BBC and VOA to be back on air as Burundi shows signal to lift the six-month long ban

Compared to local media houses which are under heavy government influence, international media houses are considered more objective and independent

  • Burundi’s National Communications Council said, on Wednesday, that it is considering lifting the six-month ban imposed on BBC and VOA.
  • Karenga Ramadhan, the chairman of the communication regulatory body, said that companies' officials are due in the country.
  • Bujumbura suspended the operations of the two international stations on May 7, barely two weeks before the constitutional amendment referendum to extend presidential terms and powers.

Burundi’s National Communications Council said, on Wednesday, that it is considering lifting the six-month ban imposed on BBC and VOA.

Karenga Ramadhan, the chairman of the communication regulatory body, said that companies' officials are due in the country but did not indicate when.

“The National Communication Council highly appreciates the way the officials have recognised some of the shortcomings in some of their programmes and news and took measures to address them,” Mr Ramadhani said.

Bujumbura suspended the operations of the two international stations on May 7, barely two weeks before the constitutional amendment referendum to extend presidential terms and powers.

The government accused BBC of broadcasting content that “put national cohesion and reconciliation at stake,” while VOA, was banned for partnering with and using online websites of some local media houses that had been shut down in 2015.

“VOA wrote to us on May 18 and recognised some shortcomings, they also refuted some allegations which we had levelled against them,” he said, adding that the media house will send a “high-level” team to Burundi to discuss terms of lifting the ban.

BBC and VOA Kirundi services have been gaining popularity in the country since 2015 when President Pierre Nkurunziza sought and won a controversial term in office that plunged the nation into a crisis.

Compared to local media houses which are under heavy government influence, international media houses are considered more objective and independent and trusted more by the locals.

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