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Welcome to another year

Jan 3, 2012, 1:07 PM

The year 2011 was, no doubt, an eventful year in various aspects of life in this country.

There have been both high and low marks, which both positively and negatively touched on the lives of many people in this country and beyond.

There is no doubt that the high mark of those events was the 24th November presidential elections, which saw President Yahya Jammeh elected for another five year term in office.

There have also been several other events; some pleasant while others unpleasant. On the relationship between the government and the media, for instance, the meeting in March 2011 between President Jammeh for the first time and members of the independent press held at State House was a significant move.

The year 2011 was also the year in which the senior national team, the Scorpions failed, yet again, in their attempt to qualify for the first time for the African Cup of Nations, despite some chances.

This led to the sacking of Belgian coach Paul Put and now the appointment of Coach Peter Bonu Johnson, who is no stranger to Gambian football.

The year ended with a successful symposium on “The Role of Journalists in Creating an Open Society” organized by the Gambia Press Union and in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), Deyda Hydara Family and TANGO with the sole objective of commemorating the seventh anniversary of the killing of Deyda Hydara, managing editor and co-proprietor of The Point, who was brutally murdered on December 16, 2004.

As we enter yet another new year, we would like to once again appeal to the government to review all draconian media laws, and any law that hinders the work of journalists in this country.

One thing we would like to reiterate is the fact that we as journalists have always seen ourselves as partners in development and nothing else because, after all, this country belongs to all of us.

We pray that our colleague Chief Ebrima Manneh who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in 2006 will come out of nowhere this year to our eternal joy.

We pray that those who take pleasure in harassing or killing journalists should see the value of our work and leave us alone.

We pray that Allah should give us journalists the strength to stand up for what is right, regardless of persecution right, left and centre.

We pray that the enemies of press freedom should not die through strange ailments, but should live long enough to see the better society that journalists relentlessly crusade for.

We pray that the killers of Deyda Hydara should be brought to justice this year. We pray that wherever his killers are hiding, let they be exposed and punish in accordance with the laws of The Gambia.

We pray that those who disagree with journalists should not resort to the gun, but to the pen. We offer the right of reply to any aggrieved person.

We pray that our journalistic values of truth, objectivity and balance will make a difference in the New Year.

In our view, after having been elected for a fourth term in office now, President Jammeh should open a new page in his relations with the press and the international community to work harmoniously for the interest of the nation.

President Jammeh should accept criticism, and promote divergent views and freedom of expression in the country.

Jammeh should also extend an amnesty to those who might have offended him and up to now remain in detention, for the sake of national unity.

Gambians would also like to see the rule of law given pride of place in the spirit of good governance.

In this case, due process must be followed at all times so that human rights are always seen to be respected.

For example, Gambians will be happy to see that no one is detained for more than 72 hours without trial.

“A wise man is not one who does not make mistakes, but he who learns from his mistakes”