PUL Resolves Chronicle – Senate Press Saga

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has resolved a standoff between the National Chronicle Newspaper and the Press Bureau of the Liberian Senate.

The mediation followed a complaint filed by the Director of the Senate Press Bureau Jarlawah A. Tonpo, in which he accused the National Chronicle of maligning his character following a report in the paper that Tonpo had led a group of ex-combatants to attack the paper and its reporter.

The National Chronicle, in successive editions, alleged that Tonpo led the group that threatened to attack Reporter Monica Samuel and burn down their offices, when he called at the paper’s office to verify facts about a murder story it published, to which Bomi Senator Lahai Lassanah and one Victor Jah were linked.

The Senate Press Bureau, while seeking the PUL’s intervention in what it called an erroneous publication by the paper, also suspended the National Chronicle from covering the Senate, pending the union’s intervention.

During its investigation into the saga Thursday, both parties realized that they at some point “overly acted” and agreed to bury their differences and proceed with their respective duties.

Tonpo denied taking with him ex-combatants at the National Chronicle’s office, but admitted that they might have followed the driver of Senator Lansannah who drove him at the Paper’s office.

In resolving the stand-off, the Press Union of Liberia blamed the Senate Press Director for the action of the unauthorized men at the offices of the National Chronicle from the fact that they were accomplices of the Senator’s driver, who had himself followed Tonpo.

The PUL also denounced any action aimed at denying journalists access to public facilities, on account of disagreements.

“This action is a violation of the media entity’s right to public information, and it undermines free speech and press freedom in any democratic society,” PUL President Abdullai Kamara said.