnecessary and an attempt at intimidating the protesters while others say Government is leaving nothing to chance given the history of violent protests in Liberia.

Masses of peaceful protesters have been pouring into the city center and heading to the Capitol Hill area, the seat of National Government which houses the National Legislature, the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Protest organizers including Mo Ali, talk show Henry P. Costa and Abraham Darius Dillon are also marching with the protesters.

The demonstration has been peaceful so far.

Protesters are heard chanting anti-government slogans and accusing President George M Weah of massive corruption and ineptitude. Scores of protesters who are appearing in live video feed are narrating their displeasure with the Government and the harsh economic climate.

West African Journal Magazine is receiving reports that the internet in Liberia has been spotty  and off in some instances. Supporters and organizers of the mass protest are accusing the Government of Liberia of blocking internet access. Meantime, Virtual Private Network links are being shared and forwarded by internet and social media watchers to families and friends to allow them to broadcast scenes from the protest.

No arrests or major incidents have been reported. Security was augmented  by the Government on Thursday.

The Movement Justice in Liberia, an advocacy group in the United States is gathering in front of the Liberian Embassy in Washington DC in support of the mass protests back in Liberia. Organizers say they will also present a position statement to the Liberian diplomatic mission calling for reforms in the country.

The protest in Liberia is a major blow to the image of President George M. Weah whose popularity is fading quickly over his inability to address grinding poverty and economic issues since coming to power nearly one and half years ago. President Weah recently announced a series of economic policy initiatives to address concerns of citizens but they appear not to regain the confidence of citizens who are demanding immediate relief.

The protest is an embarrassment to the Administration, which, in the past, has boasted of massive support especially from the poor.

In anticipation of Friday’s protest, western embassies in the Liberian capital have advised their nationals to adopt a low profile and be alert.

Speeches are being made by protest organizers on Capitol Hill as thousands of citizens watch and listen.

By Our Correspondent in Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

 

OSAC Assessment – “Liberia Demonstrations Underscored Grievances & Limited Government Capacity”

Monrovia, Liberia – June 6, 2019: The United States Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security (OSAC) on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 issued an assessment on Liberia entitled Liberia Demonstrations Underscored Grievances & Limited Government Capacity

Executive Summary

“The Council of Patriots,” a coalition of five major Liberian opposition parties has called for large-scale “Save the State” demonstrations on June 7 to demand government reforms to improve living conditions and good governance as the country grapples with economic stagnation and widespread corruption. Although protest organizers have stated their non-violent intent and clarified that they are not calling for President George Weah’s resignation, many who oppose the demonstrations claim that they could serve as a ploy to force the President to step down just a year into his term. A number of civil society organizations have discouraged participation in the demonstrations, including Yana Boys and Girls clubs (panhandlers associations) and some religious leaders.

As routine, the government has augmented security in Monrovia. Pro-government actors might call on supporters to stage counter-rallies, which could increase the potential for clashes with security forces and rival protest groups. Local security force and emergency response to large-scale and widespread demonstrations remains largely un-tested in Liberia’s post-conflict era, and local capabilities are already limited. Reports indicate that the government and opposition leaders are engaged in negotiations, but it appears they have yet to reach an agreement.

Monrovia’s Capitol area will likely be the main gathering point for June 7 demonstrations, but protests could occur elsewhere in the city or the country. According to some estimates, participants could number in the thousands in Monrovia – a size which is unprecedented in Liberia’s post-conflict era. Sources suggest that protest leaders may have traveled throughout Liberia to promote support for demonstrations in other parts of the country as well. Large gatherings can materialize with little notice and escalate to violence in Liberia, and vigilantism and mob justice is common in Liberia particularly in rural areas. Members of the Liberian diaspora are reportedly organizing a June 7 protest in Washington, DC in solidarity, which could raise the profile of these protests and sustain their momentum.

Security managers should review their security measures and ensure they account for potential for protests to turn confrontational, be prolonged, and increase future tensions. The government’s reaction and demonstrators’ orderliness will play a major role in determining scale, duration, and escalation to violence of these protests. There are some private-sector concerns about the potential for June 7 to prompt sustained or recurring unrest, given their potential to tap into a confluence of economic and political trends that could cause potential regional spillover or prompt ghosts from Liberia’s conflicted past to reemerge.

