Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has come to the fore to condemn Sunday’s closure of Liberté FM, an independent radio station, by Guinea’s authorities.
Liberté FM, stationed in Guinea’s southeastern N’Zérékoré forested region, was summarily shut by government officials in the evening without concrete explanations, CPJ said.
Reports however suggest the shutting was to prevent the station from reporting on the next day’s protests in Guinea’s capital Conakry.
Commenting on the act, CPJ Africa Advocacy Mohamed Keita said, “By censoring news outlets like Liberté FM and intimidating journalists, Guinean authorities continue to undercut democracy.”
Local journalists say the opposition leaders had called for protests on Monday to “demand" for free and transparent parliamentary elections repetitively shelved within the past two years.
CPJ reports the station was specifically targeted as it had allowed opposition leaders to summon for protests over the August 3 massacre of villagers by security forces in the Zogota district in the N’Zérékoré region.
Liberté FM was unable to broadcast live coverage of the protests and was only allowed to resume service on Monday afternoon – but only after press unions, right groups and opposition leaders made a public condemnation of the closure.
The station’s director Alpha Saliou Diallo told CPJ the regional governor, Lance Condé, had informed him that the closure was on the orders from “the highest authorities” in Conakry.
Presidential spokesman Mohamed Lamin Soumah however said, the decision to close the radio station had been made by the regional governor as it had earlier covered the killings in Zogota.
Speaking to CPJ, Soumah further termed the governor’s decision as an “abuse of authority,” and adding that he had asked the government to reverse the order.
Liberté FM has been repeatedly targeted for closures. According to Diallo, the police had shut the station in 2012 during a live broadcast for criticising President Alpha Condé. Two journalists were arrested in the melee.
In 2007, military officers broke into the station’s offices in Conakry and arrested several journalists.