Mar 8, 2013, 11:39 AM
Hamat Bah, leader of the opposition National Reconciliation Party, has come under fire after the Gambia Press Union reacted to his comments last week that journalists are affecting the opposition in their programmes.
In an interview with this paper last week, the NRP leader said journalists are bent on hammering the issue of an opposition alliance all the time as if, when there is no alliance, there cannot be any victory for the opposition, and called on them to be positive.
“I think it is very sad that the media don’t want to understand that the APRC can be defeated even without an alliance. And you are bent on hammering the issue of an alliance all the time as if, when there is no alliance, there cannot be any victory for the opposition,” Bah said, adding: “you (journalists) are really part of those affecting us in our programmes. You have to be positive.”
In a statement issued, Bai Emil Touray, president of the Gambia Press Union (GPU), said Hamat Bah like any other Gambian has the right to free expression, and he is entitled to his opinion.
“Journalists are not newsmakers; they are supposed to write happenings. Whatever we do as journalists, we are doing it in the public interest,” Emil Touray said.
According to Touray, media practitioners are supposed to use their papers to convey the views of both the opposition and ruling parties.
“I don’t think journalists are frustrating the efforts of the opposition camp in their bid for a united front; we are only advancing the political debate based on the information we get from political actors and the masses,” he said.
The president of the GPU went on to state that it is not the journalists that are calling for an opposition alliance; it is rather the opposition parties that are debating the issue.
“Hamat Bah has the right to express his opinion, and that is the beauty of free speech and democracy,” he said, adding that journalists are not interested in any political party or opposition alliance.