Thursday, November 19, 2009

United Nations News

Source: UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary 18 November 2009

Nov 18, 2009 ( Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- Prosecutors spent much of today's cross-examination of former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, reading out statements by other West African leaders condemning Mr. Taylor Liberian rebel group for crimes committed against Liberians and members of international humanitarian agencies, including American Catholic nuns and peacekeepers during his country's civil war. In a 1992 statement read by lead prosecutor, Brenda Hollis, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) leaders condemned Mr. Taylor's rebel group (the National Patriotic Front of Liberia - NPFL) for their actions against West African peacekeepers serving in Liberia under the banner ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG). The ECOWAS leaders had "warned all warring factions against the commission of war crimes" in Liberia. The statement alluded to the killing of civilians, peacekeepers and American Catholic nuns during "Operation Octopus," an operation launched by Mr. Taylor's NPFL on the Liberian capital Monrovia in October 1992.
International Clips on West Africa
Uncertainty Over Toxic Chemicals in Conakry
Dakar, Nov 18, 2009 (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX) -- The recent upheaval in Guinea has thrown into question the status of toxic chemicals discovered earlier this year at several sites throughout the capital Conakry, according to UN experts. The products, which can be used to make or refine narcotics, were found in buildings near people's homes; they are inflammable and pose a public health threat. Instability following a military crackdown on demonstrators has blocked UN drug and crime experts from visiting the sites since August. "Beyond the fact that these are products that can be used for making narcotics, they are substances that have a very high toxicity level for the population," Alexandre Schmidt, West Africa head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told journalists in the Senegalese capital Dakar on 16 November. "So there is a public health problem there.

Cote d'IvoireCĂ´te d'Ivoire: Decree signed approving army ranks of former rebels Source: Missionary International Service News Agency (MISNA) Date: 18 Nov 2009-Ivory Coast’s President Laurent Gbagbo signed a decree assigning military ranks to former rebels of the New Forces who fought against the government in a 2002 failed coup. “This concern, said Defence Minister Michel Amani N'Guessan, adding that the move was “a big step towards peace”. Gbagbo signed the decree in Mankono, north-west of the capital, on the first day of a visit to the Worodougou region, controlled by the New Forces since 2002. The President was accompanied on the visit by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, former rebel leader, and the military chief of general staff, General Philippe Mangou. The assignment of ranks is based on a principle of “harmonizing” the former fighters with those of the loyalist army, under a peace accord signed last December in Ouagadougou (‘Ouga IV’) that foresees the fusion of the forces into an 8,000-strong Integrated Central Command (CCI).
Sierra Leone

UK's Blair encourages investment in Sierra Leone
Source: English General News Date: November 18, 2009 LONDON_ Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Wednesday that Sierra Leone has recovered from its brutal civil war and now offers opportunities in agriculture and tourism, with millions of hectares of arable land and kilometers of untouched beaches. Blair said Sierra Leone's president, Ernest Bai Koroma, has reduced corruption and made the country accessible to foreign investors. Koroma fired one of his ministers for corruption earlier this month and has promised to make the government more transparent. "Progress (in Sierra Leone) is no longer measured by an absence of conflict," Blair said. He said Sierra Leone is improving the reputation and efficiency of its mining industries and becoming known as a country that promotes religious tolerance between its Christian and Muslim populations. Blair was speaking at a London conference aimed at encouraging investment in the west African country.
Local Media – Newspaper
Professor Tarpeh Dismisses Media Report of Alliance with UP Run-off
(The News, The Inquirer, Heritage, The Analyst and Public Agenda)

· The Alliance for Peace and Democracy (APD) candidate in the first round of Montserrado Senatorial by-election, Professor Wilson Tarpeh has dismissed claims that he had endorsed the Unity Party’s candidate, Clemenceau Urey for the run-off.
· There have been media speculations that Professor Tarpeh and Independent candidate, Alhaji Kromah had pledged their support to the Unity Party.
· A group claiming to be supporters of some political parties including the Alliance for Peace and Democracy had endorsed the candidacy of Mr. Urey for the run-off.
· Mr. Tarpeh in a statement issued in Monrovia said the so-called allegiance was the work of unscrupulous individuals exploiting money and other economic gains under the pretext of supporting contending parties in the by-election run-off.
· Observers say the latest denial by Mr. Tarpeh is a blow to the ruling party which has been frantically trying to woo candidates that accumulated considerable votes during the first round of the by-election.
· The University Professor came in third place with 16.3 percent of the total votes cast.

UNFPA Launches State Of The World Population
(The News)

· The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today launched a report on the State of the World Population under the theme “Facing a Changing World: Women, Population and Climate.”
· Vice President Joseph Boakai launched the report which highlighted the human angle of climate change by exploring the connections between population dynamics and climate change.

Election Observers Disappointed In NEC…Cautions NEC Ahead of Runoff
(The News, Heritage, The Analyst)

· The Liberia Civil Society Election Observer Coalition has expressed disappointment over what it termed as the poor coordination by the National Elections Commission (NEC) that caused general irregularities across the process.
· In a release issued in Monrovia Tuesday, the group said as a consequence of the level of confusion during the first round of the by-election some voters did not exercise their franchise.
· The election monitoring group said while this level of disorganization caused much disappointment and disillusionment, the coalition however believes that such problems were not sufficient to constitute fraud, least to disqualify the process.
· The coalition especially regrets the quite low turnout for the elections and further challenged candidates and the NEC to exert all efforts to convince more voters to participate in the remainder of the process.

