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Independent Liberian Radio Station Denounces Government Ban - 2001-08-02

An independent radio station in Liberia is denouncing the decision by the government of Charles Taylor to ban it from broadcasting outside the capital, Monrovia.

The Liberian government last month told Radio Veritas, a radio station connected to the Roman Catholic Church, that it will no longer be allowed to broadcast on shortwave to areas of Liberia outside Monrovia.

The restriction leaves listeners in the Liberian countryside with only one radio station (KISS-FM) that broadcasts political news. That station is owned by President Charles Taylor.

Veritas station manager Ledgerhood Rennie told VOA the move appears to be yet another attempt by the Taylor government to consolidate its control over the Liberian media. "There's a subtle threat on the independent media in Liberia," he said. "I think it is bad for the country and its fledgling democracy. People must be given access to information, freedom of speech and expression. And so this latest action on the part of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications goes a long way in trying to hamper our work and muzzle the press in Liberia, let me say."

Last year, the government shut down another independent radio station, Star Radio, after it aired information that was not seen as favorable to the government.

The Liberian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications says the reason it is restricting Veritas' broadcasts is that its transmitters were inactive for a time. The Veritas management says it temporarily shut down the transmitter for repairs.

The radio station had been licensed to operate through this year.

The decision to restrict the radio broadcasts comes as fighting intensifies in northern Lofa county between government troops and rebels who are trying to overthrow Charles Taylor.