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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

US-BASED LIBERIAN JOURNALISTS ADVANCE RECOMMENDATIONS TO REMEDY PUL’S LEADERSHIP IMPASSE

Date:

By Olando Testimony Zeongar

MONROVIA – Two Liberian journalists based in the United States, Messrs. Josephus Eric Kennedy and Cheechiay Jablasone, are recommending among other things, the results of the controversial elections of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) be annulled and a rerun of the Union’s elections be held in the soonest possible time.

Founded on 30th September 1964, the PUL which was established to defend press freedom and free speech has been embroiled in a lingering leadership squabble that seems far from being resolved any time soon.

It is recalled, Julius Kanubah, one of two candidates running for president of the PUL, rejected the outcome of the Union’s 5th elective Congress held in November 2022, in Gbarnga, Bong County, terming the conduct of the elections which outcome presented PULs’ current Vice President Daniel Nyakonah, president-elect; as being “bogus and utterly shameful.”

Following the PUL elections last year, Kanubah filed a petition before the Supreme Court of Liberia, praying the high court to undo and cancel the results of what he referred to as the unconstitutional elections held by the PUL in Bong County.

Kanubah, who at the onset of the electoral process raised qualms about the PUL election Voter Roll, among others, is contending that the journalists’ umbrella organization and all other parties to the case failed to address his concern even with a court injunction being in place, which he believes is a clear violation of his rights to a “free and fair election.”

Since then, there has been an impasse, with the court yet to rule in the case and the newly elected leadership being unable to commence official duty.

Howbeit, journalists Kennedy and Jablasone believe that both sides in the leadership bickering should make significant compromises in the supreme interest of the PUL, by finding a middle ground.

Journalist Kennedy opined that the surest way to resolve the current leadership impasse within the PUL is to annul the results of the Gbarnga elections and hold fresh elections, noting that the ongoing crisis, which he said is hurting the Union, cannot and should not continue unabated.

“We can act responsibly by addressing the contentious issues which emanated from the Gbarnga Congress and hold a special one-day congress for the singular purpose of electing new officers to steer the affairs of the Union,” Kennedy recommended, pointing out that his recommendation is particularly imperative considering the current state of affairs at the Union, where he stated that PUL’s incumbent President, Charles Coffey; and Secretary General, Musa Kenneth; have both declared their intentions to contest the country’s impending legislative and presidential elections in October of this year.

“As watchdogs of society, the PUL and Liberian journalists must take cognizance of their crucial role in sustaining democracy in Liberia,” said Kennedy, a former Manager for Sarafina Communications, owner of Love FM and Love TV in Liberia.

Kennedy, who currently resides in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, the U.S.,  emphasized that being embroiled in a leadership crisis over a long period of time with people whose tenures have expired still being at the helm of power, is worrisome and counter-productive to Liberia’s democratic process.

He observed that in its nearly six decades of existence, the PUL has surmounted many obstacles affecting press freedom in the country, and cannot afford to allow the current leadership crisis lingering within the Union to undermine the gains it has made over the years.

He then recommended that to bring sanity to the PUL, considering the urgency to resolve the leadership bickering in what he described as a win-win conflict resolution module, he was beseeching all sides to the conflict to put the interest of the PUL above their individual and parochial interests by ending the fruitless legal battle that has besieged the Union over a protracted period of time.

“History and posterity will be kind to all of us for allowing cool heads to prevail in rescuing our dear PUL,” stressed  Kennedy, adding, “God bless the PUL and God bless all Liberian journalists.”

Journalist Jablasone, for his part, is recommending that there be what he called give and take by all parties to the PUL crisis, indicating that issues of contentions including the claim of the PUL’s Voter Roll being stacked with non-members should be holistically addressed.

Referring to the PULs’ Voter Roll, Jablason stated: “We need to look at the roll and determine if there are nonmembers, what’s the percentage, and could that have had an impact on the outcome. That should lead to either upholding the results or annulling the results.”

Jablasone, a resident of Newwark, Delaware, the USA, and a former employee of the Liberian Observer newspaper back home, further recommended: “Second, going forward, registration during elections Year must end at least 90 days before elections and a full list compiled not less than 60 days to have the list published and reviewed,” he further recommended.

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