How Liberia Lost Out As A Host Country For US Africa Command HQ

Liberia squandered a valuable opportunity in 2007 to host the headquarters of the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) Africa Command known as AFRICOM.

AFRICOM

AFRICOM which is based in Stuggart, Germany says it maintains partnerships with African nations to strengthen security forces, counter transnational threats and respond to crisis in an effort to advance the interests of the United States.

It is one of six Geographic Combatant Commands that the U. S. maintains globally.

According to AFRICOM, “Along with regional partners, U.S. Africa command conducts military operations to disrupt, degrade and neutralize violent extremist organizations that present a transnational threat.

Operations set conditions for continued partnering to help African partner nations build the capacity they need to secure the region.”

According to the document seen by West African Journal Magazine, Liberian Legislative Committees lawmakers – Representatives and Senators, who were briefed by US Embassy officials at the time on AFRICOM “…expressed overwhelming support for the initiative and reiterated President Sirleaf’s request that Liberia be chosen as the new site of the headquarters…”

At the time, AFRICOM was actively seeking a continental base in Africa and the West African country expressed interest in being a host country.

Liberia -Some Strategic Characteristics

Geographically, Liberia is accessible through its southern coast via the Atlantic Ocean. It has a relatively young civilian population whose capacity can be trained to function in support roles. Liberia and Liberians have and maintain a “positive view” of the United States due to a very long period of mutual co-existence and collaboration in diplomacy, government, education, culture and economic matters.

Map of Liberia, West Africa

Additionally, it is in the strategic interest of the US to ensure the maintenance of a stable Liberia and the subregion.

In their enthusiasm, Liberian lawmakers at the time asked the U. S. diplomatic mission near Monrovia to assist them to, “counter arguments against AFRICOM and two legislators who also hold seats in the ECOWAS and Pan-African Parliaments agreed to lobby their African counterparts on behalf of AFRICOM.”

The US Embassy in Monrovia further briefed and educated the relevant Liberian lawmakers on the history, structure and function of AFRICOM and provided assurances to dispel the misconception that AFRICOM would “take over USAID”.

Richard Saah Gbollie

According to the documents, former Margibi County Representative Richard Saah Gbollie told U.S. Embassy officials that the Liberian Senate would ultimately be the ones to approve any agreement to host the AFRICOM headquarters and requested that some lawmakers travel to the US for further discussions on the issue with U. S. Congressional Armed Services And Foreign Relations Committees in Washington DC.

But US Embassy officials who saw the request as an attempt to get a “free trip” to the US discouraged the idea.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who is a member of the National Security Committee in the Liberian Senate told U. S. Embassy officials at the meeting that ECOWAS Parliament members, at their recent meeting, were concerned that hosting an AFRICOM Headquarters would make Liberia a terrorists target. Senator Johnson said he countered to his colleagues at the ECOWAS Parliament that “…AFRICOM’s fundamental role is to bring stability to the continent and ultimately help Africa fight global threats itself. The security brought by AFRICOM would help foster development… (C) Senator Johnson said the Liberian Special Security Services had been advising President Sirleaf not to offer to host AFRICOM because of an increased terrorist threat, but that they were the only GOL agency that felt that way.

Johnson said he would be willing to introduce a bill in the Senate to support AFRICOM because of the stability it could bring to all of Africa. He and the other Senators present agreed that they would introduce a formal resolution echoing

President Sirleaf’s offer for Liberia to host AFRICOM when the legislature reopens in January.”

Another former Liberian lawmaker and Pan African Parliament member Representative Eugene F. Kparkar of Lofa County in the briefing disclosed thatat their last Pan-African meeting, a colleague from Botswana called AFRICOM “anti-African Union measure” and “U.S. neo-colonialism.”

Representative Kparkar reportedly said he rebutted the position of the Botswana Representative and instead advocated for hosting AFRICOM on the African continent but asked that the U.S. undertake advocacy with other African countries.

Representative Rufus Gbeoir, a lawmaker from the Administrative District of Grand Gedeh County, who was the Chairman of the House Committee on Defense at the time, suggested a visit to AFRICOM’s headquarter in Stuggart, Germany “…to personally vouch for what AFRICOM is and is not and would have a better understanding of its mission.”

