Burundian gov’t reneges on promise to reopen media outlets, foreign press accused of fueling protests

Burundian Security forces guarding one of the banned media outlets RPA.

Burundian Security forces guarding one of the banned media outlets RPA.

The government has announced it will soon reopen media outlets in Bujumbura but journalists working at those media house are still being denied access to their respective premises.

The government made announcement during the ongoing talks between civil society and the opposition on one side and the government on the other.

However, in a directive issued Thursday, the Attorney General, Valentin Bagorikunda, warned journalists not to dare enter the banned premises citing ongoing government investigations.

“Due to judicial investigations underway, access to the studio (Press House) is still prohibited for the following media and their respective staff: radio Bonesha FM, radio television Renaissance, RPA (Bujumbura and Ngozi), radio Isanganiro, and radio Humuriza FM,” reads the AG ruling.

Mr. Bagorikunda warned against any infringement on the ruling, saying that any attempt would lead to a permanent closure.

“Any infringement on the country’s rules and laws by users of the studio will automatically lead to closure, without prejudice to legal proceedings,” reads the ruling.

Meanwhile Burundi government has accused media practitioners, especially international journalists, of inciting protesters to carry on with their demonstrations.

Following recent warning by the Burundi National Security Council, Pierre Nkurikiye, Deputy Spokesperson, Burundi Police, has lambasted international journalists for “encouraging people to demonstrate so as to take photos and videos to send to their respective media outlets”

“We don’t know whether they want to lengthen their stay in Burundi,” Mr. Nkurikiye told the press Thursday.

Innocent Muhozi, Chairman of the Burundi Press Observatory (OPB) and Director of Radio Tele-Renaissance, one of the demolished and banned media outlets, dismissed the press attacks labelling the latest government move a “ploy to muzzle the media and quell press freedom in Burundi.”

Foreign press is being accused of fueling the protests. As a result some foreign journalists have been denied entry into the country

Foreign press is being accused of fueling the protests. As a result some foreign journalists have been denied entry into the country

Ever since the outbreak of anti-3rd term protests in April, several journalists have been attacked or have received death threats by police officers, as they cover the protests.

Recently, a France24 Journalist Thaïs Brouck’s accreditation was denied by Burundian authorities, another BBC female reporter was refused entry on arrival at Bujumbura airport despite the fact that she had all proper travel documents, a Burundian Visa.

More than 35 local journalists, and media managers are believed to have fled the country following a government crackdown in the wake of the May 13 failed coup.

Independent radios (and Television stations) RPA, Bonesha, Renaissance and Isanganiro broadcast the foiled coup before being attacked and banned.