Be Neutral or Take sides: Restoration of peace to ULAA - a challenge for the Eminent Persons Council
There has been an understanding that Eminent Council was created to mediate in any conflict in the Union. They are making use that there is peace and harmony in the Union at all times. They are to play the role of elders in our traditional Liberian setting. However, the way most of the conducted themselves has been questionable.
The reason for this piece is set the record straight with respect to the conduct of some members of the Eminent Council to undermine their honorable and sacred role and took sides. This creates more problems and doubts as whether they have will to mediate this conflict. As you know, where a conflict between two people is and you take sides, you make the other feels he/she is right. How can our elders make one party, our of their children feel he is right without first investigating or obtaining the facts?We want to hold this council accountable for integrity, credibility and impartiality. Integrity is regarded as the quality of having an intuitive sense of honesty and truthfulness in regard to the motivations for one's actions. When we speak of integrity, we are speaking of a concept of consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcomes. We did not see that in the actions of the eminent council and this has led to this conflict dragging on for over two years now. They compromised their integrity.
They openly demonstrated impartiality by taking sides. Therefore the credibility of any decision could be questioned. We are all Liberians and members of ULAA. There is no one who is more Liberian than the other. Our elders must know and understand that.
When they speak we must be able to listen. But first they have to earn our trust. They must demonstrate that they are above partisan politics. They had they days and now they must be able to use their wisdom to redirect the course of the institution. It cannot happen by jumping to conclusion without investigation.
This article is intended to invoke your input in this debate. Does the ULAA Council of Eminent Persons have the integrity and credibility to intervene in this conflict at this time? Should the party they treated unfairly trust them and why?
The organ of ULAA that has constitutional oversight responsibility of election matters of the Union, with particular emphasis on its important role of having final jurisdiction over all electoral complaints, including appeals, the ULAA Electoral Panel received complaint from one of the contending parties, conducted separate public hearings, and made a resolution of the matter, effectively declaring the 2008 elections null and void. While the decision of the ULAA Electoral Panel was upheld and supported by the ULAA Board, it was for various selfish motives, however, soon to be opposed and, in fact, undermined by then incumbent President Emmanuel Wettee, Elections Commission Chairman Amos Koukou and candidate Anthony Kesselly et al, thus leading to the prevailing confusion and dysfunction of the Union.
The Election Commission under the influence of Mr. Kesselly and Mr. Emmanuel Wettee, refuse to comply with the ruling of the ULAA Election Panel, the organ of the Union solely responsible for adjudicating and disposing of all ULAA election matters. The Elections Commission never right the wrong of having a "quorum." Accordingly whatever decision was made without the proper quorum is not binding and hence there have no elections in 2008. In our local community, do we accept the decision of two or three people or without the legal quorum?
On the other hand, you have a group of lawless board members who walked away from their responsibility. They refused to attend any meetings. In any parliament like the ULAA board, these are specific procedures and place for conducting meetings. Members of the parliament or board use their votes to make decisions. They do not walk away and go into the forest to use their votes. Therefore whatever leadership of the board they put in place outside of the board rules is illegal. We are here because of lawlessness and there are some people who will not tolerate such.
This fight has nothing to do with who has more chapters then and it is not a debate of who has more chapter leaders supporting them now. It is common knowledge that these chapter leaders are either old friends, former schoolmates or had been threatened that they either join or their chapter will be divided. North Jersey is a classic example. North Jersey crisis is a direct result of this conflict.
In additional to that you have 17 members of the board boycotting board meeting and illegally forming their self-styled board loyal to Anthony Kesselly and Emmanuel Wettee; the failure of the election commission to submit usual budget to the board for approval, and on the other hand, Mr. Emmanuel Wettee refusal to have the election comply with the ruling of the election panel and his failure to submit the budget and program of the general assembly etc.
Mr. Anthony Kesselly, Arthur Watson and Wilmot Kunney had worked out a line of succession to include only people who were and or loyal to them. In that line for the National Administration, you have Arthur Watson, followed by Emmanuel Wettee, to Issac Zawolo, to Gaye Slah, to Margeret Jones, just to list a few. On the Board end, it should have been Anthony Kesselly to David Flomo, to Wilmot Kunney and so on. This conspiracy was intended to limit the participation of any one who were not loyal to the Kesselly-Kunney empire. It is against this line that Mr. George Koukou took instruction from the Kesselly-Kunney kingdom.
