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Journalists barred from covering president's opening of Parliament

(MFWA/IFEX) - On 28 March 2008, a group of journalists working with privately-owned Banjul-based newspapers were barred from covering President Yahya Jammeh's annual opening of The Gambia's Parliament.

According to sources in The Gambia, the journalists were told upon arrival at Parliament that since they did not have accreditation cards, they would not be allowed to enter the premises.

However, some journalists from the government-controlled media, including the "Daily Observer" and "The Gambia Daily" newspapers, as well as The Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), were allowed to cover the event without presenting accreditation.

The press officer at the State House, Hassoum Ceesay, when consulted for clarification, told the reporters to wait outside until the event had ended. He would then provide them with written copies of the president's address.

The sources said that to avoid being ridiculed, the journalists left.

The Media Foundation for West Africa later learnt that the decision to bar the journalists was made by Fatoumatta Jahumpa Ceesay, speaker of The Gambian Parliament.

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