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REGIONS:

Interim leader lifts ban on Star Radio

(MISA/IFEX) - The following is a joint MISA and Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) alert:

On 3 November 2003, the Liberian transitional government's chairperson, Gyude Bryant, lifted a three-year-old ban on Star Radio, an independent FM radio station in Monrovia, the capital. On 15 March 2000, the station was forcibly shut down by armed police on the orders of former president Charles Taylor.

"I do hereby today lift the ban on Star Radio. We further direct that Star Radio is now at liberty to liaise with appropriate agencies of government to satisfy requirements in relation to its frequency and the renewal of its broadcasting rights," Bryant said.

The leader of Liberia's transitional government said Star Radio has a key role to play in the "development of communication and enhancing the integrity of our media industry."

Star Radio, established by the Swiss-based Hirondelle Foundation in mid-1997, was to provide a voice for all Liberians during the 1997 election. After the election, the station remained the only medium for those who do not have a voice to express their grievances.

Former president Taylor accused Star Radio of broadcasting what he called "hate messages against the Liberian government." The Taylor government had banned the station from broadcasting on its short wave frequency in 1998.

**MISA and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), as a joint activity, will henceforth issue alerts, statements and appeals to highlight media freedom and wider human rights violations in West Africa. See www.misa.org and www.mediafoundationwa.org for more information**

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