Liberia: Text Of Statement Delivered By Protesters Delivered To Int’l Community

PETITION STATEMENT

September 24, 2018

The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), a mass-based umbrella pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization consisting of over 26 civil society organizations, youth/student groups and trade unions, have peacefully rallied and assembled conscious and patriotic Liberians from every sphere of our society to petition you in pursuit of L$16 billion (US$106 million) that mysteriously disappeared under the government of President George M. Weah.

With oneness of purpose and an unhindered allegiance to Liberia and posterity, we have come on this day to send this clarion message to our International Partners through you:

1 We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.

1 We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen L$16 billion. All those linked in this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount.

1 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to immediately release the internal investigative report of the Central Bank of Liberia that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referenced in her latest interview on BCC. This report in our opinion could unravel a lot of hidden secrets and untold realities.

1 We call on you to assist Liberia in auditing all financial transactions done so far under President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We are also concerned about the recent infusion of US$25 million in the Liberian economy by the Weah-led government. We are also interested in knowing the source of this US$ 25 million and how it was infused in the economy. This we believe must be thoroughly investigated as well.

2 COCUBOMB craves your indulgence most respectfully to launch an investigation into the giant-sized private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high-profile members of his government in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion.

3 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to ensure full asset declaration by all public officials especially the President either before or during the course of the Independent International Forensic Investigation.

1 We call on you to expedite the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. This we believe would end the longstanding culture of impunity and guarantee justice for Liberia and Liberians especially war victims. This approach would certainly serve as a deterrence for would be war and economic criminals.

1 We submit to you the urgency to fully overhaul/upgrade Liberia’s financial management system in order to maintain fiscal discipline, accountability, transparency and public integrity at all levels. The need to reinforce and rebrand anti-graft institutions such as LACC, GAC, FIU, PPCC, LEITI and IAA cannot be overemphasized. Corruption especially in the judiciary must also be dealt with.

1 We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MoFDP, CBL, MICAT and RIA) that had/have direct link to this missing container immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.

The people of Liberia through COCUBOMB remain very concerned and disturbed about those missing billion (US$106 million) that vanished without any trace up to now. It is sad that the government has been dishonest and inconsistent in releasing the facts. Accounts surrounding this missing L$16 billion from the MoJ, MoFDP, MICAT and even the Office of the President remain contradictory and are compounded with fundamental flaws.

The government cannot be the accused, the defendant, and at the same time the jurist. The Liberian people need their money back. Those who viciously siphoned our resources MUST account and account now! THE PEOPLE are resolved about this and we will not rest until this L$16 billion is fully accounted for by those we describe as ‘vicious economic scavengers and plunderers of our State’.

In all of these, we assure the Liberian people and the International Community that we shall remain peaceful, civil and matured as we pursue this irreversible and patriotic path of bringing an end to systemic corruption in Liberia.

The people deserve better – they deserve to rise above poverty, misery and inequality. It cannot be business as usual. The International Community must ACT to help rescue Liberia from perishing. The popular call of our PEOPLE is “BRING BACK OUR MONEY”.

COCUBOMB calls for the full protection of Journalists Philibert Brown of Hot Pepper Newspaper and Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa. We also call on you to protect the rights of campaigners who are demanding the full restitution of this L$16 billion. As we jealously protect the sovereignty and heritage of our State by standing up to those barriers (corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and religious intolerance) that kept us down as a people, we call you to join us in this pursuit to ensure that President Weah and his government account for L$16 billion that disappeared in thin air.

Done and sealed on this 24th Day of September A.D. 2018 in the City of Monrovia by through COCUBOMB, a representation of the Liberian people.

