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Comoros7 February 2005

Main radio station on Anjouan island allowed to resume evening news programme

Radio DzialandzÚ Mutsamudu (RDM) was told it could resume broadcasting its nightly news programme on 29 January, station coordinator Said Ali Bacar said. Since that date, listeners on Anjouan island have been able to tune in to the 9 p.m. news show, "which is mainly about international events," Bacar said. The programme was suspended on 12 January on the interior ministry’s orders.

28.01.2005 - Authorities suspend news programme of Anjouan island’s main radio station

Reporters Without Borders today urged the authorities on the autonomous island of Anjouan to allow its main radio station, Radio DzialandzÚ Mutsamudu (RDM), to resume its daily news programme, which were suspended at the orders of the Anjouan interior and information ministry on 13 January "until further notice."

"This decision was unexpected, especially as the news programme was mainly about international news," the press freedom organisation said.

"Suspending this programme means cutting the island off from the rest of the world and undermining diversity in news reporting, which is essential in a democracy," Reporters Without Borders continued. "We call on interior and information minister Djanffar Salim to let it resume normal programming as soon as possible, for the public’s sake."

The suspension stemmed from a recent strike by the island’s doctors. After health minister Fadhula Said Ali gave his view of the strike on the state-owned Radio TÚlÚvision Anjouan (RTA), the doctors wanted to respond but RTA refused, so they turned to RDM, which allowed them to present their side of the dispute on the air.

As a result, the interior and information minister summoned RDM coordinator Said Ali Dacar Mgazi and an RDM journalist to a meeting with RTA executives at the start of January to seek an explanation.

Shortly thereafter, on 13 January, the minister issued his suspension order, accusing RDM of producing "programmes that do not conform with its statutes and internal regulations."

When RDM was founded as a community radio in 1992, it focussed on culture, but there is no law preventing it from broadcasting news programme. Its 9 p.m. news programme, presented by Tex Mohamed, covered only international news, especially developments in the Middle-East.

Partnered with Radio France Internationale (RFI), the radio station is based in Mutsamudu, the capital of Anjouan, which unilaterally declared its independence in 1997. Mutsamudu is the second largest town in what is now the Union of Comoros. Anjouan’s few news media struggle to survive with little funding and despite the strict controls imposed by the island’s authorities.

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