By Kruah Thompson
The celebration of the annual World Press Freedom Day by the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) suffered a low turnout at the Monrovia City Hall on 1 May 2023.
Only a handful of people showed up to commemorate the occasion.
It is believed that the ongoing conflict within the PUL had caused the low turnout.
The union has been divided into two factions since it held a controversial electoral process that ended in a dispute in Gbarnga, Bong County last year.
The PUL’s internal conflict has raised concerns about the state of press freedom in Liberia, where journalists have long faced harassment, threats, and violence.
The recent controversy over the PUL election has highlighted the ongoing struggle for media independence and the state of press freedom in Liberia.
As the global community reflects on the importance of a free press, Liberia’s press union remains destabilized since its dispute began, with one side supporting Julius Kanuyba and the other supporting Daniel Nyankona.
The two men contested in the last PUL presidential election that took the union to court.
Days before the International Press Day celebration, Team Kanubah issued a press release welcoming the Supreme Court’s hearing on the Daniel Nyakonah and Julius Kanubah controversy regarding the PUL election.
Through a Supreme Court Full Bench hearing, a lower court Judge Boima Kontoe has been ordered to lift the Stay Order placed on all PUL activities, including the induction of elected officers following the December 30, 2022 Conference.
Team Kanubah Used the press release to call on Attorney-at-Law Patmillia Doe Paivey and the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding of Mr. Malcolm Joseph to stay clear of the World Press Freedom Day celebrations under the auspices of what he termed as “expired PUL leadership.”
Despite this, Attorney-at-Law Patmillia Doe Paivey and the Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding of Mr. Malcolm Joseph still participated in the event as keynote speakers.
Meanwhile, Team Nyankona did not respond to the release immediately, which may have contributed to the poor turnout at the International Press Freedom Day celebration.
Overall, the situation in Liberia highlights the ongoing struggle for media independence and safety, and the need for continued efforts to promote press freedom worldwide.