Liberian ECOWAS Parliament Delegation Reports

-Highlights Liberia’s “Progress”
Liberian legislators representing the country at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament have outlined what they considered as high level of progress scored back home as contained in a Country Report submitted to their sub regional colleagues.
A dispatch from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja says, Montserrado County, Representative Edwin Melvin Snowe, Jr read and presented the Country Report on Friday, May 20, 2016 as part of the ongoing 1st Ordinary Session of the Fourth Legislature of the ECOWAS Parliament. The session is being held at the International Conference Center in Abuja, the Federal Capital of Nigeria.
Sinoe County Rep. Jefferson Kanmoh presided over Friday’s session, according to the dispatch in his capacity as the Third Deputy Speaker of the sub regional parliament.
According to the dispatch, the Session also witnessed the presentations of country reports from the Republics of Benin, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde and Guinea.
Rep. Snowe presented on behalf of the Liberian delegation which includes Senators George Manneh Weah and Prince Yormie Johnson of Montserrado and Nimba Counties respectively as well as Rep. Haja Fata Siryon of Bomi County. All five were present during the presentation.
The Liberian Country Report gave an overview of the current state of affairs in the country, the state of the Liberian economy, and security with emphasis on the effect of United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown.
The Liberian lawmakers’ report also touched on the Liberian agricultural sector, post Ebola healthcare delivery, preparation leading to the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, human rights, press freedom among others.
Rep. Snowe, in his presentation, declared that the Liberian economy has experienced two major shocks, including the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and the decline in global commodities particularly, iron ore and rubber.
“Moreover, the imminent United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown in June 2016 as well as the upcoming General and Presidential Elections are posed to present further uncertainty that may have economic, political, social and security risks”, Rep. Snowe added.

The report, which recalled Liberia’s 13 years of peace and stability since 2003, noted that the country continues to enjoy a stable and democratic government following two presidential and legislative elections, including a Special Senatorial Election in 2014.
According to the report, Liberia has made tremendous progress in the areas of political tolerance, institutional reforms, economic transformation, peace and security, infrastructural developments, human development, regional integration and bilateral relations, among others.

The report: “Transitioning from post-conflict to developing nation and attaining middle-income status requires great deal of political, economic, social and cultural reengineering across the country if the complex challenges of socioeconomic development and transformation in Liberia are to be addressed adequately.”

The report stated that in spite of all of the gains, the country was still challenged by what the lawmakers described as an array of internal and external problems: “For example, there are concerns in several quarters as to whether the national security is up to the task of maintaining peace and order as UNMIL departs. Also, the Liberian economy was hit by the epidemic outbreak and decline in global commodities prices, recovery is a real challenge as there are calls for the diversification of the economy”.

The report noted that despite these challenges, the Liberian Government is committed to employing strategic interventions to address all these pitfalls: “With the help of its international partners and other well-meaning Liberians, and God above all, Liberia is posed to prevail in the end.”

The lawmakers’ report recognized the historical facts that led to the transgression of individual rights to civil liberty and fundamental freedom of expression as one of the cardinal causes of the Liberian civil war. They then praised the President Ellen Johnson Sirelaf-led government for managing to delicately deal with the issue of press freedom and basic human rights in a more responsible manner.
The report says: “Under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, in 2012, Liberia signed the Declaration of the Table Mountain, which aspires African governmenst to remove criminal defamation laws in the promotion and protection of fundamental press freedom. Following the passage of said Act, as noted by the Freedom House article, the Press Union of Liberia submitted a bill to the Legislature seeking decriminalization of said laws.”
Also in their report, the lawmakers, while admitting to some challenges in the ratification of several protocols, including the Community’s Legal Texts and Protocols, promised to make significant progress in that direction.
“Currently, there are about 29 Protocols at the Liberian Legislature since two years ago that are yet to be ratified or domesticated. We, however, want to assure this honorable body, that by our next session, significant progress would be achieved”, Rep. Snowe assured.
The ongoing session is the First Ordinary Session for 2016. It opened on Monday, May 16, 2016 and runs to the 31st of May, 2016.
The 115-Member Parliament sits in session three times a year with two ordinary sessions in May and September; there may however , be an extraordinary session at any time in the course of the year to discuss an urgent, specific agenda.

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