The General Assembly may be the highest institution of the
Union, but its does not have the constitutional responsibility to conduct or give orders for the conduct of election. It role
of the General Assembly is constitutionally clear. On the other hand, every policy, regulations, decisions etc of the General
must be approved by the Board. Up to today the decisions of that General Assembly has never been reviewed or approved. Howbeit
we have a conflict on our have and the body we look to resolve is the Eminent Council. The question here is, "are their
hands clean?" Remember "He who comes into equity must come with clean hands."
is the act of intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise. A mediator is
a neutral party who assists in negotiations and conflict resolution, the process being known as mediation. The mediator must
do everything to ensure that s/he is neutral. The other question that we need to answer is, "has the council of eminent
in any way demonstrated that they are neutral? However, we still need to know what does it means to them, rushing to support
one side? Voting to send a representative to a union function? Does the eminent council need to vote to send a representative
to be recognized at a union function? You think about that.
Most of all, during the past nearly three (3) years, the Eminent Council Persons exposed their
own moral weakness by their reckless refusal or inability to even rescue themselves from the bondage of their own flawed and
unwise decision. How, for example, could they allow their prejudice to hinder them from at least observing the basic and fundamental
principles of due diligence and due process? How in the world could they have ever rendered such an impaired and defective
decision in such a critical matter in such callous and reckless fashion, especially, without even grant a single minute of
listening ear to the opposing party? Evidently, this was a monumental error of judgment on the part of these so-called Eminent
Partisan Politics Group?
A partisan politic group is prejudiced, one-sided, biased, partial, sectarian, factional and tendentious.
In the day of President Tubman, there were people taking statement of loyalty and support. They were playing partisans playing politics. This eminent is not, must not and should never reduce itself to a partisan group. They must conduct themselves as people of integrity. Taking sides in the event of conflict between and among your children is not a demonstration of integrity. We refuse to believe that these eminent council members are people of integrity and therefore they must refrain from taking sides.
Why didn’t this eminent council under Madea Reeves conduct itself in like manner? Why did they immediately without hearing from the other party rushed to take sides and masquerade as a partisan politic group? Why should anyone trust them? They need to do something to earn our trust again. But they blew it!
Wiseman changes, but fools never….
Hon. Bai Gbala in coming to the realization that it is not the place of eminent people to take sides, he quoted a Spanish proverb which states that "A wise man changes his mind, a wise man changes his mind, a fool never will…And it is better late then never. " We cannot do anything less than applaud him for his leadership. At the time there are three other members of the eminent who have decided to be neutral they too must be applauded for the change of mind. Like some once said, a wise man may find that he is wrong and correct himself, a fool will be stubborn and remain in the same place that he was.
We can only hope that other members of the council of eminent persons will emulate this example. Eminent people from the Liberian traditional context are considered to be our elders. They are people we respect and listen to. They speak words of wisdom and they always conduct themselves in manner that compels anyone to accord them the respect that due them. This eminent council must hereafter conduct itself in like manner.
For those who felt they had to take a side, it is time to change as a wise man. You are not fools and we refuse to believe that. It may be seen like it is late, but no, it is not too late. The people want to trust and believe you. They want to listen to you when you speak and they will not if you remain to take sides.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s Intervention
During the two ULAA assemblies on Minnesota on September 25, 2010, President sent two high level representatives with a message. The message is clear and simple. Come together and resolve your differences. She did not take sides. President Sirleaf pointed out the importance of unity in the Union. She demonstrated leadership. But again, is did it have to take President Sirleaf intervention when we have what we called, "ULAA Council of Eminent Persons?"
Why didn’t the Eminent Council play its role as mediator? The United Nations Security Council is the organ of the UN that responsibility for world peace. It does not rush take sides, in fact it does not take sides at all. In the preliminary stage what it does is that it first contacts the parties and asks the parties to stop hostility, and then proceeds to gather all the facts and does a full investigation. It does not wait for either of the parties to bring complaint. In intervenes to restore peace.
The Eminent Council failed
in carrying out is role and function and it is time to right the wrong and move on. We must all consider this as a teachable
moment. We must also thank and applaud President Sirleaf for her timely intervention. This is the first time that a Liberian
President has intervened in a ULAA conflict.
1. The Council must product and publish a code of conduct that will guide the conduct of its members;
2. Develop a term of reference that spells out specifically what the eminent council is established to achieve;
3. Members of the eminent council who were president at the time or influence this conflict in any way or who exhibited that they have vested interest in a particular must recue themselves;
4. Instead of a perpetual acting leader, the council needs to election its leaders;
5. Any attempt on the part of any member (s) of this council will means that person(s) will have to recue himself/herself from this process.
After what we have experienced over the last two years, there will have to be some commitment before this process can get on the way. If peace and harmony must return to ULAA the eminent council has the responsibility to make this happen in a professional manner. The council must demonstrate accountability, transparency, and credibility and within the discharge of their duty.
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