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27.04.2006 General News

Prez Receives GJA Executives

By The Ghanaian Times

PRESIDENT J.A. Kufuor has called upon journalists to use the power they wield responsibly by being objective in their reportage.

He said they should use their power to engender fellow feeling and promote the interest of the nation.

The President was speaking at the Castle yesterday when the national executive of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), led by the out-going President, Ms Ajoa Yeboah-Afari, called on him.

They included the President-elect Ransford Tetteh, Jim MaCaulley, an outgoing executive member, Ms Yaa Oforiwaa Acquah, treasurer, Bright Blewu, General Secretary, Matthew Mac Kwame, an executive member and Affail Monney, Deputy General Secretary.

The President said that Ghanaian media practitioners were fortunate to be operating in a country which does not suffer extreme tribalism, gender or religious differences and added, "we should be proud of ourselves and count out blessings."

Under the current liberal democratic dispensation, he said, the media should be the main agencies to educate the public on issues of national interest.

Pesident Kufuor said personally, he operates on the principle of goodwill towards others and that had always been his hope that others would reciprocate that gesture.

Unfortunately, he said, some journalists had taken advantage of that situation and were using their media to defame and malign people.

He said the government had been slow in acting against those abuses because it believed that the country's democracy is in a development process.

The government, he said, in an effort to firmly establish democracy, had to be the sufferer from the beginning and added that people would be called to order when democracy was firmly planted in the country.

"You can spin or stout an issue but if you do it to some extent then some sort of mild corrective measures should be put in place.

"Government will continue to be restraint but not where we would allow lies to subvert the integrity of the nation," he said.

President Kufuor said it was good that the leadership of the GJA has taken note of the excesses of some of the media practitioners and is taking steps to correct them.

He said the international recognition that Ghana has freedom of speech among other democratic dividends is not for anything but due to good governance.

"It is therefore important that media practitioners exercise a sense of limit to which they can operate".

Ms Yeboah-Afari expressed gratitude to the government for providing the association with a permanent office building and making it possible for freedom of speech to prevail in the country.

On the basis of the free speech in Ghana, she said, Freedom House, a US-based non- governmental organization, has rated Ghana second in the sub-Sahara Africa where press freedom is absolute.

She, however, said the excesses in sections of the media are a source of concern to the GJA.

Ms Yeboah-Afari formally extended an invitation to the President to be the Guest Speaker at this year's GJA awards night on May 5.

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