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Bay region governor criticises and threatens journalists

(NUSOJ/IFEX) - On 14 September 2008, NUSOJ condemned the governor of the Bay region, Abdifatah Mohammed Ibrahim, for his campaign against the independent news media, notably against journalists who cover the conflict between the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), with its allied Ethiopian troops, and Islamic insurgents.

In a press conference held in Baidoa on 13 September, the governor harshly criticised journalists for filing "baseless" reports about the Bay region and its security situation. Abdifatah threatened to take action against journalists who report what his administration sees as "unfounded information" and "propaganda for terrorist opponents".

"This is a worrying situation and we condemn these types of dangerous statements made by the governor, who lambasted journalists who do not follow the rules of his propaganda," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ's Secretary General.

Abdifatah, who owned the Baidoa-based Warsan radio station before being elected governor, accused the media of exaggerating insurgent attacks in the Bay region. He stated that journalists do not report "baseless" information about Islamic insurgents because the insurgents would kill them. "If that is the case, we will also kill or arrest you if you report unfounded information about our regional affairs," he said.

"The governor of the Bay region is blatantly and directly threatening the security and safety of journalists by directing unjustified and dangerous allegations towards courageous journalists in the region," said Faruk.

Pressure on the independent media has been mounting, even after repeated promises of protection for journalists given by the TFG and the Transitional Federal Parliament. "We call upon the government of Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein to renew trust in the TFG's relations with the media as he promised when he came to power," Faruk added.

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