- The mayor of Mogadishu Mohamed Omar Habeb has been grilled for decreeing what media rights watchdogs referred to as "unacceptable and ridiculous draconian restictions" on the coverage of fighting between the government forces and rebels.
Since the ousting of the Islamic Courts Unions from power in December, Somalia has been in a state of anarchy. This claimed the lives of thousands as well as displaced a million people.
A few journalists still remain in Mogadishu today mainly because of targeted murders. This year alone eight journalists have been murdered by gunmen.
But the Mogadishu mayor, a former warlord and governor of the central city of Jowhar, is unnecessarily making life unbearable for the few journalists. Habeb on Monday decreed the banning on reporting "military operations by the federal transitional government and Ethiopian troops without the written agreement" of the authorities.
He has also embargoed interviews with government opponents inside the country or abroad. Violators of the decree will be treated as criminals.
“The rules decreed by Muhamed Omar Habeb are ridiculous, especially as they have no legal basis,” the Africa Director of the Paris-based Reporters sans frontières, Leonard Vincent, reacted.
“A city in which the most popular news media have been closed arbitrarily, dozens of journalists flee each week and those that stay risk being arrested or murdered needs a mayor who offers safeguards and who is open to dialogue. Instead it has one who imposes the rule of martial law.”
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