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Partisan News Media Blamed For Fighting in Congo

From Business Day:

Media ‘may have sparked’ Congo unrest

John Kaninda
Tuesday, 22 August 2006

AUTHORITIES in Democratic Republic of Congo were still to determine the cause of violent gun battles that erupted on Sunday evening.

The fighting came after the Independent Electoral Commission released the results of presidential elections held on July 30 — the first democratic polls held in the country since it gained independence in 1960.

Results showed incumbent President Joseph Kabila, with 44,81% of the votes, finished well ahead of his main rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, with 20,03%.

But Kabila failed to gain the more than 50% needed to win the presidency in the first round, electoral officials said. The election race is now headed for a second round, with the decisive run-off due to be held on October 29.

Though there was some confusion over which side started the battles, Saiki Kenal, spokesman of the United Nations Mission in the Congo (Monuc) told Business Day, the violence could be the result of a campaign of intolerance engineered by each presidential camp in the media.

Since the end of polling on July 30, some television stations had aired footage that may have led to hatred or violence, said Kenal.

A pro-Bemba station, for instance, had played repeated footage of what it said was an attack by Kabila loyalists, showing wounded soldiers and two bodies outside blood-spattered offices.

Other footage showed members of both camps engaging in mob violence or ripping election posters, in an attempt, analysts said, to give the impression that election results would be manipulated.

For the past three weeks, government-owned RTNC1 had also repeatedly run footage of Bemba’s supporters lynching police forces in the build-up to the polls. This prompted the regulator, the High Authority of Media, to suspend broadcasting by those stations ahead of the release of the poll results.

“Such use of footage was not innocent,” said Kenal. “Whether aired with or without inflammatory comments, the end result would be the same — promote violence to protest against a camp’s perceived undeserved results should it take the lead. It is good that the media regulator acted decisively to end such an irresponsible use of the media.” …

I blame Al Gore.

And of course the media.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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