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Media "apartheid" at AU Summit

afrol News, 9 July - African journalists could not swallow the ordeal they went through during the just concluded African Union summit in the Ghanaian capital Accra. They described their ordeal as "media apartheid" perpetrated by the AU officials who barred hundreds of news-hungry journalists to access information.

Holding brief for over 350 African journalists who traveled to Ghana to cover the event, the West African Editors' Forum (WAEF) President, Souleymane Diallo, said it would be difficult to ignore the mistreatment of journalists, especially during the opening ceremony.

"350 journalists from all over the continent come to this gathering to report the event; unfortunately they were not allowed to do their job, despite being accredited by the organising committee," Mr Diallo fumed.

He said the summit took place in a bunker forbidden to journalists forcing them to rely on the erratic Ghana TV to get a glimpse of the news.

The 9th AU summit was designed a new relationship between the continent's media and political leaders, which was why a debate between the two was scheduled to take place. But this golden opportunity was allowed to slip by, much to the disappointment of the African people.

It is hoped that the debate, which was postponed because of the busy schedules of heads of states, will take place during the next AU summit. The African Editors' Forum (TAEF, one of the engineers of the historic debate, had airlifted 30 African editors to Ghana to attend the summit.

"Unfortunately, what happened during the opening ceremony reminded us that habits have long life, and that the relationship between the political leaders and the media will not be immediately cemented," Mr Diallo said.

Journalists were so annoyed that they decided to return what they saw as "useless badges" to the security in protest.

WAEF condmned the media aparthied or bashing, maintaining that no meaningful development takes place in the continent if the media is not given its right place in our society.

"WAEF denounces ostracism that shapes more and more media in the African meetings and invites the African leaders without a deadline, to put an end to this situation."

WAEF has launched an appeal calling on media professionals to double in strengthening media organisations, the only measure to protect and ensure freedom of speech and expression in Africa

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