The United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan has underscored the need for the US and Ghana to maintain respected, protected and accountable journalist corps ahead of their national elections.

She stated that, with the election season already in full swing in the US and Ghana, both nations must be vigilant because, free and responsible press enables citizens to make informed decisions and better hold political leaders accountable, allowing democracy to thrive.

Public Affairs Officer of the Embassy Virginia Elliot, read the speech on behalf of the Ambassador at the 25 Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Media Awards in Accra, on the theme “Covid-19 and Credible Presidential and Parliamentary Elections: The Media Factor”.

Sullivan commended the Association for being at the forefront of press freedom and promoting journalists’ welfare in Ghana.

She said GJA’s presence was constant and effective, giving voice to journalists’ concern and needs.

She also commended the Ghanaian media for the resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, saying: “All of you represent hardworking women and men on frontlines, informing and serving the public during this difficult and uncertain time.

“The US is honoured to partner with you in our common effort to combat the disease. Together, we will achieve the shared goal of emerging healthier, stronger and more united,” she said

The Ambassador indicated that the US Embassy in Accra’s relationship with the GJA continued to grow stronger each year; adding that, they had worked with the Association at both the national and regional levels on various initiatives.

According to her, from development issues to electoral reporting during a pandemic, the US Embassy had partnered with the GJA to build the capacity of the media in the country.

“We’ve sponsored GJA Media Conventions ahead of the past three general elections. In fact, this year, we partnered again with GJA in a series of media conventions across the country.”

The Ambassador added that the US valued freedom of the press hence it believed that all democratic nations must consistently promote a climate in which journalists were free to do their work without fear, harassment or intimidation.

“For more than 70 years, GJA has led the charge to ensure these freedoms are upheld. May the Association continue to do so for another 70 years.

“And, as always, please know that the US will be here as a committed partner in the years to come.” She added.

GJA President, Affail Monney, also added his voice saying that the Association believed the media had a crucial role to play in ensuring credible elections at all times and said Covid-19 must not in any way, be the shackles on that quest.

“We need the support of other election actors such as the Electoral Commission, political parties, security agencies and civil society organisations to help us achieve credible elections in December,” he stated.

More than 100 individuals and institutions were honoured at the Awards ceremony.