Burundi reopens private radio stations

Police besiege RPA radio, one of the outlawed media outlets.

Police besiege RPA radio, one of the outlawed media outlets, during last year’s protests against President Pierre Nkurunziza’s third term.

The Burundian government has re-opened two private Radio stations, nine months after they had been shut for their allegedly role in the May 13, 2015 foiled military coup.

In a commitment pact signed between government and representatives of the two radio stations, Radio Isanganiro and Radio Rema FM, the two media houses committed themselves to adhere to strict professionalism and work for peace and security.
Richard Giramahoro, chairman of the National Council for Communication, CNC, the signing of the agreements marks the beginning of a flawless profession.

“We closely followed the evolution of the judicial cases of the suspended outlets,” he said, adding that some of the cases give hope to possible resumption of normal programming of these media houses. He however declined to comment on the remaining radios stations that are still shut.

The Directors of the two radio stations welcomed the government decision, but called for the re-opening of the remaining radio stations still under the legal ban.

According to Samson Maniradukunda, the interim Director of Radio Isanganiro, the document stipulates rules and principles of law governing the press in Burundi.

The decision to reopen the stations was welcomed by their employees and journalists.

Evariste Nzikobanyanka, Radio Isanganiro journalist, commended the re-opening of the radio station and hopes that there will be no more arrest of journalists working for his radio.

Another reporter Balen Havyarimana told this website that “It’s an unforgettable day for me to resume my activities in this critical situation whereby most of the people are desperate to have well balanced information.”

He however regrets that some of his colleagues are in exile and cannot join them to work together. “This is a challenge and sad news for our team which was united before but now we are separated,” he said.

In the wake of the foiled coup of May 13, last year, Radios including Isanganiro, RPA, Bonesha, Radio-Television Rema and Renaissance were attacked and destroyed.

Later on, the judiciary ordered their shutdown, together with Humuriza FM community radio based in the central province of Gitega, for investigations into their possible involvement in the attempted coup plot.