Gambia: Ban On RFI Broadcasts Lifted After 10 Days
On 25 January 2008, the Gambian authorities lifted their ban on Radio France International (RFI), a French public broadcaster, transmitting on FM in Banjul. Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) sources reported that after 10 days of absence on the air, RFI is now back. A release issued by the Department of State for Communication, Information and Technology said the decision to lift the ban was as a result of an agreement it reached with RFI's management.
The release said RFI was suspended following its failure to renew contractual agreements with the government-controlled Gambia Radio and Television Services (GRTS), which expired on 22 December 2007. "Negotiation is ongoing between the two institutions for the renewal of a contract, but listeners in the Gambia have been able to get signals from their local affiliate FM," the release stated.
An earlier release from the same Department on 21 January explained that the action of the authorities was in line with the professional ethics of the media in The Gambia, accusing RFI of "unprofessionalism" following its reports that some Mauritanians accused of killing four French nationals fled to Guinea Bissau through The Gambia.
MFWA says it is not surprised at this obvious contradiction in the approach of President Yahya Jammeh's administration, “since it only demonstrates the government's long-standing intolerance of critical opinion. Under similar circumstances it has arbitrarily closed down newspapers and radio stations. Several journalists and members of the opposition have been detained for months without trial, while others have fled the country for fear of persecution”.
(Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra), 28 January 2008)