Gambia’s Press Union says the closing of private radio stations is a “slap in the face” after Gambian security forces shut down a third one, AfriRadio amid an escalating political crisis caused by President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept his election defeat.
Afri Radio, have been forced off the air without explanation after this weekend’s shutdown of Taranga FM and Hilltop Radio.
“It is a slap in the face of the country’s democratic process,” said Emil Touray, the press union president. “People will not have access to information in this critical period of our history.”
Teranga FM, popular for its review of newspapers in the local Wolof and Mandinka languages, has been closed four times in recent years.
The station’s managing director Alagie Ceesay was arrested in July 2015 and charged with sedition. He was hospitalized twice in early 2016 while still in detention, Amnesty International said, and later fled to neighboring Senegal.
The closure of the radio stations is said to be in connection with the broadcast of debates around the country’s political impasse. A government spokesman said he could not confirm the reason for the closures.
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh has lost last month’s election and is refusing to step down. His refusal has put ECOWAS forces on alert for a military intervention to end the political deadlock in the country. Jammeh has been accused of stifling the press during his presidency and for human rights abuses.