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Politics | Media | Human rights

African editors set for AU

afrol News, 12 November - Under the aegis of the continental editor's forum [The African Editor's Forum (TAEF)], African editors will be holding a debate with some of the continent's leaders during the African Union Summit scheduled to take place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on 31 January 2008.

Themed "imagining Africa", the debate could not take place in the Ghana summit some months, although TAEF and the Media Foundation for West Africa ferried a lot of journalists to the West African country to witness what should have been a historic and turning point in the continent's history.

The call for the debate was renewed at the forum's third bi-annual conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Graced by over 100 African editors, the conference called on the establishment of national editor's forums.

Kenya and Tanzania have been praised for establishing editor's guilds, though they are still at their embryonic stages.

The Kenyan guild was hailed for being defiant against a clause in the Media Bill that would have forced journalists to disclose their sources. Due to public pressure coupled with media defiance, President Kibaki refused to sign the Bill and referred to the parliament.

Inaugurated in October 2003, this is the first time TEAF held its bi-annual conference outside South Africa.

TAEF's main aim is to promote media freedom as well as provide professional support for the continent's editors.

West Africa will host the next bi-annual conference in 2009.

Mr Mathatha T-sedu, TAEF Chairman said it would have been disheartening for Nairobi to host the conference whose theme centres on media leadership, elections and democracy in Africa under the cloud of repression.

Mr T-sedu, who edits South Africa's City Press Newspaper, said the editors met in Nairobi for the grace of the good and massive opposition mounted by journalists and civil society. Or else, he said, "we could be talking about a Kenya where journalists are forced to reveal sources."

Delegates in the end unanimously re-elected Mr T-sedu. Other elected executive members were Rose Mary Okello [Secretary General], Elizabeth Barrat [Treasurer] and Cheriff Sy [Vice Chairman]. Sy, a Burkinabe editor, is the only new face in the new executive. He replaced Souleymane Diallo, who heads the West African Editor's Forum.

Mathatha thanked his colleagues for once again reposing their confidence in him and promised to do his best to push the press freedom agenda in the continent to the highest.

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