Congo Shuts Opposition Radio Stations Two Months Before Election

(Bloomberg) -- Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo closed two opposition radio stations, the latest in a series of clampdowns on the media as the country prepares for elections, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.

Voters are set to go to the polls on Dec. 23 to elect a new leader as President Joseph Kabila steps down after 17 years in power. His anointed successor, Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, faces competition from several opposition leaders. The central African nation hasn’t had a peaceful transfer of power since it gained independence in 1960.

Police raided the offices of Radio Liberte Lisala and Radio Mwana Mboka on Oct. 9 and ejected employees after they aired an interview with an opposition politician who called for a tax boycott to protest poor services, the New York-based CPJ said Thursday in an emailed statement. It urged the authorities to allow the broadcasters to reopen.

“Congolese ruling-party politicians cannot arbitrarily decide to silence certain media for airing opposition views, especially as the DRC prepares for upcoming elections,” it said.

Radio Liberte Lisala is owned by Jean-Pierre Bemba, the leader of the opposition Movement for the Liberation of Congo whose been barred from running in the election. Radio Mwana Mboka is owned by opposition politician Crispin Bungdu, the CPJ said.

Over the past year, media outlets in Congo have been repeatedly targeted by the authorities, including the detention in July of 10 television journalists at Kin Lartus in the capital, Kinshasa, the CPJ said.

Congolese opposition leaders have vowed to unify behind a single candidate in the December election in a bid to beat Shadary.

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