Signed: ______________________________________

                                 Jeremiah S. Swen

                     Secretary General, COCUBOMB

 

Approved: ____________________________________

                                   Martin K. N. Kollie

                               Chairman, COCUBOMB

To: US Embassy, United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, French Embassy

Reputable Organizations that have endorsed this statement:

1 Student Unification Party (SUP)

2 People Action Network (PAN-Liberia)

3 Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL)

4 Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA)

5 Liberia Labor Congress (LLC)

6 Workers’ Union of Liberia (WUL)

7 Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

8 Alliance for Transitional Justice in Liberia (ATJL)

9 Teachers in Action for Concerns (TAC-Liberia)

10 Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)

11 Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACAL)

12 Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL)

13 Movement of Social Democratic Alliance (MOSODA)

14 Financial Communication Sector Union (FCSU)

15 National Cosmetology Union of Liberia (NCUL)

16 Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth League in Support of Weah (AOPPYL)

17 Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora (CLD)

18 Citizen Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Courts (CAEWECC)

19 Zorzor and Salayea Muslim Development Association (ZSMDA)

20 Forum for Democracy and Civic Education (FODCE)

21 Liberia National Student Union (LINSU)

22 TAG – Liberia

23 Concerned University and College Students (CUCS)

24 Conscious High School Students of Liberia (CHSL)

25 S. K. Doe Community Youth Association (SAKDOCYA)

26 Masses Against Poverty (MAP)

27  Federation of Sinkor Youth Association (FESYA)

28 Liberian Youth for Democracy

29 Agenda for Peace and Democracy

30 National Youth Against Violence (NYAV)

 

Anti-Corruption Agency Blasts Liberian Govt Over It’s Exclusion From Investigation Into Missing Bank Notes

Philadelphia, PA- USA LACC

Liberia’s anti graft agency has criticized the decision of the Government to launch an investigation into allegations of the disappearance of containers and bags of Liberian bank notes without its inclusion.

In a Press Statement issued on Thursday in the capital Monrovia, the country’s Anti- Corruption Commission (LACC), however said, it, “… remains committed to probe the matter in keeping with its mandate under section 5.2a of the an Act establishing the Commission as an independent and autonomous agency of Government clothed with the authority to investigate alleged, perceived, or potential acts of corruption. Section 5.2 b of the LACC Act also gives the Commission the authority to investigate the conduct of ANY person, irrespective of office or status, natural or otherwise, if the conduct of the person(s) constitute corruption, the Press Statement said.

Map of Liberia

On Thursday the Liberian Government announced the setting up of a body which includes local religious, civil and legal society groups to assist with the investigation of the disappearance of containers and bags of Liberian Banknotes of about $16 billon.

IMF

The Government also requested the assistance of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Treasury Department and the International Monetary Fund )IMF).

There is no confirmation that the request to the US and the IMF has been accepted for consideration.

The country’s Ministry of Information, in a press statement issued Tuesday afternoon in Monrovia says the Government is taking the ongoing investigation seriously because of what it referred to as “national security implications.”

The LACC’s frustration is evident in its statement, since it was clearly sidelined by the Government that is pursuing the investigation of the matter but at the same time contravening the Act establishing its own anti corruption agency.

“ …In order not to confuse ongoing joint efforts conducted by various agencies of Government, the LACC is looking forward to receiving reports and documentary evidence, if any, from the Government’s Investigation to enhance its mandate,” the anti- graft body said.

In order to ensure a transparent investigation, and accountability, the LACC says it will collaborate with other entities and is in the process of seeking external funding.

In a separate matter, the Speaker of Liberia’s House of Representatives Mr. Bhofal Chambers says the legislative body will convene in a special session in the coming days to act on pertinent national issues which have attracted its attention.

House Speaker Bhofal Chambers

In a Press Statement issued on Thursday, Speaker Chambers said “… Among other issues for reconvening the Special Legislative Session are the legislations for needed pieces of law which are bordered on pressing national challenges.”

The Justice Ministry’s response to the ongoing investigation into the disappearance of the $16 billion Liberian bank notes will also be discussed, the House Speaker said

Liberian lawmakers are on their annual agriculture break but will be returning to the Capitol Building to discuss the issue.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberian National Rhoda Weeks-Brown Appointed As General Counsel of IMF

IMF Chief Christine Lagarde

Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), today announced her intention to appoint Rhoda Weeks-Brown as the IMF’s General Counsel and Director of the Legal Department.

