6 August Press Brief

Monday, 6th August 2007
Members of the Press:

Let me begin this Executive Mansion briefing by informing you that the President of Benin Boni Dr.Boni Yayi arrives in the country on Tuesday on a two-day’s visit as guest of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. President Yayi and party will arrive at the Roberts International Airport at 4:55 pm. The Beninoise President will later hold discussions with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in the afternoon at her Foreign Ministry office.
The visiting guest departs at 8:00 pm for Ocean View Hotel to retire for the day.

On Wednesday, August 8, the Beninoise leader will meet with the Bankers Association starting at 9:00 am.   He departs for the UNMIL headquarters at 10:20 am for a meeting with the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-general, Mr. Allan Doss on regional matters.

The meeting with Mr. Doss will be followed by a meeting involving the Ministers of Planning, Information, as well as representatives of the International Monetary Fund and GEMAP. The meeting will center on bilateral issues between Liberia and Benin.

There will be a State Luncheon hosted by the Liberian President in honor of the visiting Beninoise President at the C.Cecil Dennis Auditorium beginning at 1:00 pm; followed by the signing of a Joint Communiqué between Liberia and Benin, followed by a Press briefing thereafter.

President Yayi leaves for the Roberts International Airport later in the afternoon for departure.

On another visit, we are pleased to inform you that a United States Congressional delegation led by Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat from New York and Chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, will visit Liberia next week Thursday, August 16.  Representative Lowey will be accompanied by six additional members of Congress and their spouses, as well as five staff assistants and a military escort.

The delegation includes Representative Jesse Jackson (D-Illinois); Barbara Lee (D-California); Ander Crenshaw (R-Florida); Maurice Hinchey (D – California); Susan Davis (D-California); and Jeff Miller (R-Florida).

The one day visit will afford members of the Congressional delegation the opportunity to meet with the President and other functionaries of government.

A consignment of buses, promised by the government of Spain during a visit of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to that country has now been shipped to Liberia. If all goes well, we expect the buses to arrive in the country by the end of this month. The buses, though not new, are in very good condition.
Included in the shipment are also spare parts and Spanish technicians who will be coming to train Liberians in the use and maintenance of the buses which total 20.

While government works on a comprehensive plan to address the transportation problem facing commuters, it is the President’s hope the provision of the buses will help ease the transportation burden.

The wave of armed robbery and other criminal activities continue to pose a serious challenge to the government’s attempt tackle crime. Most of those arrested for armed robbery end up back in our streets since under our laws the alleged criminals can not be kept behind bars for more than 48-hours without being charged.

It is our hope that armed robbery will be made a non-billable offense. We equally urged citizens to be proactive in their own security by alerting law enforcement authorities of any unusual movement of initials or vehicles in their areas, especially during late night hours. The police has a list of emergency numbers you may call to report such incidents. We must all be on the lookout for one another at all times in our communities and neighborhoods.

Under the same breath, the Executive Mansion wants to thank one of our gallant citizens who performed a patriotic duty to her country by reporting an incident which lead to the subsequent seizure of 18 boxes of ammunition in Gbarnga, Bong County. Security Forces are currently investigating the entire situation which reportedly resulted in some tense moments in that part of the country. The situation, it is our understanding, is now under control.

On the recent budget process, the President is pleased over the level cooperation which characterized the budget review process. The concern of the Executive was to ensure that Education and Health maintained priority. That was achieved. The budget process which involves ‘give and take’ is normal in the democratic process.  We will continue to encourage such an exercise, as delaying as it may sometime seem. The budget itself will be published in due course to reflect all of the adjustments made.

Finally, the President has completed a review of the Report submitted to her office recently by the Commission appointed to investigate the riot at the Freeport of Monrovia. The President will make her position known on the recommendations and other issues presented by the Boimah Fahnbulleh Commission this week.

Thanks for your attention.  I will now take your questions.