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Maoist party warns Nepalese media to stop disseminating news on election

The Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist has written to media outlets in Myagdi, a hilly district in the western region of Nepal, instructing them to stop disseminating news about the upcoming Constituent Assembly elections, or face the consequences.

The CPN-Maoist, which is opposing the 19 November 2013 CA election in Nepal, contacted FM radio stations, and daily and weekly newspapers in Myagdi, urging them not to publicise the CA election.

Talking to Freedom Forum's Media Monitoring Desk, Gopal Chhantyal, Station Manager at Radio Myagdi FM, said, "The CPN-Maoist wrote us [and instructed us] to stop reporting on the CA election, threatening that if a media house publishes [such a story] they would be responsible for any actions the party takes thereafter."

When asked whether the media in the district have stopped covering the election, the station manager said, "Although we have not stopped airing reports about the election, we are not free from fear."

Similarly, the publisher of the ..Magdi Sanchar weekly, Sudarshan Shrestha, stated, "We journalists have our own code of conduct, so any party's dictate is meaningless. We are therefore continuing to cover the election. But, it is difficult to ward off our fear psychology due to the threatening letter."

Freedom Forum condemns the CPN-Maoist's threat to the media as a gross violation of press freedom and citizens' right to information. Such actions never suit a democratic system. The threatening letter has obviously spread fear among journalists in the concerned district. It is harmful to the practice of professional journalism. Therefore, the FF urges the CPN-Maoist to respect people's right to information and press freedom.

"As information around an election is also a part of citizens' right to freedom of expression, this news must be disseminated without any interference", comments Taranath Dahal, Freedom Forum's Chairperson.

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