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More radio stations muzzled in Somalia's semi-autonomous Puntland region

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) voices concern over the increasingly uncertain future of private radio stations in Puntland following the closure of three private radio stations.

On Wednesday, 3 April 2013, The Puntland government ordered the closure of Radio Codka Nabadda (Voice of Peace Radio), Radio Daljir and 1 Nation Radio in Bossasso, charging that these radio stations disobeyed government orders by continuing to re-broadcast programmes produced by radio stations based outside of Puntland, namely Radio Ergo and Radio Bar Kulan.

The order to close down the radio stations was issued by Puntland Minister of Information Mohamud Aidid Dirir, who asked Puntland Police Commissioner Mohamed Said Jaqanaf to immediately execute the order.

Subsequently, Osman Afdalow—the divisional commander of the Puntland Police in the Bari region—personally delivered the order to the three radio stations and demanded to shut down the FM stations. The stations immediately effected the order and stopped broadcasting.

"We are extremely concerned about the arbitrary and hasty nature of the closure of the radio stations," said Abdirisak Omar Ismail, President of NUSOJ Supreme Council who visited the radio stations after their closure. "By closing down the three FM stations, the public is deprived of access to information and other programmes offered by these radio stations and dozens of media workers are facing an uncertain future."

NUSOJ is afraid that such an arbitrary action by the Puntland government could set a dangerous precedent for undermining freedom of expression in northeastern regions of Somalia. "We condemn the behavior of the authorities in this regard, and call for an immediate withdrawal of this order. We also ask that the radio stations be allowed to resume their work immediately."

The Ministry of Information recently ordered the closed radio stations to cease re-broadcasting programmes from Radio Ergo and Radio Bar Kulan, which are based in Nairobi, Kenya. But the Bossasso-based FM stations disregarded the order, prompting today's [3 April] closure of the FM stations.

NUSOJ also calls on the Ministry of Information to adopt a democratic and consultative stand in dealing with media practitioners and institutions in the broader interest of respecting and promoting freedom of expression and
media freedom.

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