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TV station suspension delayed

(IPI/IFEX) - VIENNA, 12 Oct. 2011 - Guyana's president has delayed the start of a ban that would have prevented an opposition TV station from broadcasting in the run-up to general elections later this year.

President Bharrat Jagdeo on Sunday said that a four-month suspension on CNS TV6 would begin on 1 December, three days after scheduled elections, rather than on 3 October as he had originally ordered. A person reached by telephone at the station confirmed the news.

Jagdeo initially suspended the channel – owned by Chandra Narine Sharma, a leader of the opposition Justice For All party – on 30 September in response to an allegedly slanderous comment the channel aired in May regarding Bishop Juan Edghill, head of the government's ethnic relations commission.

The president accused the station of intentionally inciting religious intolerance and disparaging religious values when it aired a statement by local commentator and former Parliament member Tony Vieira, who criticised Bishop Juan Edghill, head of the government's ethnic relations commission. Vieira reportedly said that Edghill, a Protestant, was a government sycophant who engaged in doublespeak and did not do enough for the country's Catholics.

The International Press Institute (IPI) welcomed news that the suspension would not prevent the station from broadcasting in the run up to the 28 November elections, but the group maintained its call on Jagdeo to lift the ban entirely.

IPI also expressed concern over recent rhetoric by Jagdeo and his governance adviser, Gail Teixeira.

Local media reported that Jagdeo and Teixeira compared Guyanese media houses to media in Rwanda that allegedly orchestrated that country's 1994 genocide. The pair also reportedly expressed hope that the United Nations would set up a tribunal similar to that instituted in Rwanda to try - and possibly jail - elements of the media.

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