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The confidential US document seen by West African Journal Magazine, and which is now in the public domain, revealed that although there was huge support, especially among lawmakers at the time, for hosting AFRICOM’s headquarters in Liberia at the time, they had to table the effort because of a tug-of-war between the Executive and Legislative branches of the Liberian government.

The U.S. Embassy, through its Ambassador in Monrovia at the time, sent a cable to the State Department in Washington DC and summarized that, “While we cannot get in the middle of this tug-of-war with the two branches, we need to recognize the complicated nature of the relationship of all these actors with checkered and sometimes violent pasts, and do our best to ensure that all parties feel part of the process. Whether or not an AFRICOM presence comes to Liberia, the legislators remain an excellent resource for us in the public relations effort on AFRICOM, both in Liberia and all over the African continent through the Pan-African Parliament and ECOWAS. They are eager and willing to help. It is in our interest to keep them involved.”

The U. S. Embassy cable which included a mention of Liberian lawmakers with violent past include former warlord turned Senator Prince Johnson of the former rebel Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), former lawmaker Richard Saah Gbollie, a military police commander of the Taylor led rebel National Patriotic Front (NPFL).

Capitol Building in Monrovia

It is unclear if the Government of Liberia made further serious overtures to the U. S. Administration afterwards, given the enormous benefits of hosting a strategic ally.

AFRICOM’s Headquarters did not make it to Liberia nor Africa and remains in Stuggart, Germany where it coordinates Education and Training, Threat Assessments, Pandemic Response, Deployment Assistance, Military Partnership and Foreign Military Sales, etc. for the 53 countries in Africa.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

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)

 

Alleged Liberian War Criminal Arrested In France

The international justice noose continues to tighten around former alleged war actors in the Liberian conflict.

France Crimes Against Humanity And Genocide Agency

Latest news from France received by West African Journal Magazine say French authorities have picked up a suspected former factional commander for investigation into his alleged atrocities committed during the West African country’s civil war in the 1990s.

French Police

According to France 24 news website, a Liberian national who now holds Dutch citizenship and identified as Kunti K, a former ULIMO commander now living in the French suburb of Bobigny, outside of Paris was arrested by authorities on Tuesday, September 4, 2018. The apprehension of the Liberian war actor was based on a complaint filed with the French government by the victims rights advocacy group Civitas Maxima which is based in Europe. The group also played a key role in raising international awareness about the prosecution case of now convicted former “Defense Minister and Chief spokesperson” of the former rebel NPFL Mr. Jucontee Thomas Woweiyu in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA.

File Photo – Liberian Rebel Fighters

According to the report, ” Kunti K., born in 1974, was detained in a joint operation by the elite GIGN police and officers from France’s OCLCH agency, which investigates war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. He arrived in France in 2016, after leaving the Netherlands and passing through Belgium, said Colonel Eric Emereaux, head of OCLCH.”

French authorites had been investigating the accused Kunti K. The ULIMO rebel faction was named in Liberia’s TRC as committing over 11,500 various forms of abuses and atrocities including forced displacement, killing rape, property destruction and torture among aother alleged criminal actions. ULIMO was allegedly responsible for committing about 7% of overall atrocities in the TRC Final Report and its leaders recommended for prosecution for human rights and international humanitarian law violations and war crimes.

https://m.soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/liberia-suspected-former-militant-commander-arrested-in-france-for-crimes-against-humanity

Radio France International Interview

No one in Liberia has been prosecuted for alleged atrocities committed during the war.

Former Rebel NPFL Commander Martina Johnson

Other Liberians who have been booked by foreign countries include a former NPFL commander, Martina Johnson. She was arrested in Belgium on September 17, 2014 and is facing investigation and prosecution for her alleged role in atrocities committed in Liberia. Agnes Reeves Taylor

She was a former personal bodyguard to former rebel leader turned former President Charles Taylor who is serving a 50 year prison sentence in the UK for his role in the Liberia civil war.

