Media has unfettered access to President Ali

Min. McCoy dismisses Stabroek News editorial

Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Public Affairs, Kwame McCoy on Thursday called out Stabroek News for its June 19, 2023, publication captioned ‘President Press Conferences’, noting that the news agency has once again sought to create hysteria over a subject matter already addressed ad nauseam by the government.

Minister McCoy said the Stabroek News seems to believe it has the power to influence the policies of the Government.

“It would appear therefore that the editor and publisher of the Stabroek News have convinced themselves that they somehow hold sway in influencing policy in the cabinet of the elected Government of Guyana, as they seem to have arrogated to themselves, the right to determine how the president of the republic must comport himself, as regards matters of public communication,” emphasised the minister.

In fact, Minister McCoy pointed out that the management of the Stabroek News seems to have decided that the consistent, unhindered accessibility which its news staff and the entire local press corps, without exception, have of His Excellency at all public engagements anywhere across the country, does not accord with their modus operandi of a preference for staged press conferences in the posh air-conditioned confines of the presidential secretariat, as was likewise adumbrated recently by the president of the press association.

The minister said the media house’s disposition is disingenuous, especially considering that press engagements vary across the world including the Caribbean.  

He echoed that no universal law mandates the way government should interact with the media while reminding them these engagements are at the discretion of government officials.

“They are well aware that while issues of press freedom and safety are accorded universal coverage and safeguards, there exists no universal convention which stipulates or mandates how governments should approach engagements with the press. They are also fully aware that such protocols and conventions are entirely at the discretion of individual elected leaders and their governments by extension,” he stated.

Since assuming office in 2020, President Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has held several formal press conferences and has never shied away from addressing questions from the Guyanese or international press.

The editorial’s criticism of the president’s community-based outreach exercise at Parika on the West Coast is also mentioned, suggesting that the Stabroek News’ preference for exclusivity and luxury does not align with the president’s commitment to addressing the needs of the people.

Minister McCoy clarifies that there is no executive policy mandating the president’s confinement to formal and scheduled press conferences. Instead, the president and his government remain accessible to the press through various means, including presidential and ministerial press conferences organized at their discretion. Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is also available to address questions from the press.