A TOTAL OF 270 registered members of the Press Union of Liberia have finally elected a new leadership to steer the affairs of the Union for the next three years. Polling began as early as 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 9 at the Union’s headquarters and was characterized as being free, fair and orderly.
THE PROCESS WHICH should have taken place during its second National Congress on the 7th of November through the 9th was stalled at the eleventh hour with a court Writ of Injunction filed by two contending aspirants.
THE WRIT WHICH was served on the premises of the Fair Ground in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County where the event had begun taking place brought the process to an immediate halt with all if not several members of the Union feeling depressed that the ‘watch dog’ of society had been brought to public ridicule by not putting its own house in order.
THE PROTEST FILED by then aspirant J. Cholo Brooks and now contestant Omecee Johnson among other things informed the Civil Law Court of unfair treatment meted out against them by the PUL Elections Commission by denying them of their right to contest based on protest and other constitutional violations.
AMONG OTHER THINGS, one of the aggrieved journalists, Brooks, told the court that he was denied based on what the Commission described as ‘inconsistency’ in presenting his academic credentials while Johnson was denied because he was accused of being a Public Relations Officer for Madam Leymah Gbowee’s Foundation, something they denied and contested by their action from the court.
THE PUL THROUGH its lawyer, requested that court to grant the Union relief by squashing the Writ of Injunction but following arguments to and fro the Presiding Judge of Civil Law Court Boima Kontoe ruled that the fact that the two journalists were debarred from contesting for reasons tantamount to their denial after qualifying them preliminarily, that served as sufficient reasons that the issue cannot be dismissed by the court.
THE COURT SUSTAINED the Writ of Injunction and informed the parties that the issue will be adjudicated to its logical end. That too, was a decision that was greeted with serious contentions in favor and against the contending parties.
HOWEVER, AFTER THE intervention of many, including the Publishers’ Association, the Reporters Association as well as individual journalists taking into consideration that December 13 should be the last day for the incumbent leadership to serve the Union constitutionally, the matter was withdrawn from the court, thus paving the way for yesterday’s process.
NOW WITH THE election of these new officers, the challenge rests on them to continue to work in line with the constitution and by-laws of the Union and also ensure that high ethical standards are maintained and practiced by every member.
More specifically, we wish to challenge the new leadership to take the issue of headquarters project as a major priority. The project has been at a standstill for years because of a court action, growing out of the disbursement of US$100, 000 given by President Sirleaf to help the Union undertake its headquarters project.
EQUALLY, WE CALL on the PUL leaders to make the Collective Bargaining Agreement, initiated by the outgoing administration, for the welfare and wellbeing of journalists workable and enforceable, this too is a Constitutional mandate. Additionally, the new leadership should design a mechanism to make members of the Union due-paying members, instead of waiting for elections before making payment as ‘membership dues for election’.
WE ALSO URGE members of the Union who yesterday went to the poll and elected these corps of officers to give them their fullest support in the discharge of their duties. These officers cannot be successful without the cooperation of members of the Union.
LASTLY, WE HAIL the Peter Quaqua administration for a job well done, especially in protecting journalists, ensuring high ethical standards, as well as the welfare and wellbeing of members of the Union.