Could Protests Transform a Political Turning Point into a Tipping Point?

Joint calls for demonstrations could mark the opposition’s attempt to galvanize rising and increasingly widespread popular grievances against the President and his party. So far, the central government has largely avoided addressing the looming protests publicly. The government has barred the media from reporting on the progress of government negotiations with the opposition. Open sources indicate that the government’s silence has augmented public anxiety.

The current president, George Weah, was elected in Liberia’s 2017 Presidential election, beating then-incumbent Vice President Joseph Boakai, in a run-off. Weah ran as an outsider and championed a platform of poverty reduction, economic growth, infrastructure development, and anticorruption. As a result, protests could serve as a one-year review of Weah’s performance in office and ability to meet his campaign promises. In addition, former VP Boakai is one of the leaders of “Save the State” protests; his active role in organizing the demonstrations could indicate his intention to establish himself as the opposition frontrunner for 2022 Presidential elections, as well as the opposition’s desire to continue sparring with Weah over the course of his first term. The 2017 election also marked the country’s first postwar peaceful transition of power, which could mean that sustained unrest against Weah could escalate into a referendum on the success of Liberia’s post-conflict democratic progress.

How unified the opposition becomes, and whether the coalition is able to galvanize widespread and sustained support remain to be seen. Unarticulated grievance-based and/or antigovernment movements can be prone to volatility and devolution; opposition leaders have provided participants with an outlet to express their grievances, but limited guidance on how to direct this expression. In such cases, score settling, scapegoating, predation, mistargeting, and/or indiscriminate violence could occur – all of which have implications for private-sector security, as they could lead to organized or ad hoc targeting as well as indiscriminate violence. In addition, there is concern that political elites could tap into criminal elements, youth gangs, vigilantes, and/or armed groups resurrected from Liberia’s past conflicts – any of which could morph into an armed political opposition.

Rising Economic Desperation Mixes With Unmet Expectations and High Crime

Liberia’s economic situation is the worst it has been in the past decade, as the country struggles with high unemployment, price inflation, and fuel price hikes which have caused commodities to skyrocket. The exchange rate has been the highest and most volatile it has been during peacetime. One of the largest foreign direct investors and employers in Liberia has announced layoffs due to lackluster profitability. The layoffs could result in backlash, and could hurt the nation’s economy even more. All of these developments exacerbate economic instability and desperation as Weah pushes economic growth and poverty-reduction agendas, which were major pillars of his 2017 presidential platform.

On May 28, Weah announced a massive reshuffle of the central bank – a move that could be an attempt to mollify the public in advance of June 7. Systemic corruption in government (including the central bank) has become a growing source of discontent under both the previous and current administration. In September, Liberians staged “Bring Back Our Money” protests after more than $100 million in newly printed bills vanished; and the suspicious incident undermined anticorruption efforts. Austerity may also be on the horizon for Liberia, which would impact Weah’s ability to meet his campaign promises and constrain public services further, likely resulting in public outcry.

Worsening poverty and a lack of any social safety net has led to upticks in crime and the proliferation of gangs, as people turn to illicit activities for sources of income. Opportunistic criminal actors may exploit periods of heightened uncertainty, particularly outbreaks of unrest and changes in security force posture, to expand their activities. The myriad of criminal elements also provides political leaders with potential armed wings to tap into for support, some may have access to weapons – albeit typically homemade ones. Crime generally increases during the rainy season (May-September) and has the potential to become more prevalent during periods of unrest. (For more information on crime trends, see Liberia’s OSAC 2019 Crime and Safety Report.)

Upcoming protest activity notwithstanding, the U.S. Department of State currently assigns Liberia a Level 1 Travel Advisory, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions in the country; however, there is a serious risk from criminality in Monrovia, and travelers should exercise increased caution in urban areas due to crime.

