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Mogadishu mayor imposes "unacceptable and ridiculous" restrictions on news media, says RSF

(RSF/IFEX) - New draconian restrictions on the coverage of fighting between government forces and rebels by the few media still operating in the capital are "unacceptable," RSF said on 28 November 2007. The restrictions were ordered on 26 November by Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Omar Habeb, a former warlord and governor of the central city of Jowhar who is also known by the nom de guerre of "Mohamed Dhere."

"The rules decreed by Mohamed Dhere are ridiculous, especially as they have no legal basis," the press freedom organisation said. "A city in which the most popular news media have been closed arbitrarily, where dozens of journalists flee each week and those that stay risk being arrested or murdered, needs a mayor who offers safeguards and who is open to dialogue. Instead, it has one who imposes the rule of martial law."

The new rules include a ban on reporting "military operations by the federal transitional government and Ethiopian troops" without the "written agreement" of the authorities, and a ban on interviewing "government opponents inside the country or abroad." Anyone violating the rules will be treated as a "criminal," the mayor's decree says.

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