Media

Africa, Media

Liberia silences opposition broadcasters

Liberia silences opposition broadcasters

Liberian President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson may be the flavour of the month in the international community after being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October. But her government's handling of dissenting voices during Liberia's election period has been far from peaceful. By THERESA MALLINSON (@tcmallinson).

In the run-up to Liberia’s runoff presidential elections on Tuesday, the government shut down several pro-opposition broadcasters in Monrovia. Love FM/TV, Power FM/TV, Kings FM/Clar TV and Shiata FM were all visited by armed policemen on Monday evening, and ordered to cease broadcasting. As well as more conventional weapons, the police were armed with a court writ, and government orders to close the stations.

The crackdown comes after the stations’ coverage of an opposition rally on Monday, which saw at least one person killed when police turned to violence to break up the protest. In its application for the court order, the government stated the stations had “illegally used their respective media outlets by broadcasting hate messages against the government and deliberately spreading misinformation and messages of violence, and instigating the people to rise up and take to the streets and engage in confrontation with the Liberia National Police and the UN security forces”.

All Africa quoted Love FM/TV consultant and African Election Project official Jallah Grayfield’s views on the government’s heavy-handed action: “What is happening is worrying and does not augur well for our thriving democracy,” Grayfield said. “What is democracy when the opposition views are not heard and there is no freedom of expression?”

But the government defended its approach. “This was not a unilateral decision, as was done in times past when previous governments unilaterally shut down media institutions,” said deputy information minister Noah Tweah. “This action has the backing of the law.” The managers of the affected stations are set to appear in court on Thursday to argue their case. DM



Photo: REUTERS

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.