Thursday, September 03, 2009

[Guinean news] Junta bans politics on state media, shuts down text messaging amid rising political tension

Despite previously promising that he would not stand in presidential elections now scheduled for January 2010, Guinea's military leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara seems to be encouraging rumors that he actually win run, prompting a rise in political tension in the country.

A group calling itself the Dadis Must Go Movement clashed with police following demonstrations last week.

A group favourable to the junta, the Dadis Must Stay Movement, was set up at the beginning of August and its representatives were received, amid much publicity, on state television, by the permanent secretary to the junta, Major Moussa Keita, reports Reuters.

"I might (run for election) or I might not stand," Dadis told Agènce France Presse. He added that those who don't want him to be a candidate "don't understand anything about democracy."

Yesterday, the authorities responded to the disquiet by banning political discussion on state media; private broadcasters are virtually non-existent in the country.

A senior source in the CNC [National Communications Council], which regulates all media in Guinea, told Reuters that the ban was a result of "pressure from the entourage around the head of the junta."

The measure follows a row last week over efforts by the National Council for Democracy and Development (CNDD) junta to block a text message being sent to mobile phones that called on Guineans to resist plans by CNDD leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara to stand in elections.

Telecommunications companies felt threatened by the CNDD's order and suspended the use of the text messages for several days to stop the message from spreading, the Ghana-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) said.

The move was panned by human rights' organizations. "The coup leaders keep saying they are breaking with the past, but the use of threats and intimidation against opponents look disturbingly familiar," said Corinne Dufka, of Human Rights Watch.

No comments: