Incumbent President David Granger has issued a call for the media to be truthful when it comes to coverage on the nation’s electoral process which has been ongoing for almost three months.
During a recent interview on ‘Context’, a programme produced by state-owned NCN, President Granger urged the media to stop using words like “rigging” in its reportage.
The President said, too, that if the media were to explain to the public that the recount process embarked on by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Judge Claudette Singh is lawful and stop using words like rigging, there would be less apprehension and violence during this time.
He said, “If the media explained to the public that the process embarked on by Justice Singh with the elections is a lawful process and stop using words like rigging which mean nothing. If the [media] explain to the people that Justice Singh and the Elections Commission are following a clearly defined programme which is embedded in the Constitution, it follows the ruling of the courts, it complies with the mandate of the Commission and in the final analysis CARICOM with the team of observers will make a statement on its surveillance of the recount process.”
Insisting that he is not afraid of the media, President Granger added, “If the media were truthful that is what would be explained to the public. And I am sure if the public understood that, there would be less apprehension, there would be less violence. My only desire is that the media should be truthful and explain to the Guyanese people what has occurred since March 02. I believe if the media were truthful and if political parties were honest, we would be able to overcome some of the anxiety and apprehension but there has been a lot of misinformation.”
According to the Head of State, during this time, there has been a lot of fake news and reports which have led to confusion. He said that he has advised his supporters that the government will “stick to” the Constitution which gives certain powers to GECOM.
President Granger pointed out that during the ongoing electoral process, several court cases were filed, and his government will abide by the court’s rulings.
Moreover, the President expressed disappointment at certain events which occurred after the close of polls on March 02.
“I was quiet upset on the 6th of March to see the stoning of the school bus at Bath Settlement and on the West Coast of Berbice, miles away from Region 4 which is the hotspot. But when you have the media, when you have politicians inciting the public, to stone school buses…”
He asked: “Who do you expect to be in a school bus at 12: 30pm, other than little school children?”
He pointed out that this is the time of misinformation and cautioned that fake news can do harm to Guyana.
In responding to a question by the programme’s host, Enrico Woodford about the rising number of media outlets and the role of social media in disseminating information, he said, “I can only say that the media must be more responsible, politicians must be more responsible so we do not have a recurrence of those incidents at Tain and Bath Settlement and elsewhere in the country.”
He continued, “There is freedom of the press; we have not tried to suppress the media’s right to communicate but now we are in an era in which the digital media are not subject to editorial correction. Sometimes people publish stuff which is quiet untrue and unverified. No editor does fact checking and that is a danger. Freedom of the media is not the danger; but recklessness of some political persons, that is the danger.”