CPJ calls on DRC to re-open two opposition radio stations

Thursday October 18 2018

A radio studio

A radio studio. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on DRC to reopen two radio stations that were shut last week for allegedly inciting civil disobedience. FOTOSEARCH 

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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has appealed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo authorities to reopen two opposition-owned radio stations that were shut last week for allegedly inciting civil disobedience.

"The closure of Radio Liberté Lisala and Radio Mwana Mboka is a grave act of censorship, which should be swiftly reversed," said CPJ's Africa Programme Coordinator Angela Quintal.

The two stations have been off the air since October 9 when police raided their offices, halted broadcasts, ejected employees, and locked the doors.

Radio Liberté Lisala is owned by opposition politician Jean-Pierre Bemba and Radio Mwana Mboka belongs to another opposition politician, Mr Crispin Bungdu.

Both stations are based in Lisala, the capital of the northwestern Mongala Province.

"Congolese ruling party politicians cannot arbitrarily decide to silence certain media for airing opposition views, especially as the DRC prepares for upcoming elections," CPJ added.



The police reportedly acted on orders from the local mayor Bruce Bika Malambo, who is also a member of the ruling party, in response to the stations having aired on October 6, a recorded interview with opposition politician Bienvenu Moyengo.

Mr Moyengo, who is the president of the provincial assembly, had called for a tax boycott by citizens in protest against poor local services.

According to CPJ, Mr Malambo had acknowledged ordering the closure of the two broadcasters saying that they were inciting civil disobedience and working to prop up their their political owners.

"These media are being dictated by [opposition] politicians," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Malambo reportedly claimed that the stations would be closed indefinitely in compliance with local regulations, which he did not clarify.

No charges have been brought against anyone associated with the stations, he added.

According to Journaliste en Danger, a local press freedom group, Mr Moyengo's statement was also aired other radio stations in the province, without repercussions.

Over the last year, media outlets in the DRC have been repeatedly targeted by authorities, according to CPJ research.

The country is scheduled to hold the long-delayed elections on December 23, 2018.