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Authorities ban TV station in Somaliland over alleged "insults" against president

Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) attends a meeting at the House of Commons in London, 22 February 2012.
Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo) attends a meeting at the House of Commons in London, 22 February 2012.

REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) has criticized the Somaliland administration – which has officially banned privately-owned Universal TV from operating in its territory – and accused authorities of attempts to stifle free media.

Somaliland Minister of Information, Culture and National Guidance Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir (Ukuse) announced today that they had revoked the operating licence of the London-based broadcaster Universal TV, alleging that the TV station accustomed to transmit “scandals” and “insults” against Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud (Silanyo).

“This action was taken without warning and shows an extraordinary intolerance on the part of Somaliland's authorities. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the main stories taking place in Somaliland and to lift the ban immediately," said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

Minister Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir (Ukuse) asserted that they would take legal action against the owner of Universal TV, Engineer Ahmed Abubakar, and the TV station for broadcasting “slanderous” programmes. “They violated the terms and conditions [under] which they were allowed to operate in Somaliland,” said Ukuse.

Ukuse alleged in a press conference that the Somali Federal Government is using Universal TV as a “proxy war” against the Somaliland leadership. The Somali government “corrupted” Universal TV by giving the TV station a piece of land in Mogadishu, and in turn the TV is broadcasting “derogatory information against Somaliland”, as said by Ukuse. The management of Universal TV strongly rejected these claims.

"This ban reveals again just how unstable free expression is in Somaliland," said Osman. "This TV channel may not be to the taste of people in power, but it should be allowed to work in Somaliland”.

NUSOJ calls on Somaliland's authorities to respect media rights to work without restraint, in order to maintain open dialogue.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
What other IFEX members are saying
  • Somaliland authorities launch fresh assault on media

    Ahmed Abukar, the owner of Universal TV, told IPI by telephone from Mogadishu that the action against his station was taken after Silanyo was portrayed on a Saturday political comedy show - a programme he says regularly features caricatures of politicians. "It is for entertainment, it is not insulting," he told IPI. On Monday, Abukar said, Dahir informed him that the broadcast threatened "the unity of Somaliland" and that Universal's offices had been ordered closed.

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