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Guinea-bissau13 March 2003

Radio journalist assaulted and forced off the air

Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the serious deterioration of the press freedom situation in Guinea-Bissau following Secretary of State for Information João Manuel Gomes’ dismissal of a national radio journalist.

"After having targeted private media outlets and shut down the main opposition radio station, the authorities are now turning their attention to public media outlets. With only a few weeks to go before legislative elections, these actions seriously threaten information pluralism in Guinea-Bissau," Reporters Without Borders’ Secretary-General Robert Ménard said. "The government is taking control of the entire news sector and the opposition is being robbed of all possibilities to express itself today," he added.

The organisation asked the government to allow journalists from both public and private media outlets to work in a free and safe environment.

On 8 March 2003, Ensa Seidi, the national radio station’s editor-in-chief, was assaulted and expelled from the radio station’s offices by order of the secretary of state for information. The journalist was accused of producing and airing a report about former prime minister Francisco Fadul’s return to the country. Fadul now heads an opposition party. He has announced his intention to present himself as a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, which is expected to follow the legislative elections scheduled for 20 April.

Reporters Without Borders recalls that the government announced the permanent withdrawal of Bombolom FM’s broadcast permit on 27 February 2003. The radio station was accused of demonstrating a lack of "professionalism", "pluralism" and "objectivity" in its news coverage. Bombolom FM was first shut down on 13 February for an unspecified period, after an opposition politician criticised the president on the air.

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