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Armed ruling party politician bursts into radio station, threatens to kill staff

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has called on the police and judicial authorities to take action against Moustapha Cissé Lô, a politician who burst into the studios of Radio Disso FM on 18 April 2007, accompanied by his henchmen, and threatened to kill the station's staff because his inclusion on the ruling party's parliamentary candidate list had just been criticised on the air by a listener.

"This kind of criminal behaviour recurs in Senegal because police and judges are loath to act when those responsible are linked to the ruling party," the press freedom organisation said. "But now journalists' patience is exhausted. So it is important that sanctions are imposed to prevent any further repetition of such incidents."

A privately-owned station based in Mbacké, in the western region of Dourbel, Disso FM has a programme called "Xew-xew" in which listeners call in. On 18 April, a listener expressed irritation at the inclusion of Lô in the candidate list of the ruling Democratic Senegalese Party (PDS).

A short while later, Lô and his escort forced their way into the radio station, threatened all the staff and even talked of killing the first person who mentioned his name. Station manager Ibrahima Benjamin Diagne called the police, who eventually persuaded Lô to leave.

Diagne filed a complaint with the police same day and said he would also file one with the state prosecutor. Since then he has received many phone calls from Lô and his associates. In one of these calls, Lô said he was in "a fight to the death" with the station's personnel.

A member of the PDS and of the council of the republic for economic and social affairs, Lô is considered close to President Abdoulaye Wade. The press has dubbed him "El pistolero" because he always carries a firearm.

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