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Guinea Military Lifts Broadcasting Ban


Guinea's military government has lifted a ban on political radio and television programing. The country is preparing for elections early next year.

Guinea's military government imposed the ban after people started using radio call-in shows to criticize the expected candidacy of military ruler Moussa Camara.

The army captain took power in a coup last December vowing not to stand for election. His ruling council now says it is up to voters to decide who should be the next president. Captain Camara has told supporters who want him to run that he will not insult them by ignoring their demands.

When opponents of military rule reacted angrily to that change and voiced their displeasure on radio call-in shows, the military imposed a ban that Guinea's radio and television union said violates freedom of expression.

Tibou Camara is the military government's communications minister.

Camara says the decision to ban political programming was aimed at letting the operators of private radio stations know better their responsibilities in exercising rights and liberties granted by laws of the Republic.

Lifting that ban after talks with the radio and television union, Camara says both the government and broadcasters recognize the duties of a free press.

Camara says he is happy to see the maturity and responsibility of all parties to ensure a free and responsible press that benefits society, contributes to respect for public order and is an indispensable part of promoting the rights of citizens and of democracy.

Before Captain Camara's coup, parliamentary elections were scheduled for this year. He canceled that vote, saying elections could not be held before 2010 without compromising Guinea's territorial integrity.

The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States suspended Guinea because of the coup and urged military rulers to hold a vote sooner.

A coalition of Guinean political parties, labor unions, civil society groups, and religious leaders organized to press for that vote. Captain Camara eventually agreed - announcing legislative elections for next month and a presidential vote in December.

Those elections have now been postponed and their order reversed. Presidential balloting is currently scheduled for January and legislative elections for March.

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