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D.R. Congo 26 July 2002

Private TV and radio banned from broadcasting news about an opposition figure

Managers of private TV and radio stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo were ordered on 24 July to stop all broadcasts about a leading opposition figure.

Those who received the order were: RFBM (Radio Fraternité Buena Muntu), RTDK (Radio Television Debout Kasaï) and RTVI (Radio Télé Inter Viens et Vois).

"This step amounts to a real obstacle to freedom of the press and development of pluralism of expression. This censorship, if proved true, is genuinely worrying," said General Secretary of Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières ˆ RSF) Robert Ménard, in a letter to minister of information, Kikaya Bin Karubi.

"The authorities have very well understood that the radio is a particularly crucial medium, given that the majority of the population keep up with the news in this way," he said.

According to information obtained by RSF, on 24 July Justin Mpoyi, deputy provincial director of the national intelligence agency (ANR) summoned Ghislain Banza, managing editor of RFBM, Didier Kabuya, business manager of RDTK and M. Katende, director of programmes for RTIV.

He instructed them, on orders from above, to stop "quoting by name, referring to or showing images of Etienne Tshisekedi in any of their broadcasts," under threat of punishment. Mr Tshisekedi is leader of the main opposition party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress.

The RFBM official said, "no reason justified the ANR decision and he had no intention of submitting to such an order".

A spokesman for the ANR headquarters in the capital Kinshasa said he had "no knowledge of any such instruction" and called the regional official’s order an "excess of enthusiasm".

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