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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Liberia: Journalists’ Leadership Group Wants Media Access for All Parties, Candidates

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Liberian journalists and media institutions are strongly encouraged to continue to exercise impartiality in the coverage of all activities in relation to the just ended presidential and legislative elections, the country’s media leadership group has advised.

Journalists and media institutions must particularly provide equal media access to all for the presentation of divergent views and dissenting opinions by various political and social actors desirous of providing information on electoral activities including the results – from their vantage points, it said.

In a press release, the journalists’ leadership group – National Campaign Management Team of Julius Kanubah and Beatrice Sieh for the presidency and vice presidency of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) – said electoral activities are of vital public interest and anyone with pertinent information must not be denied media access.

Especially, Article 22 of the PUL Code of Ethics and Conduct provides that Liberian “journalists should ensure that under no circumstance, news or a publication or broadcast be suppressed unless it borders on national security or is in the public interest to do so.”

Team Kanubah is appalled by the statement of PUL former vice president Daniel Nyakonah in which he called on journalists and media institutions to boycott Thursday’s (12 October 2023) press conference of the Unity Party and any other political parties intending to speak on the results of the presidential and legislative elections.

The call by Nyakonah, who has been shamelessly impersonating as Acting President of the PUL while willfully disrespecting a Judicial Court’s Stay Order restraining him from performing any functions of the PUL, does not fall within the confines of public service and ethical journalism.

In fact, Article 1 of the PUL Code of Ethics and Conduct stipulates that “the journalist shall defend freedom of speech, expression, and information;” while Article 7 among others calls on journalists to put themselves above partisan, ideological cleavages in order to give greater prominence to the norms and professional practices of journalism and democracy.

Considering that the above constitutional provisions of the PUL Code of Ethics and Conduct for Liberian journalists are supported by Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution, it is dangerous and irresponsible for a PUL former official to urge journalists and media institutions to deny major political actors and institutions access to the media without any constitutional and journalistic grounding.

Since the reintroduction of electoral democracy in Liberia in 2005, political actors including the media have customarily announced and commented on elections results without any form of violence ensuing as there is always a caveat that the National Elections Commission (NEC) will release the final results.

For instance, the results of the December 2020 Montserrado Senatorial elections in which opposition politician Darius Dillon won were announced by the then Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) without any form of violence while Liberians awaited the official results from the NEC.

As the PUL has been without any legitimate leadership since November 2022, it is important that no journalists, media institutions, or the public should listen or give credence to Nyakonah and Akoi Baysah.

Both men have an agenda of misusing the once noble name of the PUL to create a wedge between journalists and media institutions on the one hand, and some political actors on the other hand while satisfying their political masters under the pretense that they have the authority to lead the PUL, dictating to independent journalists and media institutions their twisted logic.



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