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Malawi shuts down ex-president’s radio station

Malawian authorities said on Saturday they had closed a private radio station recently taken over former president Bakili Muluzi as it breached a law barring politicians from owning broadcasters.

”We have revoked the license of Joy radio with immediate effect because it flouted regulations,” said James Chimera, acting head of the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority.

Chimera said Joy Radio had originally registered as a private independent radio station, but ”handed over ownership of the station to politicians which is against the law”.

”Malawi laws bar politicians or political parties from owning radio stations, but Joy Radio Limited is wholly owned by the Muluzi family and the former president himself chairs its board,” he said.

The station was opened by former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa shortly before Muluzi retired as president in 2004 after two consecutive terms.

Broadcast regulators and the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika often accuse Joy of running inflamatory programmes against the administration.

The radio station has become Muluzi’s main propaganda machine, hitting back at campaigns against him in state radio.

Muluzi, who owns vast commercial interests from real estate to transport, has been chosen by his former ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) to stand again for president in general elections set for May 19.

He handed over power to his chosen successor Mutharika in 2004, after he failed to amend the constitution to allow him to stand for a third consecutive term.

But Mutharika has turned against his one-time mentor, ditching the UDF to form his own Democratic Progressive Party. – AFP



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