Chabrol elected press association head
-NCN presenter questions group's standing
Stabroek News
June 28, 2004

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Veteran media practitioner Dennis Chabrol was yesterday elected President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) but not before National Communications Network (NCN) news presenter Wilfred Cameron rocked the Annual General Meeting when he challenged the GPA's right to convene it.

The long-awaited meeting came off as planned but not before the unforeseen opposition shook things up some ten minutes after the gathering.

Chabrol, a correspondent for AFP, was elected President after securing a majority of the votes while Prime News Editor, Julia Johnson picked up the Vice-President's post.

Taking the floor after seeking approval, Cameron said that he had an objection to raise even before the meeting commenced but was awaiting a suitable time to do so. Addressing the executive body he said that the GPA lacks the locus standi to hold the meeting.

According to him, the GPA failed to hold an executive meeting as well as make public its accounts.

"As the representative of NCN I would like to take this moment and leave", Cameron said before walking out. Right on his heels was News Editor, NCN Radio, Jasmini Sahoye who also joined with Cameron in challenging the GPA's right to hold the meeting.

Margaret Lawrence, a broadcaster on NCN Radio then promptly questioned Cameron before the walkout about his statement which she said was purportedly on behalf of the NCN staff. She said that Cameron had no locus standi to represent her, adding that as far as she is aware there was no forum that addressed such a position where NCN staff was concerned. Cameron later re-stated that he was speaking for some of the staff.

Then Secretary of the GPA, Johnson asked Cameron whether he had a written statement on his contention to present to the GPA. He said no and left.

Coming on the heels of Cameron's objection, Chabrol raised the point that a proper income and expenditure account as prescribed by the GPA's constitution should be made public at the General Meeting citing Article 20 (3) which states: At the Annual General Meeting in every year, the council shall lay before the Association a proper income and expenditure account for the period since the last preceding account made up not more than two months before such meeting, together with a proper balance sheet made up at the same date.

Johnson told the gathering that the financial statements are prepared and in her possession but the process is yet to be completed.

Past President, GPA, Adam Harris during his address said that the executive body of the association had been working since the last elections.

He said that the GPA became a founding member of the Association of Caribbean Media (ACM) and as a result, gained recognition by Caricom as the organisation representing media workers in Guyana.

He also cited the recent collaboration with the British High Commission for a two-week Thompson Foundation course for reporters in television which was conducted with representatives from the state and private media.

Harris said that they have been liaising with the Foreign Ministry to certify Guyanese Media Workers who have applied for the "Free Movement of Skills Certificate" to work in Caribbean countries.

According to him, the young practitioners in the media only seek out the association when the management of the media house they are employed with have dealt them what they feel is an unfair hand.

He stressed that the GPA is not an organisation that is opposed to the Government but instead is there to represent the interests of media practitioners.

According to Harris some media houses have had their columnists write seeking the GPA's intervention in private personality clashes but the association is not about to enter any such clashes on behalf of any group or individual.

Other elected members of the executive body are Michelle Nurse, Guyana Chronicle, Secretary; Iana Seales, Stabroek News, Treasurer and Duane Fowler, GWTV 2, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer. The committee members are Patrick Denny, Enrico Woolford, Harris and Bert Wilkinson.