3 April 2013

Liberia: Grand Bassa Goes to Court

Grand Bassa County District #4 Representative J. Byron Brown, has petitioned the Supreme Court of Liberia for a writ of Mandamus, seeking renegotiation of 70 years concession agreement reached with the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) in 1959.

Fifty four years after the agreement was signed between both parties on March 3, 1959, Representative Brown contends that LAC is still operating under the 1959 agreement, failing to take into consideration the prevailing economic situation in the country and the world.

In the petition filed before the Chief Clerk of the Supreme Court of Liberia Martha Bryant Henries on 27 March this year, Representative Byron argued that Article two of the agreement is "ambiguous" in that Co-respondent Government of Liberia granted 300,000 acres of land to co-respondent LAC which he said covered Nimba, River Cess, Sinoe, River Gee, Maryland and Grand Bassa counties, respectively.

He insists that concession agreements of other rubber companies in the country, including Firestone, Goodridge and Sim Darbey are renegotiated to benefit the Liberian people, saying "but Co-respondent (LAC) is still operating under the 1959."

The Grand Bassa lawmaker further argued that the agreement did not regard the change in the global rubber industry and its contribution to the national economy; the environmental impact of its operation on the citizens and residents of Electoral District #4, which he represents.

He also complained that amidst the numerous factors highlighted, the tribal people of Grand Bassa County continued to be removed from their ancestral homeland, over claims that LAC is identifying uninhabited land for its future expansion of citizens.

He however prayed the high court to order the respondent Government and co-respondent LAC to begin renegotiation of the concession agreement in order to curtail the "unlawful" dislocation and to bring about sanity in the Bassa land.

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