DRC minister indefinitely suspends newspaper

Congolese Communications Minister Lambert Mende banned private daily Le Journal indefinitely on June 29, 2012, in connection with an editorial that he said incited racism and tribalism, local press freedom group OLPA reported.

The editorial was published amid renewed fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo between the government and troops rebelling against the government. News accounts had reported on a leaked United Nations report that blamed neighboring Rwanda for supplying military assistance to the rebels.

Mende also accused Le Journal of stigmatizing an entire community with the editorial, called “Insecurity in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo: These Congolese in the Tutsi Spider’s Web,” a reference to ethnic Tutsi dominating the Rwandan government. The editorial, a copy of which was obtained by CPJ, accused Congolese of Rwandan ancestry or “Rwandophones,” of secretly aiding and abetting the interests of Rwanda in DRC.

Le Journal Editor Patrice Booto rejected the accusations, he told CPJ. The newspaper has not published since the suspension.

Earlier in June 2012, Mende accused Rwanda of providing training, recruits. and weapons to rebels in eastern DRC, according to news reports. The Rwandan government strongly denied the accusations.