Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Burundi: Radio station staff arrested, harassed

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the recent harassment of Radio Publique Africaine (RPA) employees by the Burundian authorities. RPA is linked to the main opposition party Movement for Solidarity and Development (Mouvement pour la solidarité et le développement, MSD). Recent weeks have been marked by a number of arrests and incidents of harassment.

"The increasing number of arrests of RPA members is unacceptable," RSF said. "We fear that such retaliation will end with the final closure of the radio station." Founded by former journalist and presidential candidate Alexis Sinduhije, who is also the founder of the MSD, RPA is considered by the government as the voice of the opposition party. As a result, the radio station has suffered the consequences of political tensions following last summer's election.

Faustin Ndikumana, an RPA employee, has been detained for 15 days in an underground cell at the intelligence services building in Bujumbura. He was summoned to explain the origin of a vehicle in which he was arrested and was remanded in custody two days later.

On 27 September 2010, MSD spokesperson and RPA lawyer François Nyamoya was placed in temporary detention at the Central Prison in Bujumbura, after only a few hours of questioning. Nyamoya's arrest follows a complaint of "insults" and "false accusations" filed by an intelligence chief, who accused him of having called him a "thief" during a political programme on 19 September.

Since 29 September, RPA legal representative and manager Jean-Marie Vianney Hicuburundi and CFO Alain Ntamagendero have been summoned to appear before the Bujumbura prosecutor. Leonce Niyongabo, RPA director in Ngozi (northern region), was also summoned on 1 October as part of the judicial inquiry.