The opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) has taken exception to Fatu Network’s news reports about the party’s leader Ousainou Darboe calling them “libellous” and “damaging to his name and reputation”.

A press release from the party said:
“The UDP notes with concern the surge in articles published as news pieces which misrepresent material facts and attributing it to the party or personalities within the party.

“Our attention is particularly drawn to The Fatu Network for two recent articles that are potentially libelous as they attribute to the party leader statements that can be damaging to his name and reputation as well as the party’s.

“One was where the editor said ‘Darboe suggests he might have regretted changing Barrow for Jammeh’ and also that ‘Darboe glorified Jammeh’s leadership’ both these headlines were misleading and false.

“We are aware that opinion pieces express views of the author, which usually comes with a disclaimer. Opinion are different from articles presented as news by a registered entity that promises and is trained to exercise due diligence and report facts.

“This has not been the case in the two headlines captioned above. The party and Secretary general calls on the GPU and Management of the newspapers to identify opinion pieces as such and engage members and media houses to present facts as news because information is what the citizenry use to make informed decisions, if such information is inaccurate or defamatory, it can be injurious to the subject and UDP will not take such attempts lightly.

“The fourth estate is crucial in helping citizens base their decisions on accurate information and where that is lacking the status quo of misinformation and sensationalism remains.”

The Fatu Network has strongly refuted the UDP libel claim.

Fatou Camara, proprietor and managing editor of the Fatu Network said the UDP statement was an attack on press freedom.

“While The Fatu Network is more interested in giving a voice to the voiceless, and reporting on human rights and governance deficits in The Gambia than according dignity of reply to puerile proclamations, we however find the statement of UDP immensely disappointing and clearly constitutes an attack on freedom of the press guaranteed by the supreme law of The Gambia, the African Charter and Universal Declaration on Human Rights.

“We take the onslaught on freedom of the press seriously, even as we deny the articles proffer any criminal liability for libel on our part. We also deny UDP’s claim our two articles misrepresent material facts.

“We want to make it clear that we will never be bullied into compromising our professional standards.”

The website of the Fatu Network is offline and it is not clear whether it has anything to do with the dispute with UDP party.

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