Liberia: PUL 22 Congress Opens in Gbarnga

PUL President Charles Coffey

… as disenchantment brews among key contenders in the upcoming Press Union election

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) 2022 Congress kicked off in Gbarnga November 17 and continues Friday, before concluding on Saturday with elections of new officers. 

Delivering the state of the media address, PUL President Charles Coffey noted that despite the enormous challenges, the Liberian media environment appears better and continues to impact society. 

According to a dispatch from the ongoing PUL congress in Gbarnga, Coffey encouraged all journalists across the country to participate in the PUL congress and discuss issues affecting the media and come out with decisions that would help find solutions to mitigate these problems. 

Congress, he said, is the highest decision-making body for the media community and called for it to be taken seriously.

The chairperson of the Congress Committee, Carolyn Myers Zoduah, welcomed participants to the congress and noted that it was an opportunity for journalists to converge and deliberate on issues for the forward movement of the PUL.  She emphasized that congress will discuss the critical role of the media in mitigating conflicts ahead of next year’s legislative and presidential elections in Liberia. 

In a goodwill message, the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) expressed hope that the Gbarnga congress will help to strengthen the bond that exists among members of the PUL. ALJA’s message, signed by its President Joe S. Mason, called for a successful deliberation and a peaceful, transparent, and credible election in Gbarnga.

Friday’s session of congress will, among others, focus on the financial and administrative reports of the leadership of the Union during the last three years.  Congress is also expected to discuss the transformation of the National Media Council to an Independent Media Commission, proposed constitutional amendments, and adopt a resolution.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Congress Committee has expressed disappointment over the low turnout on day one and apologized to some guests who had to leave before the official opening. 

A possible reason for the low turnout could be a brewing disenchantment on the part of Julius Kanubah, who is one of two leading contenders for the PUL presidency. Kanubah, in a statement issued Thursday afternoon, urged his supporters and PUL members at large to stay away from all congress and election activities organized by the outgoing PUL administration, led by Charles Coffey and Daniel Nyakonah, president and vice president, respectively. 

Kanubah’s statement first claims that the decision to postpone the PUL Congress from November 10 and 11, to November 17 and 18, was done “unilaterally … using the publicly declared National Census Day (Friday) as an alibi. This postponement was done without our input as leading candidates for the Presidency and Vice Presidency of our Union.” 

Further, according to Kanubah, “The outgoing Coffey-Nyakonah leadership has failed to produce and publish any credible Membership Register of the PUL for 2022, despite occupying and serving the Union for nine (9) solid years. 

“Their failure is similar to the ugly situation of 2019, which, based on a fraudulent Membership Register, led to a rigged electoral process even before the day of voting; thereby producing an illegitimate leadership,” Kanubah complained, an calling on his supporters to “stay clear of any and all activities surrounding the 2022 PUL Congress. ” 

“In the face of the repeated systematic violations of the Constitution of the PUL in relation to the convening of the 2022 Congress by the Coffey–Nyakonah leadership, we would like to again inform and urge all our supporters, members of the Press Union of Liberia, and those interested in the democratic development of the PUL and Liberia to stay put and stay clear of any and all activities surrounding the 2022 PUL Congress. 

“Staying put and staying clear of the Congress means, please do not venture going to Gbarnga as yet, as doing so, would amount to condoning and crowning an illegitimate process, characterized by fraud and being orchestrated by what is revealing itself to be a network of fraudsters,” Kanubah said.