Friday, September 11, 2009

United Nations News

Source: UNMIL News

Vietnam has called on every party in Liberia to work together to promote national reconciliation and hold constructive talks to find a long-term solution to its internal conflicts. During a United Nations Security Council debate on the situation in Liberia and the operations of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on September 9, Ambassador Bui The Giang, Vietnam’s permanent deputy representative at the UN, praised Liberia’s quest for peace, its economic stability and modernization, improvements in social welfare and its solutions to humanitarian issues. The Vietnamese official reaffirmed his support for the Liberian Government’s efforts to reduce poverty, increase security, eliminate its proliferation of weapons and reintegrate demobilized soldiers back to the community. He highlighted the necessity to step up moves between Liberia and its neighbors to counter drug-trafficking and organized crime.

Benin, Liberia to Strengthen Defense, Economic Cooperation
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) – Liberia and Benin signed four agreements to strengthen economic and defense ties, the presidents of the two African nations said. The four pacts were signed yesterday by Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her Beninese counterpart Thomas Boni Yayi at a press briefing in Benin’s main city, Cotonou, during Johnson-Sirleaf’s two-day visit to the country. Yayi visited Liberia two years ago when the two presidents pledged to strengthen scientific, economic and technical cooperation.

Taylor Did Not Order The Assassination Of RUF Commander Sam Bockarie, He Says
Sep 11, 2009 ( Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Charles Taylor today said he did not order the the assassination of one of Sierra Leone's top rebel commanders during the country's civil war, and dismissed as "lies" allegations that he knew that Sierra Leonean rebels were recruiting fighters in Liberia in areas controlled by Mr. Taylor's own fighting force. In a day of testimony focused on refuting prosecution witness testimony against him, Mr. Taylor told the Special Court for Sierra Leone "I did not order the killing of Sam Bockarie." Mr. Taylor was responding to the testimony of the 37th Prosecution Witness, a Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insider and mining commander who testified under protective measures, using the pseudonym TFI-367. In his testimony from August 20 to September 1 2008, Witness TFI-367 explained that a relative of Sam Bockarie's wife had told him that Mr. Taylor ordered the assassination of the RUF commander and his entire family because Mr. Taylor was concerned that Mr. Bockarie knew too much about his involvement with the RUF.

International Clips on West Africa
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone UN Mission Office burgled

The Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York was broken into last night by unknown person(s) and cash and equipment totaling several thousands of dollars stolen. The discovery was made at 8:45 am today Thursday 10th September, when the first set of workers arrived for the routine work at the 245 East 49th Street Mission in New York. The Receptionist and Office Manager had both commuted on the same train from Mount Vernon but split up on the train before their point of disembarkation. On her arrival at the office, the Receptionist said she met the gate and the main entrance door unlocked, and thought that perhaps the manager or, one of the officers may have reported for work earlier as they were busy making preparations for the President and his delegation’s arrival for the United Nations General Assembly’s 64th Session scheduled to be convened next week.

Survivors blame captain for S.Leone boat tragedy
TOMBO, Sierra Leone AFP— The captain of a ferry that sank off Sierra Leone leaving more than 200 people feared drowned ignored warnings that it was about to capsize, survivors said Friday. A senior police officer meanwhile said the main cause of the disaster appeared to be overloading. Police said only 38 people were known to have survived after the ferry, the Teh Teh, overturned and sank in just a few minutes after a storm suddenly blew up on Tuesday night. Estimates of the numbers on board ranged from 268 to more than 300. Witnesses and officials said 37 bodies had been brought out or washed ashore.
Cote D’ivoire
Compaore to visit Cote d'Ivoire next Tuesday

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire - Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore will pay an official visit to Cote d'Ivoire 15-18 September, according to a statement issued by the Ivorian presidency. According to the statement, which was read on the national television by the general secretary of the government, Tyéoulou Félix, the visit of the Facilitator of the inter-Ivorian dialogue will begin in the country's political capital, Yamoussoukro, where the first joint Council of Ministers of the two countries would be held.

Local Media – Newspaper
National Elections Commission Releases By-election Timetable
(The Inquirer, The News, The Informer, Daily Observer, New Vision, Heritage, National Chronicle)

· The National Elections Commission (NEC) has released the timetable for the pending Senatorial by-election in Montserrado County.
· Addressing a news conference in Monrovia, NEC Chairman James Fromoyan said the by-election will be held on November 10 and put the cost of the election at US$1.2 million.
· Chairman Fromoyan said nomination of candidates would run from September 12 to 26 while the final list of qualified candidates would be published on October 14, 2009.
· Montserrado County has a total of 496,508 registered voters throughout its 14 electoral districts.

“H1N1 virus” Suspected in Liberia
(The Informer, National Chronicle)

· The Liberian Government has reported the first case of Swine flu or Influenza A, H1N1, in the country.
· Health Minister Walter Gwenigale said an expatriate with the Buchanan Renewable Energies in Grand Bassa County is suspected to have brought the virus into the country.
· Minister Gwenigale said the British national who was treated in London of the virus and returned to Liberia in August 2009 but is still found to be infested, is reported to have spread the virus to seven additional staff of the company.
· The Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) are sending a team to Buchanan Friday to carryout awareness exercise and treat anyone found with the symptoms.

