DRC Government pulls three media houses off air By JUAKALI KAMBALE in Kinshasa | Thursday, February 16   2012 at  10:29

DRC veteran opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

DRC Government has pulled three media stations off air.

The media houses, two close to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba and one belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, saw their signals stopped on Monday, by the ministry of Information.

“Last Friday, we just received a letter from the minister of Information urging us to refrain from broadcasting commercial advertisement allegedly because, as a private community media, we are not allowed. We do not know why exactly our signal has been stopped,” Mr Patrick Nsiala, the programme officer of the Catholic TV (RTCE) told the Africa Review.

Unconfirmed reports indicated that the minister for Information, Mr Lambert Mende, had invited the affected media houses for talks.

Kinshasa has been tense with Catholic faithful planning a peaceful march in the city today, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the so called “Christians massacre” on February 16, 1992 in the DRC capital.

Several Christians were killed by soldiers as they were demonstrating against the closure of the national conference aimed at debating the Mobutu Sese Seko regime.

According to sources close to the organisers of the Thursday demonstration, the faithful will march from various Catholic churches then meet at St Joseph Catholic Church where Mobutu’s soldiers fired at Christians in 1992.

The demonstrators are expected to take a position on the last presidential and legislative elections and the electoral commission.

The tension

In November 2011, the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo, criticised the elections and called for their cancellation.

Furthermore, 35 Catholic bishops from all over the country issued a statement complaining of "treachery, lies and terror" and called on the electoral commission to correct "serious errors". Cardinal Monsengwo told the Belgian News Agency BELGA that to him, Mr Etienne Tshisekedi was the real winner of the election.

A statement from the Mayor of Kinshasa, Mr Kimbuta Yango, said the planned demonstration was illegal because the organisers did not seek clearance in good time.

Mr Yango further said the letter from the organisers did not give the details of the demonstration, especially the itinerary.

The tension in Kinshasa has further been heightened by the impending opening of the National Assembly Thursday afternoon.

Mr Tshisekedi has appealed for the boycott of the ceremony.

The veteran opposition leader said members of his UDPS party should not be part of the National Assembly as the elections were tarnished by massive fraud and irregularities.

Mr Tshisekedi's call may be ignored by the UDPS members who hold that their election was legitimate.

“We have been elected by people who trust us as their representatives. Nobody can prevent us from exercising our mandate. They believe in us and we cannot morally disappoint them,” an MP, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of possible negative consequences, said.