The IMF, in a Press Statement issued Tuesday, says Ms. Weeks-Brown succeeds Mr. Sean Hagan whose retirement was announced previously. She is expected to begin her work in this capacity on September 17, 2018.

“Throughout her 21-year career with the IMF, Ms. Weeks-Brown has contributed to virtually all aspects of the institution’s work. In addition to a sharp legal mind and deep legal experience, she brings a comprehensive perspective on the Fund’s role and the challenges facing our members in today’s rapidly changing economic and financial environment.,” Ms. Lagarde said.

IMF Newly Appointed General Counsel Rhoda Weeks Brown from Liberia.

During her career in the Fund’s Legal Department, Ms. Weeks-Brown worked on a wide range of country and policy issues. She was particularly involved in leading the work related to the revamp of the Fund’s General Resources Account (GRA) lending toolkit and the transformation of the architecture of facilities for low-income countries.

She also contributed to the design of a new income model for the Fund adopted in 2008, the 2008 and 2010 quota and governance reforms, and the articulation of the Fund’s institutional view on capital flows.

IMF Logo

In her role as Deputy General Counsel, she was a key member of the Legal Department’s management team, helping to guide all aspects of the department’s work. Most recently, Ms. Weeks-Brown has served as Deputy Director of the Fund’s Communications Department, where she has played a key role in development of the Fund’s communications strategy and its positioning on key issues, and also had oversight of communications related to Europe, Africa and previously Asia.

A national of Liberia, Ms. Weeks-Brown joined the Fund’s Legal Department in 1997 and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Legal Counsel in 2010.

She then joined the Fund’s Communications Department in 2012 as Deputy Director. Before joining the IMF, Ms. Weeks-Brown was in private practice in the United States.

She received her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1991, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Howard University. IMF release concluded.

IMF Press Statement

Liberia: Justice Ministry Warns Against UnAuthorized Protest By Students on July 26

As tension mounts in the Liberian capital Monrovia over the planned peaceful protests spearheaded by some student activists at the state runned University of Liberia for Thursday, July 26th, the country’s Justice Ministry says it is encouraging “…all persons or groups of people desiring to stage a peaceful protest to strictly abide by the law relating to public marches and demonstrations.”

Liberia Justice Minister Counselor Frank Musa Dean

Justice Minister and Attorney General Counselor Frank Musa Dean in a press statement issued on Wednesday afternoon in the capital Monrovia warned the “…general public that, consistent with the Act Requiring the Obtaining Permits for Public Marches and demonstrations approved February 10, 1975, and section 22 of rhe Liberia National Police Act of 2015, any person or group of persons wishing to stage a march or demonstration must first obtain a permit from the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) before staging such a march..”

File Photo of Protesting University Students in Paynesville

The Liberian government’s statement is in response to a ultimatum given by student groups to President George M. Weah to declare his assets or face mass peaceful protests against celebrations of the country’s 171st Independence Day Anniversary on Thursday. There have been calls by some Liberians in and out of the country for President Weah to calm tension in the country by issuing a statement. So far, State House in Monrovia has made no indication that the Liberian President will.

An official independence day program on Thursday will hear an address by the national orator, the country’s Finance and Planning Minister Samuel Tweah. Student leaders have called for mass peaceful protest to register their concerns over the failure of President George M. Weah to declare his assets in keeping with law and the growing economic hardship Liberians are facing.

Public demonstrations in Liberia have a history of violence and heavy-handed response from state security.

A bloody “rice”: riot in April, 1979 led to the subsequent violent military takeover in the capital Monrovia. The opposition Progressive Alliance of Liberia (PAL) mobilized citizens to peacefully protest an increase in the price of rice; the staple food of Liberia. Dozens of citizens were killed and wounded by government security in an attempt to put down the riot and looting which followed. The event led to disenchantment among some non-commissioned officers in the military. Led by Master Sergeant Samuel K. Doe in the early morning hours of April 12, 1980, soldiers attacked the Presidential Mansion and killed President William R. Tolbert..

