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RFI shut down in eastern Congo

Article published on the 2009-05-15 Latest update 2009-05-15 18:30 TU

A few days after RFI's signal was cut off in Bunia earlier this month, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo threatened to shut down all six RFI's FM frequencies across the country over what it termed "national security concerns".

Information Minister Lambert Mende accused the station of inciting unrest after it reported on problems within the armed forces.

The authorities haven't suspended all of RFI’s relays across the DRC, but on Friday, Ambroise Pierre at Reporters Without Borders said that Congolese people in the Ituli province still couldn’t listen to the station as the authorities made it impossible for the local radio to broadcast the International station.

He was able to confirm however that RFI is still on air in Kinshasa and Katanga province.

“Relations between the Congolese government and RFI have been tense since the presidential elections in 2006 when RFI was blocked, and its special correpsondent, Ghislaine Dupont expelled from Kinshasa. RFI has been singled out by the RDC government, as the BBC was recently in Rwanda,” Pierre told RFI.

Interview: Ambroise Pierre of Reporters without Borders

15/05/2009 by Carly Jane Lock

"At Reporters without Borders, we’ll never stop telling African governments that blocking an international media is a violation of Press Freedom and a major error”, Pierre said.

Gabriel Baglo, Director of The International Federation of Journalists’s Africa Office deemed the initial suspension of RFI’s programs “an unjust measure that constitutes a violation of the freedom of expression and press freedom, especially in a zone where reliable information is most needed.”

A spokesperson for RFI expressed regret for its FM listeners in the Ituli province, and reiterated that RFI strives to cover the news in a balanced way.