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Authorities in Cameroon have closed a private FM radio station that has
been broadcasting illegally from the capital for several months. The
station was highly critical of President Paul Biya.
Dementi FM began broadcasting about six months ago on a vacant frequency in the capital Yaounde.
George Gilbert Baongla aired commentary and call-in shows highly
critical of the Biya government - similar to the content of his Le
Dementi newspaper which was closed last year.
Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary says he ordered security forces to close
Dementi FM not because of the content of its broadcasts. Bakary says
there are many radio stations critical of the government, and most of
them continue to operate under the government's policy of
"administrative tolerance" even though they have not paid their
$100,000 deposit for a broadcast license.
Bakary says the
difference with Dementi is that when they found no one broadcasting at
90.5 FM they simply took the frequency for themselves unlike more than
100 independent radio stations that have been properly assigned
frequencies by the Communications Ministry.
"Most of them have
at least the acknowledgement of the ministerial department," he said.
"We know of their existence because they have an authorization which
enables them to operate legally despite the fact that they have not
paid the due imposed by the law and regulations. But as far as Dementi
is concerned, they discovered that there is a frequency which is
available and they are operating. And this is completely wrong."
says he will close other pirate radio stations in the coming days as
part of a campaign that he says is meant to clean up Cameroon's media
Dementi's closure follows an August crackdown on Sky
One Radio for a program called "Le Tribunal" in which the radio
presenter conducted trials and passed judgement live on air.
Biya government says that program was inciting violence. Station owner
Joseph Angoula Angoula says he is in talks with the communications
ministry to pay his broadcast license deposit in installments. The
program "Le Tribunal" will be dropped.