At the onset of the country’s civil war and in advance of rebels led by now jailed former rebel leader turned former President Charles Taylor, massive peaceful demonstrations by citizens called on President Doe to step down to from power; a call he refused to consider. The Doe government which was under siege with massive loss of support from citizens, targeted would-be opponents with arrests, disappearances and death squads.

The West African country devolved into years of political and economic stability for nearly over two decades including back to back civil wars between 1990 – 2003.

Liberian President George M. Weah

Liberians are expressing concern over deteriorating economic conditions; especially since the incumbency of President George Weah who was inaugurated in January, 2018. The Weah government has asked Liberians to be patient as it develops an economic plan to rescue the struggling country. Liberia has enjoyed relative peace since 2005 with the help of the international community and UN peacekeepers who departed the country in March, 2018.

Student groups have accused President Weah of refusing to comply with the law which requires public officials to declare their assets. They say officials of government have no incentive to also declare their assets since the President has failed to lead by example.

Coat of Arms of Liberia.

With just a few hours to the Independence day anniversary, the Liberian Justice Ministry said it “wishes to stress the need for all Liberians to abide by the laws in the exercise of their right to peaceful assembly so that there is no disruption of normal traffic, business activities and free movement of people…”

Liberia Justice Department Press Statement

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Counselor Seward Cooper Reacts to Special Presidential Committee Report on Liberian Oil Block # 13

Thursday, July 12, 2018 Monrovia, Liberia

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

Having returned from extensive overseas travels, to preserve the facts records for the records, I take this opportunity to formally respond to the Special Presidential Committee Report (SPC or the Report) on the Global Witness Report about the Liberian Oil Block # 13 Production Sharing Contract (PSC) between the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) and ExxonMobil.

The Report contains several false and sweeping statements.  The Report is neither fair nor balanced in its examination of facts. It appears hastily put together, without the due diligence merited for such an undertaking.

As a result, the President and the public have been presented a document replete with errors, innuendos, and aspersions that impugn the reputations of honest and dedicated public servants. It does a disservice to the presidency, to the country, and to those looking for accountability in governance.

Here are some examples.

Negotiating an unprecedented signing bonus for Block 13

I was not a member of the NOCAL Board in April 2013, as reported, when the Board deliberated, approved, and caused to be paid bonuses in recognition of “the unprecedented international success and gain Liberia realized out of the intense and very lengthy negotiations with ExxonMobil.” At that time, I was a member of the Hydrocarbon Technical Committee (HTC) and participated as a lead negotiator in the transaction. My appointment to the NOCAL Board was much later in 2014.

As we prepared for the negotiations, the team was instructed to seek no less than US$27 million from ExxonMobil and its partner for LB-13.  We negotiated an unprecedented US$50 million bonus for the country. The amount was an extraordinarily large signature fee for a block in a non-oil producing country.

Oil Block LB-13
Oil Block LB-13

In addition to the US$50 million, some other benefits accrued included:

  1. State (Liberian Government) participation which would have begun at commercial production.  This meant the government would not have had to pay costs for exploration, which sometimes could run as high as US$100 million or, when commercially viable oil is discovered, the costs for development which could cost over a billion of dollars.
  2. Citizen participation also at commercial production only.
  3. Free carry of costs by ExxonMobil and its partners during the exploration and development period.
  4. In the event of breach of contract by the Liberian Government, limitations on the assets of the country that could be targeted and levied against.

Predicated on these achievements, and we understood with the assent of Liberia’s President, the NOCAL Board of Directors decided to authorize and pay bonuses.  Lead members of the HTC negotiating team were given bonuses of thirty-five thousand US dollars each. As a lead negotiator, I too got such a bonus.  No member of the negotiating team, to my knowledge, worked anticipating these bonuses; nor did anyone demand money from GoL, Nocal, or any other party.

