Tuesday, November 6, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS – A group aspiring to take up the leadership of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota (OLM) in the forthcoming elections has called for the immediate amendment of the association’s constitution to allow it operate as a non-profit body.
Speaking during the launch of its campaign, the Dwanyeh-Tehmeh Team promised to change the present constitution and stop the elections of future presidents. Instead they proposed a system that will allow presidential nominations by the board of directors. Furthermore they announced their desire to expand the board from the current five to twelve members of which nine will be Liberians and three representatives from Professional Associations and the Business Community.
The team has Kerper Dwanyen vying for Presidency and Andrew Tehmeh as his running mate. In a colorful ceremony attended by a handful of supporters the two tore into the present OLM administration calling it “a disgrace’’ to the Liberian community in Minnesota.
“Many of us invested our hopes and aspirations in this current leadership, expecting reform, services and accountability but today we see ourselves no further ahead in these quests, our hopes have been dashed as financial scandal after scandal and unabated conflict have rocked our faith in this OLM administration,” Dwanyen said.
He said the community stood at the crossroads and its choice in the Dec. 2 election will decide whether Liberians opt to vote for change or remain stagnant in the cycle of underperformance. If elected Dwanyen promised to bring reform and ensure the community reclaimed its seat at what he termed as “the vibrant immigrant communities in the great state of Minnesota.”
Dwanyen pointed out despite ready support available for immigrant communities at both federal and state level the current leadership was incompetent to effectively lobby for funds thereby denying the community a chance to benefit from millions of dollars disbursed for social needs.
“Social service entities with no connection to our community and very little knowledge of our problems obtain funds for the purpose of serving us and since they don’t really know us they can’t really serve us,” he said. “The manner in which this administration has handled its promise of financial accountability is a disgrace and people will not trust us with money if we are not serious about integrity. That’s why OLM is broke today.”
Touching on the issue of uncertainty hanging on the heads of many Liberians, Dwanyen wondered why anyone would need to repatriate people who have managed to rebuild their lives from scratch for nearly two decades in the state and vowed to fight to the end to ensure Liberians under temporary status get permanent residence. He also challenged the community to get engaged in active politics by promoting Liberian born candidates for public office. And as a starting point he announced his administration would draft candidates for office in the elections for Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Centre City positions. He also assured supporters that his group would work closely with other agencies to formulate projects to provide services such as youth mentoring, job searches, HIV/AIDS awareness, adult literacy and sports. Other than Dwanyen and Tehmeh the team has former U.S. Army lieutenant Kulah Parker running as treasurer and Thalia Cooper as secretary general.