MAY 8, 2005
Posted: June 10, 2005

Zéphirin Kaya, Radio Ndeke Luka
Patrick Akibata, Radio Ndeke Luka
Maka Gbossokotto, Le Citoyen


Kaya, Akibata and Gbossokotto received death threats following critical coverage of the second round of presidential and parliamentary elections on May 8. Reinhard Moser, head of independent station Radio Ndeke Luka, and Le Citoyen managing editor Gbossokotto said the threats were made by telephone or in person by members of the presidential guard and supporters of President François Bozizé. Gbosokotto told CPJ that he and Kaya had also been threatened on the state radio station, Radio Centrafrique, on May 14 and 15.

Moser told CPJ that several members of his staff had been threatened but that the threats and intimidation were directed mainly against Kaya, who presents a popular civic education show that gave extensive coverage to the election process, and Akibata, the news editor in charge of election coverage. He said that on May 15, security forces acting on the orders of a Presidential Guard officer tried to kidnap Kaya at Bangui airport, but Kaya was tipped off and managed to escape.

Moser and Gbossokotto told CPJ that the threats were linked to reports carried by Radio Ndeke Luka and Le Citoyen that armed forces had intimidated voters at some polling stations in the capital, Bangui. Moser told CPJ that the threats stopped after Bozize was declared winner of the presidential poll on May 24 and his second-round election opponent Martin Ziguele said he accepted the results. The opposition had earlier complained of election irregularities, although international observers gave the polls a relatively clean bill of health. The elections gave a democratic mandate to Bozize, who seized power in a March 2003 coup.

Radio Ndeke Luka, which employs mostly local journalists, is run by the Swiss non-governmental organization Fondation Hirondelle, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).