Liberian Journalists Criticize World Footballer Weah, Chairman Bryant, UN Ambassador Klein

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

March 8, 2004

Liberian journalists operating under the banner of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) have taken stern issues with the nation’s International Footballer, George “Oppong” Weah and two others prominent persons in the Liberian society. The two are the Chairman of the National transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), Gyude Bryant and the United Nations Secretary-General Special Representative in Liberia, Ambassador Jacques Paul Klein.

In a press statement released in Monrovia on March 2, 2004, the Liberian media group accused the former World Footballer of the Year of breaching the labor practice law of the Republic. According to the Union, Mr. Weah who is also Liberia’s Sports Ambassador and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, has employed a foreigner to run his newly established Radio and Television Stations-King’s FM 88.5 and Clara’s TV. The man to head Ambassador Weah’s stations is Mr. Dave Ojima, a Nigerian.

Besides, the Union has also accused the Management of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) of violations of the Labor practice Law of Liberia by employing Mr. Kojo Mensah, a Ghanaian to run the newly established UNMIL radio 91.5 FM.

Quoting the Labor Law of Liberia, the Liberian journalists noted that, “no foreigner is to occupy such a post unless there is no qualified Liberian citizen.” The group said in the face of dozens of qualified and professional journalists in the country, the Managements of both King’s FM and UNMIL’s Radios have chosen to employ foreigners to head the two stations.

Owing to the gravity of the situation, the media group says it has started discussions with the Chairman of the National Transitional Legislative Assembly (NTLA) committee on Information and Broadcasting.

Meanwhile, the group said it is disappointed by utterances of Ambassador Klein at his recent weekly news briefing held at UNMIL headquarters in Congo Town, suburbs of Monrovia. In a strongest terms, the group denounces insults rained on the Liberian press by Ambassador Klein and termed such statement as “indecent”.

The group has also taken to task Chairman Gyude Bryant for reportedly saying Liberian journalists are “irresponsible”. The journalists said they have communicated with Chairman Bryant to seek clarification from him on the statement he made in the United States during his recent visit to attend the just concluded Donor Conference on the reconstruction of war-torn Liberia.

The journalists said they are very concern because such statement coming from the leader of the country cast aspersion on the integrity of the press, which has suffered atrocious attacked by successive regimes, due to press unbending advocacy for social justice, rule of law and a true democracy in the tiny West African state.

The group argued that in the face of the tremendous sacrifices Liberian journalists continue to make, it would be unfair to describe the media as being “irresponsible”.

In a relative development, authorities at the Ministry of Labor has communicated with the Management of UNMIL Radio and Kings FM Radio stations to explain why they have to employ foreigners to head the two stations.

The ministry said if the allegations against the two stations are true, it will demand that the foreigners be replaced and the entities charged for the contravention of the employment Policy Law of Liberia.