Friday, June 03, 2005

Guinea's ruling party petrified after liberalization of the airwaves

AngolaPress reports that the Guinean government has adopted a decree legalizing private radio and television stations. Guinea becomes the last West African state to liberalize the airwaves.

The meeting chaired by President Lansana Conte Tuesday, set the conditions for the operation of private radio and television stations, specifying that political parties and religious groups are barred from operating such stations.

The opposition and the European Union backed the move.

But the ruling Party of Unity and Progress (PUP) had opposed the media liberalisation, citing the negative role of Radio Mille Collines in the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

The example the PUP REALLY feared was not Rwanda, but Senegal. Senegal had run a number of elections since the advent of multipartyism that were marred by allegations of vote rigging by the Socialist Party (PS), which had been the country's only ruling party since independence in 1960.

But during the 2000 presidential election, Senegal's nascent private radio stations broadcast results from individual precincts on election day; in other words, the radio stations publicized results BEFORE the PS had a change to rig them. And this good work was in addition to the fact that the private radio stations provided a platform for opposition candidates and objective reporting not found in state media. Opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade was elected president.

The PUP fears that Gen. Conté or his imposed successor may suffer the same fate if a private broadcast media is allowed to flourish.


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