The ex-wife of former President Taylor, Agnes Reeves-Taylor, was arrested in the London on June 1, 2017 and is facing prosecution over four charges for offences she allegedly committed in Liberia.

Chuckie Taylor

The son of former President Taylor, Charles “Chuckie’ Taylor Jr., a US citizen, was prosecuted in America for his role in the war. In October, 2008, he was convicted by a U.S. Court on six charges of committing act of torture and conspiracy to commit torture in Liberia and firearms violations. He is serving a 97 year jail sentence in the U.S.

Former Warlord of the Rebel LPC Dr. George Boley

Another warlord who was residing in NY, Dr George Boley of the Liberia Peace Council (LPC) rebel faction was picked by by U.S. authorities in January 2010 on immigration violation charges and extra judicial killings in the Liberian war.

He was deported to Liberia in March 2012. A witness in Dr. Boley’s case, one Isaac Kannah of Philadelphia, who U.S. Immigration authorities say lied to federal authorities to help Dr. Boley admitted to perjury and obstruction of justice on July 26, 2018 and agreed to voluntarily leave the U.S. He was facing a 5 year jail sentence and $250,000 fine, if convicted It is unclear if Kannah, has left the U.S.

Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah”: Jabateh, a commander in the rebel ULIMO faction was prosecuted in the U.S. on immigration fraud charges, found guilty and is serving a 30 year jail sentence. He is said to have lied to U.S. immigration authorities about his past association with ULIMO rebel faction in order to gain immigration benefits.

In July, 2018, a former bodyguard to President Charles Taylor was removed from the U.S. to Liberia. The former Staten Island resident is Charles Cooper. According to U.S. Immigration authorities, “…An ICE investigation revealed that prior to coming to the United States, Cooper, while a member of the SSS and the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, was directly involved in the persecution of civilians in Liberia. Cooper was also identified as a member of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia, a rebel group founded by Charles Taylor that committed numerous human rights violations…”

Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Nobel laureate has been sued in a civil matter in a US. District Court Boston, Massachusetts by a Liberia national for her alleged role in the war.

A former Presidential guard commander during the early stages of the war in Liberia, one Colonel Moses Thomas, is facing a civil suit in Philadelphia for his alleged role in the Lutheran Church massacre by government troops under his command. Colonel Thomas has denied any involvement.

Local and international pressure is building on the Weah Administration to establish a war crimes court to prosecute those accused of committing human rights violations and atrocities during the war. But the Liberian President, at a recent meeting with opposition political parties purportedly stated that because Liberians are inter-related and since some of the accused are current “decision makers” in government, he could not implement recommendations to hold those individuals accountable nor could he take on a full frontal assault on “endemic” corruption in government. President Weah has been roundly criticized by Liberians in and out of the country for his unwillingness to implement recommendations of the country’s TRC.

Map of Liberia

A mass peaceful protest is planned by Liberians in the U.S. to greet President George Weah who is expected to attend the UN General Assembly in New York later in September. Organizers say their protest is to call for President Weah to establish a war crimes court and fight corruption in the small West African country.

Former Rebel Commander Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

A major war actor and former rebel commander now turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson who is named in TRC report as a “perpetrator” and recommended for prosecution has in recent days been threatening a return to conflict if there is an attempt to arrest him for prosecution.

Some supporters of President Weah say attempts to prosecute alleged war and economic criminals could destabilize the fragile peace while others say justice and accountability are the best remedies for reconciling Liberians.

Liberian President George M. Weah

Recently, a newly formed rights advocacy organization the International Justice Group (IJG) based in Europe and the U.S. disclosed that its investigators have uncovered individuals listed in the West African country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report  living under different disguises and names to avoid detection and apprehension by authorities for the roles in the Liberian civil war.

“Under international justice, President Weah’s clear refusal poses serious consequences for Liberia’s prosperity in many ways. From international sanction to other activities such as travel ban of officials and others in government and the country, the pressure will be brought by the International Justice Group  as well as the 76 Group and others…” the IJG said.

