Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, today (Monday 22nd February 2010) started a two-day visit to Liberia in order to launch a new project between his Africa Governance Initiative and President Johnson-Sirleaf’s administration The project which follows a request from President Johnson-Sirleaf will focus on the Ministry of State and will see a small team from the Initiative, under Mr Blair’s guidance, working side-by-side with counterparts in the Liberian government with the aim to build the capacity at the centre of the Liberian administration to deliver for its people. Mr Blair shares President Johnson-Sirleaf’s ambition to “Lift Liberia” and transform the country as envisioned in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy. During the visit, his first to Liberia, Tony Blair will take a part in a series of one-on-one meetings with the President. He will express his strong admiration for the President’s leadership and the progress being made. Tony Blair said: “President Johnson-Sirleaf is rightly regarded as one of Africa’s greatest leaders - that is why I am so pleased to be working with her.
International Clips on West Africa
Guinea leader Jean-Marie Dore pleads for election funds
Guinea urgently needs funds to be ready for an election due later this year, the prime minister has told the BBC. "We need to have money... [but] we will try to do our best to be ready," said Jean-Marie Dore. Election officials announced on Sunday that a vote would be held on 27 June - part of a deal brokered to secure a return to civilian rule. The military took over the country in December
2008, following the death of long-time leader Lansana Conte. Junta leader Capt Moussa Dadis Camara was shot and wounded in December, prompting crisis talks during which the military agreed to organise an election within six months. But Mr Dore told the BBC's Network Africa that the country had no funds for election materials or to conduct a census of Guineans living abroad. He said the government was working with international organisations such as the European Union, United Nations and regional body Ecowas.
"We are looking forward together the best way to organise fair elections," he said.
Sierra Leone: veteran war crimes lawyer tapped as top prosecutor UN-backed court
22 February 2010 - A United States attorney, who leads the prosecution against former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as the new Prosecutor of the United Nations-backed tribunal trying the worst acts committed during the decade-long brutal civil war in Sierra Leone. Since 2007, Brenda Joyce Hollis has served as a principal trial attorney in the Office of the Prosecutor in the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL), where she heads up the legal team prosecuting Mr. Taylor, who is under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prior to that, she was an expert legal consultant on international law and criminal procedure, training judges, prosecutors and investigators at courts and international tribunals in Indonesia, Iraq and Cambodia. Ms. Hollis has helped victims of international crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Colombia prepare submissions requesting investigations by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
Regional Mediator Holds Crisis Talks in Ivory Coast
Burkinabe President Blaise Compaore is in Ivory Coast for talks with government and opposition leaders about ways to resolve the country's political crisis. President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the government and electoral commission weeks before expected presidential elections. President Compaore is in Abidjan trying to resolve what he says is the crucial issue of delaying the presidential vote - the dissolution of the Ivory Coast electoral commission. President Compaore says the appointment of an Independent Electoral Commission is essential to keep the process going forward. President Compaore met Sunday with the two leading opposition candidates for president, former president Henri Konan Bedie and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. Burkinabe Foreign Minister Alain Yoda read their joint communiqué.
Local Media - Newspaper
Former British Prime Minster is in the Country for a Two-Day Visit
(Daily Observer, The Inquirer, Public Agenda and New Republic)
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is in the country on a two-day visit.
While in Liberia, Mr. Blair will hold bilateral talks with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Vice President Joseph Boakai, Speaker Alex Tyler and the presiding officer of the Senate.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, Mr. Blair will use his visit to launch a new project between his Africa Governance Initiative and the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s administration.
The former British Prime Minister will also hold talks with the Ministers of Public Works, Agriculture, Planning and Economic Affairs among others.
Liberia, Ghana Deepens Cooperation
(Daily Observer, The News, New Republic and Liberian Express)
Liberia and Ghana have called for the deepening of cooperation between the two countries in the areas of trade, industry, investment, agriculture and the security sector. The decision followed discussions in Accra Saturday between Presidents Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and John Evans Atta Mills, during a two-day State Visit to Ghana.
A Joint Communiqué issued at the end of the visit said the countries will reactivate the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation.
According to an Executive Mansion release, the two Presidents welcomed the holding of the Ghana-Liberia Trade and Investment Forum, and urged business communities in both countries to promote meaningful investment and private sector participation in the region’s economic development.
The two leaders acknowledged the need to entrench the culture of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and the respect for human rights.
UN Envoy Lauds Ghana’s Move to Place Female Troops in Forward Positions
(Public Agenda and The Analyst)
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Liberia, Ellen Margrethe Løj, has praised the Republic of Ghana for deploying in the country the first group of female soldiers to forward positions in peacekeeping.
SRSG Løj described the move as a milestone in the history of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and that of the UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.
Speaking when she awarded peacekeeping medals to Ghanaian soldiers serving in UNMIL, Ms. Løj praised the courage and resolve of the 54 women in the 700-strong contingent.
She expressed gratitude government of Ghana for the close collaboration it had extended to UNMIL and for availing the best of its military to serve the cause of peace.
SRSG Løj then recalled the sacrifices Ghana has made in the country during the sub-regional group ECOWAS’ two peacekeeping missions that preceded UNMIL.
MAC Appeals For Collaboration ….Begins Partnership with CAFOD
The local media child rights campaigner, the Media in Advocacy for Children (MAC) has begun efforts aimed at forging partnership with the United Kingdom based Catholic Agency for Oversea Development (CAFOD) and other child rights advocacy groups.
In a statement delivered on its behalf at the just ended CAFOD partnership conference in Freetown, Sierra Leone, MAC Secretary General David N. Targbe said the organization cannot achieve all its goals without the support of other child rights related group, including CAFOD-UK, Don Bosco Homes, UNICEF, Save the Children and others.
Mr. Targbe said MAC is determined to remain vocal on the condition affecting underprivileged children, orphans and street children but stressed that it cannot be done alone.
Delay of Human Rights Commission Undermines Human Rights, Accountability
(New Republic and The Analyst)
The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) says the failure of the Liberian senate to confirm all presidential nominees to the Independent National Commission for Human Rights (INCHR) is a major setback to efforts to protect and promote human rights in Liberia, including moving forward the country’s transitional justice agenda.
ICTJ’s Interim President, Hanny Megally said seven years after the end of the conflict, it is unfortunate that the INCHR, which is an important human rights protection mechanism mandated by the peace accord, is still not functioning.