Somalia lifts ban on broadcasters

The new Transitional Federal Government of Somalia reversed a decision to close down the Al Jazeera TV office in Mogadishu as well as three local radio stations, following a meeting with their media executives.

National Security Agency chief, General Mohammed Warsame Farah (Darwiish), summoned the executives and told them that their broadcasting was endangering national security and a disarmament plan.

Radio Shabelle, Radio Voice of Holy Quran and Radio HornAfrik were shut down by order of the National Security Agency, an arm of government, following the announcement last Saturday of a State of Emergency. Earlier last week, two other stations, Warsan and Radio Baidoa based in Baidoa, the temporary seat of Somalia’s interim government, were forced off air – the first media casualties of Somalia’s latest conflict.

The ban was lifted after local and international pressure. The UN special envoy for Somalia, François Lonsény Fall, condemned the act and urged the transitional government to withdraw the order. Despite the lifting of the ban, General Secretary of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Omar Faruk Osman, condemned this first repressive action against media taken by the fragile Somali transitional forces since they gained control of the country, a fortnight ago, and warned against further attacks against the media.

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