‘Don’t Be Political Weapons,’ Pres. Sirleaf Tells Media
By Hilary Vasco Wiagbe
MONROVIA, Jan 28 (LINA) - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has told the Liberian Media not to transform itself into ‘political weaponry of selfish individuals' as the forthcoming mid-term Senatorial Election approaches.
She observed that the media can impact the electoral process, and hoped that it will do so by orienting the political debate, bringing the issues to the people and to the candidates, and by playing a responsible role.
The President described the media as an industry that trades in news and has great impact on public opinion, and, therefore, it has the responsibility to make sure the accurate information is disseminated at all times.
"This is a political year, and elections are around the corner. Great interests will be at stake. People will speak loudly to be heard and will want the media as their echo chambers", President Sirleaf pointed out.
The President emphasized that the media will play a major role in this year's elections, stressing the worse that could happen, and which Liberians do not expect and do not want, is a media that transforms itself into political weaponry of selfish individuals.
According to the Liberia News Agency, the Liberian Leader made the statement Monday when she delivered her Ninth State of the Nation address to the 53rd National Legislature at the Capitol Building on the theme “Consolidating the Processes of Transformation.”
She said over the years, the government has taken steps to create an enabling environment for the media to operate freely, adding: "We created the office of an Independent Freedom of Information Commissioner and engaged civil society on issues of transparency and accountability within the framework of the Open Governance Partnership".
Speaking further, she said her administration began implementing the Freedom of Information Law; signed the Table Mountain Declaration, thus becoming only the second African State to do so, stressing that all these are clear indications of her government's inalienable attachment to the values of free speech, free thinking and unfettered access to information.
The President, however, made it clear that “freedom is not free, and that the price is oftentimes not measured in monetary value.”
According to her, the price the nation and many innocent victims pay from irresponsible reporting is damage to the image of the country, damage to hard-won reputations, and adverse effects on national growth and development opportunities.
“As we maintain our values, supporting the right of free expression, we must do so conscious that the purpose of that value is the collective enhancement of our society. We must, therefore, rebuff abuse of that right and recognize that the Constitution requires that we are responsible for the abuse of that right," the President warned.