-PUL President Coffey
Charles B. Coffey, president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL), has accused the Deepening Democracy Coalition (DDC), convener of the 2017 Presidential debates, of soliciting money from politicians for their participation in the debates.
The PUL pulled out of the DDC, following the the first presidential debate in Paynesville, outside Monrovia.
Coffey told a news conference yesterday, that the union withdrew from the DDC for various reasons, including rumors that the DDC was solicitation money from some politicians to invite them to take part in the debates.
“I never wanted to form part of a group that was soliciting money from politicians that could take part in the presidential debates,” Coffey said, adding that the PUL is a reputable institution and it would be wrong for it to be associated with soliciting money from politicians.
“That act is wrong, unacceptable,” Coffey told yesterday’s news conference.
Coffey said he had to withdraw the PUL from working with the DDC because he would be questioned by members of the union for being a part of the DDC with widespread rumors of soliciting money from politicians floating about.
It may be recalled that a presidential candidate, Simeon Freeman, recently alleged that members of the DDC solicited US$10, 000 from him to participate in the presidential debate.
Coffey said that the PUL also pulled out because of lack of accountability and collaboration from other members of the DDC.
The debate, according to Coffey, is funded by donors and it was wise to withdraw since there was no transparency on how money provided was being spent.
Coffey claimed that prior to pulling out of the DDC, he communicated twice with Lamii Kpargoi, its coordinator, asking for an audience with him concerning some reservations the union had regarding the presidential debate.
In the letters, Coffey said he informed Kpargoi about the lack of accountability and insincerity that characterized the hosting of the debates.
He alleged that Kpargoi was micromanaging activities of the DDC to the detriment of the PUL, which is a major partner in the project and said the action to break away from DDC was a collective one by his administration.
Kpargoi has since denied the PUL’s allegations against him.
Coffey further noted that the PUL never had any defined role relative to the activities outlined in the presidential debates and that its representatives were never recognized at the first debate.
He said one person, Malcolm Joseph, played multiple roles, making the PUL to look like an irrelevant group.
“Those of you who were at the first presidential debate, you saw the humiliation – one person serving as master of ceremony and making speeches as though we are irrelevant,” Coffey said.
He said that Kpargoi failed to honor the PUL’s invitation for an amicable resolution of its concerns about the presidential debate, thus prompting its decision to pull-out.
He has, meanwhile, described recent media reports linking the union to corruption in the awarding of the contract for its headquarters project outside the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) process as a work of the union’s detractors, terming the report as “false and misleading.”
The PUL president said “the union has a lot of things to do” including seeking the welfare of its members, and made reference to a journalist colleague who is very sick.
“See, our colleague is sick, and we don’t have money to help him nor seek foreign treatment for him. We have to unite as one group. Tearing each other apart will do us no good,” he pleaded.