The privately-owned radio station had to stop broadcasting at midnight on December 18 on orders from the HAAC, which notified it in a letter on the same day that its permit had “expired” because its renewal application, although submitted in good time, was not successful.
The HAAC said the person who signed the application, Soleil FM manager Jérôme Kassa, was not authorized to do this because the original permit was issued to the station’s owner, Sébastien Adjavon , a government opponent now living in self-imposed exile.
“We call on the authorities to rescind this decision at once,” said Assane Diagne, the director of RSF’s West Africa office. “It is clear that Soleil FM’s criticism of the government has been a source of annoyance, and that the grounds given for this decision are just a crude pretext for depriving the public of a source of information and for silencing dissent.”
Soleil FM is a very popular opposition station and this is not the first time it has had problems. Its signal has often been jammed in the past.
Benin is ranked 96th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.