On 15 October, the International Press Institute (IPI) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) received a statement from one of the presidents of the divided Ethiopian Free Press Journalists’Association (EFJA), Kifle Mulat. In that statement, Mulat outlined his commitment to hold a fourth EFJA General Assembly for the purposes of choosing a new EFJA President.
In the statement, Mulat said, “The objective of [EFJA] is not to create division but to bring about unity based on firm convictions and commitments.” He went on to agree to a 4th General Congress to be called within six months starting from 23 October 2004 and said he was doing so in the belief that it “would contribute to the development of the Ethiopian free press, the unity of its members and the survival of our association.”
Responding to the announcement, Director of IPI, Johann P. Fritz said, “This is a significant step along the road to uniting the divided EFJA organization. Mr. Mulat’s comments are to be warmly welcomed and I now hope that the other elements of EFJA will come forward and add their own voices to the calls for a new General Assembly and a democratic election.”
Fritz went on to say, “The holding of a democratic and transparent General Assembly is not only essential for the continued survival of EFJA, it will also allow independent journalists to speak with one voice in negotiations and discussions with the government on a variety of media and professional issues.”
“While we welcome the initiatives of our colleague Kifle to pull EFJA together through an open and democratic process, others must join the process without prejudice to their positions,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “Without a unified front, the ultimate losers will be EFJA’s members and the Ethiopian free press as a whole”.
For further information contact:
Robert Shaw, IFJ - +32 2 235 2207
David Dadge, IPI - +43 1 512 9021