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Angola16 July 2008

Independent radio station continues to broadcast despite suspension order

Privately-owned Radio Despertar is continuing to operate despite a ministerial order on 8 July suspending its broadcasts for 180 days. Director Alexandre Solombe explained that he has so far managed to delay implementation of the order by requesting an official explanation for irregularities in the way it was issued.

Solombe said that, according to the law, the order should have been issued jointly by the minister of posts and telecommunications and the minister of social communication, who supervises the news media. The order also failed to stipulate the date from which the suspension takes effect.

On the advice of his lawyers, Solombe is also considering a court appeal, which could help to delay implementation of the order.

10.07 Government suspends independent radio station’s broadcasts for 180 days

Reporters Without Borders condemns the government’s decision on 8 July to suspend independent Radio Despertar’s broadcasts for 180 days on the grounds that their current range, 400 km, is much more the 50 km stipulated in its licence. The suspension comes just one month before an election campaign is due to begin on 5 August.

“Restricting media pluralism in the run-up to legislative elections will obstruct the necessary democratic debate,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Furthermore, the measure is illegal as it has been taken under decree-law 69/97, which was voided by a new press law in 2006.”

The suspension was decided by the Ministry of Posts, Telecommunications and Angolan Media and was communicated to Radio Despertar director Alexandre Solombe by the Angolan Institute for Communications (INACOM).

Solombe said his station is the victim of “an electoral manoeuvre by the government in the run-up to legislative elections.”

Created under the peace accords between the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), Radio Despertar began broadcasting in 2006.

The station has been very successful in the capital, Luanda, especially in the suburbs, where many listeners participate in its phone-in programmes. Its current affairs programmes have been particularly popular in the approach to the elections.

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