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Free flow of information

Jan 18, 2012, 2:26 PM

The importance of free flow of information cannot be overstated.

We believe that it is essential that as a government, and a country, we open up more.

We firmly believe that the more we make the country an open society, the better for all of us, and all who reside here.

Just a day before the much talked about presidential inauguration, people are still asking who and who would be the guests for the big national event.

As journalists, people have been calling our office to ask who are those coming for the event, but since we could not have the answers from the authorities we could not tell them much.

The rumour in town is that more than 20 head of states are expected .  We have tried to find out who was invited, and those who have confirmed their participation from the protocol office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but we were told that they were busy.

When we also asked some officials, whom we assumed to be in the know, at the airport last evening, they could not give us an answer.

Whereas some pretended to be too busy to talk to us, others told us they did not have the list with them at the airport.

We are indeed baffled by this attitude of our Gambian officials.

What is wrong in telling people something you know about? An event like the presidential inauguration is a national program, and the people have to know who is attending.

Also, we had assumed that since a press center was created at the inauguration site, the authorities, particularly the presidential press office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would organise a press briefing to announce the foreign invitees and those who will honour the invitation. 

However, so far this has not happened, and no official announcement was also done to that effect.

Therefore, we are advising that there is a need for more free flow of information between the various government departments and media, to avert unnecessary speculation in town.

Just last week in Liberia, the head of the Inaugural Committee for President-elect Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, disclosed that over 200 invitations have been extended to world leaders to attend  their event.

Dr. McIntosh, who is also the foreign minister of Liberia, noted that the invitees included heads of state and government or their proxies and special friends of the president and the government of Liberia.

We feel a similar announcement could have been made in Banjul by now.