Wednesday, November 16, 2011

UNMIL Public Information Office Media Summary

[The media summaries and press clips do not necessarily represent the views of UNMIL.] Local News on Liberian Issues Behind Closed Doors – Ellen, Tubman Talk [Daily OBSERVER and New DEMOCRAT] • The standard bearer of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change, Counsellor Winston Tubman Tuesday met with incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf behind closed doors. • The meeting, which took place at the Trinity Cathedral on Broad Street, was aimed at achieving reconciliation to move the country forward. • The meeting between Sirleaf and Tubman, both Harvard University scholars and formerly of the United Nations was organized by the Dean of Trinity Cathedral, Dr. Herman Browne. CDC Plans Black Friday - Partisans Take Petro-Bombs Lessons [The New Dawn] • Reports have hinted that some members of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) are insisting on carrying out the party’s planned mass demonstration in Monrovia Friday, against official warnings. • This follows the cancellation of the one announced for Monday, November 14 during a news conference hosted by its standard bearer, Winston Tubman Saturday at the party’s headquarters in Congo Town. • The reports further indicated that some CDCians referred to as ‘Generals’ of the Monday November 7 uproar were seen at the party’s headquarters in various groups discussing the strategies for the demonstration at the community levels in order to confuse and subdue state security in their efforts to prevent them. • The “November 7 Generals” most of whom are ex-combatants of defunct Liberian warring factions, according to the reports, were seen conducting practical training for a select group of partisans in producing and targeting petro-bombs in various areas of the city during the planned Friday demonstration. CEMESP Welcomes Re-opening of 4 Media Houses, But With Caution [The New Dawn] • The Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) has said it welcomes the reopening of four media houses recently ordered closed by Criminal Court ‘A’ as a necessary action to promote peace and stability in Liberia. • However, CEMESP is concerned that the wording of the ruling suggests a limit to media reporting in the future. • The media group’s statement comes in response to a ruling by Criminal Court Judge James Zotaa in which he found the media organizations guilty of propagating hate messages, though he rescinded the petition to close the stations. • CEMESP considers the ruling as a gag order on the freedom of the media to freely report, and an inducement to other actors to continue censoring the media in Liberia, given that the media is prone to reporting issues of transparency and accountability that are necessary in the fight to curb corruption. CDC County Chairs Want Results Accepted [Daily OBSERVER, INSIGHT, New DEMOCRAT and The INQUIRER] • The 15 county chairpersons of the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) have issued a statement calling on their leaders to accept the results of the just concluded run-off presidential election after the party leader, Counsellor Winston Tubman rejected them. • The county chairpersons want their leaders accept the result and push for a government of inclusion. • But party chair, Geraldine Doe Sheriff expressed no knowledge about the document. • She remarked “There must be an ulterior motive for doing that. Maybe they have been bought over by the ruling party.” Go and Sin No More – Criminal Court Judge Warns Media Houses [Daily OBSERVER, FrontPage, Heritage, IN PROFILE DAILY, INSIGHT, New DEMOCRAT, PUBLIC AGENDA, The ANALYST, The Independent, THE INFORMER, The INQUIRER, The New Dawn, The New Republic and The NEWS] • The Judge of Criminal Court ‘A’ has strongly warned proprietors of three local media houses recently shutdown by government for allegedly broadcasting “hate messages and misinformation” not to repeat such act. • Judge James Zotaa gave the warning Tuesday at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia when he ordered the reopening of POWER FM/TV, LOVE FM/TV and KING’s FM and CLAR TV, respectively following a week-long closure. • The judge instructed the Information Ministry to revoke permits and licenses of the three media institutions in case of a repeat of such act. • The judge ruled against the media outlets following series of conference hearings with them and state prosecutors at the Temple of Justice, but reserved punishment for the sake of free press and information. • Judge Zotaa said he was convinced having thoroughly viewed the state’s evidence, and concluded that the respondents did use their media outlets to disrupt public security, safety, general welfare, among others. It’s Official - Ellen Wins Run-Off [Daily OBSERVER, FrontPage, Heritage, IN PROFILE DAILY, INSIGHT, NATIONAL CHRONICLE, New DEMOCRAT, PUBLIC AGENDA, The ANALYST, THE INFORMER, The INQUIRER, The New Dawn and The NEWS] • The National Elections Commission (NEC) Tuesday declared incumbent President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and running mate Joseph Boakai of the governing Unity Party winners of the just concluded November 8 presidential run-off election. • The election was largely boycotted by the leading opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). • NEC through acting Chairman Elizabeth Nelson made the declaration in Monrovia during the pronouncement of final results of the polls. • The Unity Party received 607,618 of the total votes, which translate to 90.7 percent, while the opposition CDC obtained the total votes of 62,207 representing 9.3 percent. According to the NEC, a total of 694,412 votes were cast during the run-off. • International observers from ECOWAS, the AU and Carter Center have declared the polls as peaceful, free, fair and transparent. NDC Opposes Result - Says UP lacks mandate to govern [IN PROFILE DAILY] • "Liberia belongs to all Liberians, those at home and abroad, minorities and majorities alike, settlers and indigenes, all the same. However, unlike the past and having graduated from fifteen years of a bloody civil conflict in the search of democracy, no one group or groups of Liberians should ever be allowed again to govern our country without a popular and legitimate mandate from the vast majority of the sovereign people of Liberia – a mandate determined by genuine democratic elections, void of fraud, reflecting the expressed wishes and aspirations of the vast majority of the people," a statement from the National Democratic Coalition (NDC) issued in Monrovia recently indicated. • The NDC said fraudulent elections have always remained part of the principal causes for pushing conflicts in Liberia and other parts of Africa and stressed "that is why both ECOWAS and other peace building partners of Liberia, including the United Nations and the United States Government in particular, ought to be very sensitive to, cognizant of, and guided by this very important element as a matter of strategic positioning". • Hence, the statement said declaring Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf president under the circumstances amounts to a blatant disregard for the sovereign people