Liberia: Crisis Hits Liberian Community in Canada

The chairman of the organizing committee of the ensuing elections of the Federation of Liberian Associations in Canada (FLAC), Theophilus Kiadii, has warned his colleague, Leo N. Johnson, from impersonating as president of the organization.

FLAC is a Liberian-based Canadian not-for-profit corporation established by an Act on July 30, 2018.

Kiadii has said that the organization does not have a legitimate president as is being insinuated. Rather, the organization is heading to elections, from whence the leadership will be announced and charged to spearhead the activities of Liberians in that part of the world.

The elections organizing committee chairman's clarification was precipitated by recent remarks that Johnson made at a meeting with Liberia's deputy Foreign Minister, Marwine Diggs, where he introduced himself as president of FLAC.

Johnson was in Monrovia as head of a delegation of Empowerment Squared, a Liberian/Canadian-based organization that has planned to construct a public library and business incubation center in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.

A local newspaper in which Johnson termed himself as FLAC president, put the Library project at half a million United States dollars.

But just over a week after Johnson's statement, the organization has accused him of 'impersonating,' as he is not the president of the group.

According to Kiadii, "it is completely erroneous, and therefore, misleading as Mr. Johnson is not, and has never been a president of FLAC, so his claim to the position is illegal."

"We have also filed in all of our tax returns, so they are not eligible to use our name. If you are a not-for-profit organization, the Canadian government will not force you, however, they will not do business with you under their law," Kiadii said.

He said that the Federation is currently undergoing change under a transitional leadership team, of which Johnson is not even a part.

Mr. Kiadii has therefore called on Liberian based in Canada that would be going for election on November 30, 2019, to elect a legitimate president that will lead the organization in the coming years, "because we don't recognize the Johnson leadership."

Mr. Leo Johnson: "I'm the legitimate president." "We want to inform the public that Leo N. Johnson, who claims to be president, is erroneous and misleading. We are therefore calling on the general public as well as our compatriots in the diasporas not to do business or any interaction with this Johnson because he is masquerading illegally," Kiadii said.

Kiadii added, "Johnson is a very good gentleman, and I don't have any personal problem with him; he is also one of the hard-working guys in the organization, and even worked with us to establish the constitution. Our problem has to do with the level in which he has taken the institution with regards to the federation."

He, therefore, used the occasion to call on all Liberians living in Canada to come together and build a strong organization, "because it is now time that we build a strong community that will seek the interest of not just Liberians in the diasporas, but fellow Canadians, and as well as in Liberia and other parts of the world."

These developments bring to the fore the leadership crisis that has engulfed the Liberian community in Canada and which continues to deepen as the legitimacy of who leads the organization remains in limbo.

Two groups are tussling over the leadership of FLAC.

Established since 2015, FLAC is yet to be led by elected officials as the interim leadership, headed by Francis Hinnah, has since expired.

Though given one year with some objectives to accomplish, Hinnah and his team failed to achieve any of those and even failed to take the group to election.

Predicated upon this, the group unanimously dissolved the interim leadership and set up a transition team that is conducting elections later this month.

In response, Johnson debunked Mr. Kiadii's accusations against him, noting, "I am the legitimate head of the association."

In what he termed as a high-level timeline of the association's activities since it's founding, Johnson said that Kiadii is one of six people who are confusing the association.

He added that the membership of FLAC has since mandated the interim body to ensure that elections are held, a process that is well on course as oppose to Kiadii's assertion that a transition body was set up.

"By consensus, everyone agreed that the membership of FLAC should hold election following the convention in July 2018. The motion was made and passed unanimously mandating the interim leadership to implement the decision."

He said that one month after the convention, a letter was circulated by Kiadii, who had just returned from Liberia and did not attend the convention in Canada, that the interim leadership of FLAC has been overthrown due to overstaying their mandate and their refusal to register the organization with the government in Canada.

According to him, they proceeded and registered the organization as a nonprofit, listing themselves as board and trustees, and openly said they will hold the organization hostage with the registration documents until their demands are met.

After a series of efforts by various Liberian Community leaders individually and collectively, Johnson said: "Our brothers who are basically six people in total, have used the issue of registration as a bargain to take power. They have basically told everyone that the only acceptable solution for them is for the interim leadership to resign and turn over things to them unilaterally without any democratic process."

As a result, Johnson added, the interim leadership proceeded with the preparations for elections as was mandated in July 2018, and invited them to participate, which they refused. The election was held in Windsor where nine of 12 Liberian communities participated and elected the first official leadership for the federation, which brought "me to power as president of FLAC."

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