Snowe Washes Hands off Western Cluster Deal -Says His Character, Reputation Maligned Unjustifiably -As Bomi Citizens Present 10-Count Petition

MONROVIA –  In the wake of mounting criticisms from a cross section of the citizens of Bomi about his allegedly dubious role in the Western Cluster deal that has left the people of the Western Region unhappy, Bomi County Legislative Caucus chief negotiator for the resumption of Western Cluster Mining Company operations in Liberia, Senator Edwin Melvin Snowe, says he no longer has anything to do with Western Cluster.

Making his position known on Wednesday, January 11, 2023 in a town hall meeting with Bomi County citizens who presented a 10-count petition, Senator Snowe decried what he said was the unjustified damage to his character and reputation all because he decided to work in the interest of his constituency, for the citizens to get a better livelihood through the resumption of the Western Cluster iron ore mining operations.

“When we started this Western Cluster thing, you asked me to represent the Caucus in ensuring that company comes back and does its best for our people. From all indications, our people are not happy. I am advising you, Mr. Chairman, let the Caucus meet, let’s take the necessary action for our people to be protected. But going forward, the assignment that you gave me, as member of the Caucus, to represent the Caucus in these discussions, I hereby relinquish that assignment as from today. I don’t want to have anything to do with Western Cluster. Find somebody from the Caucus and the County to move forward with the Western Cluster situation.

“Moving forward, anything in the past, clarification, explanation that you want, I am prepared to give. But as of today’s date, I don’t want to have anything that has to do with Western Cluster. I have been called a criminal. My family is crying; my children are calling me. I am a human being. I am somebody’s son too. If what I did was wrong, I apologize to the people of Bomi County. But God is my judge, and I know my heart. Thank you. I am out of this whole process,” Snowe said as he relinquished his assignment to Senator Morris Seytumah of Bomi County.

Speaking on behalf of the County and in her capacity as Bomi County Representative, Madam Finda Lansanah said she had also been accused of being in the pocket of Western Cluster because of her prolonged silence on the iron ore deal. She also pleaded with Senator Snowe to remain engaged with Western Cluster, even as the Caucus responds to the citizens’ 10-count resolution presented during the town hall meeting.

The 10-count complaint

According to the Bomi County United Concerned Citizens in their resolution, the Legislative Caucus and Western Cluster have failed to provide the citizens of Bomi detailed information about the company’s operations, as well as the MOU and citizens’ participation in the plan of the company’s operations in our county.

The citizens also called for the current MOU between the government of Liberia and Western Cluster to be replaced with the Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf administration 2011 Mineral Development Agreement (MDA), terming as illegal the current MOU being used by Western Cluster to resume operations in Bomi.

“At the onset of the Western Cluster operation, we were informed by Bomi County Caucus members of the upper House that Western Cluster Liberia contributed the amount of US$5million to the Government of Liberia, of which US$3.5million was allotted to Bomi County. Up to present, this amount has not been remitted to our County Development Account,” the Bomi citizens lamented in their petition.

The petitioners also decried the high unemployment rate in the county, stating they had hoped the presence of Western Cluster would have alleviated the high unemployment rate, but to the contrary, such has failed to happen.

“During the introduction of the company at the multipurpose building, the Caucus informed us that there was an ongoing environmental impact assessment by relevant EPA authority. Up to date, that environmental impact assessment is yet to be made known to citizens of Bomi County,” the petitioners stated, noting that the healthcare system in Bomi remains substandard even with the presence of Western Cluster.

Among other things, the petitioners also demanded capacity building for youths of the county, and the empowerment of the women of Bomi County by allowing them to provide catering services to Western Cluster.

“The employment of citizens of Bomi County can’t be compromised; therefore, we are requesting immediately that Western Cluster begin employing citizens of the county beginning with the immediately affected communities around the mining site. We are also demanding that there be a committee that will vet our citizens for employment in the county which shall be referred to as the Land Representative Committee (LRC) as being done in other parts of the county,” the petitioners further demanded, while requesting that Western Cluster employs a Community Relations Officer as information liaison between the company and the citizens of Bomi.

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