BBC shuts Burundi bureau

Tuesday July 16 2019

BBC headquarters in central London

Staff and visitors walk outside the headquarters of the BBC in central London on July 19, 2017. The broadcaster will shut its Burundi bureau. PHOTO | DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS | AFP 

KIPLAGAT EDWIN
By KIPLAGAT EDWIN
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British public radio broadcaster BBC will close its operations in Burundi after it failed to reach an agreement with the government on airing of programmes.

The broadcaster’s Africa Business Editor Larry Madowo said on Tuesday that efforts to resolve a dispute over the ban on BBC transmissions in March "have failed."

“The BBC is closing its Bujumbura bureau and ceasing operations in Burundi. In March, the government banned BBC transmissions and blocked journalists from providing information to the BBC," Mr Madowo tweeted.

Burundi's media regulator, the National Communication Council (CNC), suspended BBC for allegedly broadcasting content that “put national cohesion and reconciliation at stake.”

“The CNC has decided to withdraw the operating licence for BBC... and VOA programmes will still be suspended until further notice,” CNC chairman Nestor Bankumukunzi said at the time.

“All Burundian and foreign journalists who are in the country are forbidden from reporting or giving information directly or indirectly to the BBC and VOA,” added Bankumukunzi.

In 2018, BBC Africa Eye's expose titled Inside the Secret Killing House documented the killing and torture of opposition members by security forces in secret detention facilities.

The documentary incensed the government prompting the withdraw of BBC's licence.

Burundi ranks 159 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index by advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

Burundi is accused of shutting down media organisations critical of the government, harassing, imprisoning, torturing and executing journalists.

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