Political deadlock curtails media freedom
The parliamentary elections held in March 2019 failed to end the years of instability that began with a military coup in 2012 and continued with Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira’s ouster three years later by José Mario Vaz, whose presidency ended in February 2020. The political impasse during these years has polarised the media and journalists, weakened them and left them extremely vulnerable to political influence and pressure. It has also resulted in an increase in government meddling in the state-owned media, whose directors have all been replaced. In February 2020, soldiers sympathetic to Umaro Sissoco Embaló, the newly-declared winner of a two-round presidential election, occupied the headquarters of the state radio and TV, accusing its journalists of “bias” in favour of Embaló’s rival in the second round, held in December 2019. A few months later, gunmen attacked a radio station critical of the government and destroyed its transmitter. On the whole, media and journalists continue to be extremely vulnerable to political and economic pressure. The country has only one TV channel, which is controlled by the state, the right of access to information is not guaranteed and journalists still usually censor themselves when covering governmental shortcomings, organised crime and the military’s continuing influence. Some journalists have fled abroad to escape threats and intimidation. A state TV journalist was temporarily suspended in early 2021 for failing to interview the president when he refereed a football match between the government and parliament.
94 in 2020
32.06 in 2020