KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo shut down one of French broadcaster Radio France International’s (RFI) six FM frequencies in the central African nation on Tuesday, accusing a reporter of inciting unrest.
Information Minister Lambert Mende said in a statement that RFI was “throwing oil on the fire of all of the armed conflicts in the country’s east...even inciting Congolese soldiers in pacification operations to mutiny.”
The government has long criticised RFI journalist Ghislaine Dupont’s coverage of Congo. Mende said the decision was linked to her reporting on several months of fighting involving Congolese Tutsi rebels, government soldiers, and the Rwandan army in late 2008 and early 2009.
“We’re talking about war zones where she was attempting to destabilise the country. We will cut their frequencies one by one until we are heard,” Mende told Reuters.
A spokesman for the Paris-based RFI management confirmed that one its frequencies in northern Congo had been shut down.
“We regret it on behalf of our listeners, and we reiterate that we cover the news in a balanced way,” the spokesman said.
Dupont was expelled from Congo during the campaign leading up to presidential elections in 2006 — the violence-ravaged nation’s first democratic polls in over four decades — which confirmed Joseph Kabila as president. However, she has continued to report on Congo from RFI’s headquarters in Paris.
At the time, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders criticised her expulsion as a serious violation of press freedom and said it was motivated by “score-settling”. The press freedom watchdog classifies Congo as a “difficult situation” country.
Despite the official end of Congo’s 1998-2003 war, much of the east remains a volatile patchwork of rebel strongholds and militia-controlled zones.
The war and the humanitarian disaster it caused have killed an estimated 5.4 million people over the past decade.