Zam­bia reg­u­la­tor sus­pends three pri­vate broad­cast­ers

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

AU­THOR­I­TIES in Zam­bia have sus­pended the li­cences of three pri­vate broad­cast­ers, in­clud­ing the coun­try’s big­gest non-pub­lic TV sta­tion, say­ing they had posed a risk to peace and sta­bil­ity dur­ing this month’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Pres­i­dent Edgar Lungu nar­rowly won the Au­gust 11 vote and his op­po­nent Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the UNDP party, has filed court pa­pers to chal­lenge the re­sult, claim­ing the vote was rigged. The rul­ing party and the elec­toral com­mis­sion have re­jected the UPND’s ac­cu­sa­tions.

Muvi TV, largest pri­vate tele­vi­sion sta­tion, Kom­boni Ra­dio and Ra­dio Itezhi Tezhi had be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the elec­tion con­ducted them­selves in an “un­pro­fes­sional man­ner”, the In­de­pen­dent Broad­cast­ing Au­thor­ity said in a state­ment on Mon­day.

The broad­cast­ers’ ac­tions “posed a risk to na­tional peace and sta­bil­ity”, the reg­u­la­tor said with­out giv­ing fur­ther de­tails. The three pri­vate sta­tions closed down were con­sid­ered op­po­si­tion mouth­pieces.

Op­po­si­tion leader Hichilema crit­i­cised the move, say­ing Zam­bians were left with only gov­ern­men­towned me­dia sources. “This clo­sure is meant to sti­fle me­dia free­dom,” he said.

“Zam­bians should unite to pro­tect them­selves from a bru­tal dic­ta­tor. Let us unite to pro­tect our coun­try from thugs.” The sus­pended sta­tions have 30 days to ap­peal the rul­ing, the reg­u­la­tor said.

The run-up to the pres­i­den­tial poll was tense, with fight­ing erupt­ing be­tween op­po­si­tion and gov­ern­ment sup­port­ers. Po­lice have also bro­ken up op­po­si­tion cam­paign­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zam­bian Elec­tions In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre, at least three peo­ple were killed and many in­jured dur­ing a wave of pre-elec­tion vi­o­lence. Al­jazeera.

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