The suspension of the news editor of Guinea-Bissau's state-run RDN radio station, Ensa Seidi, confirms a worrisome pattern for press freedom ahead of legislative elections in the West African country, media watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres (RSF) said this week.
According to RSF and other sources, Seidi was suspended last week for airing the return from exile of one-time prime minister Francisco Fadul. His suspension "was the latest incident in a recent government crackdown on opposition politicians and media ahead of April 20 legislative elections," the Portuguese news agency Lusa said.
RDN's director-general, Malam Lamine Djatá, was quoted by Lusa as saying that Seidi would answer two in-house inquiries for having "disobeyed" express orders not to report Fadul's return to the capital, Bissau, from Portugal.
Fadul, who had spent more than two years in self-imposed exile in Lisbon, was transitional prime minister in 1998-99 following the military's ouster of President Nino Vieira. He recently formed a political party to challenge President Kumba Yala's ruling Social Renovation Party in the upcoming elections.
RSF said the suspension aggravated the situation of the media. Noting that the government had been clamping down on media houses for weeks, RSF said what was new was the fact that the government was now targeting state-run news organisations.
In mid-February, the government closed Guinea-Bissau's most influential private radio station, Radio Bombolom, which the government believed was sympathetic to the opposition. The closure was ordered even though international and national rights groups had appealed to the state to allow the station to continue broadcasting.
Guinea-Bissau has been in the throes of a political and economic crisis for months now. Yala's government has responded to growing criticism by arresting those who speak out against it. The April elections were called after Yala dissolved parliament, accusing its members of sabotage.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions
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