The bonuses were paid not by ExxonMobil or its partner, nor were they paid by a strange third party. They were paid directly by NOCAL, an instrument of the Liberian State, out of its own account.  The bonuses were authorized by NOCAL’s Board, which was expressly clothed with legal authority given to it under the NOCAL Act and the Liberian corporation laws by the Liberian Legislature.

The SPC Failures of omission and commission:

The SPC Report disregarded the ordinary meaning of the word ‘bonus’.  And in an attempt to support its conclusion, the Committee limited the term ‘bonus’ exclusively to employer- employee relationships by extracting a definition from an inapplicable Liberian Supreme Court labor case, and by forced reasoning tried to apply it.

Exxon Mobil Logo
Exxon Mobil Logo
Exxon
Exxon

The SPC mistook laws applicable to unlawful payments made by third parties to public servants for bonuses lawfully paid by public institutions to public servants. It is a rule of construction that laws are to be read and interpreted as a whole, not in isolation of other related provisions.

The SPC read Article 90 of the Constitution selectively not holistically. Otherwise, it would have understood that the HTC work was not an activity against public policy nor did it present a conflict of interest and was not constitutionally proscribed.  It was in furtherance of public policy and the public interest.  Public policy allows incentives by public agencies to public servants.  The rationale is to optimize service to the State. Several statutes support this.  Even the Act of Legislature that established the Liberia Revenue Authority supports the payment of incentives for collecting revenue according to targets.  Good governance encourages performance-based incentives.

The SPC read a section of the penal code and wrongfully concluded that a misdemeanor was committed. As a result, it also wrongfully recommended that board members who served during April 2013, should be forever barred from sitting on boards of public corporations. This is in excess of the punishment prescribed by the very statute for such a charge.

Cllr Seward Cooper
Cllr Seward Cooper

Moreover, the recommendation violates the Fundamental Rights provisions of Liberia’s Constitution. It contravenes established law as stated in the landmark Liberian Supreme Court decision in a similar matter that arose out of a similarly broad recommendation by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Conclusion

Significantly, the SPC stated it found no evidence to support the Global Witness insinuation of bribery.  The SPC recognized that Global Witness’ main target was ExxonMobil.  But the wide publicity given the Global Witness report that implicates Liberia could negatively affect Liberia’s exploration efforts to find oil of commercial value.   

Moving forward, therefore, Liberians must objectively examine statements about our government, our fellow citizens, and our country.  Where we have defects, let us strive to correct them.  When we are on the right path, let us stay on course.  Let us not seek to diminish each other.  Above all, let us entertain a common dream and muster the will to make our collective dreams realities.

West African Journal Magazine

Opinion – Behind The Smokescreen: An Authoritarian New President

By Rafael Marques de Morais

After the 2017 elections, the hopes ordinary Angolans placed on President João Lourenço were so high that many regarded him as a gift from God.

Next September, his predecessor, José Eduardo dos Santos, will finally step down from the leadership of the ruling MPLA, after 39 years. The combined imperial powers of the country’s presidency and of the MPLA will make João Lourenço the absolute ruler of Angola, and it does not bode well for the country.

The political partisanship of the army and the militarization of justice are two troubling trends seen since Lourenço took office. Both need to be addressed urgently before he gets comfortable with absolute power.

Initially, President Lourenço enjoyed a surge of popularity thanks to a strong anti-corruption stance. He fired his predecessor’s children from key positions, and ditched some other rotten apples. He also allowed for some other senior officials to be publicly named formal suspects in grand corruption cases, though no one has yet been arrested.

But these early hopes have been dashed by the appointments and promotions that President Lourenço has made, and his popularity has sunk with the same speed as he earned it.

For instance, last April he appointed his own brother, General Sequeira João Lourenço, as deputy head of the President’s Intelligence Bureau, which oversees the armed forces, the national police and the intelligence services. In February, Lourenço’s government sold state-owned planes (https://goo.gl/YAoSw7) (Beechcraft 900s) to the same brother’s air company, SJL Aeronáutica, without a public tender and for an undisclosed price. Through acts like this, the president has exposed himself as a hypocrite.

