President Kagame addresses the 5th EAC Media Summit at Serena Hotel, Kigali (Photo: PPU)
Kigali: President Paul Kagame has strongly criticized the media – especially western media which said are imposing inapplicable values without allowing those covered to defend their positions even when falsely reported.
“The media rightly claims and should have freedom to operate, but at the same time, it increasingly also becomes dictatorial,” said Kagame in a speech opening the 5th East Africa Media Summit in Kigali. He added: “They want to dictate what people should believe.”
The conference is attended by media owners and practitioners from the EAC countries, as well as campaigners and policymakers. EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, along with other senior officials representing EAC institutions is also attending the two-day summit.
President Kagame said while media should benefit from “unlimited freedoms”, they have to be responsible so as not to be “limiting to other people’s freedoms”. He cited himself as victim of media trampling on rights of people without allowing them space to respond.
“Many times we have found ourselves in situations where somebody in the media will tell a story about me saying; ‘you know this man is not Paul Kagame, he is actually Joseph Kagame’….and when I say am Paul Kagame, can I provide evidence or right of response….they say no no…no room for you to explain” said the President amid laughter from the audience.
“They want to be free to talk about me and impose their thinking and views on society, but they also want to block all the avenues for me to give my viewpoint….,” added the President. “Government and media need not be adversaries but partners without compromising independence of the other.”
In the 20-minute address, Mr Kagame also turned his criticism specifically at western media which he accused of distorting information to fit certain agendas. He urged EAC media not to fall pray. At some point during the speech, he stopped reading from the prepared speech.
"Our media shdnt become accomplices to the interests of western media who at worst distort infor and fuel conflict," he said.
Mr Kagame said the media have the duty to tell the “true story of our region, including the desire for peace, security, stability and development”. The conference is looking at how the regional media can strengthen the region’s ongoing integration process.
“The media has the power and responsibility to generate the momentum and the passion for regional integration in our countries,” said Kagame.
Earlier, in his speech, EAC chief Dr Sezibera, said the media to had positively covering the integration program, but urged for more collaboration with all EAC institutions.
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