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Cameroon18 March 2003

Communication minister censors privately-owned

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Cameroonian government to rescind its decision announced on 14 March by communication minister Jacques Fame Ndongo to close Magic FM, a privately-owned radio station based in Yaoundé. The radio station’s closure came less than a month after the authorities shut down two privately-owned TV channels, RTA and Canal 2, on 19 February.

"These decisions are unacceptable, especially as they prevent the population from forming an objective assessment of the performance of President Paul Biya’s government at time when the country is heading toward elections," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said. A presidential election is due to be held in the first quarter of 2004.

Magic FM is accused of "affront" to the president and state institutions, calls for "sedition", "dissemination of false news" and generally "disturbing the peace and moral standards." One of its programmes, "Magic Attitude," often criticised President Biya. It accused Biya of financing sects led by former Rosicrucian Raymond Bernard, founder of the "Renewed Order of the Temple" and "Circes." It drew attention to the embezzlement of funds assigned to a road project and the fact that several Biya associates held more one government post at the same time. It also criticised the banning of the weekly Tribune de l’Est by the minister for local government and decentralisation.

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