Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) on Thursday 9th August 2012 signed elections guidelines with all political parties for equal airtime in elections coverage, and to ensure free, fair, and peaceful November pools. The signing took place at Miatta Conference Hall at Youyi Building in Freetown.
In the opening remarks of the Ombudsman of Sierra Leone, Honourable Justice Cowan stated, the signing was to complete the two days meeting held sometimes ‘between’ SLBC and various political parties on election coverage. He said the meeting was formed because political parties were complaining that SLBC has been partial in giving airtime. He further stated that, SLBC called the two days meeting for all political parties, where a communiqué was made, and it was signed. He cited that, all political parties should take the document seriously, and implement it in their various parties. He went on “this document will take us right through the elections”.
After the signing of the communiqué, the Acting Chairman of SLBC Board of Trustees, Esmond Ngakwie revealed that, this was one of the days they were yearning for, he noted that, the Board of Trustees and Management have taken that decision based on the complains of political parties. He said they are very grateful to their international partner UNIPSL. He disclosed that, the SLBC can only perform its job if they get cooperation from the public.
According to UNIPSL representative, the engagement of SLBC in elections guidelines is indeed timely, adding that, the UN strongly believes in media coverage in the world especially Sierra Leone, and that, SLBC functions as any national broadcaster of a notion. He delivered that, SLBC provides voice to the voice less including, women, children, and disables. He went on to commend the SLBC, and that, they will always support the SLBC.
The Honourable Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo, revealed that, the implementation of democracy was headed by H. E. President Koroma who opened freedom of information for all political parties, adding that, when President Koroma assumed office, he fast tracked the SLBC to be independent for every body to have equal access. He said, “As government we are doing for SLBC what needs to be done for them to be independent”, adding, “The transmission from SLBS to SLBC was a grate challenge, and we always provide resources for SLBC”. He furthered that, he hoped that political parties will utilize facilities given to them by SLBC. He advised all parties stakeholder to be peaceful to ensure free and fair November elections. He said, they will continue to give SLBC what it needs to be independent, and hoping to see SLBC successful even after elections.
In his closing remarks, the Director General of SLBC Mr. Gbanabom Hallowell, expressed thanks to all those who participated to grace the elections guidelines, and also expressed thanks to UNIPSL for what he referred to as good work. He ensured that, they will be independent throughout the elections and beyond.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.