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Archive for February, 2008

A proposed Act recently submitted to the National Legislature by the Executive, amending the Investment Incentive Act of 1973, has been withdrawn by the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. An Executive Mansion release late Wednesday night, quoting the President, said the decision to withdraw the Act is intended to allow for more consultations and dialogue among Liberian businesses, civil society groups, the citizenry and other interested groups. A letter withdrawing the draft Act has, accordingly, been submitted to the Honorable House of Representatives.

 The  bill was submitted to the National Legislature by the President to repeal certain portion of the Business Law act that includes law that sets aside 26 businesses exclusively for Liberians, It may be recalled that in October 1998, the 51st National Legislature during the regime of Charles Taylor passed a law that set aside 26 businesses exclusively for Liberians, Some of these businesses set aside for Liberians include operation of gas stations, travel agencies, and advertising agencies, among others. 

This is the problem with us Liberians, we want the President to work her magic and bring badly needed  foreign investment to the country, but we are not willing to give her some breathing space, The Liberian business community,along with some whitewash politicians in Monrovia are accusing the President of pandering to foreigners, and that her bill is only meant to satisfy the international community who are interested in foreigners taking over the country’s business climate. They maintained that the government’s  poverty reduction strategy will be meaningless if the government fails to protect the ‘Liberianization’ policy.

 i am not against the Liberianization act, and the protection of Liberian businesses, however i would like to see some flexibility, these businesses can be set aside for Liberians, but there should be some criteria also set, that when met, by foreigners, they should be able to invest in those businesses. Take Ghana for instance,  you cannot own a trading business in that country without investing at least US$300,000 dollars and employing a minimum of ten Ghanaians. That could be an example of a criteria that could be met, if foreigners want to engage in business set aside for only nationals of Liberia.

Simply put, some of the laws we have on the books, are out of dates, and just not Pratical for our times, take for instance again, the question of giving citizenship to people who are not of negro decent,  Article 27 B of the the Liberian constitution reads  in order to preserve, foster and maintain the positive Liberian culture, values and character, only people of negroes or of negro descent, shall qualify by birth or by naturalization to be citizens of Liberia.

I have always said the question of giving citizenship to other people who are not of negro descent is not only the right thing to do, but in terms of material and human development it also the sound thing to do. the fact that the constitution bans other races, and only allow blacks or people of black descent to be citizens, can in some way be consider racism. i experience first hand the negative impact of that law in my family. my father who was a foreigner lived in Liberia for almost 30 years, he pay all his taxes but could never own property in the country except through me or my mother. we have to look at this issue because today almost 90 percent of businesses in the country are own and operated by foreigners, one group in particular, the Lebanese, have been in the country for generations, they have children who were born there and consider Liberia home, if they can’t buy property to build and invest would they keep their money in the country? these people are law abiding tax paying citizens. I understand why the law was made in the first place, with all the suffering, our forefathers must have endured as slaves in America, they must have hated the white men, but that was the 19 century we are in the 21st century, things have change,we can not continue to look at the world in black or white, it is time we give these people a fair shot at citizenship if they so desire to be Liberian citizens , it is not only the right thing to do, it is the moral thing to do.

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The case of alleged rapist Mahamu Kanneh, a Liberian national, accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old girl, and an 18 month old baby in the State of Maryland, was a devastating news for me and most of the Liberian community here in the United states.

Kanneh was arrested in August 2004 after witnesses told police he had raped and repeatedly sexually molested a 7-year-old relative left in his care.  He was the focus of national media attention when a judge dismissed the charges against him in mid-July,  of 2007 ruling his right to a speedy trial had been violated while officials hunted for an interpreter. Kanneh speaks Vai, the  language of one of the sixteen tribes in Liberia.

Although Kanneh attended high school and community college in Maryland, his attorney argued that he needed an interpreter to fully understand the court proceedings.

Kanneh, while trying to run from police, was later arrested in Philadelphia on charges he allegedly failed to appear in court on Aug. 3 of 2007 at a hearing involving a prosecution effort in Maryland to reinstate the rape charges.

Executive Office for Immigration Review, said Kanneh is in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She said that since Kanneh is not fighting deportation, it’s entirely up to immigration officials when to send him home.

This case has brought an unnecessary spotlight on  Liberian communities all across the U.S, and its downright shameful, if he is guilty let him be deported.What the Hell was he thinking? Liberians are generally known to be hard working law abiding citizens, and it pains me when a few bad apple spoil the reputation of our community. 

