Panafrican News Agency

Media body alleges upsurge in official intimidation of Liberian journalists

Monrovia, Liberia (PANA) - The Press Union of Liberia (PUL), an umbrella organization of Liberian journalists, on Thursday said it has followed with “total dismay rabble-rousing comments” from different sections of the Weah Administration directed towards the local media.

It cited statements by the Mayor of Monrovia, Jefferson Koijee, warning that the government “won’t be unsettled by the reports of the media,” and that it will “care less about media criticisms.”

The journalists union said the Mayor’s “ranting” came after “an unembellished statement” from President George Weah’s preferred choice for Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Eugene Fahngon.

“Mr. Fahngon vowed that the media in Liberia will remain poor or broke for the next 12 years, inferring that President Weah will win a second term,” the union said.

It said Fahngon accused the journalism community in Liberia of denting the election campaign of President Weah by tagging him as being “dull” and accompanied that description with other derogatory words.

Urging all Liberian journalists to remain fearlessly selfless in the discharge of their services to the state and its people, the PUL said it saw "the recent upsurge of attacks on the journalism community in Liberia as continuing display of traits of colonial tyrannical anti- media and free speech tactics which is by now outdated.”

In a statement, the Union observed that use of this tactics, specifically in the case of Minister- designate Fahngon, exposes the devilish plans of some in the Weah inner circle to strangulate the media financially during the time of his rule.

“These scaring depositions by people who have just recently acquired state power must not coward journalists into self-censorship,” the PUL insisted.

The Union asserted that the media has survived some of the most vicious attacks in recent Liberian history and must renew its solidarity in stamping out any reccurrence of the past.

It pointed out that at a time when the government, PUL and USAID and other partners are directing efforts and resources to improving the legal, ethical and commercial operating environment of the media, “it is disgusting that Fahngon’s only planned contribution to this key democratic enabler is financial suffocation.”

The Union named other trusted Weah confidants who have sarcastically attacked the media in Liberia recently as Finance Minister Samuel Tweah and Cecelia Cuffy-Brown of the National Port Authority.

“Liberia is one of the poorest countries in the world and its journalism must effectively be aimed at supporting poverty alleviation initiatives through the institution of accountability and transparency along every step of the management of the public trust,” the Union stressed.
-0- PANA PTK/AR 21March2018