ULAA President under Fire... Remains Silent

By Theodore T. Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 14, 2003

Recently the Taylor propaganda website allaboutLiberia.com published a piece critical of Mr. Mohammed Kromah, the recently-elected president of the Union of Liberian Associations in the Americas (ULAA). The article, under the sensational headline: "The Islamization of ULAA - Kromah Enters Pact with LURD Financiers In Europe" was very blunt in its charges against Mr. Kromah. Among others, it accused him of attempting to move the all-Liberian organization towards "Islamization". But worst of all, he was accused of collaborating with financiers of LURD, the rebel group waging a war against the government of Liberia. It was reported that he had gone to Europe and met with supporters and financiers of the rebel group; that he is a sympathizer and supporter.

No matter one's political views and philosophy, it is obvious that these are serious charges against any Liberian. Upon reading the article, an inquiring mind can't help but wonder: Are there any deliberate efforts underway to turn ULAA into an Islamic organization, instead of the vanguard all-Liberian organization it has been all these years?

The answer to this first question is simple: Pure nonsense. Only a desperate and failing government like the regime in Monrovia would go to such length to spread such petty rumor and propaganda in an attempt to drive a wedge among Liberians abroad.

First of all, anyone familiar with the organization knows that the majority of its members are not Muslims and its officers and leaders come from all walks of life in the Liberian community. Just because the president happens to be a Muslim this time around does not change the organization overnight into a fanatic Islamic outfit. It is simply a ridiculous and outlandish charge.

For the record, Mr. Kromah won a popular election based on a credible platform and a well-organized team of professionals he assembled. He competed against two other candidates (Arthur Watson and Ijoma Flemingster), who were equally qualified and impressive. In my view, the best man won and the losing candidates pledge their solidarity and support - it had nothing to do with religion.

How do I know? I headed a delegation to the convention and was privileged to be a part of the entire process. I met and talked with many of the delegates and other participants before, during and after the election. I also took the time to attend the inauguration ceremonies and met with a cross-section of Liberians from various regions of the country. Again, I'd like to emphasize that religion was never a criterion considered in the mix. The gentleman won - fair and square.

It is preposterous to assume that Mr. Kromah has the power (even if he had the intention) to turn ULAA into an "Islamic" organization. That charge is simply laughable and should be immediately dismissed. Tell Mr. Taylor his little fly on the wall fed him crap.

The second issue has to do with Mr. Kromah's alleged sympathy and support for the rebel group, LURD. Does he really support them? Did he meet with financiers in Europe as alleged by this whistleblower? If it is true that Mr. Kromah does support LURD and did meet with its financiers in Europe, asking a few more questions become necessary: "Under what circumstances did these meetings occur? Did he travel to this meeting in his capacity as President of ULAA? Did he, in fact, conduct business under the auspices of the organization? Or did he do so simply as an individual Liberian or in another capacity? Better yet, did theses meetings occur at all, or is this the figment of someone's imagination?

Only one person can and should have answered those critical questions: The President of ULAA, Mr. Sam Mohammed Kromah.

However, it has been over two weeks since reading these divisive and disturbing comments. I find the silence from Mr. Kromah quite stunning and discouraging. By now, I had expected a full, official response from his office clarifying the issues raised. That he has not done so, I find to be a tactical error.

Recently, to compound an already confusing development, another Liberian, Mr. Nvasekie Konneh wrote an article and at the very end, as if as an afterthought, gave Mr. Kromah's version of the events. Quoting an e-mail communication between him and Mr. Kromah, he said he posed the question: "There is a rumor that you went to Europe. If it is true, what was you mission?" This is what he reported Mr. Kromah as saying:

"A community in Italy organized a workshop on political and humanitarian situations in the Man River sub-region. An invitation was extended to me strictly based on my involvement in many humanitarian efforts in the sub-region. As president of Resources and Outreach for Liberia (ROL), an organization founded by my wife, Dr. Margaret N. Kromah, I was invited to attend this gathering. I understand that the Liberian Government was invited but turned down the invitation. The Mano River Humanitarian Organization was there. LURD representatives were also there along with three other humanitarian agencies in the sub-region. Theme of the conference was: "What Went Wrong and How can We Fix It?"

Well, the truth of the matter is as much as I respect the rights of Mr. Kromah to do whatever he chooses, go wherever and associate with whomsoever he pleases, when he acts under the auspices of ULAA, he does have a legal and moral obligation to declare a public position. Mr. Kromah was elected by the people and he promised to be their humble and faithful servant. That promise must not be taken lightly or betrayed.

Is this to conclude that Mr. Kromah has violated his constitutional commitment to ULAA? I don't know. Is this to imply that he betrayed the organization and its members in anyway? I don't know. But, in my opinion, a public statement from Mr. Kromah is long overdue. The president owes us, the Liberian public as well as members of and well-wishers of ULAA, an official response. Nothing less will do.