Congo-Kinshasa: RLTV - main opposition TV Station – closed down

Regulation & Policy

Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV), the Kinshasa-based main opposition television station, which has been the subject of numerous attacks by authorities during the recent electoral campaign, has once again been silenced by authorities in Kasai-Oriental province, in the west of the country, and by the media regulator, the CSAC (Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel et la Communication), in Kinshasa.

According to JED sources, RLTV's station in Mbuji-Mayi was besieged by a heavily-armed police unit on 5 December and remained occupied as of 8 December. Everyone in the building at the time was evacuated while police forces assumed control of the premises, barring entry to all journalists.

The official reason for the siege has not been given either by police or by provincial authorities, while CSAC officials remain tight-lipped about the incident. Both Mbuji-Mayi and Kinshasa are strongholds of main opposition candidate Etienne Tshisekedi.

RLTV's Mbuji-Mayi station director Floribert Mole told JED that the station doors were locked by police but that no reason was given for the raid. "A few days before the raid on our station we received a number of threats, including one from the provincial governor via his own television station, who said during a programme that he wanted to "put an end to RLTV" and accused opposition MP Roger Lumbala of fleeing to Kinshasa after stirring up trouble in Mbuji-Mayi."

Following the threats and police raid on the station, Mole claims he reported the attack to the CSAC but received no response.

Meanwhile in Kinshasa RLTV's signal was cut on 3 December at around midnight for seven hours after the CSAC accused the station of reporting election results that were not the official results released by the electoral commission.

JED denounces these relentless attacks on RLTV and calls on authorities in Kasai-Oriental province to order the immediate departure of police forces from RLTV studios. JED profoundly opposes the discriminatory decision to suspend RLTV and deprive opposition candidates and their supporters a vehicle of expression.

Journaliste en danger (JED) is gravely concerned for the safety of Eliezer Thambwe, a journalist with the Kinshasa-based pro-opposition TV station Radio Lisanga Télévision (RLTV). JED has learned that since 2 December 2011, Thambwe has received a series of anonymous death threats by phone.