The New Dawn (Monrovia)

21 May 2013

Liberia: Did Ellen Apologize?

Far from earlier report here that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has apologized to the local media for the recent standoff between the Press Union of Liberia and the presidency, the Liberian leader has maintained a stiff neck on the issue, saying that her government's track record on press freedom here is undisputable.

"There's definitely nothing repressive about the press," Sirleaf told a Thomson Reuters Newsmaker event in New York last week.

"So the evidence on that is clear, the government's position on this is clear. Anything else is completely out of context," Sirleaf added.

"My position is exactly what I've just said and the media knows it. The media knows that there is absolutely nothing that we would do that would take away from our commitment to press freedom," she stated further.

President Sirleaf said the government's commitment to press freedom is also evident by the multiplicity of newspapers and radio stations private radio stations, by the talk shows on those radio stations and in the media in which the government is taken to task all the time for one thing or the other and there's no reaction.

The president's comments come nearly a week following a media block-out imposed on her office for disparaging statements made against the media by her chief bodyguard. The situation has sent out a signal indicating that the media here is at war with the president's office.

"There is absolutely no confusion," Sirleaf said. "My record, unchangeable is one of media and press freedom. It is evident by the fact that for the first time in our country we did the Freedom of Information Act(FOI); first time the table mountain declaration, we subscribed to it," the president continued.

However, President Sirleaf acknowledged that in spite of the media friendly environment, at times "we go through these spats, you know like you do in your home, in your church, in your office you know, you have these differences, you have these spats, we'll make up. It's alright."

Meanwhile, reports from the corridors of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, where the President is currently seated indicates that the president has no plan to apologize to the local media over the Othello Warrick saga.

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