What is most worrying is how the President, himself a general, is endangering the already fragile cohesion of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) by handing it over to an MPLA apparatchik. The FAA originates from the 1992 integration of the former MPLA party-state People’s Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) and UNITA’s former guerrilla Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FALA). The integrated army withstood the civil war that returned and ravaged the country for ten more years after its creation.

Recently, President Lourenço dismissed the chief of the General Staff of the FAA, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda: the former FALA officer to become head of the FAA. Abroad, the move was seen as another outstanding sweep of Dos Santos’ cronies and protégés and as another example of tackling high-level corruption. The general’s name was associated with a multi billion-dollar scam. He had had been previously asked by the attorney general to resign. In an exclusive to Maka Angola (www.MakaAngola.org)General Nunda clarified his position (https://goo.gl/fREuiJ) and told how the attorney general had apologized to him for the formal announcement that he had been named a formal suspect in the scam. Legally, there was no case against him, only a political one.

General Nunda’s term was due to end in October, but the President sacked him in October and replaced him with General António Egídio de Sousa Santos “Disciplina”. The appointment sent shockwaves through the army and concerned sections within society who view General Santos as a largely political figure, with little aptitude for the job as head of the armed forces.

General Santos was previously deputy chief of the General Staff for Patriotic Education, which is the post-communist name for political commissariat. For two years until 2012, the general simultaneously held his position in the army and as a Central Committee member of the ruling MPLA (https://goo.gl/P1AJTi): an unconstitutional situation. He is best known for his partisanship and opportunism and lust for partying. He has thrown two lavish parties within a week to celebrate his rise to the top job of the army.

In the 1980s, Lourenço headed the National Political Directorate of the FAPLA. It was in charge of all the political commissars and controlled the army on behalf of the MPLA, under the one-party system. Former political commissars have risen to the top leadership, and among them are: the current vice-president, Bornito de Sousa; the minister of state and head of the President’s Intelligence Bureau, General Pedro Sebastião; and now the head of the army, General Sousa Santos.

Minutes after being sworn in, General Sousa Santos showed the press how inept and incoherent he is. Asked about the reaction of the rank and file to his appointment and his priorities for the army, he replied: “Allow me to cite the Bible. I am the good shepherd, and I know my flock, and my flock recognizes me.” The sound bite went viral on social media where many in the army, including generals, openly expressed their disbelief, and ridiculed him aplenty. Angola is a secular state. The general, who holds a PhD in History, forgot that in his attempt to dodge a basic question.

Angola has an army of over 138,000 soldiers, and more than 600 generals on active duty. Retired generals are like mushrooms, too many to count.

General Sousa Santos is a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. Four years ago, in 2014, we wrote about a generals’ involvement in a triumvirate which aimed to destabilize the army by placing it under the partisan control of MPLA (https://goo.gl/Y9nzpf) in the post-Dos Santos era.

At the time we wrote: “the secret discussion group aimed at fostering a climate of instability within the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), in such a way as to justify purges. This strategy is known as the purification of the FAA.” The then head of the Military Intelligence and Security Service, General Zé Maria, led the group and the third party was Lieutenant-General João António Santana “Lungo” of the Security Studies Office within the Intelligence Bureau of the Presidency.

“The object of the scheme is to ensure that generals who were formerly with UNITA, then a rebel movement, and who joined the FAA as the result of peace accords are seen as loyal to the UNITA political leadership and therefore will be seen as a threat to the MPLA’s hold on power, particularly in the post-Dos Santos era.

“The main target of the intrigue is the current General Chief of Staff of the FAA, Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda, who left UNITA in 1993, joined the government forces, and was instrumental in destroying the war machine of his former commander, Jonas Savimbi. The rebel leader was killed in action in 2002, thus bringing the 27-year post-independence war to an end. Zé Maria and his allies are now circulating information within the FAA that Nunda is trying to promote ex-UNITA officers in order to make it easier for him eventually to seize power.”

