MAMBA – TV MISREPRESENTATION OF UN PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION MEETING IN NEW YORK ON 7TH DECEMBER 2016
The Permanent Mission of Sierra Leone to the United Nations in New York views with dismay and consternation the recent publication by Mamba TV, titled: “Mamba TV Breaking News – UN urges Sierra Leone Government to announce election date and postpone all activities in the way.”
The article is a complete misrepresentation of the theme and substance of the informal Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Meeting held in New York on 7th December 2016. That article clearly demonstrates the new menace that has seized the social media and justifies the concerns recently publicized by the Minister of Information and Communication, which borders on the deliberate and apparently malicious production and dissemination of unverified and inaccurate information by ill-disposed persons, carefully designed not only to discredit public officials, the government and socio-political and economic institutions but to also deceive the public.
There is no doubt that Mamba TV deliberately chose to single out the elections issue with ulterior and sinister motive, fully knowing it is a sensitive matter at this critical point in time, to cast a slur on the well-earned impressive democratic credentials of the Sierra Leone Government. This assertion is reasonably premised in the light of the weight of the misinformation and distortion of facts contained in the said article as catalogued below:
- There was no “High-Level teleconference meeting at the UN Headquarters…. called by the United Nations Peace Building Commission … to demand from the Sierra Leone Government a date for the 2018 election”, as falsely reported by Mamba TV. Rather, it was a regular informal briefing meeting at ambassadorial level of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (PBC) Sierra Leone Country Specific Configuration to discuss latest political and socio-economic developments, including preparations for the forthcoming elections and to exchange views on the Report and recommendations of the Second Peacebuilding Assessment Mission (PAM2) of March 2016 and the Chair’s visit to Sierra Leone.
The following strategic development partners and national stakeholders in the country’s democratic framework, who are resident in Sierra Leone, participated in the meeting by VTC: Mr. Sunil Saigal, UN Resident Coordinator in SL; Mr. Philip Kargbo, Acting Executive Secretary for NEC; Dr. Abubakar Kargbo, Commissioner at NCD; Ms. Marcela Samba-Sesay, Chair of NEW; Dr. Nana Pratt, an activist for gender and peace; and Mr. Kofi Korma, DSG of the MRU. Also present were Amb. Adikalie Foday Suma, Permanent Representative to the UN who was accompanied by the Mission’s Expert Officer, Counsellor Alan E. George.
In fact, when the matter was raised at the meeting, the NEC official adequately addressed the issue Mamba TV has misrepresented to the public.
- Mamba TV claimed that “At the meeting, a UN representative asked the government to postpone all activities that could delay the election (Referendum on the revised constitution and constituency boundary delimitation). This is a clear demonstration of Mamba TV’s total ignorance of the modus operandi of the UN and diplomatic protocol. The UN does not and will not dictate to any Government of a sovereign country what Mamba TV wrongly fed social media – That the Sierra Leone Government must postpone all activities that could delay the elections.
- The concern relating to announcement of a date for the elections is not new, and was indeed raised at that meeting by the National Elections Watch (NEW) representative. As stated earlier, the National Elections Commission (NEC) representative, Mr. Philip Kargbo, adequately addressed the matter there and then. It is refreshing to further note that NEC highlighted Government’s seriousness about the oncoming elections by stating that Government has in fact already, so early, committed to contribute 66% of the funds required to conduct the elections; such early commitment and such percentage funding contribution by Government were observed by NEC as unprecedented. Additionally, the Chair, Ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard highly commended Sierra Leone that from an assessment of PAM 2 and his own visit to the country recently, Sierra Leone has made “significant and sustained progress in consolidating peace and democracy”, since the end of the war in 2002.
- Obviously, the Government of Sierra Leone under the leadership of President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma does not need to be prompted to fulfill its commitment towards honoring the schedule for credible, free, fair and transparent elections in 2018.
All media outlets, particularly Mamba TV that is based in the USA, are duly advised to cross-check with the Mission in the case of any subsequent story on UN issues pertaining to Sierra Leone before going to publication in order to ensure accuracy and fairness. The public deserves it and media practitioners are obliged to recognize that golden rule.
GOVERNMENT INTERNATIONAL MEDIA NETWORK , PERMANENT MISSION OF SIERRA LEONE TO THE UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, USA