When President Adama Barrow first came to power in 2016, regular press briefings were common in the Coalition government. Even when Barrow was in Senegal in the midst of the political impasse, Halifa Sallah, who was at the time spokesperson of the new government, was briefing the press on a daily basis. This continued with Barrow even when he returned. He was speaking to the press regularly and giving one-on-one interviews to journalists from across the world, in both English and local languages.
Then, slowly and week by week, the press engagements of the presidency staggered down to a complete halt. The president stopped speaking to the independent press and the task was placed on the information minister to address the press on a weekly basis. From DA Jawo to Ebriam Sillah, this too eventually stopped without explanation and the president or the presidency was cherry-picking media houses to grant interviews to. That was quite disingenuous.
However, yesterday, that deadlock was broken when it was announced that the president would face the press in the afternoon. Journalists from across the globe frantically converged at the seat of power to speak to a man whose power has been renewed. The president was only declared winner on Sunday in a keenly contested election.
It was a good start. He came out and faced the press. Just to be clear, no media house in this country hates the president or wants him to fail. Gambian media was key in the Coalition 2016 campaign and it is heartening to hear the president himself acknowledged our efforts in the past election. Moving on, we expect the president to work with the press so there would be transparency in his government. Whether he accepts to face us or not, we will continue to hold him accountable to the electorate. So, Mr President, continue the press briefings and allow us to inform the public about the activities of your government.