Guinea Bissau Cabinet sacks media chiefs

The Guinea Bissau Cabinet on Tuesday sacked heads of the national radio and television Tuesday for allegedly failing to send reporters to cover a parliamentary address by the president, local media said.

Francelino Cunha and Fernando Marna, the respective heads of the country’s state-run television and radio, were reportedly booted when their journalists didn’t turn up at a parliamentary session addressed by President João Bernardo Vieira.

“The absence of national television and radio crews at such an important session is unacceptable and serious,” the Cabinet said in a statement cited by various media.

But the two denied claims their teams were not at the event and strongly protested their dismissal as too severe.

“I sent a reporter to cover the event. Then how can I be reprimanded for not having covered the event,” said Marna.

For his part, Cunha said his crew was late due to transport problems, but provided some coverage.

“We have one vehicle to transport all the teams on assignment. The government was supposed to consider this situation before taking such a severe decision,” he said.

The parliamentary session, will, in the next month examine a general amnesty law on coup leaders and political prisoners of crimes committed between 1980 and 2004.

The Bill was first introduced in March 2004 by the country’s National Transitional Council (CNT) in office between 2003 and 2004.

It has however not been discussed since then, as it failed to win clearance of the majority party in Parliament, the left-wing African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

Between 1980 to 2004, the small Portuguese-speaking country in West Africa has experienced several coups and military dictatorships stirred by social, political and economic discontent.

Guinea-Bissau, which won independence from Portugal in 1974, is the world’s fifth poorest nation, according to the United Nations.
- Sapa-AFP

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