Opposition Politician Wants Rerun Of Senatorial By-election
(New Democrat, Liberia Journal, Public Agenda)

· Opposition Politician Togba-Nah Tipoteh has called for a re-run of the November 10 Montserrado County Senatorial by-election.
· According to Dr. Tipoteh, a re-run was necessary because the by-election was not credible and did not meet the basic standards acceptable to the Liberian people.
· The opposition politician has called on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to reconstitute the National Elections Commission (NEC) saying all elections including 2011 can only be successful under a reconstituted NEC supervised by the international community.
· Meanwhile, though full scale campaign has begun for the run-off, the National Students Intellectual Council (NASICOL) has detected a discrepancy in the final results of the first round of the Montserrado Senatorial by-election.
· The student group claimed the total votes given in the official result were less than the total valid and invalid votes announced by the commission. They claimed the discrepancy amount to 355 votes.

Former President Taylor Admits CIA Links
(The News, New Democrat, Heritage, Daily Observer, and Liberian Express)

· After the cross-examination of former President Charles Taylor got off to a stumble last week over the use of “new evidence”, he admitted to sharing information with the United States Central Intelligence Agency which he accused of plotting his downfall.
· Mr. Taylor who denied suggestions that he was a CIA agent however said his defunct rebel group the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) exchanged information wit the CIA and the collaboration and exchange continued into his presidency.
· The former Liberian President is standing trial in The Hague for alleged supporting the former Sierra Leonean rebel Revolutionary United Front during that country’s civil war.

Police Boss Against Low Salary For Police…Wants Salary Augmented To US$300
(The Analyst)

· Police Inspector General Marc Amblard wants an increment in the salaries of police officers saying it would help prevent bribe taking and corruption in the force.
· The minimum take home salary for officers is US$90 per month but the Police Boss wants the amount augmented to US$300.
· There has been mounting public outcry and criticism of the police for not performing well.
· Critics say the failure of the police to perform their duty well has resulted into many communities in and around the city serving as breeding grounds for crimes and other criminal related activities.

New Citizen’s Identification Card Underway
(The Inquirer)
· The Ministry of Internal Affairs in collaboration with Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) and partners have held series of discussions aimed at establishing a National Registry Framework (NRF).
· The NRF is part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ 90-day deliverables in the poverty reduction strategy.
· As part of the strategy, the Ministry would design and endorse a policy framework and standard operating procedures for a National Biometric Identification System.

Ex-LURD Leader Sekou Damante Conneh Arrives
(The Inquirer, Liberia Journal)

· Reports say the ex-leader of the disbanded LURD rebel movement Sekou Damante Conneh is in the country.
· Mr. Conneh reportedly arrived in Monrovia Tuesday through the Liberia-Sierra Leone border.
· Earlier this year he was detained in Conakry, Guinea but was later released by the military junta.

Local Media – Star Radio (culled from website today at 09:00 am)
Government Announces U.S. $ 1.6 Billion Agro Investment
· The Liberian Government has announced a US$1.6 billion investment agreement with a leading Indonesian Agro Company, the Golden Agro Resources.
· The Chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC) Richard Tolbert said the agreement when finalized, would enable the company investment in the oil palm industry of the country.
· According to Mr. Tolbert, the investment by the company would be carried out in Southeastern Liberia and would create thousands of jobs for Liberians.
· He said the company intends to build about 20 oil mills and a refinery that would purify the oil.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

UNFPA Launches State Of The World Population

New Citizen’s Identification Card Underway
(Also reported on Truth FM, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Ex-LURD Leader Sekou Damante Conneh Arrives
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Togba-Nah Tipoteh Wants Rerun Of Senatorial By-election
(Also reported on Truth FM, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Children Parliament Against Delay In “Angel’s” Murder Case
· The Liberian Children Parliament says it is worried about the continuous delay in the trial of the Angel Togba’s murder case.
· The Speaker of the Parliament Stephen Kalimu described the delay as a total violation of the Liberian Constitution which calls for speedy trial of persons accused of committing a crime.
(Also reported on Radio Veritas, Sky F.M., and ELBC)

Radio Veritas (News monitored today at 09:45 am)
NEC Begins Civic And Voter Education Campaign
· The National Elections Commission (NEC) has begun a vigorous civic and voter education campaign for election workers.
· The campaign is in preparation for the run-off senatorial by-election for Montserrado County slated for Tuesday, November 24.
· Meanwhile, the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC) has pleaded with Liberians mainly registered voters to remain calm and peaceful during the run-off by-election.

Truth FM (News monitored today at 10:00 am)
Strange Disease Hits Jorquelleh District, Bong County
· Reports from Bong County speak of an outbreak of a strange disease affecting residents of Jorquelleh District.
· According to reports the disease causes sore to develop on the foot of an individual which later becomes complicated.
· Eyewitnesses say over 200 persons have been affected so far.

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