By Saikou Jammeh
Gambian president Yahya Jammeh has slammed as ridiculous the demands made by Gambian journalists for the decriminalisation of anti media free laws and subvention ofto media outlets.
“Some of you [journalists] have made ridiculous demands that cannot be met. Tell me one country where there is no libel law and where government subvents the media?” Jammeh told the Gambian media chiefs and their editors at Statehouse on Wednesday.
The uncommon gathering between the government and the independent media was made possible thanks to the efforts of the newly appointed Director of Press and Public Relations, Fatou Camara.
The government-media relationship has been tense for over a decade. The government boasts of creating an enabling environment giving rise to proliferation of media outlets. However, the media practitioners decry lack of liberty in the face of ‘unwarranted arrest, detention, intimidation, lack of access to official information and laws that impede on freedom of speech.
The unsettled murder of veteran journalist Deyda Hydara and the mysterious missing of journalist Ebrima Manneh, as Sam Sarr of Foroyaa told the president and his cabinet, trigger uneasiness on the part of the executive.
And the meeting witnessed renewed calls made by media chiefs for government to address these issues for any progress to be made, but their demands were met with yet an objection by the president.
However, both parties expressed satisfaction with the initiative and hope it could be the beginning of a new chapter in government-media relations with promises of follow-up meetings all, but geared towards smoothening the rough edges.