Make coup unattractive in reportage  …Media told

Make coup unattractive in reportage  …Media told

The United States (US) Ambassa­dor to Ghana, Ms Virginia Palmer has advised the media to make coups unattractive in their reportage as the country gets closer towards its general election.

She said one of the effective means to do so was to target persons who have experienced coups and have been deprived of their rights to tell their own stories.

She was of the view that this would go a long way to discourage others who might be tempted to think that the use of coups was the suitable solution to challenges faced by a country.

Ms Palmer made the comment at the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and the United States (US) Em­bassy workshop on ‘Peaceful Journal­istic Discourse’ at the International Press Centre for 20 Journalists from the Greater Accra Region.

“When a democratic government fails to live up to expectation, the solution is actually more democracy, not less. We see it in the Sahel where human rights violations by security forces can drive individuals to violent extremism. We also see it where the failure to equitably share econom­ic dividends drives people to seek change” she said.

She observed that coups that install military junta in place of democrat­ically elected governments were the antithesis of democracy because they take power from the people and put it squarely in the hands of a few, usually the military.

“Even when a coup initially has a popular support, it normally takes only a few months and sometimes just a few hours for the people to realise that an authoritarian regime is not the answer to security threats and economic malaise” she said.

The Ambassador said the change that was needed was to share the resources of a country equitably and to structure the economies to ensure that economic prosperity was shared across classes, regions, and sub re­gions.

She stressed that the solution to corruption was a more democratic governance, more rule of law and more accountability and not less of it.

“Ghana has long been a regional example of stability and democratic success but, as we’ve seen across the region, democracy is under threat and we need to work together to protect it” she told the media.

Ms Palmer noted that, enthusiasm for coups and authoritarianism among the people was often split among age groups.

“Those that remember authoritarian regimes know very well that coups must be avoided at all costs. Young people, on the other hand, without firsthand knowledge of authoritari­anism, seems to think coups are the answer to corruption and economic challenges” she said.

She said there was the need for the media to highlight the need for de­mocracy to be upheld as this year was an election year.

She commended the media for their efforts to ensure free and fair elec­tion while assuring that the US Embas­sy would support the sharing of best practices for elections and elections reporting.

She was hopeful that this would be done through a well-educated elec­torate that is aware of their rights, understand issues and effectively use their voting power in the upcoming elections.

The event which was launched in November last year in Accra had so far taken the workshops to the Volta, Northern and Ashanti regions.

The President for the GJA, Mr Albert Kwabena Dwumfour stated that the theme for the GJA/US Embassy Ghana Project ‘Promoting Peaceful Journal­istic Media Platforms ahead of Elec­tion 2024’ was appropriate given the tension that invariably characterises the elections in Ghana.

Mr. Dwumfour said the GJA believes that freedom of expression did not only mean allowing people to speak, but also ensuring responsibility, add­ing that it was important to protect the space for free speech.

The project which brought journal­ists from various media houses from the Tema, and Accra regions consti­tuted the print, on-line, radio and television.

The aim was to offer among others professional development to Online Editors/Producers/On Air Personali­ties/Talk Show Hosts.

The GJA/ US Embassy training pro­gramme is also to encourage infor­mation sharing with Election related entities to better inform the work of the Electoral Commission and related entities with the view to promoting freedom of expression for violent free and credible polls.

 From Dzifa Tetteh Tay, Tema

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