The group also clearly stated that, ” …under international justice, President Weah’s clear refusal poses a serious consequences for Liberia’s prosperity in many ways. From international sanctions to other activities such as travel ban of officials and others in government and the country, the pressure will be brought to bear by the International Justice Group as well as the 76 group and others…”

Flag of Liberia

Liberia was wracked by back-to-back war starting in 1979 in which nearly and estimated 250,000 people were killed and about 1 million others were internally and externally displaced by roving bands of rebels. The conflict spilled over into neighboring Sierra Leone where rebels reportedly hacked off limbs of victims and killed thousands others.

TRC Liberia

International war crime investigators say they will pursue alleged war criminals for full prosecution in and out of Liberia.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Feature: Liberia Must End Impunity and Side With Justice Now

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

Liberia is facing increased pressure to bring to book individuals who have been accused of committing serious human rights abuses and economic crimes during the country’s civil war between 1989 – 2003 in which an estimated 250,000 people were killed and another 1 million others internally and externally dislocated.

Governing administrations including that of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and incumbent President George M. Weah have literally brought the intense spotlight on themselves  and the pressure to implement recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Final Report which was submitted to the Johnson-Sirleaf’s Administration since 2009.

More disappointing is the fact that no one in Liberia has been prosecuted for their alleged criminal actions during the war.

Some supporters of the past President and now President Weah, including some of the accused, are justifying the refusal of government to do the right thing and address the “elephant in  the room” – the outstanding issue of the implementation of the TRC recommendations and accountability for violations of the human rights of civilians and non-combatants.

Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

In the eyes of the international community and those who stand on the side of justice, the culture of impunity in Liberia is pervasive and contributes to the cycle of violent depravity and criminal activity which sap the moral standing of Liberia and its people.

Also, the public face of  national governance in Liberia is dominated by the same human rights violators and system of impunity. This ridiculous dispensation tells the international community and allied forces of justice, equal rights and morality that Liberia is not yet prepared to be a part of the civilized comity of nations where the country’s past barbarity and bloodletting  are considered hindrances to full participation and respect.

Human Rights

The Webster-Merriam dictionary defines human rights as ” rights (such as freedom from unlawful imprisonment, torture, and execution) regarded as belonging fundamentally to all persons”.

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec Gen Amina Mohammed Meets President George Weah

The UN Human Rights Commission defines human rights as  “…rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.”

The undeniable expectation is that we, as human kind, are all equally entitled to our human rights without any discrimination; whether you live in Sweden, Argentina, North Korea or Liberia. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent, indivisible and God-given.

The Liberian civil war was a clear choice by some to exact and justify their brand of political, social or tribal domination on defenseless citizens through the use of arms, psychological and physical terror and violence. Some argue that the war was a justifiable armed response to threats against their survival by opposing warring elements.

But how does one justify the use of heavy combat and munitions in civilian areas or the targeting of innocent civilians who are fleeing conflict?

Why was it acceptable to attack peacekeepers for the sole purpose of driving them away because a military victory was imminent?

How does the intentional recruitment of vulnerable children through terror for combat and disposal stand up to scrutiny? When is it ok to plunder the common national resources of for personal wealth at the expense of devastatingly poor citizens?

The shameful reluctance of the Sirleaf government and delay by the new Weah Administration to stand on the side of addressing war and economic crimes in order to bring closure to the bloody chapter in national life is a reflection of the non-existence of a moral compass that is so critical to national unity and human decency.

Liberia is signatory to a host of international treaties, conventions and statutes which obligates it to comply with international law.  In fact, Liberia was a signatory to the founding of the United Nations.

Liberia Civil War Injured Victims
Liberia Civil War Injured Victims

The United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), commonly known as the San Francisco Conference, was a convention of delegates from  about 50 Allied nation countries which took place from 25 April 1945 to 26 June 1945 in San Francisco, California, the United States.

In 1963/1965, Liberia joined the UN Human Rights Council which is the successor to the original UN Commission on Human Rights.

Liberia has obligations under international law as a signatory who has ratified the Rome Statute which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) . The Court is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that officially sits in The Hague in the Netherlands and has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

The basis for the establishment of a war crimes court and the prosecution of accused individuals are firmly rooted in the Final Report of the TRC. All Liberian fighting factions, as part of the Accra Comprehensive Peace agreement, subscribed to the establishment of the TRC mechanism.

