By Awa B. Bah
The Chief of Defence Staff, CDS General Masanneh Kinteh, on Tuesday 22nd August 2017 met with the heads of various media organisations, at the Gambia Press Union complex in Fajara. The Purpose of the meeting was to strengthen the cordial relation that exists between the Gambia Armed Forces and the Media.
In his welcome remarks, the president Gambia Press Union Emil Touray, said the media has a crucial role to play in protecting and promoting the sovereignty and in enhancing the social responsibility and security of the country, by ensuring that they provide the public with essential and relevant information.
The Chief of Defence Staff CDS General Masanneh Kinteh, in his remarks recognized the work of the country’s media. He said the meeting was to build the relationship between the security services and the media as they are all key in building the new Gambia.
‘‘When Gambians went to the pools in December 2016 and elected Adama Barrow, it sent signals to the whole that the country was ready to change from dictatorship to democracy. In a democracy, all institutions have to function in accordance with rules and procedures and the security is no exception to this rule,’’ he said.
CDS Kinteh acknowledged the role of the media in the new dispensation as critical particularly in the security sector of the country. He said it is very important for GAF to meet with the media in order to build a strong relationship that can enhance trust and confidence between them.
The Armed Forces he said, is on the path of transformation.
The security service personnel he said operate within their mandate and there is no secrecy in the security service apart from confidentiality with some of the issues that need to be protected in the interest of national security. In conclusion, CDS Kinteh assured the media of his readiness in addressing the concerns of the media in the country.
The Editor-in-Chief of Foroyaa Newspaper Sam Sarr, commended the CDS for the step he has taken. According to Mr. Sarr, the Armed Forces role is significant since they are tasked to defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. War, he said, is a continuation of politics and it is significant that the Armed forces rehash in mind the people.
He said that the role of the media is to transmit information, serve as a platform for debate and enlightenment and hold the government accountable to the people.
He noted that the armed forces need the media for the transmission of information while the media needs information from the public.
Mr Sarr said he was thrilled by the following remarks made by the CDS: that the armed forces are on a path of transformation; that they are guided by transparency not secrecy though confidentiality is key; that they will stick to the rule of law; and that they consider the media as partners.
Mr. Pape Saine of the Point Newspaper said this is the first time of his coming into contact with the CDS in the Gambia discussing security-mediarelationship. Mr. Saine assured the CDS of the media’s cooperation with them regarding the security of the county because their role is to inform and educated the masses.
‘‘While the GAF has a role in protecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, the media also has a role of transmitting the information obtained for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, to the public. Mr. Sarr assured CDS Kinteh that the media will ensure the information filtered down is correct and is in accordance with ethics.
Lamin Cham of The Standard and Musa Sheriff, Editor-in-chief of The Voice newspapers respectively, expressed the honour for the initiative taken by the army high command. They called for the understanding of the Gambia Armed Forces on the role of the media.
All the media chiefs present, appreciated the relationship between the media and the army. They expressed the hope that the partnership will continue.