SLAJ, IMC Hold Discussions with President Bio on Vital State Issues

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

President Julius Maada Bio has on the 31st August, 2023 pledged continued support for Constitutional Review, Press Freedom and Political Inclusion. At State House where he met with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), the Independent Media Commission (IMC) he reaffirmed those pledges.

Present during the courtesy visit by SLAJ were the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, along with the National Executive Committee, Regional Heads, and the Executive Secretary of the Independent Media Commission.

During the meeting, discussions primarily focused on critical national issues that emerged from the recent elections and the role of the media in fostering dialogue, reconciliation and national unity.

President Nasralla commended the Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion (ICPNC) for its post-elections report, which aims to promote peaceful dialogue and cohesion. He expressed SLAJ’s appreciation for President Bio’s commitment to working with the Commission and other stakeholders to implement the report’s recommendations.

SLAJ praised President Bio’s address to the 6th Parliament earlier in August, emphasizing the importance of political dialogue, collaboration, national cohesion, and unity in the post-elections period.

The Association also highlighted the urgency of addressing post-election divisions through consensus-building to ensure national unity.

The discussion further touched upon the need to strengthen public institutions to make them more independent and autonomous in serving the public’s interest and earning citizens’ trust.

Another important topic of conversation was the adoption of a political system that aligns with Sierra Leone’s diversity, peculiarities, culture, and traditions.

President Nasralla expressed SLAJ’s commitment to promoting sustainable dialogue, reconciliation, peace, and national cohesion through journalism.

The media’s commendable role in the recent elections was also mentioned by the SLAJ President, acknowledging collaboration with Civil Society stakeholders and support from international partners. Various initiatives, such as the I-Verify platform and the Super News Room, he said, helped ensure access to credible and accurate information while countering misinformation, disinformation and hate speech.

SLAJ also unveiled its media manifesto, “The Media We Want,” which outlines the framework for future media interventions in Sierra Leone. Additionally, SLAJ is set to launch a gender equality policy for the media, with support from Irish Aid.

Nasralla highlighted ACC’s conduct of a systems and review process,
the establishment of the National Fund for Public Interest Media (NaFPIM) with support from the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM), the historic repeal of the criminal and seditious libel law that fostered a more open and free media environment.

He, however, maintained that both SLAJ and the media sector at large recognize the need for further improvements in press freedom and freedom of expression.

SLAJ urged President Bio to pay attention to Internet bandwidth to ensure reliable connectivity, promote access to information, and facilitate democratic participation. He expressed the view that strengthening the Internet bandwidth could also boost media advertising revenue and create job opportunities for young people.

Regarding the Independent Media Commission (IMC), SLAJ highlighted that this was the first time in its history that SLAJ had nominated names for approval, and all nominations, including the Chairman, were approved by the President. SLAJ called for increased support for the IMC to collaborate effectively with media stakeholders and fulfill its crucial mandate.

The meeting concluded with SLAJ informing President Bio about ongoing fact-checking initiatives related to statements made during his campaign, with the findings expected to be available by the next presidential media cocktail.

On his part, President Bio expressed his appreciation for SLAJ’s efforts and commitment to national development and assured them of his support in addressing the issues discussed during the courtesy call.

The  President also reaffirmed his unwavering dedication to the Constitutional Review Process. The President emphasized his commitment to the ongoing Constitutional Review Process.

According to Solomon Jamiru, the Press Secretary : “The 1991 Constitution marked a pivotal shift from one-party dictatorship under the 1978 Constitution to a multiparty democracy. President Julius Maada Bio’s unparalleled dedication to the review process, 22 years later, is truly remarkable.”


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