Burundi marks press freedom day

GMT 12:08 2015 Monday ,04 May

Arab Today, arab today Burundi marks press freedom day

World Press Freedom
Bujumbura - XINHUA

Burundian journalists Sunday marked the world press freedom day, calling for the reopening of a shut down radio station and a more open space for the media, the Burundi Journalists' Union chairman has said.

In Burundi, journalists marked the press freedom day at Iwacu Press Group, in the urban commune of Rohero, in the capital Bujumbura, where journalists dressed in black with bound mouths demonstrated inside the compound.

"The world press freedom day happens when media freedom is restricted in Burundi. The African Public Radio (RPA) has been shut down, frequencies of Radio Bonesha FM and Radio Isanganiro have been cut in the countryside and phone lines of those radio stations have also been cut," said Burundi Journalists' Union Chairman Alexandre Niyungeko.

Niyungeko indicated that the Burundi Press House that has hosted celebrations for the press freedom day for ten years has also been shut down.

Niyungeko said, "We call on the Burundian government to reopen the shut down radio station (RPA) and to reopen the Burundi Press House."

On Monday, the Burundian government shut down the African Public Radio (RPA) -- one of the country's major private radio stations.

Its agency in the province of Ngozi was also shut down the same day.

Frequencies of main private radio stations were also cut in the countryside since Sunday afternoon.

According to the Burundian government, those radio stations were accused of disseminating and relaying messages that could turn the country into chaos.

Some neighborhoods in the Burundian capital Bujumbura have, since April 26, been rocked by protests against the third term of Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza.

Convened by the opposition and some civil society organizations, those protests are aimed to force Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza to avoid running for third term in the upcoming presidential election.

Nkurunziza was, on April 25, elected by his party, the National Council for the Defense of Democracy-Forces for the Defense of Democracy (CNDD-FDD), in an extraordinary congress, to represent the party in the upcoming presidential election.

Earlier, the opposition and the civil society had called for mass protests if the country's ruling party nominates Nkurunziza to run a third term which, they say, would be a violation of the country's constitution and the Arusha Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Burundi.

The constitution and the Arusha Agreement stipulate that a president of Burundi cannot serve the country for more than two terms.

Nkurunziza was elected by parliament in 2005 and directly re- elected by citizens in 2010.

Burundi is this year to hold general elections between May 26 and August 24, with the presidential election to be held on June 26.

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