Radio France International’s Jean-Baptiste Placca has apologized for comments he made on the station’s weekly programme “La semaine de Jean-Baptiste Placca” on Saturday January 21, 2017, during which he alleged that Ghana’s former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings had called on the African Union to replicate the ECOWAS mission in the Gambia by removing Cameroun’s Paul Biya from office.
In a letter dated January 24, 2017 and addressed to the former President, Jean-Baptiste Placca said:
“I humbly and respectfully address my apologies to you for wrongly putting your name in the weekly analysis chronicle on Radio France International. I did the big mistake to involve your name about what African Union should do in Cameroun for H.E. President Paul Biya, related to what was happening in Gambia.”
Placca acknowledged President Rawlings’ role in the resolution of peaceful conflicts in Africa and pleaded with the former Ghanaian leader to accept his apology.
The RFI host also offered his apology, live on radio during his programme on Saturday January 28, 2017.
Placca indicated that in all humility President Rawlings did not make those remarks. He confessed that he received the information late into the night and made the professional mistake of not verifying the authenticity of the information.
“The journalist does not always have the last word, and when he is mistaken, he has to recognize it, in all humility, and that's what we're doing here, that's what I'm doing here,” he concluded.
It will be recalled that the office of former President Rawlings strongly denied the report in a statement issued on January 22, 2017. Describing the report as reckless, unethical, unprofessional and slanderous, the statement said the former President had granted no interview to the media on the Gambian crises and warned that immediate legal action will be taken against media who fabricated stories about a man who is best known for his conflict resolution roles in the sub-region and beyond.