of Liberia. • "This the opposition will not accept. Moreover, the international community runs a serious risk to do business with a minority group that is incapable of winning democratic elections, and prefers to grab power undemocratically, despite the huge financial resources and other strategic advantages that were available to it," the party said Reporters without Borders Writes Ellen [The New Dawn] • The international media group, Reporters without Borders has written President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf voicing concern about the fact that the second round of the presidential election a week ago was marred by the suspension of four opposition media and by violence against journalists covering clashes between police and demonstrators. • The group urged the President in its communication Tuesday to demonstrate a commitment to establish conditions that favor freedom of the press and opinion. • Reporters without Borders also want the Sirleaf-government to ensure that those responsible for the violence against the journalists are punished. Weakening multiparty Democracy? - CDC in Disarray as Leadership cooperates with Government [FrontPage] • Conflicting signals appear to be emerging from the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) over their standard bearer’s latest change of mind to recognize and cooperate with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Unity Party-led Government. • Reports say Ambassador Winston Tubman’s pledge to cooperate with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sparked uproar among executives of the CDC as if the decision on his part was unilateral. Radio Veritas (news monitored at 9:45 a.m.) Court orders radio stations reopened • Three radio stations down by the Government of Liberia a week ago for allegedly broadcasting ‘hate messages’ during the run-off election, have been ordered re-opened by the court in a ruling handed down Tuesday by Judge James Zotaa of Criminal Court A who said he was pardoning the stations even though they are guilty. • He warned that their licenses could be revoked if they engaged in similar act again. • But the head of one of the stations, Aaron Kollie said the court’s action was a ‘miscarriage of justice’. • He emphasized that the broadcasters have done no wrong and will not heed the judge’s warning. Police advisor dismissed • Reports say President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has sacked the Special Advisor to the Liberia National Police Paul Mulbah for failing to perform the task for which he was appointed. • Mr. Mulbah, a former Director of Police is currently the Chief Executive Officer of one of three media institutions shut down by the government. Liberia gets status in tourism organization • Liberia has been admitted into the United Nations World Tourism Organization with Assistant Information Minister for Tourism, Aissa Bright who just returned from a tourism conference saying the move will attract international assistance to Liberia. UNMIL Radio (news monitored at 1:00 p.m.) Election contenders to get certificate • The National Elections Commission has said that a ceremony to certificate the winners of the 2011 legislative and presidential elections will be held next Monday at the commission’s headquarters. • The Acting Chairman of the commission, Elizabeth Nelson made the announcement when she declared President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf winner of the presidential election race, and asked all the contenders to make their campaign expenditure available to the commission. US urge Liberians to accept the November 8 poll results • The Government of the United States has called on political parties and their supporters to accept the result of the presidential election won by incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, even though the second round of the election was boycotted by the main opposition Congress for Democratic Change. • Meanwhile US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has congratulated President Sirleaf for her victory. International clip on Liberia Liberian Court Orders Reopening Of Closed Media Outlets A Liberian judge Tuesday ordered the re-opening of four radio and three television stations sympathetic to the opposition which the government shut down one day before runoff elections. The government accused the stations of broadcasting hate messages and spreading misinformation aimed at causing insurrection and disorder. Press Union of Liberia President Peter Quaqua, who was in the courtroom, says the judge, James W. Zota, did not make evidence available to the lawyers representing the media institutions. Quaqua says he views the action against the stations, and the subsequent court proceedings, as an attempt to frighten the media away from reporting critical issues in Liberia. “The judge ruled that the petitions filed by the Ministry of Justice and the Information Ministry were corroborated by the evidence the Ministry of Justice provided to the judge. Dramatically, that evidence was never produced in court,” he said. International clips on West Africa Ivory Coast Paris Club cuts Ivory Coast's debt burden The Paris Club of creditor nations said members agreed on Tuesday to reduce the Ivory Coast's foreign debt burden and said reforms underway should lead to further relief. The West African nation's creditors in the Paris Club agreed to reschedule the repayment of some of the country's debts over a 10-year period. Repayments of arrears on those payments were rescheduled over eight years. The informal grouping of creditor governments said in a statement that the measures would reduce the country's debt service payments and arrears due by the end of June 2014 by $1.8 billion. Of that amount, $397 million would be canceled. Ivory Coast is rapidly recovering after last year's disputed election reignited a civil war that killed some 3,000 people and displaced more than 1 million. "Participating creditors noted that following the crisis that the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire has gone through, the Government has quickly revived economic activity and resumed negotiations with the Paris Club," the statement said. Traditional chiefs take on Ivory Coast's post-war ills Could crowns, scepters and ritual sacrifices save Ivory Coast? Some of its traditional chiefs are seeking to help in the reconciliation of the long-divided country, but not everybody agrees. Sporting an enormous crown and a multicolored robe, Awoula Amon Tanoe, king of the small Ivorian tribe called the N'Zima Kotoko, is a man who parts the crowds, carried by strong porters to the sound of a sacred tam-tam. "His Majesty" presided this month over the annual Abissa festival of the N'Zima people, which drew thousands of visitors to Bassam, the former colonial capital which is close to Abidjan and renowned for its beaches. The theme for 2011 was "reconciliation". A career diplomat in his 70s, Aman Tanoe was named vice president of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CDVR) set up by President Alassane Ouattara at the end of September, after years of conflict in the West African nation. ****

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