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Cablegate: Bemba Media Still Off the Air

VZCZCXRO6481
OO RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHKI #1689 3051541
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011541Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5088
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001689

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O.12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KPAO CG ELECTIONS
SUBJECT: BEMBA MEDIA STILL OFF THE AIR

REF: KINSHASA 1619 and previous

Sensitive but Unclassified. Not for Internet Distribution.

1. (SBU) Summary: Political and technical problems have kept media
owned by presidential contender Jean-Pierre Bemba off the air for
most of the last few days, both before and after the October 29
voting. MONUC is reportedly mediating this issue in an attempt to
restore the signals. The High Media Authority (HAM) has decried
these steps taken against Bemba media. Meanwhile, the HAM has
suspended state television for 48 hours for failing to air a
pre-election interview with VP Bemba. On or off the air, Bemba
media raises tensions in this immediate post-election period. End
Summary

Bemba Media Mostly Off the Air
------------------------------

2. (SBU) The signal of Jean-Pierre Bemba's Canal Kin television
(CKTV), seen in Kinshasa, was cut October 27, apparently by
authorities close to the political camp of President Joseph Kabila.
The signal went down during an interview with an Etienne Kabila, who
reportedly lives in South Africa and purports to be the true
legitimate son of the late President Laurent-Desire Kabila. Etienne
Kabila claimed that Joseph Kabila is not the biological son of the
late president.

3. (U) The day after the election, October 30, the signal of VP
Bemba's other television station, CCTV, was also cut while it was
airing a program cataloguing alleged voting irregularities which
would have favored Kabila. CCTV's signal to the rest of the
country, captured by satellite relay, is stopped as well. Bemba
radio, Radio Liberte (RALIK), has also been off the air in Kinshasa
for several days.

4. (SBU) It appears almost certain that the cuts were made at the
Binza Hill tower station hill overlooking Kinshasa. A high
authority at CCTV told us that his station was able to get back on
the air October 30, but only briefly, by-passing the CCTV tower at
Binza. He also claimed that the contracting company in charge of
Binza station, Tele Consult, persuaded Kabila's Republican Guard to
prevent access to the station by CCTV technicians. AFP news agency
reports that it was FARDC troops, not Republican Guards, who
admitted stopping the CCTV technicians, who, they said, lacked
authorization.

5. (SBU) Our CCTV source told us that representatives of Jean-Pierre
Bemba, MONUC and EUFOR met November 1 to see about restoring the
signals of Bemba's media. However, a CCTV technician, who was to
inspect the problem at the tower station today, was again denied
access, we have just learned from our CCTV source.

The HAM Steps In
----------------

6. (U) The president of the High Media Authority, Modeste Mutinga,
told the press on October 31 that the HAM had not been consulted
about these latest cut-offs of Bemba media and he decried their
irregularity. On the same day, the HAM ordered the 48-hour
suspension of state television station RTNC, beginning November 1.
Mutinga acted on a complaint by Bemba's Union for the Nation that
RTNC refused to air an interview with Jean-Pierre Bemba on October
27, the last day of the official presidential election campaign.
RTNC had given generous air time to Joseph Kabila. RTNC is, so far,
respecting the suspension.

7. (SBU) Comment: Placed in a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't
situation, pro-Kabila authorities, who control access to the Binza
Hill tower station, seemingly silenced Bemba media rather than have
it spew premature and destabilizing claims of electoral fraud and/or
a Bemba victory. We are approaching a point now, however, where the
silenced media adds fuel to claims bruited about Kinshasa that
Jean-Pierre Bemba is being robbed of electoral victory by a
well-orchestrated conspiracy. The HAM's silencing of RTNC - and the
fact that no official election results have yet been announced by
the Electoral Commission - may not be able to silence that growing
background noise.

MEECE

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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