A popular U.S.-based Liberian Internet Website
says it has begun a coverage boycott of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 's
Executive Mansion and the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and
In observance of World Press
Freedom Day over the weekend, FrontPage Africa says it has stopped covering news
conferences, speeches and all announcements and activities about President
Sirleaf's office and the ministry of information because gaining access to
these events has proven to be difficult.
But acting minister of information Cletus Sieh (no relationship to
Rodney) said the Sirleaf government is an advocate for press freedom and
would not muscle the press.
FrontPage Africa Publisher and Editor Rodney Sieh
told VOA the boycott was necessary because the Sirleaf
government has either denied or ignored repeated requests for accreditation to
weekly news briefings or presidential press conferences.
some time, our website has been very pro-active, aggressive in terms of
exposing corruption and ills in the Liberian society. And apparently some
forces in the government have felt that we are anti-government, and they have
continuously labeled us as anti-government forces. Last week, the president
made a trip to Gbarnga, Bong County, and one of our reporters tried to get on
the bus and he was rejected. And he had to get on the bus taking the police
escort to go to Gbarnga. Even with all that, we still manage to continue
publishing the Executive Mansion press releases, the ministry of information
presses. But we feel that if they want to control what we publish, and they
will not allow us access to the Executive Mansion press conferences and news
conferences and stuff like that, we might as well not carry anything from
them," he said.
said he has made known his concerns to the Executive Mansion and the ministry
discussed this issue with the Press Union (of Liberia) President, Mr. Quoiquoi
(Peter); I've communicated with the Executive Mansion and with the ministry of
information; I've made the president's office aware about the boycott," Sieh
singled out Minister of Information Laurence Bropleh and other responsible for
President Sirleaf's public relations of creating a what he called a 'brick
wall' between his organization's work and the President's office.
are some forces in the government who have the perception that we are
anti-government forces, and they feel that giving us access to certain places
we would may write negative stories about the government. But that's not the
case. All we want is a chance to report objectively and carry stories that
would reflect the condition in Liberia today," he said.
again denied that his Website was only interested in publishing negative
stories about the Sirleaf government as some of the President's aides have reportedly
are just trying to change the mind set, change the conditions in the country
through our work and expose the ills in our society because over 250,000 people
died in this country because of the war (Liberia's civil war). On April 12,
1980 people were executed on the South Beach because of corruption. And we try
to do our best to expose these things, and some people feel that we are a
threat to them, and this has to stop," Sieh said.
minister of information Cletus Sieh (not related to Rodney Sieh) told VOA the
Sirleaf government is an advocate for press freedom and would not muscle the
me assure him that the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf government has declared corruption
as public enemy No.1. No one is going to be harassed or intimidated because of
their reportage of corruption and all of that. The government most of the time
tells journalists that look, you have to be balanced in your reporting. And
with all of these excesses that come from of these journalists, no newspaper
has been shot down, no radio station has been shot down, no one has been taken
to court because we stood for press freedom, we stood freedom of expression and
all of that. So this government is not going to muscle the press in any way,"
Cletus Sieh said.