Monrovia - The Liberia National Olympic Committee (LNOC) will hold an elective congress at Evelyne’s restaurant at 10:AM in Sinkor on January 28 the event but might be marred by constitutional irregularities.
FrontPageAfrica (FPA) made frantic efforts to speak to LNOC President Philipbert Brown, who is also publisher of Hot Pepper newspaper, about the elections but Brown referred our reporters to LNOC secretary-general Joseph Willie, who then referred our reporters back to Brown in a seesaw game.
FPA, however, was fortunate to obtain the guidelines, which showed a vacancy for seven positions: President; vice President for administration (VPA); Vice President for Technical Affairs (VPTA); vice President for women affairs (VPWA); Secretary General (SG); Assistant Secretary General (ASG) and Treasurer.
A non-refundable US$200 will be charged as registration fees for any person wishing to contest any position.
The elections will be opened to members and contestant(s), who must submit a written application to the secretariat but article 14 of the LNOC constitution mandates Brown to appoint an election committee.
“An election committee shall be appointed to conduct elections for officers of the LNOC during an election year. Such committee shall be appointed by the President from within in the membership of the LNOC and may include prominent individuals outside of the LNOC’s membership,” says 14.1a.
Neither Brown nor Willie, who usually sits at an intellectual center on Carey Street, behind the Trinity Cathedral was willing to speak about the electoral committee or applicants.
Who are the contestants?
There is a lack of complete information about the elections with Brown having told our sports editor that he doesn’t owe anybody explanations about the LNOC except the stakeholders (who are Liberians by extension).
FPA understands that Brown and his team of officials: VPA Sylvester Rennie (Cllr.); VPTA Malcolm Joseph; VPWA Gbour Wilson; SG Willie; ASG Frederick Pratt and the treasurer are highly likely to be reelected unopposed.
Who are the electorates (voters)?
According to article 14, section three (a) of the LNOC constitution, only persons from amongst the membership of the LNOC such as the Presidents/secretary-generals and confirmed by their organization as well as individual members confirmed by the executive committee may vote during the LNOC officers’ election.
According to article 14, section two (a) of the LNOC constitution, only persons from amongst the membership of the LNOC, who have served on its executive committee for three quadrennials years (12 years in a row) shall be eligible to contest an elected office within the LNOC.
It means said person(s) would have had a clear insight of the LNOC and IOC (International Olympics Committee)’s activities and transactions.
Who is Brown?
Brown has been LNOC President since 2005, having replaced Clemenceau Urey, who went into politics by publicly joining the Unity Party, with a pledge to support then candidate Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
LNOC prohibits its administrators from actively participating in politics or contesting political seats.
But there is also information that Brown replaced Deborah J. Williams, who succeeded Urey following his expulsion through a vote of no confidence in November 2003.
Before his election, Brown was President of the then Liberia Basketball Federation (LBF) now Liberia Basketball Association (LBA).
Who is Rennie?
Rennie has spent a greater part of his life in sports, having served the Liberia Football Association (LFA) as an uncompromising referee.
As a law school student, Rennie rose through the rank and file of the LNOC before assuming his latest portfolio.
Who is Joseph?
Joseph has been a respected journalist, media trainer and civil society activist and served as vice President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL).
As acting President of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL, his passion for sports reporting and governance was never questioned until his ascendency to the LNOC and Liberia Football Association (LFA), which has given him an integrity problem.
Joseph was unconstitutionally elected at a bi-election, in similarity to Saturday’s congress, at Brown’s house in September 2013 following the death of Charles Cumming.
Prior to his election, Joseph served as LNOC media and communications director but the constitution says only executive committee members, who have served for three quadrennial years (12 years in a row) shall be eligible to contest an elected office.
Liberia Wrestling Association President George Gould and Liberia National
Handball Association President Mason Saweler, who were executive committee members, were nominated but disqualified in keeping with the constitution.
According to article six (a), the executive committee shall include all elected members of the LNOC, a representative of each member federation/association, who shall be the President or Secretary General.
Brown wanted his godson Joseph and no one challenges his will.
Joseph’s appointment by LFA President Musa Bility as elections committee chairman was also questioned in keeping with the LFA 2014 statutes and electoral code but it was his stewardship of the Buchanan congress in Grand Bassa County in March 2014 that further tainted his reputation.
Against international best practices, the ballot box was placed in a secret room and each voter was given at least five minutes to cast their ballot away from the congress.
Joseph has extensively traveled to monitor elections in Africa and knows that it is where you marked your ballot that is secret and not where you cast it.
Before the votes took place, Joseph controversially disqualified three candidates in keeping with the statutes but failed to disqualify Bility, Cassell Kuoh (who is detained in the United States of America pending a trial on fraud and wire fraud) and Ciatta Bishop in keeping with the same statutes.
In December, LFA executive committee member Rochelle Woodson, who was expelled by congress, alleged that the ballot box was hidden as part of a grand scheme to rig the elections.
Who is Wilson?
Wilson succeeded Brown as LBA President before she resigned in November 2011 following an acrimonious exchange of words with those who were opposed to her leadership and led by Rufus Anderson.
She was chef de mission at the London 2012 Olympic Games but her stewardship marred by the selection of a petit trader, Levi Saryee, from Waterside market to compete in judo.
Saryee did not compete as he received a bye in the first round and did not start in the second round.
It later emerged that Saryee had been proposed for selection by the Liberia Judo Federation despite having never taken part in any judo competition and being unfamiliar with the rules of the sport.
Who is Willie?
Willie is a veteran sport administrator and serves as President of the Inter High School Sport Association (ISSA), which he managed so well that he garnered accolades from notable sporting originations, both nationally and internationally.
He may willingly not contest because both of his legs are amputated.
Who is Pratt?
Like Rennie, Pratt has spent a good portion of his life in basketball, having served Brown and Wilson for many years.
Like Joseph, Pratt was unconstitutionally elected because he wasn’t an executive committee member.
Pratt is President of the Liberia National Wushu Association (LINHA).