News

March 20, 2019

Congolese community radio ransacked by president’s supporters

Crédit : Radio Fraternité
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the ransacking of a community radio station in the Democratic Republic of Congo on 16 March by members of the new president’s party, who were disputing the local results in the previous day’s senate elections.

During the attack on Radio Télévision Fraternité, a community radio station in Mbuji-Mayi, the capital of Kasai-Oriental province, windows were smashed, the entrance door was forced open and equipment was stolen or smashed.

 

According to Journalist in Danger (JED), RSF’s partner organization in the DRC, and to the information obtained by RSF from the TV station’s director, Donat Muamba, the attackers were angry supporters of President Félix Tshisekedi’s party, the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS), who were looking for the province’s governor and thought he was at the TV station.

 

They were enraged about the clear victory of former President Joseph Kabila’s coalition, the Common Front for the Congo (FCC), in the previous day’s senate elections and were going to the homes of some of their own party’s leaders, whom they accuse of being bribed by Kabila’s coalition.

 

“We firmly condemn this attack, the latest in a series on media outlets and journalists amid continuing political turmoil in the DRC,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk. “The Congolese media cannot go on being the collateral victims of rivalry and violence linked to the elections. The DRC’s new leaders must guarantee the protection of journalists and must punish party members who target them. And an investigation must be carried out in order to bring those responsible for this attack to justice.”

 

Ever since the presidential election that was won by Tshisekedi, journalists have continued to be the victims of violence in connection with the elections.

 

During a meeting held by unsuccessful presidential candidate Martin Fayulu in February, a journalist was attacked because his superior is a UDPS member. TV reporter Steeve Mwanyo Iwewe was arbitrarily sentenced to 12 months in prison in Equateur province on 1 March after a dispute with the province’s governor, who is running  for reelection against the owner of the TV channel for which Iwewe works, Radio Télé Sarah.

 

The DRC is ranked 154th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index.