Liberia’s two civil wars between 1986 and 2003 destroyed 90% of its economy and damaged a large portion of its infrastructure, while the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak overburdened what infrastructure remained – particularly the country’s health system – and sapped revenue that could have driven development and furthered post-conflict recovery. Although increased international attention during the Ebola crisis brought a momentary uptick in private-sector presence and investment, this was primarily health- and emergency response-focused and largely disappeared with the end of the epidemic. International aid initially resuscitated Liberia’s economy, but systemic improvements have been lacking due to institutional weakness and corruption. The Liberian government continues to rely on international assistance for two-thirds of its expenditures; commercial investors driven off by the outbreak remain leery of re-entering the market, inhibiting economic diversification and capacity building.

Reemerging Ghosts from Liberia’s Conflicted Past Could Contest for Its Future

The legacy of Liberia’s civil wars continues to loom large in politics. Anti-government unrest could rekindle unresolved ethno-political tensions that may be exploited by political opportunists. There are concerns that Charles Taylor, Liberia’s president during both civil wars, maintains significant influence in Liberian politics, despite his conviction for war crimes and incarceration in the United Kingdom. Well-known associates of Taylor, including those who held key positions during his administration and were implicated in abuses, continue to hold prominent positions in Liberian politics. Such figures include Taylor’s ex-wife, who was Weah’s running mate and is now the Vice President; and Prince Johnson, an on-again off-again Taylor ally who won third-place in the 2017 presidential election, despite calls for him to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity. Prince later endorsed Weah in the run-off and continues to give him support. Johnson urged his followers not to join the opposition in protest, but they could participate in counter-rallies; however, this relationship may fray if Weah heeds more vocal calls for Johnson’s prosecution.

Large-scale, sustained unrest could present heavyweights from Liberia’s conflicted past with opportunities for intervention and posturing to exact concessions and expand of their influence. Liberia’s main political figures and parties – including Boakai, Taylor, and Johnson — maintain strong support bases often along ethno-political and geographic lines. What made Weah’s campaign successful was its broader appeal– which is now under pressure. As a result, there are concerns that “Save the State” could prompt power shifts and realignments that could disrupt current alliances and potentially undermine Liberia’s post-conflict trajectory, which has remained politically stable despite lingering tensions.

Sisters in Struggle: Liberia’s Woes Could Spill into Sierra Leone

OSAC has received a number of inquiries from private-sector organizations operating in Liberia as well as Sierra Leone due to constituent concerns about implications of June 7 protests on Liberia’s stability and potential for spillover into Sierra Leone. The two countries possess similar risk factors (e.g. lackluster economic performance, endemic corruption, and institutional weakness) and shared histories (e.g. interrelated civil wars and the Ebola outbreak).

In addition, President Julius Bio in Sierra Leone took office in 2018 as a successful opposition candidate by running on a poverty reduction and anticorruption platform but is facing economic challenges, similar to Weah.

On June 3, the UK government updated its advice for Sierra Leone warning of a general increase in demonstrations; such activities are probably not directly related to the June 7 protests in Liberia, but are likely fueled by antigovernment grievances over similar issues such as prolonged economic declines.

Successful demonstrations in Liberia could lead to copycat demonstrations in its neighbor. Ethnic and kinship ties also extend across Liberia and Sierra Leone’s shared frontier, which experiences high volumes of daily cross-border transit and commercial activity, rendering borders extremely porous. Such factors played major roles in the spread of Liberia’s second civil war into its neighbor. French guidance currently advises against non-essential travel along the border with Sierra Leone since March 2018 due to potential instability, despite improvements in the security environment.

Local Security Force Response

June 7 demonstrations could overwhelm host nation capacity including local security force response, emergency services, and medical infrastructure which are already limited – even in Monrovia where they are concentrated — due to years of under development and repeated crisis. Response in Monrovia and particularly outside the capital could become even more attenuated or delayed during June 7 protests. Security forces face chronic shortages in manpower, equipment, and training – particularly within the Liberian National Police (LNP).

This lack of resources stems from Liberia’s civil wars, after which its entire formal security sector — including military, police, and intelligence — was dismantled and reconstituted from scratch due to the prevalence of human rights abuses committed during the conflict. The UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) oversaw the reform of Liberia’s security and justice sectors, but fully withdrew from the country in 2018. Further government-driven capacity building in the security sector has been slow.

