The diaspora Liberian journalists, particularly those residing in the United States under the banner, the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) says it is taken aback by the last gasp legal action that the elections of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) has been subjected to, and has therefore called for an expeditious resolution of the legal crisis.
The association says while it remains respectful of the legal process, a drawn-out court battle could potentially create a leadership quagmire in the Union, and demoralize the enthusiasm of the Union’s members, who are eager to settle the question of leadership in the Union through the ballot box.
“We are concerned that if this turns into a legal wrangling, it might lead to a leadership crisis at the Union,” ALJA said in a statement signed by its national secretary, Akai Awuletey Glidden, and approved by the president, Joe S. Mason.
The group, therefore called for the expeditious resolution of the “notice of injunction and temporary restraining order’ placed on the elections of officers of PUL by the sixth judicial Circuit Court of Montserrado County. The elections, which were in progress on Saturday, November 9, prior to the issuance of the writ of injunction, now awaits the court’s decision.
The elections were halted after some PUL members filed a petition before Judge Roland Dahn of the Civil Law Court in Monrovia, alleging gross violation of the PUL constitution, and other irregularities for which they claimed the elections should be cancelled.
The petitioners accused the current leadership, which the two lead contestants are a part, of constitutional violations, which could impugn the integrity of the union. The PUL president, Charles Coffey, has denied any violation.
As watchdogs of the society, the Diaspora-based Liberian journalists said, PUL and its membership must ensure that the elections are held in a manner that is inclusive, free, fair and transparent. Anything to the contrary, ALJA stressed, would compromise the PUL’s voice as an integrity institution.
Founded in 1998, ALJA also faced internal wrangling that caused it to crumble in 2004 as a result of internal rift among its members.
The association, however, called on the PUL’s two presidential candidates, incumbent Charles Coffey and incumbent Vice President, Octavin Williams, and their supporters to ensure that the union remains united even as the legal process plays out.
“We remain committed to working with any leadership of the union that would evolve out of the electoral process,” the statement noted, calling on all sides to the legal battle to remain respectful of the laws of Liberia and desist from actions and utterances that are inimical to the peace and stability in the PUL.
ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. The Association was founded in 1998 and is committed to advancing press freedom through media capacity building and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy.