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Let This Wise Decision Mark a New Beginning

Sep 3, 2008, 6:26 AM

Well done to the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade who has taken the excellent step of dismissing the former Minister for Crafts and Air Transport, Farba Senghor, for his alleged involvement in a series of attacks on media houses in that nation recently. He had publicly threatened the media houses concerned because he was displeased with certain stories they carried about him. The president made his decision because while he held ministerial office the alleged mastermind of the attacks was immune from police investigation. He was questioned for four hours on Monday  by  Ousman Diagne Dakar's Court Public Prosecutor, regarding the matter in hand.

This move shows that President Wade not only respects the judiciary but also that we may be seeing a change of heart on his part regarding the freedom of the press. Relations between the government and the independent media in Senegal have been very strained recently to say the least. Two sports journalists were severely beaten by police following the recent Senegal versus Liberia world cup qualifier and at that time President Wade was very dismissive of the case. His stance was outrageous but it seems with his action in the last number of days that he may be beginning to afford the fourth estate the respect it deserves. It is certainly clear that the people of Senegal are not pleased with the treatment journalists are receiving at the hands of government and their enforcers.

 On the 23rd of August more than 3,000 people marched in the streets of Dakar to demand an end to the "campaign of demonstration and intimidation" against the media. It is very heartening to see these brave people coming out in such numbers to protest at the undemocratic actions of those in power who would wish to control the media and distort the truths that it exists to bring the people of any nation.

We commend President Wade and hope that this decision marks a change of heart with Senegalese authorities with regard to press freedom. To all African leaders we say please respect the rights and lives of journalists. Investigate fully their murders and disappearances and afford them the protection they need to carry out their job to the best of their abilities. To our brothers and sisters in the media fraternity we say, be strong in the face of this oppression and continue to serve the public by promoting democracy truth and justice.

"Apostles of freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when alive."

James Connolly