08 April 2011

Gambia News:Was Taranga FM’s Closure due to Administrative Procedure?Minister Should Not Misinform Assembly

Daily News Gambia -The response of the minister of Information and Communication Infrastructure to the question raised by Jarra Central parliamentarian as to what led to the closure of Taranga FM sounds appears to be misleading.
The Information minister’s response that Taranga FM was closed due to administrative procedure as carried on The Point newspaper prompt us to question whether the minister is not speculating or misinforming the august assembly.
The closure of Taranga FM, a community radio station situated in Sinchu Alhagie, Kombo North on January 13, 2011, was an order from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The station remained off the air for 32 days, which left its keen listeners in the dark. It added to the worries of all those concerned about freedom of expression and freedom of the press in The Gambia.
Later, a letter addressed to the proprietor dated 14 January stated that Taranga FM could relay news, but from the state owned-Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRST), if the station is interested in broadcasting news.
The government’s directive was contained in a letter to the manager of the station and signed on behalf of H. M Tambedou, Secretary General of the office of President.
The letter advised Taranga FM management to desist from reviewing opposition-linked and Western sponsored newspapers. With those conditions, the station is allowed to come back on the air without its popular “Xibari besbi”, (meaning news of the day in Wollof), which entailed news and current affairs programme that reviewed newspapers in Mandinka and Wollof the two major languages in The Gambia.
This means Taranga FM is only given the green light to review news from the government-controlled Gambia Radio and Television Service (GRTS). That is why the audiences are listening to a different Taranga FM – without ‘Xabari besbi’. This is how matters stand.
We could not understand what administrative procedure is the information minister talking about. Perhaps, he did not know the content of this letter, which we assume he should. And if he doesn’t, then we would ask: Is the minister’s hands not tied on his back in executing his job properly?
The purpose of calling ministers to the National Assembly is to clarify issues within their responsibility. The deputies have a role to scrutinize institutions, policies, and public officers etc.
So, whatever a minister says in the National Assembly should be clear, factual and in the legitimate interest of the country, without fear favour, affection or ill will.
The government of The Gambia should stop doing actions it cannot defend.


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