ALJA wants Deputy Defense Minister Nomination Withdrawn

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Minneapolis, Minnesota – The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) is calling on President George Weah to withdraw the nomination of Mr. Tarplah Davis, alias, Zoely Zoe, as Deputy Minister for Operations at the Ministry of National Defense. 

In a release issued on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, ALJA says the Liberian Military is a professional institution whose members are expected to perform their duties in a nonpartisan manner in accordance with democratic values and human rights.  

The Association says while President Weah has the appointing power, those appointed to the Ministry of Defense should not espouse views that run contrary to the values of the military. ALJA argued that the appointment of people by the President to high ranking positions at various state security agencies like the Defense Ministry must be based on professionalism, but not their loyalty to the Presidency or the ruling party.

The Association further maintained Mr. Tarplah lacks the moral and the professional pedigrees required for the position of Deputy Minister for Operation at the Defense Ministry. ALJA says Mr. Tarplah’s recent social media posts calling for violence and death against Liberians make him unfit for the position to which he was appointed. 

The Association quoting a recent Facebook post which has now gone viral said, the Deputy Defense Minister for Operation-designate simply referred to as Zoely Zoe, then threatened to kill would be participants of the December 30, 2019, street protest being planned by Liberia’s controversial talk show host, Henry Costa, against the government of President Weah. 

ALJA says it finds Mr. Davis’ comments to be troubling and inimical to Liberia’s peace and stability. Also, the Association asserts Mr. Davis’s presence in the Military if confirmed could compromise that institution’s independence.

ALJA says it is hypocritical for the government to criticize the use of “inflammatory and hateful” messages by journalists and talk show hosts while rewarding supporters of the government who engage in similar rhetoric with high profile appointments in government. 

Meanwhile, the Liberian based diaspora organization says that in withdrawing Mr. Davis’ nomination, President Weah would be sending a powerful message that his government is opposed to inflammatory rhetoric from all sides of the political spectrum. 

ALJA says it finds Mr. Davis’ comments to be troubling and inimical to Liberia’s peace and stability. Also, the Association asserts Mr. Davis’s presence in the Military if confirmed could compromise that institution’s independence.

ALJA notes the President’s move in rescinding the nomination would also deter others who use social media to spew hate messages that have the propensity of undermining Liberia’s peace and stability.

At the same time, the Association is urging the Liberian Senate to exercise its constitutional oversight by rejecting Mr. Davis’ nomination should President Weah decides to follow through on the appointment. 

Recently, the Association warned against persistent and inflammatory rhetoric on either side of the political divide noting that they can often be counterproductive and create an unnecessary hostile environment. The organization stressed that freedom of speech comes along with social and ethical responsibilities.

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. The Association was founded in 1998 with the objectives of fostering companionship amongst its members and their American counterparts. Additionally, ALJA is committed to advancing press freedom through media capacity building and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy.

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