Radio station resumes broadcasts; media council replaced

New York, July 27, 2005—The National Communications Council—known by its French acronym CNC—authorized independent radio station Radio Publique Africaine to resume broadcasting as of today, after police shuttered it on Friday in a standoff over news content.

President Domitien Ndayizeye also named a new CNC, following the resignation yesterday of its former chairman Jean Pierre Manda. The new CNC will be headed by a former journalist and will include RPA’s deputy director Jean-Marie Hicuburundi.

Hicuburundi told the Committee to Protect Journalists that RPA wants an official inventory of equipment before it goes back on air, to ensure that there is no loss or damage to its property as a result of the forced closure. He said the station nevertheless expects to be back on air shortly.

The CNC had ordered RPA closed indefinitely on July 15, due to allegations of biased election coverage and insulting the council. RPA director Alexis Sinduhije, a 2004 recipient of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award, initially defied the ban, saying it was unjust. The following week RPA agreed to close the station for 48 hours on the understanding that the CNC would lift the ban immediately afterwards. However, the CNC failed to lift the ban. RPA resumed broadcasting on Thursday, July 21, and police moved in the following day.