DG Sillah defends GRTS ‘impartiality’ during impasse  

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Ebrima Sillah, a former BBC correspondent in Gambia who has been appointed as director of GRTS

The newly appointed director general of Gambia Radio and Television Services has defended the staff of the state broadcaster during the recent political impasse despite accusations that they have played a part in Yahya Jammeh’s attempts to put the country to flames.

The national broadcaster has been reduced to the mouthpiece of the ruling APRC all through its existence thus it was branded “Get Ready to Sleep” and “Jammeh Radio and Television Services”, (JRTS).

The state radio and the country’s only television have denied opposition space to air their views during the impasse, leading to widespread condemnations of its former DG Malick Jones.

“All the journalists that are here; circumstances were forced on them, because most of them didn’t like what was going on,” he exclusively told The Torch on Monday.

“How can you be an enemy to your own people? All of them have brothers and sisters and relatives in this country, but the system was forcing them. That is why some of them even resigned.”

“I heard that some of them were even refraining from going to the field to do anything, in this place what people did not also know and refused to acknowledge is that there was a silent protest against what was been forced on them and it was done in many ways. But you know in a situation where your soldiers can come and arrest you and kill and no one will say a word. You have to also take a balance between strategy and the need to live a life, but that notwithstanding I commend the staff of GRTS,” he added.

No. I am not defending my staff; I commend them for striking that balance in a very intelligent manner. The management, especially those at the senior levels; some of them misbehave. Where have you seen a director general of a radio and television been the only one going to read news? You have to ask yourself what happens to the news readers. So those were the part of the silent protest that our staff were doing.

“Drivers were tampering with the vehicles and camera men were tampering with the videos and there was not more than three to four people who were part of the problem. What happens in this country was not a job of a politician; it was the business of every Gambian— a popular against Jammeh.”

Sillah expressed his intentions of changing the impartial editorial policy of the state broadcaster to an independent public institution that will air dissenting views.

“The oppositions have a right to say whatever they want to say in this country. You don’t expect the outside media to come to give the opposition the platform to talk about issues in this country.

“This is the place where they should come and talk about what is happening in this country. If the government is not happy about that they should come and respond.

“This is our line. We are not going to censor ourselves whoever has an opinion that opinion should be respected,” he said.

Sillah also discussed other issues including his life in exile and the burning of his house, among others. The full interview will be published here shortly…

The interview was done for Turkey News Agency

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