DAKAR Jan 9 Gambian authorities shut a fourth
popular radio station late on Sunday, staff said, further
restricting opposition voices amid a political crisis triggered
by President Yahya Jammeh's refusal to accept election defeat.
Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 coup, initially conceded
defeat to opposition rival Adama Barrow in the Dec. 1 vote, but
then called for a new election, drawing condemnation from local
opponents and foreign powers.
His refusal to step down has raised the specter of military
intervention by West African forces after the ECOWAS body said
it was putting military forces on alert. Jammeh called that a
"declaration of war".
About seven men entered the Paradise FM offices and ordered
it to close, said Kebba Camara, a presenter of the station's
political show that had become one of the few remaining outlets
for the opposition to voice its opinion.
The plainclothes officers said they were acting on behalf of
the Ministry of Information and Communications, Camara said. No
reason was given for the closure, and a government spokesman was
not available for comment.
"The owner of the radio said he is going to the ministry
today and if they don't tell him any reason for the closure then
we will resume operations," Camara said on Monday. "We have a
lot of solidarity. A lot of people are standing with us since
Gambian security agents closed three private radio stations
on Jan. 1. Teranga FM, Hilltop Radio and Afri Radio, all of
which offered an outlet for the opposition, remained off air on
Paradise regularly featured appearances by members of the
Barrow's election victory was seen as a surprising triumph
for democracy in Gambia, which gained independence from Britain
in 1965 but has only two presidents. The hopes of a peaceful
transition faded when a week later Jammeh said he would not
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari will on Monday host a
meeting with representatives from the region to discuss ways to
ensure a peaceful transition of power.
(Reporting By Edward McAllister; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg
and Dominic Evans)