Liberia, by becoming a party to international treaties, assumes obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights.

That obligation to respect means that Liberia must refrain from blocking, interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights by its citizens and others within its borders.

Liberia must be reminded that it is failing miserably in upholding its obligations to comply with international law by its refusal to hold accountable those named in the country’s TRC Report as being responsible for serious human rights violations.

The international community and Liberians at home remain resolute in the march to justice.

Liberia TRC
TRC Liberia – Logo

The intentional delay by the Liberian government to stand on the side of justice must have consequences including the realization that their unacceptable action is tantamount to obstruction of justice.

The expectation is that moral men and women with clarity of conviction in Liberia will stand for the voiceless, the dead and their families and the physically and psychologically scarred and  follow the law and international obligations so that history will be kind to their legacies.

Liberia must act boldly to end impunity and exact justice and accountability now. It can be done!

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Electoral Body To Hear Expulsion Complaint By Former President

Liberia’s elections body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) is expected to hear a complaint filed by the Standard Bearer Emeritus of the former ruling Unity Party (UP) former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf challenging her expulsion from the party for supporting another party’s candidate.

UPDuring the 2017 Presidential and General Elections it was heavily rumored that
the then President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of the Unity Party (UP) was supporting
Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Manneh Weah.

Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf support of  the CDC was a clear
indication that she was against Presidential bid of her  former Vice President Joseph N.
Boakai who lost the 2017 elections after several weeks of court proceedings.

The Standard Bearer Emeritus Johnson-Sirleaf’s support for the presidential bid of
President George M. Weah was concluded on December 26, 2017 following  which the CDC became victorious. Later, the former ruling party, Unity Party (UP) decided in an executive meeting to expel its Standard Bearer Emeritus Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

NEC Liberia
NEC Liberia

As the result of her expulsion, legal counsels representing the former President of
Liberia and former Standard Bearer Emeritus of the Unity Party (UP) Johnson-
Sirleaf  filed a complaint which is now before the Board of Commissioners
alleging that her former Vice President and Standard Bearer of the party Joseph N.
Boakai orchestrated her expulsion from the party.

According to her legal counsels, the former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf terms the
expulsion as a violation of the party’s Constitution and the 1986 Constitution of the
Republic of Liberia.

In the 1986 constitution, Article 20(a) and (b) state that, (A)“No person shall be deprived
of life, liberty, security of the person, property, privilege or any other right except as the
outcome of a hearing judgment consistent with the provisions laid down in this
Constitution and in accordance with due process of law.

Counsels further quoted the country’s Constitution as saying that “…justice shall be done
without sale, denial or delay; and in all cases not arising in Courts not of record, under
court-martial and upon impeachment, the parties shall have the right to trial by jury
and; (b) the right of an appeal from a judgment, decree, decision or ruling of any court
or administrative board or agency, except the Supreme Court, shall be held inviolable.

The legislature shall prescribe rules and procedures for the easy, expeditious and
inexpensive filing and hearing of an appeal”.

No date has been set by the NEC for the hearing and argument into the complaint filed.

The Standard Bearer Emeritus along with other members of party executive were
expelled; those expelled included Senator Commany B. Wesseh of River Gee County
and member of the party’s Executive Committee, Medina A, Wesseh, ex-executive
member and chairperson on Publicity Committee and Patrick Worzie, Acting Secretary
General.

The complaint is expected to be heard on Tuesday, February 20, at 2 p.m. in the
Dispute Hearing Room of the Liberia’s Elections Commission.

VP Joseph Boakai

Former Vice President Joseph N. Boakai

The Unity Party executives and the former President were expelled early January
18, 2018 on grounds that they were supporting the candidacy of George M. Weah which
allegedly violated the party’s constitution during the just ended Presidential and
Representative Elections.

The Legal counsels of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf are members of the
International Law Group (LLG) alleged among other things that the standard bearer
emeritus expulsion along with other executive members of the party secretly held a
meeting at the residence of former Vice President Boakai with 31 executive members in
attendance, but only 17 voted to which they believe is prejudicial and illegal.

