Taylor speaks to partisans from Prison

My Fellow Partisans:

I am grateful for your prayers and support in these trying times. My health is good and my mind is sound. I am happy to hear of the celebration of your reconnection – our reconnection. I say our reconnection not because I am with you physically. I say our reconnection because although these prison walls have confined my body to its little space, it cannot and will never restrict my spirit. Today, not even the chains can hold me down. As you celebrate, my spirit will break these chains and soar beyond these prison walls to be with you. I know that the program will be successful. Notwithstanding, there are few things that I hope you will reflect upon as you celebrate.

The NPP has never been and should never be about me. It has always been – and my hope is that it will forever remain about you, the people of Liberia. You, ordinary people, law abiding people, neglected people, forgotten people, the old, the young, the rich, the poor, the big, the small, Christians, Muslims, traditional people, all of our people. It has been about providing the political climate in which all Liberians can come together and commit themselves to the genuine and noble causes of nation building. We have been blessed by the Almighty with a geographic space called Liberia. The NPP’s cause has been and continues to be that all of us, irrespective of our tribes, religions and other narrow differences would journey together to build a single nation in which all – not just some of us – would reap the blessings of its many endowments. The cause of the NPP is that opportunities will be shared; that prosperity will be for all; and that justice, peace and security will reign throughout the length and breadth of the country. I am grateful to the Almighty and to you my fellow partisans not just for the opportunity that you provided me to be a part of the formation of this political organization but also for the privilege and honor to have served as its first standard bearer. 

Fellow partisans, your cause is just. Your mission is yet to be fulfilled. Your reconnection should be only based on these two propositions. I have done my part. I leave my judgment to history. My hope is that history will judge me favorably. It is now up to you – each of you to keep the vision alive; to set your sights upon a better and brighter future not just for yourselves but for Liberia. By the courageous efforts that you are undertaking today, my faith has been vindicated – hope springs anew in my breast. There is no doubt in my mind that because of this effort combined with those of other Liberians, our young democracy will survive. Spare no efforts to bring every member of the NPP family back into the fold.

A few years ago, it was with a heavy heart that we parted company. I am still convinced that our parting was in the best interest of the country. Prior to my departure, I promised that if it is the will of the Almighty, I will be back.  I have always imagined that my return would be as any Liberian who yearns for the warm embrace of his/her homeland.  I have never thought that my return would be for any purpose other than to be reunited with my children, my family, my friends, and with you. If it is not His will that we be rejoined in this world, I accept it with the humility of one who is assured of the Omniscience of our God. I am strengthened only in His will. Men may bruise my flesh, they may even break my bones but my soul belongs only to God. I still hope that He will allow us the opportunity of getting together again. However, if these ordeals should prove to be the last chapters of my journey with you, I ask you to look ahead and keep moving on. The road will seem long but keep moving on. The tide will rise but keep moving on. Never lose hope! Keep moving on. Never forget, Above all else, the People!

                With God above our rights to prove, we will over all prevail.     

                                                -30-

Liberia vulnerable to climate change

The 14th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change got underway in Poznan, Poland, 1-12 December 2008.  Liberia was represented at the Conference by a 5-man delegation, headed by Ben Turtur Donnie, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency.

 The Conference was attended by more than ten thousand people representing governments, donors, NGOs, civil society, youth activities, stream of press and observers. The Conference was climaxed by a Ministerial High Level Segment, 11-12 December.  Liberia presented a statement during the high level segment.

At the high level segment, Liberia indicated its vulnerability to climate change which includes erratic weather change, increase in temperature, tropical storm, floods and coastal erosion.  The statement informed the body that the environment was featured in Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, indicating that combating climate change is a way of reducing poverty.

The statement was read by the Head of the Liberian Delegation, Ben Turtur Donnie, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia, and expressed Liberia’s dissatisfaction over the slow progress being made by developed countries providing support for addressing the implementation of the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA) by Least Developing Countries including Liberia.

Mr. Donnie drew the attention of delegates to the issue of Capacity Building under the ongoing UN Climate Change Negotiation. He indicated that Capacity Building should be seen at three fronts-systemic, technical and institutional.  Commitments to capacity building must therefore come on board, especially within the context of the Nairobi Framework.

