The United Press for Development Network (UPDN) has said it finds Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye’s threat to withdraw the accreditation of journalists who abandon sittings of the chamber to cover press conference of individual MPs or Caucuses as “intolerant, undemocratic and unfortunate.”
UPDN is calling on the Speaker to apologise to the press corps, adding: “The position of Right Honorable Speaker is not only intimidating but an act to gag and censor the press.”
“The inky fraternity has enjoyed press freedom, freedom of expression and cordial relationship with the august house (Parliament) and Prof. Mike Oquaye must be counseled to consolidate the gains and successes accomplished by his predecessors but not jeopardise it,” a statement signed by Mr Kofi Asante Mensah, President of UPDN said.
UPDN further stated that the Speaker could have handled the situation better than resorting to threats and attempts to punish the press corps, noting: “The media is satisfying a constitutional mandate on behalf of the people of Ghana and must be regarded as such.”
Meanwhile, Parliament has clarified that the Speaker’s decision was not aimed at gagging the media or stopping them from doing their work.
The house, in a statement, said: “Parliament has noted media reports purporting that the Speaker of Parliament is seeking to gag the media”, explaining: “The office would like to put on record that at no time, either in his capacity as Speaker or in his personal capacity has Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, [did he seek] to prevent the media from doing its work”.