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Radio stations in Guinea protest media crackdown

Photo:  Guinea’s education strike

CONAKRY, GUINEA– Globe Afrique has learned that more than 40 radio stations in the Republic of Guinea postponed radio programming for 24 hours in protest at the shutdown of a regional broadcaster which attempted to interview the leader of a teachers’ strike.

The radio stations’ solidarity action began at 12 pm (1200 GMT) last Tuesday following several hours of broadcasts earlier in the day that was devoted to the topic of press freedom.

Meanwhile, the largest media URTELGUI union in the country told its members that it expected “strict respect.”

Radio is the primary source of news and related information in the West African nation, where the majority of the population is illiterate, poor and structurally unemployed

The media houses involved in the protest relates to the temporary closure of the BTA FM radio station in Guinea’s second city, Labe, where broadcasting was interrupted by the authorities on Monday morning just as an interview began with key teachers’ union official Aboubacar Soumah.

Globe Afrique has learned that several teachers have been arrested and two teenage protesters were killed since the teachers’ strike began.

On Monday, Guinea’s media watchdog group reminded officials that had the sole authority to suspend broadcasts from radio stations, but warned journalists not to “endanger national unity or create problems in society.”

President Alpha Conde addresses crowd

Meanwhile, there was a marked increase in attendance by teachers and pupils at schools on Tuesday in the capital, the education ministry said in a statement, despite the continued absence of many children whose families fear a repeat of violent street battles with police.

Guinean President Alpha Conde had positioned himself as a reformist when he was an opposition, but his critics say he has gradually taken on the posture the country’s past dictators indirectly.  Conde, who is the African Union current chairman has brought development and maintain peace and security in the West African nation.

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Ben Mabande

Ben Mabande is a researcher and senior contributing reporter with Globe Afrique Media.
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