Voting members of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) are now gearing up (PUL) to elect a new batch of leadership to steer the affairs of the Union for the next three years, after polling was halted through a court’s injunction on November 9.
Polling was stalled on November 9, 2013 when two members of the PUL filed a writ of injunction against the process in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County, where members of the union had gathered for their second tri-annual congress and election.
Journalists Cholo Brooks and Omecee Johnson filed the injunction on grounds that they were unjustly disqualified by the Union’s Election Committee to contest for the posts of President and Vice President respectively.
The Writ of Injunction which emanated from the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice was the first filed by members against the union in its 49-year history.
The duo and another, Ade Wede Kerkulah aspiring for the post of secretary general, were disqualified for not allegedly meeting academic and constitutional requirements to stand as candidates in the elections, the election committee stated.
Meanwhile the PUL filed a Motion for Dismissal days later but, the Civil Law Court ruled against the Union’s motion and ordering the case to be heard.
However, following the ruling, the Union, along with relevant stakeholders including the Publishers Association and the qualified candidates, engaged into a dialogue and consultation with the aggrieved parties to ensure an out-of-court settlement to resolve the matter.
November 23 2013, PUL President Peter Quaqua announced that a breakthrough has been reached and announced December 7 as the new date for election, while extending apologies for the saga.
“On behalf of the Union, I wish to extend our profound apologies to all our colleagues, partners and friends who suffered losses, emotional hurts and frustrations as a result of the court order. We especially sympathize with and acknowledge the patience and maturity displayed by the candidates who had to incur financial burdens during the campaign period,” he said.
“Throughout this standoff between the elections committee and our two aggrieved colleagues, we have restrained ourselves from making any public comments to allow the mediation effort to go on. In the interim, we have also held consultations with a number of individual members, former officials and all candidates in the stalled elections to generate suggestions on the way forward. There seems to be a general agreement for dialogue, notwithstanding our instinct to uphold our long-held values and practices,” Quaqua told a press conference.
He informed the membership that in consideration of the views generated in the negotiation and consultation period, the Election Committee has been instructed to print new ballots to include the names of all applicants earlier disqualified including Cholo Brooks, Omecee Johnson and Ade Wade Kekuleh.
He said the Committee was mandated to conduct elections on December 7, 2013, after debate on December 6, disclosing that while the mediation was on, one of the Election Committee members in person of Sam Dean resigned and BBC correspondent Jonathan Paye-layleh graciously accepted to fill the vacancy.
To reinforce confidence in the process, Quaqua said two additional persons were named to the committee to serve as non-voting members, including Hassan Kaiwu and Carton Bowah, Publisher of the In Profile Daily.
The Liberia labor Congress, the Ministry of Labor, the National Elections Commission and the National Civil Society Council will observe the elections.
“Fellow colleagues,” Quaqua noted, “our profession is the foundation upon which the democratic movement is nurtured. Understandably this is why it is always challenged by “new frontiers and new barriers.” We must therefore position ourselves to identify and confront these challenges whether they evolve from among us or from the outside. I appeal to your consciences to please let “this too to come to pass,” to show our strength as champions of tolerance and decency, and freedom and faith, and order.”
The new date for induction is now set for December 21, 2013.
Meanwhile the two of the three aspirants disqualified – Cholo Brooks and Ade wade Kerkuleh said they will no longer stand in the election, as candidates.
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