LIBERIA: Rejected PUL 2019 Presidential Aspirant Facia B. Harris Writes
Good day, I am sharing this post with mixed emotions, I threw my hat into the ring for the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Presidency after serious thoughts and consultation with some professional colleagues, many who are gauging their opinions on what they aspire for the Head of our Noble Institution. Many were of the opinion that they need a new breed of leaders with integrity, results-oriented, etc. They believed I possess those characteristics; hence I answered to that call. A call that was clear, ‘Come let us reimage and rebrand the PUL’ and advance a progressive agenda for a genuine institutional reform, credible and independent professionals.
I have read the statement by the EC issued on October 25, 2019, a day after my interview, rendering my application and candidature “unsuccessful”. The decision is shocking and unfortunate. Not only that it raises several vexing questions bordering on my constitutional and democratic rights as a legitimate and good-standing member of the PUL – who can vote and be voted upon, but that the EC decision also brings into serious question the legitimate interpretation of the constitution of the PUL as well as the nationally constitutionally-grounded Legislative Act Establishing the Independent Information Commission (IIC).
The IIC, as an independent public interest institution, is a brainchild of the PUL. Consequently, the relationship between the IIC and the PUL is most closest inseparable, not least the goals of the PUL and IIC to ensure unhindered rights of access and promotion of freedom of information and expression – both by the public and the media – all aimed at engendering democratic governance, transparency and accountability in the public interest. The IIC fully works for media development as the PUL.
How and why these very goals advanced by the PUL, independent civil society organizations, international media and freedom of information and expressions institutions do conflict with the very work of the PUL, need to be further understood based on facts than the precipitous opinion of four members of the five member committee of the EC of the PUL. It is a fact, I work for the Independent Information Commission as Director of Outreach and Sensitization – a closest comparable role routinely performed by the President and leadership of the PUL as well as the media community.
The IIC is not an ordinarily institution and the position of Director of Outreach and Sensitization cannot be reduced by the strike of an ink to a PRO, as done by the EC. This is a gross mischaracterization of the egregious nature and serious misunderstanding on the part of the EC. These calls for the domains of interpretation above the EC, which by itself cannot be the law and gospel of a delicate constitutional matter as such.
In consideration of these and the very dangerous decision by the EC, as a law abiding person and in the interest of ensuring that your faith and hopes are not dashed, I am exploring all relevant available institutional avenues, at this stage, to have my rights fully, impartially, and unbiasedly respected as embedded in the PUL constitution and all relevant legal instruments.
However, the avenues are not limited to the institutional channels of the PUL but relevant mechanisms of social justice of Liberia. The aim is to ensure that the elections are clean and that rights are not only respected but upheld.
I want to thank you all for the outpouring of support. Honestly, I am overwhelmed. Be assured that I remain committed to the PUL as a full member. For the good of any sector of our society, we will not hesitate to step forward.
Thank you very much and we will stay engaged.
Facia B. Harris
Full Member, Press Union of Liberia