Puntland bans local stations from rebroadcasting VOA Somali
October 3rd, 2009 - 13:09 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

A decree issued by Somalia’s Puntland State government has banned local radio stations from broadcasting Voice of America’s Somali Service programs, Radio Garowe reports. The decree was jointly issued on Thursday by the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Security in Puntland and signed by the ministers.

The decree, which was written in the Somali language, noted that the government and people of Puntland “welcomed the opening of VOA Somali Service, as they saw it [VOA] as beneficial towards promoting peace and the restoration of the Somali nation. Unfortunately, this hope did not materialize because the Somali members who lead the VOA Somali Section based in Washington, DC blatantly participate in the creation of instability in parts of Somalia, especially Puntland, as they take advantage of the VOA Somali Section for political and regional interests,” read the decree.

Two examples were cited, with the first example dating to August 2009, when the VOA Somali Service reported that Somali politicians were arrested in Galkayo. “This issue [arrests] was a fabrication and the intention was to jeopardize the peace in Puntland and to spread negative information about the Puntland Government,” read the decree, adding: “At the time [in August 2009], Puntland’s top leaders were in Galkayo.”

On September 30, 2009, the VOA Somali Service “took information from people who do not have merit, who falsely said that Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamee’a faction has opened an office in Garowe,” the decree added. Further, the decree noted that “there are no religious or political factions in Puntland” and that Puntland “only has the three branches of government.”

Two decisions were jointly made by Puntland’s Ministry of Information and Ministry of Security, which prohibited local FM radio stations from broadcasting VOA Somali Service programmes and ordered Puntland security officials to “ensure the implementation of this order and to take legal action against anyone who violates [this order].”

It is the first time that VOA Somali Service programmes have been banned in Puntland since Dr Abdirahman Mohamed “Farole” was elected as the state government’s third president in January 2009.

Radio Garowe, an independent radio station based in Puntland’s capital, is among a handful of radio stations in Puntland that regularly rebroadcast VOA Somali Service programmes, but which had to stop following this new order. However, Radio Garowe continues to rebroadcast VOA English language programmes, as the Puntland government’s ban order pertains only to the VOA Somali Section.