Liberian journalists alarmed over government ‘hostilities’

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Journalists in Liberia sounded the alarm on press freedom on Monday after two ministers mounted an attack on a paper that ran an article about alleged top-level corruption.

In a statement, the Press Union of Liberia said it was concerned about “reinforced hostilities” against the media “from within the power (circle)” of President George Weah.

At the weekend, Finance Minister Samuel Toweh, a close ally of the president, lashed out after the daily FrontPage Africa ran a story implying government corruption lay behind settlement of a $182,000 (159,500 euros) debt to a building company.

The paper found that the company that was owed the money had ceased to exist in 2003.

“We’ll weaponized... the case to go and deal with mistruths and falsehoods in the media,” Toweh said.

The minister of state for presidential affairs, Nathaniel McGill, hit out at the paper’s editor.

“I think Rodney Sieh, the press and the FrontPage Africa is a criminal entity bent on tarnishing the good reputation of people,” he said.

“Rodney Sieh will go to jail because I will not allow people to tarnish my reputation.”

The journalists’ association called on Weah to fulfil his promise, in the run-up to his election this year, to uphold freedom of the press.

It also urged Weah “to advise his assistants to end their inflammatory comments and actions against the media.”

“These negative energies undercut the country’s democratic gains,” it said.

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