Despite a presidential election in March 2002 that was disputed by the opposition and renewed violence in the south of the country between rebels and government forces, the situation of press freedom seems to have stabilized in Congo. No more arrests of journalists were reported and cases of threats or harassment became less frequent.
However, the state-owned news media remained under strict government control and self-censorship was standard practice. Journalists know that certain subjects are still very sensitive.
Furthermore, the witch-hunt continued against journalists who worked in the government of former President Pascal Lissouba, the main political rival of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso. Several of these journalists leave the country every year, tired of being threatened and harassed. This was again the case in 2002.
A journalist threatened
Alain Shungu, the correspondent of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Reporters Without Borders in Brazzaville, was summoned for questioning by the police director general, Col. Jean François Denguet, on 27 June 2002 after he reported that police had banned a meeting of one of the opposition leaders, André Milongo. Shungu said that in the course of the interrogation Denguet threatened to have him killed. Denguet reportedly said: "This is the last time I will have you brought to my office. The next time, I will have you bumped off. Or if you are lucky, I will just withdraw your accreditation."