No ‘Public Interest’ programme held with President since April 2

After promising to ensure regular and consistent access to the media through a variety of channels, President David Granger has not had an extended engagement with the press since April 2017.

Since his election, Granger has held only one press conference, which was in October of 2015. He has instead expressed a preference for smaller engagements such as his weekly televised programme, The Public Interest.

However the last published edition of this programme was on April 2, 2017 more than two months ago.

On this programme two journalists one from the state and the other from private media engaged the President for 30 minutes. In its most recent iteration the journalists compete for the limited time with a member of the Ministry of the Presidency’s Press and Publicity Unit.

This format means that the private journalist is often unable to engage President Granger for more than 10 minutes with one of the two state representatives utilizing the other 20 minutes. According to the Ministry of Presidency YouTube channel of the more than 50 episodes aired since September 2015, Stabroek News has been present for less than 10.

Asked by Stabroek News on the January 20 edition of this programme if a press conference would be held in 2017. Granger said that he did not have an objection to having a press conference. He explained that he “quite liked” the public interest format but he would be willing to hold a press conference.

“If that is the desire of the Guyana Press Association, it can be arranged with my press team,” he had said.

Since that time the GPA has called on President Granger to convene periodic press conferences of no less than one hour at which he can be questioned in detail about his government’s policies and programmes.

This request was made on May 3, World Press Freedom Day and since that time the President has not responded to this request.

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