9 May 2019

Liberia: ALJA Welcomes Fahngon's Suspension but Wants Him Dismissed

Photo: Leroy M. Sonpon, III/ Liberian Observer
President George M. Weah,

New Castle — The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has commended Liberia's President, George Weah, for his recent suspension of the Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs at the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT), Eugene Fahngon, in the wake of his last social media congau-country rhetoric.

ALJA thanked President Weah for the swift disciplinary action. In a press release issued on May 9, 2019, the Association described the President's intervention as a laudable action, which would help in calming down the prevailing political tension in the country.

However, ALJA is calling on Mr. Weah to further his punitive action against the suspended Deputy Minister by dismissing him from government with immediate effect. The Association asserts Mr. Fahngon is misplaced at the Information Ministry; and he is not a government material.

Moreover, the Association maintained Mr. Fahngon lacks the pedigree for the sacred post he occupies at the Information Ministry. ALJA said at a critical time like this when Liberians are fixated on peace building and national development after a prolonged civil conflict that decimated the lives of more than 250 thousand people and millions of dollars' worth of properties, they don't need a deputy minister, whose repeated actions and pronouncements sought to polarize them along a so-called congau-country divide.

The Association said since Mr. Fahngon's appointment by President Weah to the position of Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs at MICAT over a year ago, he has gained notoriety at home and abroad for divisiveness and arrogance in the propagation of public information.

ALJA said before his indefinite suspension, Mr. Fahngon persistently spewed incendiary messages via social media and other media outlets targeted at perceived enemies of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) government because they expressed opposing views about some of the administration's social and economic policies.

ALJA cited the suspended Deputy Information Minister's latest verbal assault on the planners of the June 7, 2019, street protest and his so-called congau-country rhetoric, which sought to divide Liberians as some of the many graphic examples of his conflict-ridden messages.

The Americas based journalists said the cited incidents and others have over the months shown that Mr. Fahngon has little or no clue about his job duties and responsibilities at the Information Ministry.

The Association said as Deputy Minister for Press and Public Affairs, Mr. Fahngon's foremost responsibilities are to build and consolidate a cordial tie with the Liberian media; and project a positive image of the Liberian government at home and abroad by highlighting the government's development programs and policies with the sole purpose of sustaining Liberia's fragile peace, but unfortunately the indefinitely suspended Deputy Minister wasted the Liberian tax payers' work hours by engaging in acts that tend to undermine the peace and stability of the country.

ALJA said Mr. Fahngon's immediate dismissal would set a good precedent; and it would further demonstrate to Liberians and the international community that the Weah administration is serious about the building and sustenance of a cohesive and wholesome society for where all Liberians regardless of political, economic and social dispensations would work and live in peace and happiness. Moreover, ALJA maintained such action would go a long way in curtailing the unbridled propagation of hate messages by some CDC executives and insiders of the Weah administration.

Meanwhile, the Association has hailed President Weah's recently issued executive order, which directs all ministers, deputies and assistant ministers, and heads of agencies and commissions, and their deputies to refrain from making public pronouncements on policy issues of national concern on both conventional and social media without prior authorization from the appropriate authorities of government, mainly the Ministry of Information Culture Affairs and Tourism.

ALJA says it welcomes the Executive Order, because if adhered to, it would help significantly in reducing the prevailing publicity nightmares the Liberian government is grappling with in the delivery and presentation of public information due to the lack of coordination amongst public officials.

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