A signing ceremony to signal a final resolution of the crack between the Federation of the Liberian Youth (FLY) and the Liberia National Student Union (LINSU) failed to take place in Monrovia Tuesday ( July 12).
The rift erupted between the two groups (LINSU being an auxiliary of FLY) in January during a General Assembly to elect new corps of officers for two years.
It resulted into a bleeding clash with several people being wounded after police intervened to bring the escalating situation under control.
The Youth Action International (YAI), through its Executive Director Kimie L. Weeks, has been holding talks with leaders of the two groups who agreed in principle to officially put the episode behind them by signing an agreement salted for yesterday.
However, Mr. Weeks’ intervention received a “disappointment” when one of the parties, the head of LINSU, could not show up.
The President of LINSU Kwamie Ross did not show because he was reportedly attending a “very important youth-related meeting” at the UNDP, according to his proxy Varney Jarsay, LINSU’s Vice President for International Affairs.
“He is aware, the entire Executive Committee of LINSU is aware of this signing agreement, but the President could not be here because of the very important meeting at the UNDP, Jarsay explained. “That’s why he sent me,” he added.
Jarsay disclosed that both LINSU and FLY have practically (behind the scene) resolved their past differences and were implementing projects together.
“I’m disappointed, it’s a missed opportunity to bring the young people together to work for our interest and the future of our country,” Weeks told journalists after the signing of the “peace treaty” failed.
“The agreement was not meant that he should send a proxy….It was meant for heads of the two groups…it’s a very, very important issue and a very important document,” Weeks justified why the agreement was not signed.
“I will not give up, we will work with them….This is just the beginning. We will continue to engage them and we will succeed,” Mr. Weeks, who has reportedly been holding behind closed-door negotiations with officials of the two organizations for several months, said.
He said the decision of the signing ceremony was not automatic. It was reached through a lengthened discussion.
“We had many, many weeks of negotiations that culminated into today…. We had discussions with both leaders up to late last night to reach a final settlement….We are thankful to the FLY leadership for coming for the signing, but unfortunately the leadership of LINSU is not available,” said Weeks.
“This was an opportunity for us to come together as young people and work to ensure that no more will the older politicians, no more will the power that be, use and abuse the youth for their own purposes, because together we can stand, we can succeed,” the acclaimed right activist noted.
The YAI Boss said the youths have always cried out that they are left out of the national issues and development and discussion processes, but it time that they look at themselves and reflect on what they want to do and be.
He said despite the setback, he will not give up working with the two groups to officially resolving their differences so that YAI can collaborate with them to undertake meaningful projects in the interest of the young people of Liberia.
He said giving up working with FLY and LINSU means giving up working with the youths of the country, who he claimed he has at heart.
“We will never give up, because giving up means we are giving up on the youths of Liberia which we can not afford to do; we will go back to the leadership to see what happened, why there was a delay…,” Mr. Weeks asserted.
He feared that if the youth of the country are not united as a coalition to seek their own wellbeing, they would be divided and used by politicians to dampen their (youth) future.
“We are all working together now, but as we go towards electioneering process, people will want to divide the youths and the youths must begin to guide themselves against such things,” the young Liberian cautioned.
“This is a coalition of youth group that we are trying to put together. I am very, very disappointed and I think it is an unfortunate reflection of the young people….As young people we have to work together, we have to respect one another…and truly I am disappointed [because we did not sign the agreement today]”
“I am also disappointed that this signing ceremony did not take place today,” FLY President Augustus M. Zayzay, Jr., who came along with two deputies, said in an interview.
He confirmed that both FLY and LINSU are currently working together, jointly implementing an UNFPA project, despite their misunderstanding January.
“We started it (peace efforts) some…six months ago, and as we speak there exists a cordial relationship between the two institutions. We are already implementing a joint project from the UNFPA,” Zayzay averred.
He said even though the contention occurred since January, the two groups have agreed in principle to put behind them the bitter past and work together for the benefit of the country’s youth.
“So, we came today to complete the process through a signing ceremony that the both institutions have agreed to work together for the common good and interest of the young people of Liberian,” the FLY president said.
“We anticipated it to be a symbolic event; in practical term, LINSU and FLY have been working together. We’ve put our past behind us and that’s why we came to make it officials today,” he added.
He however noted that he was “disappointed because…our colleague from LINSU did not adequately inform us that he had another itinerary, but these are normal things that happen.”
He said FLY will always be ready to sit and sign the agreement once LINSU is ready.
“We hope that LINSU will call us when they are ready. FLY is an umbrella organization which coordinates and supervises youth and students activities, so we must take the lead and that’s the reason why we’ve come with our hearts clear and open so that we can put whatsoever thing that transpired in the past,” he noted.