Liberia: BWI rejects interim administration – says unconstitutional and illegal
Marigibi County – The BWIAA National Convention met on May 29, 2021, the last Saturday of the month, and was held on the BWIAA campus, as provided for in the BWIAA constitution. The process was hijacked by a group of alumni, led by former president, former student Jonathan Paye-layleh, with the intention of derailing the process of having a democratic election, in favor of a interim leadership. The action of these former students who were not accredited delegates to the convention, was only intended to hijack the direction, to create a disunity within the association and to make their way towards the direction of association.
We remember a similar situation in the late 1990s when a group of former government students, who claimed to have been wronged, stormed the association’s offices on Buchanan Street with gunmen and excluded the constituted management. It took over two years to get the association back on track, and even to this day, the seed of disunity that was sown then still breeds its ugly face.
Summary of issues raised by the Paye-Layleh group:
That the mandate of the outgoing administration had expired and that it did not have the power to organize the convention, let alone the elections.
That it was a violation of the constitution for the convention president to oversee the conduct of the elections.
That the outgoing administration should have held the elections at the end of their term, even during the Covid19 restrictions. Since this did not happen, the leadership, rather than asking for the mandate of the sections to organize the convention and hold the elections, should have waited for the General Assembly to ask for the way forward.
First, the constitutional tenure of President Tenbroh’s current rulers should have expired on Founder’s Day 2020, after elections were held in May and the elected leaders were enthroned in June (Founder’s Day). As we all know, our country has been affected, like most parts of the world, by the deadly Corona virus disease, and the President of Liberia, Dr George Manneh Weah, has declared an order of ‘STAY AT HOME Under the state of emergency on April 10, 2020, to contain the spread of the global coronavirus disease. A quarantine has been put in place in four counties, including Montserrado and Margibi, restricting the movement of people. It was not possible to organize a convention and hold elections under these conditions. The constitution provides that the convention will only be held on the BWI campus on the last Saturday in May, but due to Covid-19 restrictions, the BWI has been closed.
According to the constitution of the BWIAA, article IX, section 5, under Elections, “All elected officers of the Association shall serve for a period of two (2) years, except in cases of force majeure, the officers so elected shall not serve. more than more than two (2) consecutive terms. Elections are held by secret ballot.
Second, we recognize that we have not been able to proceed with the election of national officers on the date and at the place provided for by the constitution, not because we neglected to do so or refused to do so, but because we were forced by acts of nature (the Corona virus pandemic) not to be able to organize elections on the constitutional date. However, as soon as it was possible to move without restrictions, we visited all sections to discuss the situation, and the dominant decision of the sections was that we hold the elections at the next convention which was only in a few months, to satisfy the provision of the constitution covering elections.
It is important to note that each chapter has appointed a representative to the convention committee to ensure its participation and transparency. We have acted in good faith.
Third, we have formed a committee to organize the convention and conduct the elections for a new leadership. As a priority, with reference to the last two elections, the convention committee has a president, co-president, secretary and members from each chapter appointed to oversee the convention and the elections. Elections are a convention activity. In the last elections, the president decided to delegate part of the responsibility for the elections to his co-president, which did not necessarily separate the electoral activity from the convention. The convention president presided over all aspects of the elections, including guidelines, setting candidate fees, timing of elections, delegate qualifications, and more. Therefore, there has been no violation of the constitution as the Paye-Layleh group insinuates.
If there had been a breach as they claim, and they had no ulterior motives, Congress could have mandated the president to delegate responsibility for overseeing the elections to his co-president. But for someone to misuse their influence and power, to demand that these elections be taken off the agenda and replaced with interim leadership, makes it clear that the group wanted to destabilize the convention and create chaos. and disunity.
The problems raised by those who want to sow chaos within the Association are not strong enough to abort the elections in favor of an interim arrangement, moreover our constitution only provides for the change of leadership by elections.
Fourth, according to our statutes, under endorsement, amendments approved by the General Assembly of 2015, 1. “That henceforth, the election of the leaders of the National Executive Committee be made during the convention of the association which must take place before the Founders Day. will bring together ten (10) delegates from each chapter, five (5) delegates from each branch and twenty (20) from the National Executive Committee. Those who will be elected at the congress must be sworn in on the Founder’s Day following the election. “
We have a founders day general assembly that reviews and approves convention decisions, especially matters relating to constitutional amendments and other proposed actions to the convention. The approval by the general assembly of any constitutional amendment would then qualify this provision to become legal and binding. We didn’t have to wait for the general assembly to ask to organize the convention and hold an election, because that would be like putting the cart before the horse.
However, if we were to agree with our detractors, it would only mean that the convention and every decision made by it is unconstitutional and illegal.
Fifth, according to our constitution, “The convention will bring together ten (10) delegates from each chapter, five (5) delegates from each branch and twenty (20) from the National Executive Committee. Delegates representing chapters / branches are registered members of those chapters / branches, selected by the chapter / branch and accredited by congress.For CEN, all elected national officers and chairpersons of standing committees are congress delegates, as well as any additional alumni appointed by the president, provided the number does not exceed 20. Accredited delegates are the only persons constitutionally qualified to participate in decision-making on behalf of the section / leadership and the CEN at the congress .
Former student Jonathan Paye-Layleh and his cohort were largely not accredited delegates to the convention – they did not represent any Sections, Branches or NECs – meaning they were not qualified to participate in the process. decision-making during the convention. Any decision made on the basis of their unconstitutional and illegal participation / votes is therefore unconstitutional and illegal.
We want to categorically state that the interim leadership created by former student Paye-Layleh and his group is unconstitutional and illegal. We do not recognize this group and call on members of the Alumni Association not to do business with them. Having said that, it is clear that there are hidden and selfish motives behind the idea of interim leadership when an election could have been held. This is just an evil ploy to provide a vehicle for those fearful of elections or those who want to return to power, cheat to return to leadership and use the alumni association as a springboard to advance their personal interests. .
Finally, to ensure a smooth transition to a new administration, we recommend the following:
That the Association return to the status quo and the electoral process that was under way before the appearance of this disruption.
That the General Assembly, when it meets on the Founder’s day, set a new date, within two months, for a special convention, to proceed to new elections for the next administration in order to run the affairs of the Association. ancient.
That the current convention committee be expanded to include two or three additional representatives selected at the GA to conduct the elections for a new constitutional leadership.
That the candidacy process be reopened to all those who would like to apply for elected positions to participate in the elections.
That a revision / rewrite of the constitution with any amendment be carried out only after the elections, by the constitutionally elected administration.
We therefore wish to call on all members of the Association to support the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections to ensure unity and a smooth transition in the interest of the Association.
In another (new) development, the General Assembly of the alumni association will not be able to meet on Founder’s Day, June 26, 2021, due to the new and growing wave of coronavirus disease in the country, resulting in again restrictions on gatherings. by the government and implemented by the BWI administration. That said, the National Executive Committee will initiate a national dialogue with BWIAA stakeholders to convene a special convention, to organize elections for the new leadership of the BWI Alumni Association, in accordance with the constitution of the BWI. ‘association.