According to the plotters at the time, the partisan control of the army by MPLA would be achieved with the appointment of General Sousa Santos to the top job. Such a plot had to be addressed among the top brass of the army, and it was General Nunda himself who prevailed against the others to maintain the cohesion of FAA, and the army as a pillar of peace and national unity. President Lourenço, against conventional wisdom, has adopted the plotters’ strategy. This must be denounced for the sake of peace and democracy.

Making Generals

Meanwhile, President Lourenço has lost no time in creating yet several more generals, one of them already dead. On April 19, the president posthumously promoted Angola’s founding President Agostinho Neto, who died in 1979, to the rank of three-star general of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA). President Lourenço also awarded the former President José Eduardo dos Santos the rank of three-star general, and retired him from active duty through Commander-in-Chief Order 9/18.

The family of the late president Neto publicly dismissed the gesture as unnecessary, and called on Lourenço to devote his attention to the living rather than the dead.

But what shows General Lourenço to be a troubling copycat of General Dos Santos (ret.) is the promotion of the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Manuel Miguel da Costa Aragão, to the rank of Brigadier. The chief justice has been a civilian for decades, and was transferred from the Supreme Court, where he held the same position, on Lourenço’s orders. In 2012 President Dos Santos promoted the then-chief justice of the Supreme Court, Cristiano André, to the rank of Lieutenant-General.

President Lourenço is maintaining the militarization of justice. Last December he appointed General Hélder Pitta Grós, who is still on active duty, to the country’s attorney general.

The signs are mounting that President Lourenço is hiding his authoritarian claws behind the façade of his anti-corruption rhetoric. Little else is happening in the country besides smoke screens and the maintenance of the status quo. This is worrisome.

So far, the only clear strategy from the president seems to be the consolidation of his personal power.

United Cities and Local Governments of Africa Calls For Protection of Women

RABAT, Morocco, March 8, 2018 — In celebration of this year’s International Woman Day, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) says, there are issues we should all be ashamed of.

UN Women
UN Women

In a statement issued in the north African country of Morocco, UCLG Africa called on he global community to “Think of your mother, sister, daughter being harassed by someone in the workplace, school, public space, public transport, or simply in the street. Unfortunately, this happens time and again on our continent, and the horrific statistics of women that lose their lives after being beaten by their husbands; women who are badly wounded following a dispute with parents or relatives; not to mention the many migrant women that suffer all kinds of humiliations including rape, human trafficking, and other undignified treatment, UCGL Africa said.

The group says, the theme chosen by the United Nations for the 2018 international woman day is: “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”. This theme compels all of us not to turn a blind eye on, and be deaf to such unacceptable situations of violence against women.

“There is a wave of anger mounting from all layers of society demanding more justice for women. Shame on all of us, if we cannot relay this huge voice coming from the women and asking to stop this nonsense right away. Stop the violence, rape, harassment, undignified behavior against women. Each time any man is tempted to brutalize a woman, he should always remember that the person in front of him could be his mother, his sister, or his daughter. And if despite this he still wants to proceed, then he should be met by a system that provides a supportive service that encourages women and victims to report, provides adequate punishment for such crimes, and provides the appropriate support for any psychological health problem this perpetrator may have,” UCGL Africa maintained in its press statement.

At UCLG Africa said “we consider gender equality and respect for women as a cardinal exigency. We solemnly condemn all forms of violence against women. And we recommend to our members to champion an education system where boys and girls are brought up as equals.”

Our network of female local elected officials of Africa (REFELA), who represent both rural and urban communities across the continent, are making strides through their contributions to the fight for gender equality, and are working tirelessly in order that a gender sensitive dimension becomes one of the top priorities in the definition of African regional and local governments policies.

The group disclosed that in a few weeks, REFELA will be launching a campaign on “African cities and territories zero tolerant to violence against women”. UCLG Africa encourages its members to subscribe to this campaign, and by so doing, show the resolve of African regional and local government leaders to shy away from these practices that do not honor our societies and communities, the press statement concluded.

Press Release from UCLG Africa