In response to possible unrest, security forces have set up frequent checkpoints in the city–particularly in upscale neighborhoods such as Sinkor while constituents have reported that shakedowns have become more common and aggressive. Checkpoints could proliferate around June 7, which could increase the prevalence of extortion. Public confidence and trust in Liberia’s security forces is extremely low, largely due to perceived corruption and ineffectiveness. Additionally, the government could implement movement restrictions and curfews if it perceives a threat to law and order.

It remains unclear how well Liberia’s security forces will be able to modulate their use of force – particularly in the face of largescale, multi-location gatherings and/or provocations (stone-throwing, barricading, rioting, and looting). To date, the Liberia National Police (LNP) has only had to manage localized demonstrations involving a few hundred, mostly-compliant participants including during the “Bring Back Our Money” demonstrations; “Save the State” participation may dwarf these earlier protests.

The UN Special Representative for West Africa expressed concerns about the capacity of Liberia’s security forces to handle longer term protests during his May 24-25 visit to support dialogue between the government and opposition leaders.

Heavy-handed response to the June 7 protests, or even the perception of such a response, may further erode confidence in security forces and enflame anti-government tensions; as a result, the margin of error for the government is narrow.

Maintaining cohesion and professionalism will be more difficult in rural areas of the country where security force densities are lower. Frequently, reinforcements from Monrovia must respond to even routine incidents. Police officers frequently end up becoming victims themselves when responding to incidents. Once reinforcements arrive, the victimized police officers may carry out reprisals. Due to limited police response, many communities have turned to vigilantism and extrajudicial measures. In the last two months, there have been at least two reported incidents outside of Monrovia in which vigilantes have targeted police, possibly signifying rising popular discontent with government responsiveness; security forces are often the most visible and accessible embodiment of the central government.

U.S. and Foreign Government Response

The U.S. Embassy has warned that while gatherings will start in the morning, protests could last into the next day. The Embassy has also advised personnel to avoid the area, including rescheduling flights in or out of Roberts International Airport on June 7 and 8, as traffic jams may affect travel to and from the airport (see June 3 security alert). The UK government updated its travel advice on May 23 to alert travelers of June 7 protests, and the Canadian government has incorporated similar changes. The U.S. Department of State currently assigns Liberia a Level 1 Travel Advisory, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions in the country, however travelers should exercise increased caution in urban areas due to crime; this guidance remains in effect.

Private-Sector Response

Security managers should monitor local information sources and networks for developments and review organizational risk assessments, contingency plans, and mitigation measures in case of outbreaks or sustained unrest. In the wake of U.S. government advice to avoid the airport, organizations should consider the criticality of air travel around June 7; some organizations have deferred travel around this time. Large gatherings and elevated security force presence may impede airport access and traffic flow around Monrovia and other locations affected by protests.

Given limited or even reduced local security and emergency response capabilities, organizations should review their duty of care to both foreign and local staff including what organizational resources they can provide to protect their personnel and operations. Ensure sufficient supplies including food, water, and fuel in case of prolonged unrest or disruption of commercial services; reports indicate that locals are stockpiling radios and food.

Contingency plans should include accountability protocols; shelter-in-place scenarios; use of redundant communications systems; crowd avoidance techniques. Many in-country private sector organizations have bolstered physical security measures to deter crime during the rainy season and are reviewing these in light of potential unrest. Private sector personnel in Liberia should expect a visible increase in local security force posture particularly around administrative buildings, key infrastructure including the airport, and major transit arteries. However, heightened security force presence may not mean increased ability to respond to incidents and emergencies.

Travelers may encounter more frequent checkpoints; review how to avoid security issues around checkpoints and road blocks, interact with security forces, and handle shakedowns during times of heightened tensions.

US Federal Government Disclaimer: The contents of this presentation in no way represent the policies, views, or attitudes of the United States Department of State, or the United States Government, except as otherwise noted (e.g., travel advisories, public statements). The presentation was compiled from various open sources and (U) embassy reporting.  

West African Journal Magazine