UN Envoy Briefs Security Council on Progress, Challenges in Liberia
(Public Agenda, The Analyst, New Vision, The Informer, The Inquirer)

· The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), Ms. Ellen Margrethe Løj has briefed to the United Nations Security Council on activities of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) over the last six months.
· In her briefing on the Secretary-General’s 19th Progress Report on Liberia, SRSG Løj drew the Council’s attention to the Partners’ Forum and highlighted the critical work that is still needed in the Rule of Law sector.
· The UN Envoy also outlined the latest proposals for Phase 3 of UNMIL’s drawdown, as recommended by the Technical Assessment Mission.
· Members of the Security Council expressed support for the work of UNMIL and are engaged in negotiations on the renewal of UNMIL`s mandate before the end of September.
· Meanwhile, a Liberian Government delegation led by Justice Minister Christiana Tah has participated in a Justice and Security Sector Partners’ Forum.
· The security delegation presented details of the Ministry of Justice, LNP, Bureau of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization strategic plans at the Forum.

State Transfers alleged Pakistani Human Traffickers Secretly
(Daily Observer, New Democrat, The Parrot)

· [SIC]Latest reports say the State has secretly removed from the Monrovia Central Prison six alleged Pakistani human traffickers.
· In an interview, the Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration, Colonel Chris Massaquoi confirmed the transfer of the suspects from the South Beach prison to the custody of the National Security Agency (NSA).

GAC to Investigate Domestic Claims…Secretariat Constituted
(The News, Public Agenda)

· The General Auditing Commission (GAC) has reconstituted the Secretariat of the Permanent Claims which is to receive and investigate all claims again the Republic of Liberia.
· A GAC release said the commission has put in place a vigorous and efficient model and system of control to shortly begin to receive all claims with all supporting documents.
· The Commission will independently determine the validity and the amount of all claims against the country to ensure that claimants are legitimate to receive government payment.

Nation-Wide Address System Launched
(The News, The Analyst)

· The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications have launched a nation-wide address project aimed at providing the necessary framework that would lead to the introduction of a national address system. The project valued at US$1.5 million is expected to last for two years.

Former President Taylor Denies Ordering The Assassination Of RUF Commander
(Liberian Express, The News, Daily Observer, The Analyst, Heritage))

· Former President Charles Taylor said he did not order the assassination of one of Sierra Leone's top rebel commanders during the country's civil war
· Mr. Taylor dismissed as "lies" allegations that he knew that Sierra Leonean rebels were recruiting fighters in Liberia in areas controlled by Mr. Taylor's own fighting force.
· He was responding to the testimony of the 37th Prosecution Witness, a Revolutionary United Front (RUF) insider and mining commander who testified under protective measures using the pseudonym TFI-367.

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
“H1N1 virus” Suspected in Liberia
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

State Transfers alleged Pakistani Human Traffickers Secretly

National Elections Commission Releases By-election Timetable
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., Truth F.M. and ELBC)

Legislature to Submit Threshold bill to President Sirleaf
· The Senate has instructed its Executive Committee to liaise with the Lower House to submit the “controversial” threshold bill to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
· The Senate took the decision Thursday after it endorsed a letter from the Lower House informing it of the concurrence vote on the threshold bill.
· Earlier, confusion erupted in the Senate as three Senators attempted to prevent the submission of the bill to President Sirleaf.
· But majority members of the Senate rejected the call by the three Senators and voted to submit the threshold bill to President Sirleaf for possible approval.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Government to Enforce Property Tax Collection
· The Ministries of Justice and Finance have reportedly launched a new effort to collect government taxes from real estate property owners indebted for more than 3 years.
· Government Senior Tax Prosecutor said the indebted property owners have been notified and given a 21-day period to settle their arrears.
· Counsellor Aaron Kparkillin said the failure of property owners to pay their taxes violates the tax laws and is an attempt to strangulate government.
· Counsellor Kparkillin warned that properties of people who fail to comply within the given period would be confiscated.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Health Ministry Launches Human Resource Census
· The Health Ministry has reportedly launched a human resource census for health workers across the Country sponsored at the cost of over US$90,000.00 by the World Bank.
· According to Assistant Health Minister for Planning, Kpangbala Sengbe, the census seeks to identify every health worker in the country.
· Minister Sengbe said the census result would also help in the development of good policies to improve the health care delivery system.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Government Orders a Halt to Publication of Unregistered Newspapers
· Government has reportedly mandated all printing presses in the country not to print any newspaper that is not registered.
· Information Minister Laurence Bropleh said there are laws on the books that prohibit the printing of newspapers not registered with Government.
· Minister Bropleh said the move is not intended to muscle the press but to ensure regularities are upheld.
· He said the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) was aware of the regulation and does not think the Union would oppose it.