President Barrow met with a doyen Media practitioner and Press Freedom Activist, Professor Kwami Kari Kari, members of the Media Foundation for West Africa,(MFWA) and their long term partner, International Media Support (IMS). President Barrow appreciated the important role the media, social media in particular played during the struggle for change by informing and enlightening the people. The Gambian leader asserted that the country cannot develop without partnering with the media. He acknowledged that the media sells government policies and programmes and its role in the transition to democracy is recognized.
President Barrow assured them that the media will operate within the parameters of democracy. He observed that the former regime suppressed the media because of fear of having an informed population who would demand for a level playing field for democracy to grow. President Barrow asserted, “we will be media friendly, the media has the opportunity to inform the general public. That will help us to grow and partner with other nations. We cannot afford to be isolated.” He concluded that the appointment of a media doyen like Honourble Demba A. Jawo Minister of Information, Communication, Information Technology is an indication of how serious his government takes the media.
On his part, Professor Kari Kari pledged that his organization will continue to support the media in The Gambia. He welcomed the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which he believed will bring out the truth about many atrocities including the case of Chief Manneh, a missing journalist. Professor Kari Kari paid homage to President Barrow and the Coalition leaders for bringing The Gambia back as a proud star of West Africa in rebuilding democracy.
4. UN Stands by The Gambia to Sustain Democracy through Peace Building
In a separate engagement, President Barrow received a high powered delegation from the United Nations, comprising of the Assistant Secretary General for Peace Building Support, Oscar Fernanadez- Taranco and the Permanent Representative of South Korea to the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Taie-yul Cho, UNDP Resident representative in the Gambia, Madam Ade Mamonyane Lekeotje and other senior officials. They were accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad, Honourable Ousainou Darbo, and The Gambia’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN, Mr. Momodou Tangara. The purpose of their visit was to demonstrate solidarity with the Gambia’s achievement of a peaceful transition to democracy. The discussions centered on the major peace building challenges facing The Gambia, including macroeconomic stability, dealing with past human rights violations through transitional justice, restoring confidence in the judiciary, reforming the security sector, improving access to basic services, reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development. Other issues discussed included the upcoming National Assembly elections scheduled for 6th April 2017, security and the role of ECOMIG, a national development plan, a donor roundtable and how to sustain international support for the country.
It could be recalled that the UN had initially committed US$3million from the Peacebuilding Fund to address urgent peace building priorities and the related challenges.