The Congolese authorities have withdrawn the broadcasting rights for the Radio France internationale (RFI) correspondent in Kinshasa. They have also prohibited the French state radio station from broadcasting. The information was indicated by the Minister of Communications, Lambert Mende, on behalf of the RDC government to the Agence France Presse agency.
RFI “regretted” in a communiqué the decision aimed at its only correspondent from Paris, stationed in the RDC, and requested to the Congolese authorities that it be withdrawn. Mr Mende has confirmed that the course of action will be looked into.
These steps come at a crucial time in the election process in the RDC, between last Sunday’s elections and the announcement of the provisional election results, this coming Sunday 6 January at the latest.
RFI has provided prolific coverage of the elections in the RDC. The station is popular with listeners in the country, the largest with French as its official language (some 80 million inhabitants).
The RFI’s management of “Global Radio” gave the following reaction in a communiqué: “RFI regrets the withdrawal of the broadcasting rights of its Kinshasa correspondent, Florence Morice, who was simply doing her job as a professional journalist.”
RFI added, “Radio France Internationale fully supports its correspondent Florence Morice, and is demanding the cancellation of the broadcasting rights withdrawal measure, and the re-establishment of the station broadcasting [in the RDC].”
Mr Mende stated to the AFP, “I have received the arguments put forward by the RFI. We will look into them as a committee. If they are valid, we will accordingly respond positively. If they are not valid, we will keep the measure in place. As a state, we are subject to the rule of law.”
Mr Mende had previously criticized RFI’s correspondent of having violated “the legal framework around the National Independent Electoral Commission (known as “Céni”), and non-compliance with the Code of Conduct for Foreign Journalists During Elections.”
Mr Mende criticized the RFI for “announcing results and trends, whilst only the President of Céni can announce such information.”
He had added, “Moreover artificial results themselves make for unproductive arguments.”
Mr Mende added, “RFI’s radio signal has been cut off in all towns and cities in the Congo, because we are not going to let a station simply add fuel to the flames, when we still await the compilation of provisional results.”
Previously the state radio station had indicated, “From Monday, it was not possible to listen to RFI on its FM frequency in Kinshasa. From Tuesday, in turn the RFI aerials were switched off in Goma, Bukavu, Kisangani, Lubumbashi and Mbandaka.”