9 January 2013

Liberia: Leadership Crisis Hits Caldwell Township

Residents of Caldwell Township in Montserrado County are demanding the resignation of the Township Commissioner, Madam Alexzine Howard, threatening to forcibly remove her from office if she refused to resign.

The residents told this paper Tuesday in the township that their decision range from the nullification of a recent election held by Commissioner Howard and Montserrado County Superintendent Grace Kpaan, which they considered a lack of respect for them and poor leadership, among others.

The election in question, which was held on October 20, 2012, brought onboard a new code of officers, including one Anthony Robertson. Mr. Robertson won the township clerk position with 36 votes against the incumbent Richard Tucker with 22 votes.

But Commissioner Howard failed to accept the result on grounds that the elected official (Robertson) had a tainted record and could not work with him, and the residents described as undemocratic, the Commissioner and Superintendent's decision to overrule the process, demanding them to allow the elected Township Clerk to take office or else, the commissioner should step down.

"The constitution of Caldwell says before a position is given, they have to go to round table election. The Township had already elected the man then she is saying that he is not competent, why? So, I want to tell her that she is not workable, if she doesn't resign immediately there will be a calamity" said Alex P Moore, Jr., a resident of Caldwell.

Other residents spoken to expressed resentment and called on government to intervene quickly or they will take the law into their own hands. "We don't want her at all; we don't want her otherwise war will come here. If at all the President doesn't intervene now, I foresee war coming here," an elderly man said.

In an interview with this paper, Caldwell Township Commissioner Alexzine Howard admitted that election was held, but alleged there was low turnout, which did not form quorum. Commissioner Howard explained that following the election, some residents complained that the Township Clerk elected, Anthony Robertson had poor character, thereby asking her to invalidate the entire process.

"Yes, it was an election, but again the residents came and said we cannot have this man in this office" she claimed. She said based on that, she refused to work with Mr. Robertson because of his 'tainted character'. Asked whether there was evidence, she only said Robertson was accused of being indebted with people and involvement in illegal land sales.

"But when the residents come and say the election was not fair, and want it null and void that is when the Superintendent came in and said no." From all indications, a timely intervention by government could prevent chaos in the Township, as tensions continue mount daily, with some threatening to embark on strike actions.

Responding to call for her resignation, Commissioner Howard described those involved as disgruntled, maintaining the she will not resign, but face her accusers. "They told me to resign or they will remove me even if it results to violence, so I sued them," she added.

There are reports that Commissioner Howard has ordered the arrest and detention of one of those demanding her resignation, Jemeon Sando, leader of the United Friends of Caldwell, for allegedly threatening her life. The matter is now in court, though the main conflict continues to fume.

Howard was appointed as Acting Commissioner of Caldwell, Liberia's oldest Township by President Johnson-Sirleaf in December 2011, and became Commissioner proper in August 2012.

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