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Somalia14 June 2002

Somaliland government bans privately-owned radio stations

Reporters Without Borders called today on the government of Somaliland (an autonomous region of Somalia) to reverse its 5 June ban on all privately-owned radio stations.

The information ministry had announced that "no other voice" could be heard on the air except the government-run Radio Hargeysa and that privately-owned stations would not be allowed because of "potential dangers." It warned anyone with transmitting equipment to hand it over to the authorities and said those who did not do so would be punished.

"This move is a serious obstacle to press freedom and the growth of independent and diverse expression in the region," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to Somaliland’s president, Dahir Riyale Kahin. "The government has taken this step because it knows most of the region’s inhabitants get their news from the radio."

The country’s only radio station is the official Radio Hargeysa, but several people and opposition parties have applied for broadcasting frequencies. Several privately-owned newspapers are published and sold in Somaliland’s main towns.

Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 but yet to be recognised by the outside world. Reporters Without Borders notes that in Puntland, another autonomous Somali region, the authorities last month shut down the main privately-owned radio and TV station.

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