BBC criticised after its ‘insensitive’ Africa coverage

The Czech president said: ‘If one is no longer loved by her people, you are no longer a real leader.’ The Brazilian president said: ‘Democracy is under attack by the forces who want to…

BBC criticised after its 'insensitive' Africa coverage


The Czech president said: ‘If one is no longer loved by her people, you are no longer a real leader.’ The Brazilian president said: ‘Democracy is under attack by the forces who want to erase its universality.’ The Turkish president said: ‘The principles of democracy are being questioned.’

So how did they get to these statements? On Thursday, the president of the Czech Republic told a gathering in Bratislava: ‘When one is no longer loved by her people, you are no longer a real leader.’ The Brazilian president said: ‘Democracy is under attack by the forces who want to erase its universality.’ The Turkish president said: ‘The principles of democracy are being questioned.’ On Friday, the Greek prime minister praised institutions – ‘not just private ones, but global ones as well’ – that empower ‘the people, not the politicians’.

Predictably, the interventions dominated the morning TV chat shows. The BBC’s Ben Brown dug deep into what each leader had said: the US president, the Iranian president, the Czech president, the Mexican president and the French president all said, almost word for word, what the other leader had said.

Only Turkey and Thailand were left without a direct quote from their leaders. So did the BBC care? After all, most of the leaders were sporting the suit from their countries’ diplomatic flags, and were photographed in the traditional uniforms – berets, beards, frilly new suits. It was a different story for the leaders of Argentina, Mexico, Turkey and Thailand – when not in the usual outfits.

In November 2017, a new organisation called Bratislava Watch was formed by former Czech Republic deputy prime minister Jiri Drahos. While the outfit’s website says the group is ‘mainly concerned with political and economic mismanagement’, it also criticises ‘societal disorder’. Acknowledging political degeneration in Turkey, Bulgaria, Colombia, Poland, Slovakia and Turkey – with still more in Venezuela, Peru, the Czech Republic, Serbia, the Republic of Georgia and Montenegro – Bratislava Watch said: ‘We are also concerned about the combination of such states that use a single mantra of “Democracy” to justify the changes they conduct without checks and balances.’

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