On the issue of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD),

Liberia highlighted that REDD should be pursued based on National Circumstances, taking into account that carbon credits accrued under the REDD Platform of pre-2012 must be taken into account during post-2012 in order to encourage investment in technological advancement and developments. Liberia further indicated that the development of codes of ethics and conduct for dealing with local communities is crucial under the REDD Regime.

Mr.  Donnie informed delegates that Liberia was on  the verge of implementing its first Clean Development Mechanism Project that has to do with composting and gas flaring from the Wehn Town Waste Disposal Site.

On the issue of mainstreaming Gender in climate change activities, Liberia along with South Africa, Uganda, Sierra Leone and other delegates called on the  United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Secretariat to consider this issue as urgent priority since women, children and elderly are more vulnerable to Climate Change.  The Liberian statement informed delegates about the International Women’s Colloquium to be held in Monrovia, 7-8 March 2008, and hosted by the Presidents of Liberia and Finland and promised that the Liberian Government will extend an invitation to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC.

During the course of the meeting, the Liberian Delegation had a side event presentation along with Bolivia highlighting Liberia’s opportunities and challenges for REDD implementation. The Delegation also had series of consultations with bilateral and multilateral donors, including Norway, Princes of Wales Rainforest Project delegation, World Bank and UNIDO on the issue of addressing climate change in Liberia.  Norway and the Prince of Wales delegation expressed interest in supporting the forestry sector in Liberia, while UNIDO has announced the approval of a US$2,000,000.00 mini hydro electric project for Liberia.

Members of the Liberian Delegation were Hon. Ben Turtur Donnie, Head of Delegation and Executive Director of EPA, Hon. Ekemaa Whitherspoon, Assistant Managing Director, Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Benjamin Karmorh, Jr, Climate Change Enabling Activities Coordinator, EPA, Mr. Augustine Johnson, GIS Specialist, Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Mr. Alexander Louise Peal, Country Director, Conservation International (CI)-Liberia.

                                                -30-

Liberia Coalition re-affirms support Freedom Information

The Liberia Coalition for Free Expression with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa has concluded a two-day sensitization workshop on the draft Freedom of Information (FOI) Law currently before the National Legislature for some key government ministries and agencies. The forum was the second of a series of sensitization campaign and was attended by Public Relations Managers, Research Analysts, and Documentation Managers, among others.

According to the Coordinator of the Liberia Coalition for Free Expression Calixte Hessou, the workshop aimed to expose policy makers as well as custodians of public information at public institutions to the arguments in favor of freedom of information, good practice standard of FOI law-making and practical issues for consideration when implementing FOI.

Mr. Hessou in a release said access to information is a vital mechanism for enhancing good governance.

He indicated that the effective implementation of FOI legislations is a joint partnership between the government, the holder of information and the public.

During the two-day session, the participants recognized that freedom of information is an important tool for empowering the people of Liberia to engage in their own development as equal partners with their government.

They also recognized that freedom of information can be harnessed as a tool for promoting participatory development, strengthening democratic governance, facilitating better government service delivery, supporting decentralization, fostering economic development, promoting public accountability and transparency, supporting responsible and effective media reporting, and promoting and protecting human rights.

The participants stressed the need for development partners to ensure that technical assistance and funding as well as other needed resources are available to support national bodies advocating for the passage and implementation of the FOI law.

Meanwhile, the government has re-affirmed its support for the passage into law of the draft Freedom of Information Act.

Speaking Friday December 12, in the Ministry of Information conference hall during the opening ceremony of the workshop, Information Minister Dr. Laurence Bropleh said President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf believes the passage of the draft Freedom of Information act would facilitate the overall development of war-torn Liberia.

Minister Bropleh indicated that the Liberian government also believes that empowering the people with necessary information would afford them the opportunity to make sound decisions and bring about accountability in government.

According to Minister Bropleh, the passage of the draft Freedom of Information Act would ensure accountability and transparency in the public sector thus helping the government in its drive to fight corruption head-on.

At the same time, the Liberia Coalition for Free Expression has lauded the Liberian government for its public support to the passage of the draft FOI law.

However, the Coalition has expressed the hope that the National Legislature would give an immediate attention to the draft FOI bill currently before them upon returning from recess.

The Liberia Coalition for Free Expression is a network of four local freedoms of expression campaigners. They include the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), the Liberia Media Center (LMC), Liberia Media Women Action Committee (LIWOMAC), and the Institute for Media Development and Dignity (IMEDD).