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Independent radio a casualty in Burundi conflict

Radio Rights WatchA new report by Amnesty International says the government of Burundi is cracking down on independent radio stations as the country drifts towards civil war. First authorities curtailed the broadcasting range of independent radio stations Radio Publique Africaine (RPA), Bonesha FM, and Radio Isanganiro, AI says. Then in mid-May, after an attempted military coup, police attacked the facilities and have stopped them from broadcasting at all.

Aljazeera America reports that loyalists to the government set the RPA building on fire: “Even the state broadcaster went briefly off-air that day as fighting between loyalist and dissident troops for control of the airwaves intensified. (The government has denied carrying out a ‘revenge raid’).”

In addition, RPA’s most famous reporter, Eluoge Niyonzima, is fleeing the country for Tanzania following what he says were attempts to kill him. He isn’t the only refugee; since the conflict began over 170,000 Burundians have rushed to aid camps in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania (see map at the end of this story).

The troubles stem from the attempt of President Pierre Nkurunziza to win a third term, a move that his critics say is unconstitutional. National elections were held on Tuesday. The results are still unclear. Nkurunziza’s four political opponents have boycotted the contest. UPDATE (7/24/2015): Burundi’s Elections Commission has ruled that Nkurunziza has won a third term.

Burundi map

Burundi area [Google maps]

 

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