The regional bloc, the Mano River Union (MRU), has been at bastion of peace and harmony amongst member states since its founding 46 years ago. It has amply helped to foster cross-border trade, enhance integration and sustain the peace. Though there was a deep glitch in the 1990s when civil conflicts raged in Liberia and Sierra Leone, the MRU has since bounced back to playing its rightful role for which it is hailed regionally and internationally. The rebranding did not flow from the clear blue sky; it has been made possible by an erudite and thoughtful team in the last four years or so. One of the pillars of that rebranding process, Ambassador Medina Wesseh, who has led the Secretariat since 2017, is ending her first of two terms, and there are questions amongst national and international actors if she will be let to go and to stay for another term. The Analyst reports.
Outgoing Secretary General of the Mano River Union, who had ended her first 4-year term, is preparing her exit as the regional body combs public and private institutions in member counties to see if she must go without a second term or another suitable person found to replace.
Ambassador Medina Wesseh of Liberia has led the sub-regional body from June 17, 2017 to present, and is credited for leading a secretariat that has rebranded the MRU over the time.
In the past, the head of the Secretariat of the Union was appointed based a recommendation from a member country and followed by a lobby for approval within the member states.
The Analyst has learned that leaders of the Mano River Union, through its Ministerial Council, has been handed a herculean task of either renewing the tenure of Madam Wesseh for a second term for Ambassador Medina Wesseh or not.
It is said that options opened to the MRU leaders with respect to who becomes the next Secretary General, something that was highlighted by Ambassador Wesseh when she spoke during the opening ceremony of the Technical Commission on Finance and Administration currently taking place in Monrovia where she left the decision with the leaders of the MRU to decide.
She said: “In your last meeting you reached a clear understanding as to the pedigree of personnel required at the leadership. We have completed one full term of our stewardship. We assumed the mantle of leadership in June 2017. Our tenure is a four-year mandate, with an option to renew a second mandate. As we prepare for submission of our work and review as well as seek additional mandate or offer our thanks for the opportunities to serve. I wish to urge you to take these matters very seriously and put professional recruitment for technical competency to the fore if we must realize and actualize the vision our fore fathers set out.”
Ambassador Wesseh also told the gathering that the decision of either renewing tenure is not automatic as in most international organizations like the United Nations where Secretaries General have come and gone; some have asked that their mandates not be extended and likewise some have been informed that their mandates will not be reviewed.
Her speech at the program suggests that she is more concerned with her stewardship that has come to an end and will submit her report and let the leaders decide about the future of the union with respect to who becomes the next helmsman.
“I will present the report of the Secretariat on our first term at the helm of affairs to the Ministerial Council and I will look forward to thanking them for the opportunity of working with them. I look forward to also thanking the authority of heads of state for the initial mandate to serve,” she said.
Ambassador Wesseh also told the delegates to take a keen look at the recommendation put forward by the Technical Commission on Administration and Finance aimed at overhauling structures within the MRU for efficiency and effectiveness in running the organization.
She said that once these plans are approved and resource mobilization plan is put in place to raise the initial resources then it will be incumbent on the Ministerial Council to review and require a proper evaluation of her work to determine a new mandate.
“The countries will take note from your work that going forward those who come to leadership at the apex of this organization must be people of technical competence and experience. Working at international organizations is a unique experience and it must not be taken for granted”, she said.
If Ambassador Wesseh gets a tenure renewal, she will be the first person to benefit from the exercise no other person before her had ever gotten that opportunity.
The tenure of the Secretary General who is the Chief Administrator of the body is for 4 years and is renewable. Since its formation in 1973, it has produced 8 Secretaries general, 4 each from Liberia and Guinea and none has ever benefited from tenure renewal.
According to the history of the organization, Liberia produced the first 3 secretaries general, namely Cyril A. Bright who led it from 1974-78, T. Ernest Eastman was the second and was in charge from 1978 to 1983 and Dr. Augustus F. Caine was on board from 1983-1987. Madam Wesseh became the fourth Liberian to occupy the position in 2017 and ended her tenure in 2021.
Guinea took over with 4 secretaries in roll, producing Dr. Abdoulaye Diallo (1988-2005), who served for more years due to the instabilities within the MRU countries, Abraham Boure (2007-2010), Habib Diallo (2010-11), Dr. Hadja Saran Daraba Kaba(2011-17).