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Several radio stations threatened with closure for retransmitting RFI

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is worried by the National Intelligence Agency's warning to the managers of three local radio stations in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu that their stations will be closed down unless they stop retransmitting the programmes of French public broadcaster Radio France Internationale (RFI).

"This threat is unacceptable," Reporters Without Borders said. "It confirms that the government is determined to hound both RFI and local media and suggests a move towards authoritarianism. The population has already been denied access to independent news and information since RFI's local broadcasts were suspended on 26 July 2009. Media freedom in its entirety is in danger if local radio stations are now being threatened with closure."

The press freedom organisation added: "The National Intelligence Agency does not have the power to suspend a news media. Only a court can do that. We urge the central government in Kinshasa to put a stop to this kind of intimidation. We also reiterate our desire for RFI to be allowed to resume local broadcasting without delay."

Kennedy Wema of Radio Télé Graben, Rochereau Kambakamba of Radio Liberté and John Tchipenda of Radio Scolaire went to the National Intelligence Agency's local office on 12 August in response to a summons received the previous day and were told during the ensuing interview that they could be closed down if they did not stop retransmitting RFI.

In fact, according to the information available to Reporters Without Borders, the only station currently retransmitting RFI is Radio Télé Graben. Wema, its manager, told Reporters Without Borders that the station would definitely continue to broadcast RFI until it received official notification in writing.

A total of 27 local radio stations are RFI's partners in Democratic Republic of Congo. Its local signal was suspended after it broadcast information provided by the UN Mission in Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) explaining why certain former rebel units decided to desert from the Congolese army, into which they had recently been incorporated.

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