Two privately-owned newspapers have been suspended since 5 January 2012 on orders from the director of the provincial media authority in Orientale province, eastern DRC.
"Kisangani News" and "Journal de la paix", both based in Kisangani, are accused of "violating law 96/002 of 22 June 1996 establishing the terms and conditions for the operation of a free press in the DRC."
According to JED sources, the suspension took place one week after "Kisangani News" editor-in-chief Sébastien Mulumba was summoned to the home of provincial governor Médard Autsai Asenga over a series of stories carried by the paper criticising provincial government management.
Grégoire Ngubu, editor-in-chief of "Journal de la paix" told JED that he was himself the victim of several threats from Asenga's entourage after his paper published an article accusing the governor of bribing provincial delegates in order to avert a no-confidence vote in parliament.
Both editors told JED the media regulator's actions were political. "Our newspaper has been publishing since 2009 and I have met Mr. Dominique Lekakwa [director of the provincial media authority] more than five times in his office to ask about the necessary paperwork. We have paid all the required fees and submitted our request for permission to publish and Mr. Lekakwa has granted us permission to operate pending the transfer of our file to Kinshasa. Why are we being sanctioned only now, by precisely the person who has blocked our file for the last two years?", asked Ngubu.
Lekakwa, for his part, says the papers are facing a preventive suspension because they have never been issued documents authorising them to publish and they never submitted copies of their newspapers to the provincial media and communications division, in violation of the 1996 press law.
JED calls on the provincial authorities to lift the suspension and grant the two papers a grace period to normalise their situation.