DRC shuts off French radio station and local TV channel in tension over vote count

4 January 2019

Regulation & Policy

Kinshasa — Democratic Republic of the Congo said on Wednesday it had pulled accreditation for a French radio journalist and cut broadcasts from the station, as well as a local television channel, amid tensions over the counting of votes in crucial elections.

The authorities said accreditation for Florence Morice, the Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent in Kinshasa, had been withdrawn.

Government spokesperson Lambert Mende accused Morice of violating electoral law and “the code of good conduct for foreign journalists covering the elections”.

Accusing the station of stirring controversy, he said, “RFI’s broadcasts have been cut off in all of Congo’s cities.”

“We are not going to let a radio station throw petrol on the flames at a time when we are waiting for the compilation of the provisional results,” Mende said.

He said authorities also cut the signal of local Canal Congo television, seen as close to the opposition, for broadcasting election results ahead of an official announcement. A journalist at the station confirmed that its signal had been cut from 1500 GMT.

RFI, a French public-service broadcaster, has a large audience in the DRC, a French-speaking country of about 80-million people.

It has been closely covering Sunday’s presidential elections and the marathon vote tally.

RFI issued a statement saying its coverage had been impartial and expressing full support for Morice.

She had been “merely working as a professional journalist”, it said, and urged the authorities to reverse their decision to withdraw her accreditation.

On Tuesday, RFI said its broadcasts had been blocked since Monday evening.

Preliminary election results are due by Sunday, definitive results by January 15, with the next head of state due to be sworn in on January 18. Legislative and municipal elections also took place.

Source: Business Live