Reporters Without Borders hailed a decision today by the National Commission for Communication to allow the privately-owned radio station Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) to resume broadcasting.
The head of the CNC, Jean-Pierre Manda, meanwhile submitted his resignation yesterday to President Domitien Ndayizeye in order to scotch rumours that he had been settling a personal score when he ordered RPA’s closure.
RPA manager Alexis Sinduhije said the station would not resume broadcasting today because he needed to verify that all the equipment was there after several days of forced closure. He welcomed Manda’s resignation and said he hoped his successor would "really help the Burundian press to progress."
25. 07. 05 Police close radio station, briefly arrest eight journalists
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the closure of a privately-owned radio station, Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), by police on 22 July and the arrest of eight of its journalists for several hours. The station had reopened the previous day after suspending its broadcasts on 19 and 20 July at the behest of the National Commission for Communication (CNC).
"It is shocking that the authorities sent armed police to close the station’s premises and arrest journalists," the organisation said, deploring the CNC’s failure to respect its commitment to let the station reopen.
Police said it was President Domitien Ndayizeye who gave the orders to close the station on 22 July. The day after the raid, the president received representatives of journalists’ associations who are trying to mediate between the CNC and RPA. The president’s spokesman subsequently said RPA would be able to reopen soon. The head of a local press watchdog, Abbot Emmanuel Muyehe, said the station would be able to resume broadcasting this week.
The CNC ordered RPA’s indefinite closure on 14 July for failing to respect "pluralism"in its coverage of municipal and legislative elections on 3 and 4 July. The station was above all accused of failing to give live coverage of the meetings held by the president’s party, the Front for the Defence of Democracy in Burundi (FRODEBU).