Chairman Charles Gyude Bryant of Liberia’s power sharing transitional government is appealing to Liberian journalists both at home and abroad as well as other Liberians of good will to support international efforts aimed at restoring lasting peace to the tiny west African state devastated by 14 years of bloody war.
According to Chairman Bryant, the power sharing National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), which includes the three belligerent groups -Liberians United for reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) and GOL, faces serious challenges in administering the affairs of the country. Other members of the transitional government include political parties, interest and pressure groups.
By virtue of its composition, Chairman Bryant said, it becomes difficult to administer the affairs of the state, indicating that the government is also experiencing other grave financial problems, which he said affect the ability of the care-taker government to provide needed services to the population.
The Liberian leader who many blamed for the failure of the transitional government to restore needed basic social services to the impoverished population, was speaking on May 7 when Liberian journalist and author Gabriel I. H. Williams paid a courtesy call on him at the Executive Mansion in Monrovia.
Mr. Williams, a native of Liberia who resides in the United States of America, is the former Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia. He is also the former Managing Editor of the INQUIRER Newspaper and one of the brains behind the formation of the Association of Liberian Journalists in America (ALJA). He is the author of the book, “Liberia: the Heart of Darkness”.
Chairman Bryant used the occasion to reaffirm his government’s strong commitment to free press and the rule of law in the country. Presently, Liberia has over 33 newspapers on the newsstand and about 28 FM radio stations on the air far more than during the deposed regime of former President Charles Taylor. During the regime of Taylor, Liberia had less than ten newspapers and six FM radio stations on air. The media under the Taylor regime encountered serious difficulties ranging from suppressions to unfavorable media laws.
According to Chairman Bryant, the transitional government will do all within its power to protect the rights of media practitioners and the people to freely express themselves without fear of reprisal. “The government is working in concert with the international community to ensure that peace and rule of law prevails in Liberia after more than a decade of anarchy”, Chairman Bryant noted.
Earlier, journalist Williams who is on a weeks long tour of the West African sub-region told the Liberian leader that there can be no firm democratic foundation in Liberia in the absence of a strong and vibrant media. He used the occasion to appeal to governments in the international community to assist the Liberian independent media with the much needed material and financial support if the condition of the Liberian press is to be improved.
Mr. Williams who was accompanied at the office of the Chairman by Information Minister, William C. Allen and presidential advisor Blamo Nelson said the Liberian media, just like the rest of the society, also suffered massive brain drain owing to the 14 years terror in the country. He added that those who remain in the country during the 14 years have benefited from little or no training or educational programs.
Speaking further, journalist Williams identified training opportunities as the best means to help sharpen the skills of journalists and improved their working conditions. Liberian journalists have been working under very difficult conditions, with almost 80 percent working with out salary or equipment and materials.
He also underscored the need for the Information Ministry and the independent media to work together in addressing problems confronting the Liberian media and in promoting free press. Journalist Williams also applauded Minister Allen for demonstrated commitment to press freedom.
Besides, journalist William appealed to Chairman Bryant to make available more support to the Information Ministry to enable the ministry to execute programs that will adequately inform and educate the Liberian population on issues of national concerns.
Meanwhile, journalist Williams has appealed to all Liberians to support the on-going DDRR program if the nation is to be free of arms, and warned Liberians against repeating the mistakes of the past.