Senegal: MFWA condemns Gambia for closing down four radio stations

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has condemned Gambian authorities for closing down four private radio stations whose operating licences were revoked by the country's Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure.

In a statement obtained by PANA on Wednesday in Dakar, Senegal, the media freedom watchdog said the closure of the radio stations came in the wake of a political crisis in Gambia, after President Yahya Jammeh refused to accept the outcome of the 1 December  2016 election in which he lost to Adama Barrow and vibrant media are making extra effort to keep the public informed about happenings in the country.

''We therefore urge the authorities in The Gambia to ensure that freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information are respected in the country,'' MFWA emphasized.

The Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure revoked the licences of Hilltop Radio, Afri Radio, Taranga FM and Paradise FM.

In a letter addressed to the four radio stations, Saul Njie who signed the letter on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, wrote: ''I am directed to inform you that your licence to operate has been revoked with immediate effect. Thank you for your cooperation.''

According to MFWA, there was neither reason assigned for the revocation of the licences of the radio stations nor was there a clear indication as to who had directed Mr. Njie to revoke the licences of the target stations.

''The revocation of the licences of the four radio stations implies that the stations have been forced to close down until their licences are reinstated,'' the statement noted.

MFWA pointed out that the revocation of the licences of the radio stations came days after they were ordered to cease broadcasting and Hilltop Radio, Afri Radio, and Taranga FM were ordered by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to stop broadcasting on 1 January 2017.

Afri Radio was however allowed on air on 3 January 2017 on condition that the station would only play music.

In the case of Paradise FM, it was ordered by persons claiming to be from the Ministry of Communication to cease broadcasting on 8 January.

''While there have been no official communication on the reasons for the order to cease broadcasting and subsequent revocation of the licences of the radio stations on January 9, many believe it is as a result of the radio stations’ coverage of activities of President-elect Adama Barrow and his impending inauguration, scheduled for 19 January 2017,'' MFWA stated.

-0- PANA  MLJ/AR 11Jan2017

11 january 2017 13:46:18

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