LBA INTERNAL FIGHT CONTINUES
Paynesville – Following several hours of roundtable discussions on Thursday, July 6, 2023, at the SKD Gymnasium, the Liberia Basketball Association’s ongoing conflict is still unsettled. Members of the Liberia National Olympic Committee led by Philbert Brown and Malcom Joseph, the Minister of Youth and Sports Zeogar Wilson, the Deputy Minister of Sports Andy Quamie, and Human Rights Attorney Cllr. Koffe Woods all attended the meeting to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict that began on November 30, 2019.
Others who attended the meeting were, Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) media manager, Naomi Tappia, some stakeholders of Basketball, fans, players, Embattle President Rufus Anderson, Acting Secretary General of Liberian Basketball, Fredrick Pratt, Technical Director of Liberian Basketball, Benedict Sayeh, Vice President for Operations of the current leadership, Edwin Fahnbulleh, current President, Abraham Samukai, media institutions including: Okay Fm-Liberia, Liberia Broadcasting System ( LBS), Front Page Africa, Truth FM amongst others.
The dispute stems from the election that put Mr. Abraham Samukai and his allies in office, an election that the international body has deemed unconstitutional based on the observer’s report. Nearly four years of internal conflict, which prevented Liberian clubs from competing in international tournaments and the nation as a whole.
Both parties agreed to hold a round table discussion to find a suitable way to resolve the matter. However, their agenda was not met due to disagreement from all sides, which prevented them from reaching their goals.
In order to have a fair discussion where different points of view were allowed from all sides, the presiding officer asked each party to present their suggestions at the meeting. After a while, the presiding officers and the two parties were urged to adjourn the meeting for at least ten minutes or longer so that players, stakeholders, and fans may have a meaningful discussion and come up with better solutions.
After the break, the meeting resumed, and they gave a position statement outlining their agreement for Mr. Anderson to take over the federation in eight weeks and reinstate his two officials (the secretary general and financial personnel), but that the validation of clubs should include clubs that had already been operating by the time of the 2019 elections, Wella Barr, served as their spokesperson.
On the other hand, Anderson maintained that if the international body’s order is fully carried out, he is ready to put an end to the conflict. He explained that he has resigned and had no interest in running for president again. Instead, his major goal is to examine FIBA regulations and, if they are prepared to cooperate, implement them exactly.
Regarding the validation of clubs, he claimed that FIBA was already aware of the clubs that were eligible as of 2019 and that any additional clubs founded after that date would not be allowed to participate if he were to be given the go-ahead to call another election-based Congress. As he abruptly ended the meeting as, yet another day passed without a resolution, his statement infuriated Minister Wilson and others.
Anderson’s actions today have demonstrated that he is not even willing to settle this issue. Philbert Brown, please write FIBA; Samukai, you are still in charge and continue to act. We will resolve this conflict by the end of July. We are going to communicate with FIBA immediately, the MYS Minister D. Zeogar Wilson remarked.
After the meeting, Mr. Rufus Anderson spoke with media and stated that in order to end the ongoing disagreement, the rule of law must be upheld. ”We must cease conducting ourselves in a Liberian manner and obey the law. The LBA constitution is known to FIBA, and I’m not the issue it’s the rule of law we don’t want to uphold.”
Reported by: Sylvester Tamba