Media rights groups slams Kinshasa curb

8th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

Kinshasa's decision to cut transmissions of Radio France International has been condemned by reporters without borders.

KINSHASA – Reporters without Borders on Thursday condemned Kinshasa's decision to cut transmissions of Radio France International in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The media rights group said it was "wrong and unfair" to accuse the French public radio network of trying to destabilise the country in a letter to Communications Minister Lambert Mende.

Kinshasa cited "national security reasons" for cutting RFI's signal in Bunia, the capital of Ituri district in Orientale Province at the weekend.

"Basically, we accuse RFI of trying to provoke mutinies within the armed forces and to create inter-ethnic conflicts in areas where we are working hard to pacify the country," government spokesman Lambert Mende told AFP.

In a statement which quoted from a letter to Mende asking the government to restore the signal, the rights group said it was concerned "at the possibility that this measure could be extended to the rest of the country."

"We urge you both to restore RFI's broadcasts in Bunia and to confirm your personal commitment to press freedom by publicly stating that the international media presence in Democratic Republic of Congo is legitimate," it said.

RFI on Tuesday condemned the decision on behalf of its listeners, adding that it was the foremost radio in Kinshasa, with 27 percent share of the audience in 2008.

Eastern and northeastern DR Congo has been wracked by violence in recent years pitting poorly equipped and ill-disciplined government forces against Ugandan, Rwandan and domestic rebel forces, with the civilian population often caught in the middle.

AFP / Expatica

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