 Let this be a reminder and a lesson that we are guest here,  and if we abuse that privilege we will suffer the consequence after all who wants a bad guest in their house.

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President George W. Bush arrived on Thursday in Liberia, the United States’ staunchest ally in Africa, where he pledged to support the country’s efforts to rebuild after a crippling civil war.
“I want the people of Liberia to know, Madame President, the United States stands with you,” Bush told Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “We want to help you recover from a terrible period. We want you to build lives of hope and peace, and under your leadership, that’s exactly what’s happening” he told the cheering audience, “It’s easier to tear a country down than it is to rebuild a country,” Bush said. “And the people of this good country must understand the United States will stand with you as you rebuild your country.
While in Liberia, Bush also promised to give the country one million textbooks by the start of the next school year and enough desks and chairs for 10,000 students.
Liberia was the final stop on Bush’s six-day tour of Africa. He is the first US leader in 30 years to visit Liberia, a nation founded in the 1820s by slaves freed by the United States.

The U.S and Liberian presidents prepare to inspect the honor guards

Liberian Troops marched pass the president Bush during the honor guards review.

The car carrying both president sirleaf and Bush arrives at the Executive Mansion.

Traditional dancers were on hand to welcome the U.S President o Liberia

U.S. President George W. Bush walks with President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf during an arrival ceremony at Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, welcome the U.S president and his wife to Liberia.

U.S. President George W. Bush and President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf walk past an honor guard during an arrival ceremony at Spriggs Payne Airport in Monrovia.

President George Bush and President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf inspect an honor guard at Barclay Training Center in Monrovia.

Traditional Liberian dancers perform prior to President Bush’s arrival for a lunch, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2008, in Monrovia, Liberia

President George W. Bush receives the key to the city of Monrovia from Mayor Ophelia Hoss-Saytumah in Monrovia.

U.S. President George W. Bush walks past Liberian dancers to join an outdoor lunch with Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf at the Executive Residence in Monrovia .

President Bush waves after recieving Liberia’s highest Honor, at the Executive mansion.

President Bush is presented with Liberia’s highest civilian honor by Liberian president Sirleaf.

Liberians line the streets to welcome U.S. President George W. Bush in Monrovia.

U.S. President George W. Bush and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf today held bilateral talks of mutual interest at the Foreign Ministry in Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.

Today was not officially declared a national holiday in Liberia, but with thousands that gathered in the streets of Monrovia to welcome United States President George W. Bush, it certainly felt like one. School children, government workers, market women, and street peddlers lined the streets to welcome President Bush and his entourage to Liberia

Here is a video of some of today’s highlights

Liberia was the last stop for the president.

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President Bush, embarking on his second trip to Africa on Friday said that Liberia might be chosen to be a new location of U.S. military command for Africa, local mass media reported Friday.President Bush said the possible shift of the U.S. military command for Africa to the continent from its current home in Germany will be on the agenda as he meets with leaders of five African countries.
“If there is going to be a physical presence on the continent of Africa in the forms of a headquarters … obviously we would seriously consider Liberia,” Bush said in an interview with foreign media on Thursday and released on Friday. The U.S. attention to Africa has been growing in recently years amid concerns that some African countries could become safe havens for militants seeking to base operations and plan attacks on the United States.Liberia has publicly offered to host a headquarters, while other African powers like Nigeria, and South Africa, have reservations about where the command would be based and whether it would give the U.S. too much influence.
Mainwhile back in Liberia, the Government has accelerated a major clean-up of the capital, Monrovia, ahead of President Bush’s visit to Liberia on February 21,The main streets are being swept and makeshift structures on the roadside are being demolished.
While America’s standing in much of the world has diminished because of the Iraq war and other Bush administration policies, A recent Pew poll of 47 nations found that America’s popularity is exceptionally high in Africa, where some hold the U.S. in higher regard than Americans do themselves, America’s popularity verges on exuberance especially in Liberia,a nation founded in 1847 by freed U.S. slaves, many Liberians remember the sight of U.S. warships off the Liberian coast and Bush’s call for former President Charles Taylor, accused of orchestrating war crimes, to leave, they believe that president bush was very instrumental in helping to end the the Liberian civil war. Liberians are also grateful to Bush for the recent cancellation of the country’s debt.

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Here is folk song from Liberia sang in the Via dialect. the song is call Kimah, and the artist is Tokay Tomah . she reminds me so much of Princess Fatu Gayflor.

Enjoy folks.

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