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BATTLE ON FOR CONTROL OF YOUTH COUNCIL

BATTLE ON FOR CONTROL OF YOUTH COUNCIL

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Elected President of the National Youth Council (NYC), Michael Johnson has described the recent announcement by some executive members of that organisation that he is suspended, as a “planned coup and act of high treason”.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Johnson announced that the alleged “plot to have him overthrown” was put into action on Monday, January 9, when first Vice-president Kenrick Quashie issued a press release which stated that the NYC Executive had met that afternoon and decided to suspend Johnson, and he was therefore no longer authorised to make statements nor conduct transactions on behalf of the NYC. {{more}}

Johnson however counteracted this move by calling a press conference on Tuesday January 10 at the NYC’s headquarters, despite being handed a letter by First Vice-President Quashie informing him that he was not permitted to hold the conference at the Headquarters.

At one point there was the presence of a police officer who had been called to escort Johnson from the building but the defiant Johnson conducted his interview with the media unflinchingly. He accused some executive members of the council of being “rouges”, “conspirators” and a “talibanistic bunch” whose real aim was to kick him out of office because of what he described as baseless accusations and falsehoods.

He explained that one of the grievances expressed was that there was inaccessibility to communication because the phone lines had been locked, but Johnson stressed that it was because of his leadership that he was able clear the phone debts, which at one point amounted to $3,000 in arrears. He also pointed out that under his stewardship he cleared other outstanding utility bills and helped to put the organisation on sound financial ground.

The elected president also denied the accusation that he used the NYC’s resources without the Executive being “aware”.

Defending himself on the basis of the constitution, Johnson contended that as the leader he had been given the mandate carry out activities on behalf of the NYC and empowered to make statements on behalf of the organisation without prior knowledge, input or consent of the Executive.

He was also accused of not bringing plans to the attention of the Youth Council, but Johnson refuted this, and claimed that when he shared his vision with the Executive, his plans had been met with staunch opposition by some members. He however expressed confidence that it is because of this vision that he was re-elected overwhelmingly by affiliated groups in October 2005 at the Bi-annual Convention.

Johnson pointed out that the call for his suspension was illegal since the group that met on Monday did not have the required two-thirds majority of the nine-member executive voting for his suspension. Johnson revealed that there were only four elected members of the executive plus the Chairman of Conference present and not the required six members.

A government official whom Johnson accused of being one of the instigators in having him overthrown came in for a tongue-lashing. Johnson accused the public servant of re-wording the letter that had outlined the reasons why he should be suspended and for this Johnson called on the official to resign for interfering in the organization.

In an Emergency Meeting following Johnson’s press conference, First Vice-President Kenrick Quashie, Third Vice President Joel Abraham and Chairman of Conference Anthony Anderson refuted claims by Johnson that the suspension brought against him was null and void. Quashie accused Johnson of seizing the Minutes Book and of still having in his possession the keys to the Headquarters and Mailbox despite being put on suspension.

Quashie also said that the Executive and not Johnson was the highest decision making body. Third Vice-President Joel Abraham expressed similar sentiments, while Chairman of Conference Anthony Anderson kept silent at the head table.

The Conference of Delegates which is the highest decision making body of the National Youth Council other than the Bi-annual Conference, is expected to meet on January 21 to resolve the issue.

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