Media accuse Burundi radio

2010-06-11 12:08

Bujumbura - Burundi's media Thursday accused a radio station close to the ruling party of promoting hate as the United Nations warned against incitement to violence amid tensions over disputed elections.

Media groups wrote to the National Council of Communication regulatory body to "protest its silence" in the face of broadcasts by the private Rema FM station that they described as hateful and dangerous.

In the letter, a copy of which was seen by AFP, the media groups accused the station of "manipulation of information, the promotion of hate and the stigmatisation of certain political personalities".

The radio has been broadcasting the names of people it accuses of being "in the business of destabilising the country," the letter says.

"It is not the first time that we are contacting you to express our concerns about the hateful and dangerous character of the information broadcast by Rema FM," it says.

"But the inertia of the CNC puts in danger social calm as regards the political context we are in," warned the organisations, which include the Burundi Journalists Union and the Burundi Press Observatory.

The regulatory body is headed by a member of the ruling party and has lost credibility among the media and diplomatic corps in recent years.

Rema FM is close to the ruling CNDD-FDD party of President Pierre Nkurunziza and has broadcast across the tiny central African country for three years.

Nkurunziza is the only candidate for June 28 presidential elections after all his six rivals pulled out, saying fraud would mar the poll in the same way as they say it did May 24 local elections won by the ruling party.

Amid the deteriorating political climate, UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on political leaders during a visit to Burundi on Wednesday to "sort out their differences" so that elections can be open to all groups.

The UN representative in the country, Charles Petrie, said on Thursday the world body was watching for any incitement to violence in the impoverished country, which has struggled to emerge from years of unrest.

"At the United Nations, we have great awareness of the volatility of this region, and we also have great understanding of the capacity of the media to incite the population to violence," he said.

"All incitement to violence is not acceptable and is closely followed by the United Nations."