EU to Support 2017 Elections, New Energy Project, GAC

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The European Union (EU) has disclosed that it will support among other things the 2017 Presidential and general elections in Liberia.

EU Delegation Ambassador to Liberia, Amb. Attilio Pacifici made the disclosure on May 9, at his residence in Congo during the commemoration of Europe Day.

In addition to areas of support for Liberia, the EU Ambassador said his entity will also support the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and will finance a new energy project.

“We will also expand the use of budget support to sustain government’s efforts in the security and justice sector in view of the reconfiguration and draw down of UNMIL,” Ambassador Pacifici added.

Recalling areas where EU is currently rendering support for Liberia, Ambassador Pacific noted that in 2013 the Forestry Voluntary Partnership Agreement came into force after ratification by the Liberian Legislature.

Expressing assurance for proper management of the forest sector, the EU Ambassador pointed out that Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director Harrison Karnwea is now a guarantee for the implementation of the agreement.

He further expressed the hope that the chairmanship of the FDA, headed by Sister Mary Lauren Browne, as well as the vigilant monitoring of civil society will provide the oversight that the sector has been craving for long.

According to him, EU-Liberia first official joint implementation committee meeting is expected at the end of this May, and they will go through all details of the implementation of the VPA.

In spite of effort made to reach the VPA Agreement, Ambassador Pacifici said more still need to be done including addressing under the Liberian criminal and penal law, wrongdoings that have seriously hurt the interests of the country.

“I am committed to make the process and its proceedings as thorough and as transparent as possible to ensure that a sector, stained in the past by murky deals, will contribute to bring about the changes that the President of Liberia strongly and eloquently called for in her speech on the fight against corruption, delivered at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Cecil Dennis Auditorium on May 6, 2014,” Ambassador Pacific said.

In addition to the VPA that seeks to control the flow of logs from Liberia so that the country can benefit its fair share, the EU Ambassador emphasized EU’s contribution to the energy sector as one focused area for government and investors.

The EU Ambassador further disclosed the EIB which is another institution of EU is blending a concessional loan of 27 million USD with funds from the Saudi Fund for Development and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa to finance the reconstruction of the runway of the Roberts International Airport.

The EU day where the Ambassador spoke was partially attended by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  Ambassadors and other host of government officials including Foreign Minister Augustine K. Ngafuan, Agriculture Minister Dr. Florence Chenoweh, Education Minister Etmonia David Tarpeh, Lands, Mines & Energy Minister Patrick Sendolo heads of private institutions and civil society groups, amongst others attended the program.

Minister Ngafuan who spoke on behalf of the Liberia Government noted with emphasis that joining the EU to celebrate the day was a pride to Liberia because EU has demonstrated concern in the recovery process of the country.

Minister Ngafuan said debt waivers and contributions to the energy sector are among many good things EU has done for Liberia.

Responding to information about the departure of some EU diplomats, including Ambassador Pacifici later this year, Minister Ngafuan, realizing the roles of those concerned, acknowledged that considering all of what these officials have done and continue to do, the Liberian government cannot prohibit their departure because it does not lie in Liberia’s domain.

The Minister did ask, however, “Why so soon?”  Among those EU staff to be departing this year are Paul Maebe and his spouse Mia, head of Contract and Finance, Dr. Joan Casanova, Carlos Battaglini of the Forest sector, and Claudia Zulaika.

Ambassador Pacific confirmed that he will also be leaving this year but did not give a specific date.

European Day is an anniversary celebrated every year by the European Union in commemoration of Robert Schuman’s Declaration on May 9, 1950 for unification of Europe to make war on that continent impossible and spread peace and prosperity globally.

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