Liberia, Ghana, EU-NSA Project Share Perspectives

he European Union Non-State Actors (EU-NSA) Project teams in Ghana and Liberia on June 3, 2019 met and shared perspectives on project implementation with emphasis on progress, lessons learned and way forward in the two countries.

Meeting with the EU Delegation to Liberia
Meeting with the EU Delegation to Liberia

According to our correspondent, the meeting was held in Monrovia when the Ghanaian team comprising of representatives from Nature and Development Foundation (NDF) and Tropenbos International Ghana paid a week working visit to its Liberian counterpart, Volunteers To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIEDA).

The EU-NSA project, “Strengthening the capacity of non-state actors (NSA) to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa”, is being implemented since 2016 in Liberia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, with funding support from the European Union.

The overarching goal of the Ghanaian team visit, according the head of team, was to share with their Liberian counterparts the establishment of an independent forest monitoring framework in Ghana using a “real time” online portal that tracks issues from the forest with their Liberian counterparts, and as well as take notes on the establishment of “Forest Hour”, a radio advocacy program launched by the Liberian EU NSA team for use by the Liberian CSOs.  The Ghanaian team also wanted to have knowledge on progress made by Liberia in the establishment and management of community forests.

During the meeting, the Liberian team hailed their Ghanaian counterparts for developing a proactive internet platform use in forest monitoring, and promised to replicate same for Liberia’s forest sector monitoring. The team was also acknowledged to have taken lead on national level engagements ahead of Liberia.

The Ghanaian team praised their Liberian counterparts for taking the lead on advocacy and community level engagements, and also promised to replicate same in Ghana, especially the ‘forest hour’.

While in Monrovia, the team met and interacted with members of the NGO Coalition, Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor (CS-IFM), the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC), and National Union of Community Forest Management Body (NUCFMB) as well as the Liberia Timber Association (LibTA).

As part of their visit, the Ghanaian team appeared on the Forest Hour, a radio advocacy platform to share their perspectives on forest governance as it relates to process leading to acquiring forest contract, compliance to legal agreements by contract holders, performance of forest contract and benefit sharing mechanisms, penalty for violations of forest laws and other legal agreements, level of community involvement in managing forest contracts and IFM to ensure accountability and transparency in forest contract management, etc.

The team also met and briefed the EU Delegation to Liberia on progress made thus far in Ghana, and also shared differences and similarities between the two countries.

In response, the EU-Delegation focal person on natural resource governance, David Palacios urged the two teams to see collaboration as a major vehicle for success on the EU-NSA project.

Paul Kanneh Reporting From Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia & France Collaborate To Investigate Alleged War Criminal, Civitas Maxima Says

Geneva – June 12, 2019: In spring 2019, the French and Liberian authorities collaborated on a fact-finding mission relating to proceedings that were commenced in France following the arrest, in September 2018, of Kunti K. for acts committed during the First Civil War in Liberia between 1989 and 1996. This mission required significant logistical resources and took place in Lofa County in northwestern Liberia.

Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia - File Photo
Ex Liberian Warlord Alhaji Kromah and some fighters of the disbanded ULIMO-K Militia – File Photo

Civitas Maxima, in a press statement issued Wednesday in Geneva say, this was the first time since the end of the Second Civil War in 2003 that Liberian authorities have proceeded, along with foreign authorities, to undertake crime scene reconstructions relating to war-time crimes. These reconstructions took place in the presence of the French prosecuting authorities, investigating judge, defense lawyers, and the civil parties. Throughout this one-week mission, the contribution of the Liberian authorities was exemplary.

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project, in its statement said, it  acknowledges the quality of the work undertaken by both French and Liberian authorities and congratulate them for taking this step in fulfilling their international obligations. This, Civitas Maxima and GJRP believe, is an important development in the fight against impunity for crimes that were committed in Liberia during the two Liberian Civil Wars.

Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project
Civitas Maxima and Global Justice & Research Project

Civitas Maxima and the Global Justice and Research Project have been collaborating since 2012, and together represent hundreds of victims of the two Civil Wars which killed more than 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.

Civitas Maxima, represented by the lawyer Simon Foreman, stands alongside Liberian victims and takes part as a civil party in the proceedings against Kunti K. in Paris, the statement concluded.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

No one has faced prosecution in Liberia for human rights and atrocities committed during the country’s devastating civil wars in the 1990s.

International and local rights organizations are coordinating efforts to ensure that recommendations of Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which include the establishment of a war crimes court are established.

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

Sime Darby To Decide On Its Future Operations In Liberia

Monrovia, Liberia – June 3, 2019: In a first admission of business losses, the world biggest oil palm producer by acreage Sime Darby of Malaysia says its net profit fell by about 70% compared to the first quarter of 2018.