The party’s constitution however, provides that the National Executive Committee shall
require at least 42 votes in favor to acquire the two-thirds majority of the 65 members at
the time of the decision; inappropriately only a majority of 32 were at the former Vice
President’s house when their decision taken against the former executives and the
former President Sirleaf was made.

By Lincoln Barcon in Monrovia

West African Journal Correspondent

Liberia: Incoming National Legislature Selects New Leadership

Monrovia, 16 January, 2018 – In the West African nation of Liberia, less than a week to the inauguration of President-Elect George Weah to succeed outgoing president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, lawmakers on Monday convened the first session of the 54th Legislature where a new corp of leadership was selected.

Speaker Bhofal Chambers
Speaker Bhofal Chambers

Maryland County Rep. Bhofal Chambers emerged as Speaker unopposed while Bong County Rep. Prince K. Moye was elected deputy speaker over Grand Bassa County Rep. Hans Barchue, who previously held that position.

But the election of Sinoe County Senator Albert T. Chie as president pro-tempore astonished political analysts who voiced criticisms that both legislative and executive powers have now gone to the southeast of the small West African nation, since President-elect Weah also hails from Sinoe in the southeast.

But the new President Pro-Tempore Senator Chie of  Sinoe differs, arguing that Weah had been Senator of Montserrado County; an unamusing reality since Weah ran and won and has been Senator for Montserrado County since 2014.

Yet Weah has, at no point, ever denied the truism of his roots in Sinoe County in southeastern Liberia, Senator Chie argued.

Meanwhile, outgoing Vice President Joseph Boakai and former House Speaker Emmanuel Nuquay on Monday turned over their offices to their respective successors.

Vice President-elect Jewel Howard praised Dr. Boakai for his fine leadership as leader of the Liberian Senate during the past twelve years, and suggested retention of some of Boakai’s key staff for her start-off, saying “ we will be new to this office”.

Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Outgoing President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

In another political development, barely one week before President Sirleaf hand over power to her successor Weah, executives of the outgoing ruling Unity Party (UP) have expelled the Standard Bearer Emeritus President Johnson-Sirleaf and others including Commany Wesseh and Medina S. Wesseh for what has been described as party “disloyalty and gross violation of its constitution”.

Executives of the ruling Unity Party (UP), in a statement issued over the weekend in Monrovia, accused the expelled members of “campaigning for the CDC.”

But President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf rebuked the action as “illegal”, saying there was not even a due process prior to taking of the action.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Liberians are divided over this strange development as they countdown to a historical democratic transition never seen for more than seven decades since William VS Tubman was inaugurated on 3rd January 1944. President elect George Weah will be inaugurated on January 22nd to succeed President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

By Tepitapia Sannah in Monrovia

 

Liberia: Presidential Transition Team Set Up

Monrovia, Liberia – December 27 2017:  In order to support the smooth transition of power, the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has issued an Executive Order  No. 91 which establishes the Joint Presidential Transition Team of 2017.

An Executive Mansion release copied to West African Journal Magazine on Thursday said,Whereas the Constitution and laws of Liberia do not provide the protocol and mechanisms for the orderly transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another democratically elected President”;

Executive Order No. 91 notes –Whereas Liberia has not experienced the transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another democratically elected President for over 70 years; whereas there is a need to develop appropriate protocol and mechanisms for the smooth transfer of power from one democratically elected President to another”; and

Photo of National Coat Of Arms of LiberiaThe Executive Order furthered whereas systems and mechanisms have to be put in place for the management and coordination of the transition of power from the incumbent President to the incoming President.

“Now therefore, I, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, by virtue of the power and authority vested in me pursuant to Chapter Two, Article 5(c) of the Constitution of the Republic Liberia (1986), hereby issue this Executive Order to be called the Presidential Transition Executive Order”, the release said.

SECTION 1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this Executive Order is to establish mechanisms for the proper management and orderly transfer of executive power from this current administration to the incoming President.

Section 2. NAME AND COMPOSITION OF THE TRANSITION TEAM:

A Transition Team is hereby established to be called the Joint Presidential Transition Team (JPTT).

