The United Democratic Party is amazed by the reaction of The Gambia Press Union (GPU) against the comments made by our party leader, Lawyer ANM Ousainou Darboe, in response to a journalist by the name of Pa Nderry Touray. In his response Lawyer Darboe called out the the said journalist for his attempts to create a rift between the party and the Mayor of Banjul, Her Ladyship, Rohey Malick Lowe-Saidykhan.
Lawyer Darboe further called out the said journalist for his anti-Mandinka diatribe and bigotry. These comments of Lawyer Darboe, according to the GPU is an unacceptable attack of the said journalist and for that reason issued a stern press release against our party leader.
It is rather astonishing that The Gambia Press Union has rushed to issue a press release to condemn than doing the needful expected of an organisation of its repute. We believe among the obligations of the GPU is to safeguard the conducts of their members from inciting ethnic divisions in this country. For that can have dangerous consequences, and if they have no guidance on such ethics, they ought to work on it asap.
This is because if Africans are to learn anything significant from the Rwandan genocide, it would be the danger of irresponsible journalism, which incited that devastated loss of human lives in that country’s war. As one irresponsible journalist took to the radio airwaves and called on one tribe to attack the other leading to the massacre of the other.
Furthermore, calling journalists out for their irresponsible professionalism is nothing new in modern democracies, unless our umbrella body for the media houses is naive of that knowledge and understanding. Recently, during this Russia/Ukraine conflict, most of the Western Democracies called out the biased reporting of the Russian state TV outfit called RT, and many such nations even went as far as sanctioning or blocking RT from being aired in their countries. That is not labelled as threat to media freedom, but justified the narrative of the RT about the war is deemed to be distasteful in many of those Western democracies.
Similarly, we deem it quite appropriate and measured that if our party leader, who is well informed about the biased reporting of Mr Pa Nderry Touray, called his distasteful reporting out to him, the public, and to the attention of you the umbrella body regulating his conduct. We expect you to call Mr Touray and investigate his style of reporting and educate him on the ethics of his profession, such that it will allay the fears of a section of his audience, who deemed or perceived him to be anti-Mandinka, that he holds no such bigotry against them or any particular section of the country.
However, rather than putting your house in order, it is disappointing to us that the GPU attempts to engage in defending the indefensible conducts of its members, whilst attempting to tarnish the stellar image of our party leader, who has always been a champion in defending media freedoms in this country and has a long standing good relationship with the Gambian media.
We therefore offer this free advice to The Gambia Press Union, next time when there is an allegation of unprofessionalism of any of your members, please investigate first and put your house in order to allay the fears of the public, before jumping to their defence. Such a rash judgement is highly unexpected of your reputable organisation.
Written by UDP Media Response Team