From Henry Gombya in St Julian’s, Malta
The new International President of the Commonwealth Journalists Association (CJA) has made monitoring the observance of media rights among the Commonwealth as one of her top priorities. In a statement she issued soon after being elected to replace Hassan Shahriar as well as in private conversations with fellow journalists, Rita Payne who also chairs the CJA London branch agreed that the association cannot stand by as journalists are persecuted in Commonwealth countries.
Payne beat Chris Cobb, the current Vice President at an election held Thursday at the end of the five-day conference that started here Sunday. She said she will work towards the rehabilitation of CJA branches around the world and urged journalists in the Commonwealth where branches are yet to be formed, to work hard towards establishing them.
Elaborating on her plans during the next three years, Payne said: “We will need to have a database with email addresses of all our members so that we can communicate directly with our membership when there are significant developments. I would like all our members to send their thoughts on what the sort of organisation they would like the CJA to be and what we can do collectively to meet our objectives.”
During the elections, Joshua Kyalimpa, the outgoing president of the Uganda Journalists Association was elected CJA Vice President for Africa, while Drito Alice who heads the CJA in Uganda as well as Newton Sibanda of Zambia were elected CJA directors. The full list of the new CJA executive is as follows:
President: Rita Payne – UK; Presidents Emeritus – Hassan Shahriar (Bangladesh) Derek Ingram (UK) Vice Presidents: Chris Cobb – Canada (re-elected); Mahendra Ved – Asia; Joshua Kyalimpa – Africa; Farid Hossain – Bangladesh; Honorary Secretary-Treasurer: Murray Burt – Canada; Directors: Syed Nahas Pasha – UK; Drito Alice – Uganda; Caroline Jackson – Malaysia Sarawak; Newton Sibanda – Zambia; Fauzia Shaheen – Pakistan; Jayanta Roy Chowdhury – India; Shyamal Dutta – Bangladesh; Will Henley – UK (youth director); Past )