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Community radio station shuttered in eastern DR Congo

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 29 October 2012 – JED is angered over the decision of a mayor in North Kivu province to close a community radio station after the station aired comments by the leader of a local armed movement.

Radio Ngoma FM, a community radio station based in Beni, about 300 kilometres from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, was closed indefinitely on 27 October 2012 by Beni mayor Bwanakawa Masumbuko, who accused the station of "broadcasting information susceptible of disturbing the peace and fomenting political disharmony".

According to JED sources, during a 19 October newscast, Radio Ngoma FM broadcast an interview with Colonel Ntahara Nyoro, leader of the armed movement Union for Democratic Renewal in the Congo (URDC), during which Nyoro condemned the government's inability to secure the Congo's borders. Radio Ngoma FM also broadcast a response to the accusation from Congolese armed forces Colonel Célestin Ngeleka, who told the station that the Congolese army was determined to bring peace to the country's conflict-plagued eastern provinces.

Station director Jules Mungwana defended his decision to broadcast the remarks, saying it was his professional duty to inform the public by offering both sides of the story. Mungwana told JED he deeply regretted the station's closure.

JED strongly condemns the disproportionate reaction of the mayor in closing Radio Ngoma FM and notes that this heavy-handed response is not his first.

JED calls on the media regulator, the CSAC, to assume its duty and overturn the suspension, which was ordered by someone who has neither the qualifications nor the mandate to interfere in the work of the media.

(Please note this is an abridged translation)

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