The conduct of some members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) at the recent induction ceremony of the union’s new corps of officers was anything but professional when a large number of journalists at the ceremony booed the outgoing president.
Some enthusiastic supporters of the inducted regime, according to eyewitnesses, booed Kamara Abdullai Kamara in the presence of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and scores of government officials and diplomats who graced the occasion.
“While the President, officials and diplomats were witnessing the program, some journalists, mainly supporters of the newly inducted PUL officers, loudly booed the outgoing president when he got up to give his farewell speech.
“Boo! Woo! Your dry self! The time has come for you to get out. Move from here,” the crowd was heard shouting.
A freelance reporter in the hall reported that the group of journalists made references to the outgoing PUL president’s physical looks, along the lines that he does not have the attractive personality to represent them.
During the verbal onslaught, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was reported to have ditched the ceremony on the grounds that she was expecting to meet some investors coming into the country.
It can be recalled that during the union’s election last November in Ganta, Nimba County, Kamara’s opponents pointed out two issues that led to his ousting.
Apart from his reported “unattractive personality,” Kamara’s detractors said that during his tenure as president, Malcolm Joseph, Director for the Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMES), and others influenced decision making in the union.
Voters, it is believed, demanded regime change to put an end to the influence of people they termed “aristocrats.”
Meanwhile, Mr. Kamara has shifted blame on government for allegedly dishing out money to members of the union to vote him out in the November election.
He named Presidential Press Secretary Jerolimik Piah and Legislative Press Poll (otherwise LEGISPOL) president Nathaniel Daygbor, as those who distributed money to voters, which according to him influenced voters to elect Charles Coffey.
However, in a stern response, Information Minister Eugene Nagbe denied the allegations and clarified that at no point did the government ever dish out money to influence voters in the PUL election.
“This government remains media friendly and we challenge the accuser to provide evidence to prove that the government dished out money to influence journalists in their decision making process.
“We will not accept any false allegation from anyone to tarnish the media friendly space that has been built by the Sirleaf administration, especially being a signatory to the ‘Table Mountain Declaration,’ which supports free speech,” he said.
Min. Nagbe said government will not be deterred by such an allegation, but will remain media friendly, “because it supports freedom of speech that every Liberian is enjoying.”