 

Malaysia Headquarters of Sime Darby Plantation

According to the company’s Managing Director Mohd Bakke Salleh, Sime Darby is expected to reach a decision by year’s end on its future operations in the West African country of Liberia. The company has a 63 year concession agreement in the country to develop about 220,000 hectares of land for palm oil and rubber plantations in the administrative districts of Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu, Bomi and Bong Counties. Sime Darby says it already farming plantations in Grand Cape Mount,. Bomi and Lofa Counties.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map

Liberia will need to maintain the company’s investment, jobs and tax revenues to bolster its struggling economy at a critical time when other major investors including Firestone Rubber and the Turkish MNG Gold Mining Company have slashed jobs to cope to slumping global prices for their commodities.

Sime Darby’s Managing Director who did not disclose names, admitted that there have been ”a number of inquiries about our business in Liberia”. There have been speculations in recent months of that Sime Darby was contemplating leaving Liberia because of heavy business losses. There is no word from the Liberian Government on this latest development.

Economic Affairs Correspondent

West African Journal Magazine

 

Governor Jackson Paye Distances Himself From BWI Board’s Decision To Suspend Principal

– Says Resolution Shrouded In “Secrecy”

(Monrovia, May 24, 2019) A former Board Chairman and member of the Board of Governors of Booker Washington Institute (BWI), Jackson J. Paye has distanced himself from a decision to suspend the Principal of the nation’s premiere vocational and technical institute Mr. Harry Fomba Tarnue.

Booker Washington Institute
Booker Washington Institute

He is terming the decision as “preconceived, non-transparent, and strong-arm tactics” by some members of the Board.
It can be recalled that, the Board through a resolution on Friday May 17, 2019 suspended and subsequently replaced Mr. Tarnue with one James W. Walker as Officer-In-Charge of the school.
Our Correspondent reports that suspended Principal Mr. Tarnue has termed his suspension as “preconceived and political witch-hunt” by the Board.
However, following the suspension, a board member and Former Public Works Minister Jackson Paye disassociated himself from the Board’s decision, describing it as an act of injustice against the suspended principal. “In the instant case, it is my opinion, that the Board of Governors, BWI, did not  do justice in the  manner it had  approached the suspension of Principal Tarnue,” he said.
According to him, though his stance may not make a difference, but it would be good for the public to know where he stands as a member of the Board, noting, his interest in his Alma Mater is second to none.

He explained that he was constrained to publically speak out because
of the many telephone, and email queries he has received from friends and fellow alumni both home and abroad about the Board’s decision.
“I am constrained to make my position public due to the many calls and email quires I received since the decision was announced on Friday, May 17, 2019”, he emphasized.
The former Nimba County Superintendent reiterated that while his dissenting view may not matter nor reverse the course of action taken, it will dispel the notion that the decision to suspend the Principal was unanimous as was reported in the local media.
Mr. Paye further said that the Resolution, expressing Vote of No Confidence” in the Principal was shrouded in secrecy, and circulated among select members of the Board and kept away from Statutory Members including him as the Immediate Past Chairman and a prominent alumnus.

He stated that his name was attached to the Resolution without his signature, and that some of the issues raised in the Resolution as ground for the Principal’s removal were not carefully adjudicated by the Board in keeping with the principle of due process.
This, he said, creates doubts in many minds that the suspension was preconceived; adding, since the re-constitution of the Board of Governors by President George Manneh Weah, the Chairman, John S. Youboty has consistently violated the Charter of the Institute; specifically Article III, Sections 4 and 5 by allowing a non-proxy in keeping with the Charter, to continue to act as such.

In a press statement released in Monrovia on May 21, 2019, Mr. Paye said, he has, on
numerous occasions raised the constant violation of the institute’s chapter in the presence of the Member Ex-Officio, the Minister of Education.
According to him the, the Powers and Duties of the Board, and those of the Principal are clearly spelt out in Articles IV and V of the Charter with the Chair Ex-Officio (President of the Republic)
and Member Ex-Officio (Minister of Education) playing overarching roles.
Therefore, he said, while it is the prerogative of the President of Liberia and the Minister of Education to make national decisions including the hiring and firing of individuals in the government sector, this privilege can be better utilized with advice from the Board of Governors of BWI.

BWI is one of Liberia’s premier vocational and technical training institutes that has produced some of the finest professionals in engineering, architecture, agriculture, politics, and other fields that have contributed significantly to the overall development of the country.

By Paul M. Kanneh In Monrovia

West African Journal Magazine