22 Jan

George Weah to be sworn in with Liberian hopes sky-high

MONROVIA

Former international footballer George Weah will be sworn in as Liberia’s new president on Monday, a landmark moment that marks the troubled country’s first peaceful democratic transition since 1944.

Weah will become the 25th president of the West African nation, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf after 12 years, with expectations running sky-high among Liberians that he will deliver on his promises of jobs and better schools.

NEW PRESIDENT

The inauguration is due to begin at 9.45am (12.45pm EAT) in Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium near the capital, Monrovia, with heads of state from Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Togo expected to attend along with friends and former colleagues from his football years.

Weah played for a string of top-flight European teams in the 1990s and was crowned the world’s best player by FIFA and won the coveted Ballon d’Or prize, the only African to have achieved this.

After losing his first run at the presidency to Sirleaf in 2005, he has spent the last 13 years attempting to gain the political credibility to match his wild popularity at home, becoming a senator in 2014.

Volunteers were putting the final touches to decorations and giving the streets a final lick of paint on Sunday, and many expressed hope the everyday difficulty of their lives would change.

“It’s my very first time to see Liberia transferring power peacefully. People expect real democracy,” said Samuel Harmon, 30, a street trader.

“The expectation of the people and the country is all up to him (Weah). Everybody believes that if he fails us, the majority will be disappointed with politics,” he added.

“The expectation of the people and the country is all up to him (Weah). Everybody believes that if he fails us, the majority will be disappointed with politics,” he added.

GOVERNMENT

Sirleaf will be remembered for maintaining peace after the harrowing 1989-2003 civil war left an estimated 250,000 dead. But extreme poverty remains pervasive and Liberia ranks near bottom in international rankings for health, education and development.

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10 Jan

EU Gives EUR 35M for Agriculture and Accountability in Liberia

European Union Flag
MONROVIA, Liberia, January 9, 2017 — The European Union (EU) has announced that it will provide EUR 35 million in support of agricultural development and the General Auditing Commission (GAC) in Liberia.

Speaking in Monrovia today, European Union Ambassador to Liberia, Tiina Intelmann said: “The European Union props both the private and the public sector in Liberia. The EU supports the Government’s efforts to boost the economy through agricultural development, because agriculture is the road to progress and development.” She added: “Supporting the national audit watchdog ultimately means assuring that public money is properly and wisely spent so as to provide the citizens of Liberia with best value for their taxes and other country’s public resources“.

Ambassador Intelmann stated that the EU will assist cocoa, fisheries, food and nutrition security as well as capacity at the Ministry of Agriculture in ongoing efforts to implement the Country’s own Agriculture Transformation Agenda.

The EU support will build capacity in the Ministry of Agriculture with EUR 12 million so that it delivers policies and services to the best use of Liberian citizens

She said that the EU will help develop the markets for cocoa and fisheries with EUR 8.5 million and EUR 7 million respectively so that Liberian farmers and fishers will increase their incomes from selling their produce. The Envoy added that the EU will assist Liberia to improve rules and policies for fisheries to fight against illegal fishing in the spirit of the political cooperation between Liberia and the EU through the recently signed EU-Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

Also, Ambassador Intelmann announced that the EU will support the Government of Liberia with EUR 12 million to overcome food insecurity by stimulating productivity and diversity in food crops in several counties that suffer from food insecurity.

The EU support will build capacity in the Ministry of Agriculture with EUR 12 million so that it delivers policies and services to the best use of Liberian citizens.

The EU Envoy stressed that following a longstanding partnership with the General Auditing Commission (GAC), the EU has decided to support the Supreme Audit Institution with EUR 5 million over the next four years to fund implementation of its Strategic Plan, and key elements of its Staff Professionalization and Capacity Building Strategy. While previous programmes helped to make the GAC fully operational, the new support will help the GAC to improve performance, be autonomous and independent in line with the 2014 Liberian GAC Act. The GAC will be responsible for managing EUR 3 million of the programme.

The ultimate goal is for the GAC to become a Supreme Audit Institution up to international standard which will have a substantial impact on how public money is spent in Liberia.  The main activities under this programme will entail making the GAC more effective in terms of both audit capabilities and the management capabilities necessary for an autonomous agency, as well as strengthening the relationships with audited Ministries and Agencies, the National Legislature and the media to ensure that the GAC’s audit recommendations are fully taken on board.