Reporters Without Borders today called on Somalia’s transitional government to explain why it has arbitrarily closed three independent radio stations in the past two days, breaking its promises and leaving the capital with virtually no independent news outlets.
“A government’s undertakings are still valid even in war time,” the press freedom organisation said. “The Somali civilian authorities signed a charter guaranteeing press freedom but they have clearly given way to the military forces in the capital, which are openly flouting the rights of its journalists. The public has been left in the dark, the media have been silenced one by one, and their employees have been forced underground or into exile. The consequences of this authoritarian behaviour are disastrous.”
Twenty-four hours after closing independent Radio Shabelle, Somali government forces yesterday raided the studios of two other privately-owned radio stations in Mogadishu, Radio Banadir and Radio Simba, ordering them to cease broadcasting at once. “They said the closure order concerned all the independent radio stations in Mogadishu, Simba Radio news editor Mustafa Haji told Agence France-Presse.
The federal transitional government has not commented publicly on these raids, which have coincided with a major sweep by Somali government forces supported by Ethiopian troops through the capital’s Bakara market neighbourhood in search of weapons and Islamist insurgents.