By Alagie Manneh
Delivering a statement at the opening of the NPP’s regional headquarters in Bansang on Friday, President Barrow castigated the work of some media houses and journalists, and said his government has been lenient with them. He said certain media houses would not have existed if The Gambia was not democratic.
Reacting to the comments, Gambia Press Union head, Muhammed Bah, stated: “I believe the President (Barrow) should desist from making such utterances that could have a direct implication or negative impact on the safety of media houses and journalists in general. I believe such rhetoric could also have a direct implication on our press freedom gains as The Gambia is ranked among the top 5 in Africa in the Global Index Ranking and 45 in the whole world. Such comments coming from the head of state against the media will have serious ramifications on some of those gains made over the years. It doesn’t look good, and this is a concern to the union. The head of state should desist from making these statements that could have an implication on the safety of journalists and media.”
Mr Bah said the union intends to engage the government. “We are even looking forward to sign an MoU with the Ministry of Information so that we can see how best we can strengthen press freedom. We will continue the dialogue and the conversation even at the level of the presidency. We believe that the role of the media as the watchdog and as the fourth estate of government must be recognised and respected. It is our responsibility to hold government accountable to the people.”