Vice President Boakai Lauds Africa Editors Forum

Friday, 15th October 2010
Vice President Boakai receives an award on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Vice President Boakai receives an award on behalf of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Photo Credit: Office of the Vice President

Bamako, Mali - Vice President Joseph N. Boakai has expressed thanks and appreciation to the African Editors Forum for informing the people of Africa and other parts of the world about developments in Liberia .

He observed that for fourteen difficult years, the African Editors Forum kept a watchful eye on Liberia, noting that through their reports the media have helped to maintain Liberia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as security everywhere in our global community.

He said it was the media who got the word about the carnage in Liberia out on the streets of cities around the world, on newspaper stands, in living rooms of decision markers, politicians, donor agencies and humanitarian organizations all around the world.

Vice President Boakai made the observation Thursday during a panel discussion in commemoration of the Bi-annual conference of the African Editors Forum held in Bamako Mali, where he represented President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

“Once fighting started, Liberia was a country without post or telephones, without newspapers, radio or television. Individuals knew only what was happening  to them where they were trapped, but had no idea what was going on five miles up the road.It was the media that pieced and stitched together the patchwork. They filled in the gaps and created and understanding of the horror that was unfolding in Liberia. It was that persistent media reporting of the carnage in Liberia that informed the ECOWAS Peace Plan, the first international intervention into the Liberian conflict,” the Liberian Vice President emphasized.

Vice President Boakai then paid homage to two Nigerian and three Liberian journalists who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during the Liberian conflict. VP Boakai said: “It is with heavy heart that we recognize the bravery of ...Tawo Awotunsin of the Daily Champion and Krees Imodibe of the Guardian, as well as Charles Gbeyon, Klon Hinneh and John Vambo of Liberia who lost their lives at the beginning of the Liberian civil war”.

“These men died in the line of duty. Their life story is etched in the peace we celebrate today in Liberia and their passing should reinforce the resolve of all heads of government and decision makers never to give comfort to such episodic events again in our borders.”

The Liberian Vice President Boakai said as a signatory to the Geneva Convention, the Liberian government under the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is committed to safeguarding human rights.

He said in line with this, the Unity Party-led Government has made human rights training a critical competency requirement for all national security personnel, and has begun to incorporate human rights training in civic education programs for civil society, adding that all of these efforts are directed at achieving the security concerns of journalists and people residing in Liberia.

“These measures constitute the necessary safeguards for strengthening our society to push back hard on anarchy and carnage of the magnitude we so dreaded in our recent past,” he pointed out.

He used the occasion to announce to the conference that Liberia is the first country in West Africa to sign into law the Freedom Information Act on September 16,2010,which, he noted, effectively nullifies closed government and creates an open society in which citizens and residents alike can have unfettered access to public and private institution information.

Speaking earlier during his official opening statement at the conference, the President of Mali His Excellency Amadou Toumani Toure, welcomed the Liberian delegation and described President Ellen Johnson Sirleal as a working partner for peace in Africa.

He called on editors to report positively in the interest of the continent, noting that communication is very important to all forms of society.

President Toure said communication provides the opportunity for the people to understand their governments’ policies, but observed that some politicians use the media in the wrong way to destroy their own country, while other politicians do not consult each other on matters that affect their country, but rather use the radio or newspapers to settle their problems.

The Malian President then called on editors to get their stories from the right sources or the right persons so that these stories do not adversely affect their own people or country.