Amid current row between authorities of the Ministry of Information and the Press Union of Liberia over compulsory accreditation of media practitioners covering the Corona Virus fight, River Gee County Senator Conmany Wesseh, says the standoff between both parties is not call for.Senator Wesseh says it is unnecessary for two key partners like the government and the media to be in a standoff amid the health crisis.
Speaking to this paper via mobile phone, Thursday, May 07, in Monrovia, he noted that the approach of authorities at the Ministry of Information is contrary to the Joint Resolution passed by the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate, which did not give such authority to the executive branch.
According to him, the State of Emergency declared by President George Manneh Weah and subsequently endorsed by the Legislature is strictly about health related issues, instead of making the presidency too powerful to violate the laws and rights of people.
The former ambassador explained that the 1986 Constitution of Liberia tries to reduce the power of the presidency in terms of State of Emergency, as compared to the past regimes of William V. S. Tubman and William Richard Tolbert, Jr.who allegedly used the State of Emergency to abuse peaceful citizens.
Senator Wesseh added that in order to curtail some of the standoffs, it would be prudent enough for the government to establish an ‘Independent Media Council’ that would ensure governmental policies and regulations about the media are fully adhered to.
Meanwhile, the River Gee County lawmaker has offered to negotiate between the government and media institutions that have reservations about the COVID-19 fight and the way authorities are proceeding.At the same time he disclosed some security officers in the counties are reportedly intimidating farmers.
Senator wesseh said farmers who traveled three hours a day to visit their respective farms for ends meet are reportedly being harassed by security officers for alleged violation of the 3pm lockdown schedule announced by President Weah.
“You know many of the leeward counties are farming communities, meaning our people live on farming and farms are miles from the county’s capitals, so they traveled miles to get food and the security people are demanding them to get back before 3pm or they forced them to facing some kid of security measures or intimidation. This is wrong from the end of the security. In fact, we should appreciate the people by going in the bushes where they don’t interact with others, instead bushes. But to have security people harassing them is dead wrong,” the outspoken senator criticized.He noted that the matter has already been proffered to the plenary of the Liberian Senate for action and proper redress.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne