Monday, November 5, 2012

GPU boycotts forum meant to discuss way forward for media

Emil Touray, GPU President
Members say nothing warrants such a decision 
     
(Gambia News Online) - The leadership of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) has decided to boycott stakeholders’ forum in which it’s invited as a “main stakeholder” to discuss the preliminary report that gives an overview of the findings on the situation of the journalists and media in The Gambia.  

The meeting on 1st November at the Ocean Bay Hotel in Bakau was part of the “Journalists and Media” component of the European Union Delegation and Gambian Government joint Governance Programme.

 
The meeting was for the stakeholders to discuss the preliminary report, prepared by a team of consultants from Article 19 during a mission conducted in The Gambia in October 2012, and commissioned by the European Union Delegation in The Gambia.

Thought the report indicated the achievements, strengths and the shortcomings of the GPU, the leadership of the Union said the report is biased.  

The president Emil Touray, secretary general Gibairu Janneh, and executive director Aloe Ahmed Alota are the ones invited to represent the GPU at the forum but none of them showed up neither do they delegate somebody else.

In a telephone conversation with the president, Emil Touray, to find out why the GPU is not represented at such a forum to discuss the way forward for the media, he said: “We just decided to boycott because we are not happy with the report.”

“We are dissatisfied with the content of the report and we thought the appropriate thing is to boycott the forum as a way of expressing our disaffection,” he added.

However, the forum went as planned, the organizers said.

Apart from the boycott, the GPU president said they are going to write a protest letter against the report. 

Unjustifiable

Demba Kandeh, deputy editor-in-chief of Today Newspaper and a member of the GPU said the action of the Union’s leadership is “unjustifiable”. 

“The GPU should have by all means endeavour to be at the forum even if it is a matter of live and death. Under no circumstance can the GPU justify their absence at the forum,” Mr. Kandeh noted.

In fact it is a shame that the GPU could not even honour an invitation to a forum to discuss media issues no matter how hard the challenges might be, Kandeh said. 

For the President of the Young Journalists Association of the Gambia (YJAG), Mr. Modou S. Joof, boycotting of such event by the Union is a non-starter.

He said the Union cannot justify this action.  He noted that the report is just a preliminary report and the forum was meant to discuss and get comments from the different stakeholders to be included in the final report.

“This could have a chilling effect on efforts to pave the way forward for Gambia’s embattled media. The GPU is a major stakeholder and should have taken this fact into consideration,” he said. “So the forum should have given the GPU leadership the chance to argue their case and make their stance known for appropriate adjustments, where necessary.” 


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