  1. Composition: The President of Liberia shall appoint fifteen (15) persons to the Joint Presidential Transition Team and they shall be as follows: 1) The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs; 2) The Minister of Justice; 3) The Minister of Foreign Affairs; 4) The Minister of Finance and Development Planning; 5) The Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia; 6) The Minister of Internal Affairs; 7) The Minister of National Defense; and 8) the Director of the Executive Protective Service; 9) The Minister of Information, Culture & Tourism; and others members to be appointed at the discretion of the incumbent President.
  2. The Director General of the Cabinet shall be the Secretary of the JPTT.
  3. The President-Elect shall appoint fifteen (15) persons to the JPTT, all of whom must be Liberian citizens. A sitting member of the Cabinet may be preferred. The President-Elect shall name his/her appointees to the JPTT not later than twenty-four (24) hours after the declaration of the President-Elect by the National Elections Commission (NEC).
  4. The President and the President-Elect shall be co-chairpersons of the JPTT. They may designate any member of the JPTT to act as a Co-Chairperson in their absence.
  5. Decisions of the JPTT shall be made by consensus and any disagreement shall be resolved by the President and President-Elect, acting jointly.

SECTION 3. DURATION:

The JPTT shall commence its functions and exercise the powers and authority granted by this Executive Order no later than forty-eight hours after the declaration of the President-Elect by the NEC. It shall cease to function after the publication of its Final Report which shall be no later than January 31, 2018.

SECTION 4. FUNCTIONS AND POWERS OF THE JPTT:

The following shall be the functions and powers of the JPTT:

  1. Formulate guidelines and policies to govern the transition;
  2. Ensure the provision of regular national security briefing for the President-Elect during the period commencing immediately upon the constitution of the JPTT by the incumbent President and the President-Elect;
  3. Ensure that every lawful step is taken to promote the orderly transition from the incumbent President to the President-Elect;
  4. Liaise with all government agencies to ensure the effective provision of services and facilities in pursuance of this Executive Order;

SECTION 5.MEETINGS AND REPORT OF THE JPTT

  1. The President shall call the first meeting of the JPTT within forty-eight (48) hours after the declaration of the President elect by the NEC.
  2. Every meeting of the JPTT, after its first meeting shall be convened by the President and the President-elect jointly, or their designees.

Section 6. FUNDING AND SUPPORT OF THE JOINT PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION TEAM:

  1. Immediately upon constitution of the JPTT, the President shall authorize the reallocation of resources and assets to support its operations and the provisions contained herein.
  2. The appointees of the President to the JPTT, who are executive of the Liberian Government and receiving salaries and emoluments up to the end of the mandate of the JPTT, shall not be entitled to any additional compensation for their services.
  3. The appointees of the President and President-Elect to the JPTT, who are not public servants, shall be paid honorarium as shall be decided by the President and President-Elect.

SECTION 7. SERVICES TO BE PROVIDED TO THE PRESIDENT-ELECT AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT

The JPTT shall ensure that services are provided to the President-Elect and Vice President-Elect, which shall include office facilities, logistics, transportation, travel allowances, communication services, daily briefing and other services and benefits.

SECTION 8.SURRENDER OF ASSETS ANDSERVICES TO BE PROVIDED TO THE INCUMBENT PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT

The incumbent President and the Vice President shall vacate their official offices and official residences on or before Inauguration Day. Notwithstanding this provision, the JPTT shall ensure that services are provided to them which shall include, but not limited to, two vehicles and chauffeur each, VIP Protection (EPS and Police Services), logistics, allowances, other benefits and services to be determined by the JPTT.

SECTION 9. NON-TENURED PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTEES

Non-tenured presidential appointees shall be presumed to have resigned as of the date of inauguration. Notwithstanding, such officials shall continue to function until their successors have been nominated, confirmed, appointed and commissioned. This Executive Order shall take immediate effect.

Final results of the run-off elections are expected to he announced on December 29, according to the country’s electoral body. Preliminary results announced on Thursday indicate that Senator George Weah is on track to become the next President of Liberia.

West African Journal Magazine