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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
04LILONGWE403
2004-05-14 11:44:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Lilongwe
Cable title:  

STATE-OWNED RADIO HALTS OPPOSITION

Tags:   PGOV  KDEM  KPAO  MI 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS LILONGWE 000403 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR AF/PD, AF/S

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM KPAO MI
SUBJECT: STATE-OWNED RADIO HALTS OPPOSITION
BROADCAST

REF: A) Lilongwe 400

B) 03 Lilongwe 1202



1. (SBU) Opposition presidential candidate and
First Vice President Justin Malawezi's interview
on state-owned Malawi Broadcast Corporation
(MBC) was halted after only 15 minutes of an
hour-long program. Malawezi, formerly of the
ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) but running
as an independent, was criticizing the
government for overspending, over taxation, and
poor performance in relation to the Agriculture
Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).



2. (SBU) According to the news anchor, the
Assistant Controller of News entered the studio
after the first 15 minutes and signaled for the
program to stop. The anchor told PAO he did not
t
immediately stop the program because he was
confused by the interruption. The Assistant
Controller, speaking on a mobile phone with whom
the anchor presumed was MBC's Deputy Director
General, then went to the Controller of Programs
seeking assistance in stopping the interview.
At the Controller's insistence, the program was
cut, and the radio station completed the hour
with music. (NOTE: The anchor told PAO that he
fears he will be suspended for not stopping the
program immediately after being told to do so.
End note.)



3. (SBU) Comment. The muzzling of Malewezi by
state radio does not come as a surprise. The
bias of MBC has been well-documented by the
Malawi Electoral Commission's Media Monitoring
Unit and by the independent press. MBC, along
with the UDF leadership, has been especially
hard on Malewezi since his defection from the
ruling party. With four days until polling day,
this latest incident is further proof of the
lack of a level playing field in state-owned
media.

Browning